Wildlife travel: What animals can I see in Thailand?

It’s not all beaches and parties – there’s a host of dynamic wildlife in this popular holiday destination. 

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Illustration by Dawn Cooper

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1.  Long-tailed broadbill, Doi Inthanon National Park

A male Long-tailed Broadbill stopped on a nearby perch before returning to its nesting in Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand

Long-tailed broadbill in Doi Inthanon NP © Mallardg500/Getty

Nestled in the Himalayan reaches of Northern Thailand, Doi Inthanon is one of the country’s birding hotspots. This colourful and gregarious broadbill – the only member of its genus – makes a satisfying sighting.

2. Asian elephant, Khao Yai National Park

An elephant stands near a lake at Ban Ta Klang Elephant Village, Surin province, Thailand, on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. Ever since the craze for Kopi Luwak, an Indonesian coffee originally made from part-digested beans defecated by wild palm civets, began more than a decade ago, coffee connoisseurs have sought unusual ways to make the perfect brew. Black Ivory Coffee Founder Blake Dinkin uses elephants to process his beans. The resultant coffee can be bought online at approximately $1,900 a kilogram. Photographer: Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Asian elephant in Khao Yai NP © Bloomberg/Getty

Enjoy close encounters with these giants in the monsoon forests of Thailand’s oldest national park, just a few hours from Bangkok.Other mammals to spot here include barking deer, macaques and otters.

3. Flying fox, Wat Pho Bang Khla

Flying beauty

Flying fox in Wat Pho Bang Khla © Iqbalsiddiqui/Getty

The trees around this vivid Buddhist temple are home to a staggering 6,000 flying foxes. Their dusk emergence  is quite spectacular.

4. Manta Ray, Similan Islands National Park

swimming giant oceanic manta ray in the mid blue water

Manta ray in Similan Islands NP © YamMo/Getty

The 11-island archipelago is renowned for its marine life, with Koh Bon in particular regarded as a diver’s Mecca. Manta rays feed in the rich waters and are best seen March–May (the park closes May–October).

5. Bride’s whale, Gulf of Thailand

Bryde's whale with seagull in gulf of Thailand

Bryde’s whale in the Gulf of Thailand © Vichan Sriseangnil/Getty

Sightings may be fleeting, but these slender, 15m-long cetaceans visit the northern waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Tours operate from Bangkok, but as whale-watching is in its infancy here, caution is advised.

6. Dusky leaf monkey, Kaeng Krachan National Park

Dusky Leaf Monkey or Dusky Langur female and juvenile resting in a tree (Trachypithecus obscurus). Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand. March 2015.

Dusky leaf monkey in Kaeng Krachan NP © Anup Shah/Getty

Only found in Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar, the dusky leaf monkey is relatively easy to spot. Particularly close views can be had a short walk from the Ban Krang campsite. 

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