Thailand is a country on Southeast Asia’s Indochina peninsula known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha, a revered symbol. Friendly and fun loving, exotic and tropical, cultured and historic, Thailand radiates a golden hue from its glittering temples and tropical beaches through to the ever-comforting Thai smile.
The Kingdom of Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia with coasts on the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. It borders Myanmar (Burma) to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Cambodia to the southeast and Malaysia to the south. With great food, a tropical climate, fascinating culture, majestic mountains and great beaches, Thailand is a magnet for travellers around the world.
Thailand comprises several distinct geographic regions, partly corresponding to the provincial groups. The north of the country is the mountainous area of the Thai highlands, with the highest point being Doi Inthanon in the Thanon Thong Chai Range at 2,565 metres above sea level. The northeast, Isan, consists of the Khorat Plateau, bordered to the east by the Mekong River.
The centre of the country is dominated by the predominantly flat Chao Phraya river valley, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand. Southern Thailand consists of the narrow Kra Isthmus that widens into the Malay Peninsula.
The Chao Phraya and the Mekong River are the indispensable water courses of rural Thailand. Industrial scale production of crops use both rivers and their tributaries.
The Andaman Sea is a precious natural resource as it hosts the most popular and luxurious resorts in Asia. Phuket, Krabi, Ranong, Phang Nga, and Trang and their islands all lie along the coasts of the Andaman Sea and they attract visitors from around the world.
Thailand plays home to about 10% of all marine species on the planet. It is one of the best bird-watching destinations in mainland Asia. The country is famous for its beautiful waterfalls that are spread over all the national parks.
Here is a list of the most popular national parks this country has to offer.
Khao Yai National Park is situated in the western part of the Sankamphaeng Mountain Range, at the southwestern boundary of the Khorat Plateau. The highest mountain in the area of the park is Khao Rom. The park is the third largest in Thailand. It covers an area of 300 square kilometres, including evergreen forests and grasslands.
There are 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds like red jungle fowl and Coral-billed Ground-cuckoo and 66 species of mammals, including Asiatic black bear, Asian elephant, gaur, gibbon, Indian sambar deer, pig-tailed macaque, Indian muntjac, and wild pig.
It is one of the best destination for birders and other wildlife enthusiast, no doubt one of the most diverse wildlife areas in the country. What makes Kaeng Krachan among the best is that it still has relatively low visits from tourists.
Possibly Thailand's top bird- and butterfly-watching location, over 420 species of birds has been observed in the park boundaries which is the highest number of bird species in any national parks in Thailand. There are 57 known species of mammals and around 300 butterfly species.
Wild mammals such as leopards, bears, stump-tailed macaques, deer, elephants, wild dogs, golden jackal, gaurs, crab-eating mongoose and many others are relatively common in the park.
Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand is an amazing place. It is covered by the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world, huge limestone mountains shooting straight up in the air, deep valleys, breath taking lakes, exciting caves, wild animals and much more.
Khao Sok is perfectly situated on the mainland between Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak and Koh Samui, the most popular destinations in Southern Thailand. It is a fantastic place to go on vacation. Close and personal elephant encounters, jungle trekking on foot, canoeing and Truck Safaris are all possible activities, which will give you the experience of a lifetime.
Also known as "The Roof of Thailand", Doi Inthanon National Park covers an area of 482 square kilometres in Chiang Mai province north of Thailand. The park is part of the Himalayan mountain range, elevation ranges between 800 and 2565 meters with the highest peak Doi Inthanon being the highest mountain in Thailand. Due to the high altitude, the park has high humidity and cold weather all year round.
Over 190 of the bird species are listed as common to abundant. Some common birds seen in the national park are green-tailed sunbird, ashy-throated warbler, green/purple cochoa, Sikkim treecreeper, maroon oriole, bar-throated minla, green-tailed sunbird, rufous-winged fulvetta, chestnut-crowned laughing thrush and speckled/ashy wood pigeons.
Situated right south of Kaeng Krachan National Park and 88 kilometres from Hua Hin, the park is famous for its elephants. Other common animals are gaur, banteng and deer.
The national park is home to one of biggest population of gaurs in entire Thailand. Some of the common birds that can be found in Kui Buri are crested fireback, Indian roller and Asian open bill.
Formerly known as Doi Aoy Chang, Doi Suthep-Pui National Park is named after the mountain where the hermit Sudeva for many years. The park is situated in Chiang Mai Province, only few kilometres northwest of Chiang Mai City.
Forests in the park consists of evergreen forest on higher altitudes above 1000 meters and deciduous forest on lower parts with some mixed deciduous-evergreen forest occurring in gullies and along streams.
Some of mammal species are Indian muntjac, wild boar, Assam macaque, mainland serow, Asian golden cat, Malayan porcupine and Asian Black Bear.
Common birds found in the national park are white-crested laughing thrush, grey-headed canary-flycatcher, great barbet, blue-throated barbet and grey-capped pygmy woodpecker, Scops owl, grey-chinned minivet, Blyth's shrike-babbler, Yunnan fulvetta and Slaty-backed flycatcher.
Located in Kanchanaburi Province, the park is home to one of most popular waterfalls in the country; the Erawan Falls. The park consists of limestone hills, plains and number of streams. The hills protect the park from the eastern monsoon resulting in less than average rainfall.
Some of common birds in the park are crested serpent eagle, black-naped monarch, blue whistling thrush, black-crested bulbul, blue-winged leaf bird, dark-necked tailorbird, green-billed malkoha, grey peacock-pheasant and kalij pheasant.
Mae Wong National Park, in Kampaeng Phet and Nakorn Sawan provinces, covers 894 square kilometres and is part of the western forest complex: the largest remaining tract of forest in Thailand.
Mae Wong National Park is the most accessible part of the western forest complex and gives birders the opportunity to see some species that are really hard to find or absent elsewhere in Thailand.
A few species have been found at Mae Wong and very seldom anywhere else, but of these, Rufous-necked Hornbill has to be the star. This species is only found in a few locations within the western forests of Thailand, but Mae Wong is the most accessible.
Burmese Yuhina is another speciality of the higher regions of Mae Wong National Park and Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler is another exciting bird which is frequently reported here. Rusty-capped Fulvetta is also confined to this region within Thailand.
The best national park in Northeast Thailand and one of best in the country with good wildlife viewing, bird-watching and hiking possibilities. Nam Nao covers 966 square kilometres in the mountainous forests of Phetchabun and Chaiyapum provinces in Northeast Thailand.
The park is home to many exciting animal species like elephant, gaur, banteng, leopard, Indian muntjac, sambar deer, Asian golden jackal, Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, wild boars and many more.
A little over 200 kilometres to the southwest of Bangkok, or a day trip from Hua Hin, is Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Thailand’s oldest coastal national park covers nearly 100 square kilometres and gets its name, which translates as ‘Three Hundred Mountain Peaks’, from the limestone outcrops that tower over sandy beaches, mangrove forests and coastal marshlands.
Among the many mammals that inhabit the park are dusky leaf monkeys swinging through the treetops, crab-eating macaque, porcupine, barking deer, slow loris and the elusive serow – or black goat-antelope, pangolins and fishing cats.
Freshwater marshes and mudflats attract migratory birds in their thousands from as far away as Northern Europe, Siberia and China. The best place to indulge in a spot of twitching is Thung Khao Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh.
The Similan Marine National Park, located just off the west coast of Thailand, some 65 kilometres from Khao Lak. The National Park includes 11 islands dotted in a line from South to North.
The islands are famous for snorkelling. Apart from the rich coral life, the islands are also home to number of bird species. Nicobar Pigeons are very common and will be seen everywhere. Bird species like white-bellied sea eagle, Asian koel, and black kite are seen regularly.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is one of most interesting wildlife watching location in Thailand. Due to relatively clear visibility through the forest and abundance of all sorts’ animals it is very easy to spot wildlife.
The sanctuary is home to largest population of tigers in Thailand, other relatively common species are banteng, elephants and leopards. Although being one of best bird-watching destinations it is quite unknown to many birders.
Huai Kha Khaeng is mainly hilly, consists of evergreen hill forest with Eleocarpus dominating the river banks, semi-evergreen, deciduous and bamboo forests. The sanctuary has several large rivers surrounded by grassland. The sanctuary is one of Thailand's least accessible and least disturbed forest areas.
Most common mammals in the park with almost guaranteed sighting during couple of day’s trips are four deer species (Sambar deer, barking deer, Eld's deer and Indian hog deer), long-tailed macaque, Asian palm civet and boar.