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Wildlife spotting in the best national parks in Thailand


Thailand is rich in everything – smiles, good food, show-stopping beaches and culture. This beautiful country is also home to a whopping 127 national parks, rich in native wildlife including birds, wild cats and reptiles.

We take a look at some of the best national parks in Thailand, to discover the incredible animals you can expect to see when visiting these wonderful sites.

Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park

Near Koh Samui

Monkey Image Credit: via Wikicommons

This was opened as a marine park in 1980, and covers 42 islands and a total of 102km2. The park is registered as a Ramsar site by Ramsar Convention, which is an international treaty for recognition of important wetlands.

A trip to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Marine Park will take in a combination of steep limestone hills, sinkholes, caves and inland marine lakes. Most of the islands are uninhabited, but there is one nomadic village at Ko Wua Ta Lap and another at Ko Phaluai.

The park is home to some exclusive species of plantlife that can be found nowhere else on the planet, such as the beautiful Thong Lady’s Slipper Orchid. There are also many sites for diving.

Animals spotted here include the dusky leaf monkey, long-tailed macaque, leopard cat, fishing cat, wild boar and smooth-coated otter. Bird-watchers can also enjoy spotting collared kingfisher, white-bellied sea eagle, brahminy kite, black baza, oriental pied hornbill, Eurasian woodcock, pacific reef heron and common hill myna.

Sirinat National Park

Near Phuket

Turtle Image Credit: via Wikicommons

Only 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport, this is an easy national park to reach. It comprises of 22 sq km of coastal land, as well as 68 sq km of sea.

Sea turtles and leatherback turtles can be found laying eggs on Hat Mai Khao beach between November and February. While, within the mangroves, visitors can spot monitor lizards and mangrove snakes.

Khao Chamao

Near Pattaya

Elephant Image credit: via Wikicommons

Camping is welcomed at Khao Chamao, with a spacious campsite, bungalows, two restaurants and some handy shops. While relatively small in size, the park is teaming with wildlife – however, you do have to head upwards to spot the majority of the animals. The lowlands are much quieter, perhaps due to the frequency of visitors.

Up hill, you can catch sight of elephants, bears, leopards, leopard cats, Indochinese serow, gaurs (wild ox), pileated gibbon, boars and banded langur. There are around 50 species of birds in this area, from Indian rollers to Siamese firebacks.

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

Near Hua Hin

Animals

This national park is famous for the rich wildlife that resides amongst its mangrove forests, coastline, islands, marshes and caves.

Animals that can be found here include herds of elephants, gaurs, dusky leaf monkey, crab-eating macaque, Malayan porcupine, mainland serow, slow loris, barking deer, fishing cat and Malayan pangolin. Take a boat out, and you might be able to spot dolphins, as well as the adorable-looking Irrawaddy dolphins.

There's also a diverse collection of birds, which include purple swamphen, oriental hobby, eastern marsh harrier and greater spotted eagle.

Khao Phanom Bencha National Park

Near Krabi

Animals

This area of undisturbed beauty is Krabi’s only national park. Verdant forests, awe inspiring mountain ranges, waterfalls, streams and caves are all host to a diverse range of animals which include Asian tapirs, Sumatran serows, Asiatic black bears and fishing cats. Eagles, hornbills and woodpeckers also live within the trees.

Waterfalls are also one of the park’s biggest draws, and many of them originate from the PhanomBencha mountain. Treks can be taken in and around the cascades and make incredible photo opportunities.

Khao Yai National Park

Near Bangkok

Animals

This park was established in 1962, and is the third largest national park in Thailand. The area is rich in evergreen forests and grasslands – making it the ideal habitat for elephants, bears, otters, barking deer, gibbons and macaques. There is a very small tiger population in the area near to Thap Lan and Pang Sida National Park.

Reptile-wise, and you’ll find reticulated pythons, Chinese water dragons, crested lizards and water monitors – as well as one crocodile which can be seen on one of the trails.

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