Birdwatching

Ten percent of all bird species can be found in Thailand.  It is a zoogeographic crossroads or in common terms a melting pot.  This because the country’s avifauna comprises Sino-Himalayan, Indo-Burmese, Indo-Chinese and Sundaic elements as well as a large number of migrant visitors.

There are a number of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and protected areas which are the main birding spots where birds can be seen all year round.

November to February is the peak time for migrating species when most areas are good for birdwatching. In the north where the weather is cooler the most popular destinations are Doi Inthanon National Park, Doi Pui/Suthep National Park, Doi Chiengdao Wildlife Sanctuary, Doi Angkhang and Chiengsaen.

One of the best areas for birdwatching first thing in the morning is in north east at  the Khao Yai National Park. Then there is  Kroeng-Kravia ,  Tung Yai and Kaeng Krachan in the west and south west.  With Khao Sam Roi Yot a little further south.

Next at the hottest time of the year, March  to June is good for both passage migrants and resident species, which are then breeding. The best areas are in the west, south west and the south . The mangroves in Krabi, Khao Nor Chu Chi and the Halabala Wildlife Sanctuary in the far south.

July to October is the rainy season which is a lot quieter but good for resident species and breeding visitors. With sightings of passage migrants  from  August to October. The best birding spots are in the central plains in and around Bangkok and Kampangsaen. As well the coastal areas Bangpu and Samutsakhorn fromSeptember to October.

Fragile beauty

The world of butterflies is a mystery, something so beautiful and fragile.

Siam Butterfly Farm

 

Thailand is home to over 1,100 species of butterflies. They can be seen anywhere: in the National Parks, in the city gardens, in beach-side resorts and all over the countryside. … the best butterfly watching National Parks are Khao Yai and Khaeng Krachan

Scuba diving

My introduction to diving in Thailand was a live abord cruise on a catamaran from Phuket up to Similan, Surin and the Burma Banks. An experience I have never forgotten.

Similan is an archipelago of nine different islands. One of the best dive sites to see manta rays and if you are lucky whale sharks. Best done on a live aboard to dive sites like Richelieu Rock, Elephant Head, and Beacon Point.

Uniquely Thai

In international terms Thailand is a relative late-comer as a coffee producer.

Although coffee has been gown for a little over a century, the country only started exporting  Robusta beans in 1976.  Growing to become one of the top twenty five coffee producers in the world.  Unique in that it exports very little of the coffee that is grown.

Most of the consumption remains in the country, having developed a booming specialty coffee ecosystem where farmers, roasters, cafes and consumers symbiotically co-exist.  An example of a working coffee ecosystem where coffee is produced sustainably from both economic and environmental perspectives. A rare achievement in the coffee world. But one that is typically and uniquely Thai.

Hill Tribes

Local Weaving Exhibition and Demonstration Centre (Phaichit Weaving Group) is located behind Wat Ban Rai, next to Ban Na Fai Bueng Ta Pho School. Turn into the alley beside the school and go on for 700 metres. It is a group of people weaving cotton cloth with dyes from nature. They also teach others who are interested in weaving passing on the ancient patterns such as Lai Kho Luang, and Lai Kho Kham Duean. There are shops to sell Pha Sin, bedspread, tablecloth, cloth for tailoring and Mon Khit pillow. In this area, there is also a museum of ancient cloth which is more than a hundred years old

Ban I Mat – I Sai Hill Tribe Cultural Centre is located at Mu 4, Tambon Kaen Makrut, under the responsibility of the Hill Tribe Development and Contribution Centre, Uthai Thani, existing in a part of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Most hill tribes are Karen, living peacefully and simply while they still practice their old traditions strictly. The examples of major interesting events are the festival to pay respect to the pagoda where there is a show of sword dancing, and the ceremony to pay respect to the Pho tree.

When the festivals are held, all relatives will return home. Those two events will be held every year in April. The date of the ceremony depends on the readiness of the people in the community; for example, when they finish harvesting. The most important thing is that this village does strictly not allow people to get involved in gambling or drinking alcohol.

Visitors can stay overnight at the Karen village, Chao Wat Yang Daeng Village, or shelters in the cultural centre which houses the Hill Tribe Museum. Please call Tel. 0 5651 2026 from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. It also sells hand-made products, local woven cloth in natural color, bamboo basketry, and seasonal agricultural goods, such as dried chili.

To get there, from Amphoe Ban Rai, drive along Highway 3011, Ban Rai – Phu Bon route for about 20 km. to the end of the asphalted road. Take a laterite road for another 1 km.

Tham Kret Dao is 1 km. far from Ban I Mat – I Sai Hill Tribe Cultural Centre. It is possible to see the walking route leading to this cave. From its entrance, there is a bamboo ladder leading downward to the cave. It is a massive cave with large stones which can glitter when the light shines on them. The ceiling is full of bats. Villagers bring those bats droppings to make a fertilizer for plants in their fields. It is necessary to bring a torch.

Namtok Tat Dao is a little further from the entrance of Tham Kret Dao. The 9-tiered waterfall flows over rocks and is surrounded by fertile forest.

Botanical Garden is about 5 km. from the cultural centre. It has a natural fresh and comfortable atmosphere. It takes about an hour to walk around. In the garden, there are useful local plants and various species of plants; such as Sadao Pa whose fruits and leaves can be made into an organic repellent, Ton Sabu whose fruits can be used in bathing, washing hair and clothes, Rang Chuet which has a medical property to sober up. Some plants are poisonous such as hair of Chang Rong which can make peopleûs skin painfully itch when touching. Ya Nong – upas trees – has a poisonous sap which hunters in the past applied to the end of their darts that used for hunting.

tourismthailand.org/fileadmin/upload_img/Multimedia/Ebrochure/368/uthaithani.pdf

Wildlife Sanctuary

A World Heritage site, the Thung Yai Naesuan and Huai Kha Khamin Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of over 600,000 hectares.

Huay Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries Thailand South East Asia

Access is limited to a few hides and walking trails around the administrative centre. Although there are accommodation facilities these are only available for research and study purposes rather than casual visitors.

Wildlife conservation Thung Yai Naresuan Thailand South East Asia

More than half of the total population of the Indochinese tiger survives in Thailands Western Forest Complex, with Huai Kha Khaeng as its core habitat. This a story of Huai Kha Khaeng, a story about Seub Nakhasathienva the superintendent whose work and death at the sanctuary was largely responsible for it being declared a World Heritage site.

Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary Thailand South East Asia

A struggle and commitment best expressed by the solitude and simplicity of a bench near his cottage that overlooks a bend of the river at the Sanctuaries Headquarters. A testament to the memory of a man who dedicated his life to preserving something he believed in passionately.

Tham Than Lod Noi

The Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park is one of those special places where you kick off your shoes and simply relax.

Tham Than Lod National Park Kanchanaburi

The main attraction that draws visitors, besides the locals with whom it is popular, is a hike from the Tham Than Lod Noi or small cave and a steep climb to the Tham Than Lod Yai cave. Where Yai is big and its not really a cave. More of an arch. What used to be a cave a long long time ago.

It’s stunning. It’s also exhausting. Especially if you have kids in tow.

Rock slide Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park

Which is when the water and rock slide makes a lot more sense.

They will spend hours clambering up and down, then up those rocks again. While Mum and Dad relax over a prepacked lunch.

There is a restaurant area at the Visitor Centre. But its a bit hit and miss as they only open when its busy and are usually closed during the week. Early on there was also a small restaurant at the gate which used to serve the most delicious som than thai, larb and Thai omlette.

Accommodation at Tham Than Lod Kanchanaburi

There is a camp site with ablution and cooking facilities and I think you can hire tents. But we always used to book Parks chalet. They are reasonably priced and comfortable.

Farmstays

A lake surrounded by mountains. Peace, tranquility and healthy living at Phuu Fa Nam Organic Farm.

Tucked away on the back roads is an organic farmstay in Suphanburi. A working farm supplying organic produce to markets in Bangkok.

Organic farmstays Thailand

 

Boutique guest house

Siamotif Boutique Hotel is very much part of the local community in Thonburi. A reminder of simpler times.

Luxury accommodation in Bangkok - Traditional Thai wooden house

Set on the Bangkok Noi Canal it is an old wooden house offering uniquely-designed accommodation that is well off the beaten track.

Luxury accommodation on a canal in Bangkok

The hustle and bustle of Bangkok is left behind as you wander through the Ban Bu crafters community or browse for something to eat from the vendor stalls at the food market. And the Emerald Buddha Temple is just across the Chao Phraya river when you are ready to mix it with the crowds and sightseers.

Traditional Thai hospitality Bangkok - Luxury accommodation in a wooden house on a canal