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THAILAND

Spoon-billed Sandpipers & Pittas

Birdquest's Thailand birding tour explores a classic Southeast Asian birdwatching destination that not only has a very rich avifauna but very friendly people, beautiful landscapes and some of the best food in the world. Our Thailand itinerary is the most comprehensive available, producing more of the country's many specialities than any other, ranging from migrant Spoon-billed Sandpipers and Nordmann's Greenshanks to gorgeous pittas and secretive pheasants.

Monday 11th February — Wednesday 27th February 2019
(17 days)


Southern Thailand Extension: Wednesday 27th February — Monday 4th March (6 days)

Leader: Dave Farrow

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly comfortable accommodations

Spoon-billed Sandpipers - critically endangered and declining alarmingly, this tour offers the best chance of seeing this exotic and enigmatic wader (Dave Farrow)

Spoon-billed Sandpipers - critically endangered and declining alarmingly, this tour offers the best chance of seeing this exotic and enigmatic wader (Dave Farrow)

Undoubtedly one of the most fascinating countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand offers some of the region’s very best birding, including a long list of specialities and some of the most exciting shorebird watching in all Asia. An extremely rich resident Oriental avifauna, ranging from huge hornbills to diminutive flowerpeckers, is supplemented during the northern winter by an influx of migrants from northern Asia, including a fine selection of waders and passerines. Thailand has a superb network of reserves containing representative examples of every major habitat from lowland rainforest to montane evergreen forest and high altitude, moss-encrusted rhododendron thickets.

This beautiful country with its diverse ethnic groupings, much revered, age-old monarchy and rich cultural heritage has great appeal for the traveller as well as the birdwatcher. This is one of our favourite tours, a journey through an exotic, vibrant land that has an infinite capacity to delight and surprise the visitor.

Our itinerary in Thailand is highly focussed on Thailand’s most important specialities and produces more of these for our groups than for any other bird tour to the country. A classic destination for anyone interested in Asian birds, birding Thailand is a real ‘must’. Not only does the country offer wonderful birding, but accommodations and roads are mostly good or very good and the food is simply delicious!

Rapidly leaving the burgeoning Bangkok metropolis behind, we shall head for the coastal mudflats and saltpans of the Gulf of Thailand where, amongst an array of shorebirds, we will be searching for the ultimate prize – the rare Spoon-billed Sandpiper – at what has become the best place in the world for seeing this endangered species. Other special shorebirds include Malaysian Plover, the sometimes-split White-faced Plover, the rare and endangered Nordmann’s Greenshank, Great Knot and the rare Asian Dowitcher.

We then head westwards to the huge Kaeng Krachan National Park, a superb area that possesses the richest and most diverse forest avifauna in the whole of Thailand, including such specialities as Scaly-breasted Partridge, Kalij Pheasant, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Green-eared and Moustached Barbets, Southern Brown (or Rufous-cheeked) Hornbill, Racket-tailed and Ratchet-tailed Treepies, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Plain-tailed Warbler and Collared Babbler.

From Kaeng Krachan we travel northeastwards across the rice bowl of central Thailand to the famous Khao Yai National Park for our next taste of forest birds. Targets here will include Siamese Fireback, Silver Pheasant, the shy Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, Banded Kingfisher, Blue Pitta, Puff-throated and Grey-eyed Bulbuls, and Limestone Wren-Babbler, although there will be many other birds to enjoy ranging from the huge Giant Hornbill to the handsome Hainan Blue Flycatcher.

The next leg of our journey will take us to the far northwest of the country. Based at Chiang Dao, Doi Ang Khang (near the border with Burma), Thaton and finally Chom Thong near Doi Inthanon (Thailand’s highest peak), we shall have ample opportunity to enjoy the mountains, valleys and plains of northwestern Thailand. The superb avifauna of this marvellous region includes many montane specialities, amongst which are the rare Mrs Hume’s Pheasant, Rufous-throated Partridge, Stripe-breasted and Black-headed Woodpeckers, Crested Finchbill, Brown-breasted and White-headed Bulbuls, Dark-sided Thrush, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Russet Bush Warbler, Buff-throated Warbler, White-necked, White-browed and Silver-eared Laughingthrushes, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Spot-throated Babbler, Clicking Shrike-Babbler, Spectacled Barwing, Dark-backed Sibia, Striated Yuhina, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, the badger-striped Giant Nuthatch and, with luck, the secretive Black-tailed Crake, as well as some interesting lowland species like Rufous-winged Buzzard and the rare Green Peafowl, and also some exciting Palearctic visitors, quite possibly including the rare Grey-sided Thrush. This beautiful region of mountains, forests, rushing streams, paddyfields and hill tribe villages has an especially peaceful atmosphere and we shall be sorry indeed when the time comes for us to leave.

During the optional extension we will visit the southern end of the long, narrow peninsula that connects Thailand and Burma to Malaysia.

First we will explore the mangrove forest near Krabi, where we should find the superb Mangrove Pitta, the huge Brown-winged Kingfisher and the attractive Ruddy Kingfisher, while we may encounter a Chinese Egret on the mudflats.

Inland from Krabi, the remnant patches of lowland forest hold some of Thailand’s rarest birds, and no birding tour to southern Thailand would be complete without a visit to Khao Pra Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary. Further to the north we will explore Si Phang Nga National Park, which offers some different species. Here we will be looking for such lowland forest specialities as Red-crowned Barbet, Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Great Iora and Thick-billed Spiderhunter, and more widespread marvels such as Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Rufous-collared Kingfisher, Malayan Banded Pitta, Green Broadbill and Chestnut-naped Forktail.

Birdquest has operated tours to Thailand since 1982.

Important: The Birdquest group size limit is significantly lower than for most other Thailand tours. Given the high proportion of forest birding during Thailand tours, this is a major advantage for our participants.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are mostly of good standard. During the extension, at Khao Pra Bang Khram, we will stay for three nights at a fairly simple but clean and reasonably comfortable lodge. Participants usually rate the food on this tour very highly. Road transport is by small coach or minibus (and local pick-ups while exploring more remote areas).

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are a few harder walks.

Climate: Mostly hot, dry and sunny in the lowlands. At higher altitudes conditions range from warm to cool. Overcast weather is not infrequent but there is only a moderate chance of rain. It can be rather humid at lower elevations.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £4390, €5180, $5750 Bangkok/Bangkok. Single Room Supplement: £480, €567, $629. Deposit: £550, €660, $720.

Southern Thailand Extension: £1550, €1830, $2030 Bangkok/Phuket. Single Room Supplement: £150, €177, $197. Deposit: £200, €240, $260.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes these flights: Bangkok-Chiang Mai-Bangkok, Bangkok-Phuket.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

Black-tailed Crake is a shy and retiring fellow that might just walk into the open as this one did on our 2009 tour (Dave Farrow)

Black-tailed Crake is a shy and retiring fellow that might just walk into the open as this one did on our 2009 tour (Dave Farrow)

A recently discovered population of Green Peafowl in the north of the country adds another blaze of colour to this exciting tour (Dave Farrow)

A recently discovered population of Green Peafowl in the north of the country adds another blaze of colour to this exciting tour (Dave Farrow)

Banded Broadbills add yet more colour plus some wild sounds to the rich forests (Pete Morris)

Banded Broadbills add yet more colour plus some wild sounds to the rich forests (Pete Morris)

The wonderful forests of Kaeng Krachan offer good opportunities for seeing cute Silver-breasted Broadbills... (Dave Farrow)

The wonderful forests of Kaeng Krachan offer good opportunities for seeing cute Silver-breasted Broadbills... (Dave Farrow)

...and a chance too of the colourful Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Pete Morris)

...and a chance too of the colourful Black-and-yellow Broadbill (Pete Morris)

The stunning Black-and-red Broadbill can be found on our extension to Southern Thailand (Dave Farrow)

The stunning Black-and-red Broadbill can be found on our extension to Southern Thailand (Dave Farrow)

The beautiful Banded Kingfisher utters his mournful call from high in the forest trees (Dave Farrow)

The beautiful Banded Kingfisher utters his mournful call from high in the forest trees (Dave Farrow)

A flutter and a flash of orange in the forest heralds an Orange-breasted Trogon (Dave Farrow)

A flutter and a flash of orange in the forest heralds an Orange-breasted Trogon (Dave Farrow)

...while the Hainan Blue Flycatcher is a more understated bird (Dave Farrow)

...while the Hainan Blue Flycatcher is a more understated bird (Dave Farrow)

Wetlands near Bangkok may reveal some scarce and attractive Asian Golden Weaver (Pete Morris)

Wetlands near Bangkok may reveal some scarce and attractive Asian Golden Weaver (Pete Morris)

On our 2009 tour we enjoyed a rare view of this Oriental Hobby (Dave Farrow)

On our 2009 tour we enjoyed a rare view of this Oriental Hobby (Dave Farrow)

In 2009 we saw the recently rediscovered White-faced Plover, a tricky I'D, and perhaps previously overlooked, but the flag on its leg must surely help! (Dave Farrow)

In 2009 we saw the recently rediscovered White-faced Plover, a tricky I'D, and perhaps previously overlooked, but the flag on its leg must surely help! (Dave Farrow)

We have a good chance to find Mrs Hume's Pheasant in the north of the country, hopefully one will pose as this fine male did! (Dave Farrow)

We have a good chance to find Mrs Hume's Pheasant in the north of the country, hopefully one will pose as this fine male did! (Dave Farrow)

Often heard, Collared Owlet can be hard to find due to its tiny size (Dave Farrow)

Often heard, Collared Owlet can be hard to find due to its tiny size (Dave Farrow)

...whilst the Asian Barred Owlet is usually encountered during the day (Dave Farrow)

...whilst the Asian Barred Owlet is usually encountered during the day (Dave Farrow)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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