birdwatcher making a trip to the south of Thailand is likely
to stop in the town of Krabi, in the province of the same
name. The good news is that Krabi is a pleasant town with
good facilities and a relaxing atmosphere. Close to the town
are some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and
this is a good place to make excursions to Ko
Phi Phi and Khao Nor
Chu Chi, both excellent birding locations in
their own right.
has some of the most accessible mangroves in Asia and a boat
trip into them can be very rewarding. The river estuary at
Krabi would be worth a visit even without the mangroves, and
indeed the Krabi estuary was included in the East Asian-Australasian
Shorebird Site Network on the 9th November 2005; the first
such site in Thailand.
stay in Krabi is an excellent way to get a taste of the famous beaches
of Thailand as well as its culture and birds and an ideal place to
do some birding if travelling with non-birding friends and/or family.
birding trip to Krabi is for the quality rather than the quantity
of birds that there is the potential to see. Birds such as
Great Knot, Nordmann's Greenshank, Chinese Egret and Mangrove
Pitta should be enough to tempt most birders.
the birding here can be done by boat which makes it rather
a relaxing experience and suitable for disabled birders. In
the past Masked Finfoot has been seen from boat trips here,
although it hasn't been spotted for some time now, but other
mangrove specialists such as Brown-winged Kingfisher are commenly
(Photo by Peter
the river mouth large numbers of shorebirds are guaranteed from October
to April with Terek Sandpiper fairly common; it's more attractive
than most illustrations suggest. Far Eastern Curlew has also put in
an appearance here, but be careful some orientalis Eurasian
Curlews have bills just as long as Far Eastern's.
here for a checklist of the birds of Krabi
Tours : Check the suggested itineraries for
ideas on creating a tailor-made birdwatching trip to Thailand:
is a very popular tourist destination which makes getting
there no problem. If coming from Bangkok by bus I would recommend
taking one to Surat Thani from the Southern bus terminal and
then taking an air conditioned minibus to Krabi; these minibuses
usually wait in the main bus station at Surat. This journey
takes in the region of 10-12 hours! Avoid a bus going to Krabi
via the West coast and Phuket as the roads are narrow and
wind over some quite steep terrain. The bus companies seem
to save their most cramped buses on this route not to mention
their most disturbed drivers. If these weren't reasons enough
to avoid the western route them the journey can take in the
region of 17 hours. There are also regular buses from Hat
Yai if arriving from Malaysia or indeed buses from all nearby
is also possible to travel from Bangkok to Surat Thani by
(a somewhat slow) sleeper train, departing from Hua Lompong
station, and then proceeding to Krabi by minibus; I'm told
this is a pleasant way of making the trip in the region of
most convenient, but most expensive, method of arrival is
by plane. Krabi has a small airport about 10 kilometres from
the town, and there are daily flights from Bangkok. There
are an increasing amount of airlines catering to domestic
passengers which makes flying an ever cheaper and more attractive
those touring Thailand by car, the drive from Bangkok can be done
in about 9-10 hours which I can confirm is very tiring if there
is only one driver.
provides birders with quite a number of birding opportunities; hiring
a motorcycle and simply touring around will reveal some interesting
species, but there are a few places which have become favourites with
Boat Trips : The
mangroves are where many specialist species can be found and
one of the main reasons for birding here. Most people hire
a boatman to explore the network of creeks and find target
birds such as Mangrove Pitta and Ruddy Kingfisher. Many use
Mr Dai, but I find him too happy to live off of past glories
and do not find him value for money. He does know the bird's
calls however, but I have found many of the other boatmen
happy to explore this area in search of birds and a number
of them have sharp eyes. Brown-winged Kingfisher is a certainty
here and it is a magnificent bird, its colours contrasting
with the dark green mangrove trees. Mangrove Blue Flycatcher
lives here too, but be careful not to assume all the Blue
Flycatchers here are this species; Hill Blue and glaucicomans
Blue-throated Flycatchers occur in mangroves too.
Pittas are quite vocal in the mornings; it's a good idea to
get out of the boat to get the best views. Other birds here
are Ashy Tailorbird, Malkohas and Black-and-red Broadbill.
Also, near Khao Kanab Nam look out for Striated Swallow and
Oriental Hobby; the latter can sometimes be seen hunting the
Boardwalk : The
mangrove boardwalk provides an excellent alternative to a
boat trip for mangrove birds at Krabi.
at the point at which the road veers away from the river,
as one walks north from along Krabi riverfront, it is easy
to find. The sign in the photograph below marks the entrance
runs for about 1 kilometre which means that to find birds
one must walk up and down a few times, but it is possible
to find both Brown-winged Kingfisher and Mangrove Pitta fairly
easily. Other birds that can be found include Ashy Tailorbird,
Black-and-red Broadbill and some lucky visitors have seen
White-chested Babbler here too.
length of this boardwalk means that a boat trip may be desirable
too but it is worth checking out beforehand and if you are
lucky it may save money and time that would be spent on a
(Photo by Nick
Sign at the Entrance
to the Mangrove Boardwalk, Krabi
(Photo by Nick Upton)
Mouth : All the
boatmen can take you here and many of them know the requirements
of birdwatchers. Timing is impotant here as when the tide
goes out it goes out for a very long way and the birds can
be very distant. A good place to go is the wader roost at
the eastern side of the river mouth, all the boatmen know
this and although it's obviously best to get there when the
tide is in, birds can be located here at any time. Be careful
of the mud if you get out, most places it is safe but there
are some very sticky patches!
Egret and Nordmann's Greenshank are often searched for here
and although identifying Chinese Egret should be done with
care, Nordmann's Greenshank is reasonably easy to locate.
Other interesting species that can usually be found are Great
Knot, Lesser and Greater Crested Terns and the quite handsome
Terek Sandpiper which can be quite numerous at Krabi. It is
worth checking the multitude of Pond Herons here for Indian
Pond Heron which is being increasingly sighted in Thailand,
particularly on the west coast. One thing that is guaranteed
here is that from October to April there will be thousands
of shorebirds to observe.
Plover & Little Egret
(Photo by Douglas Bolt)
(Photo by Alister
: It is quite surprising
how many species can be seen from the riverfront at Krabi.
Pacific Swallows are nearly always in evidence swooping around
just over the water and Collared, Common, Black-capped and
even Brown-winged Kingfishers can be seen here. When the tide
is out a small number of waders make it as far up to the town,
with Common Sandpiper, Kentish Plover and Lesser Sand Plover
being the most likely. Plenty of Egrets can be found here
and when they begin to come into breeding plumage a few Javan
Pond Herons or even Indian Pond Herons may be picked out from
the numerous Chinese Pond Herons. White-bellied Sea Eagle
and Brahminy Kite are both frequently observed flying over
the town and the buildings near where the long-tailed boats
are moored are used by small numbers of Asian Glossy Starling.
Park and Spa Hotel, a large splendid looking
affair about 1 kilometre north of the town centre is a good
place to get into the mangroves and many people find Brown-winged
Kingfisher and Mangrove Pitta here. Just mention that you
are watching birds and the staff are happy to let you wander
around the grounds which include ornamental gardens, scrubland
and mangroves; Bird
List for Maritime Park and Spa, Krabi.
is a small town which is used to catering for tourists, with
a good selection of accommodation from backpacker lodges to
huge, flashy hotels; Krabi
Hotel Reservations. There are lots of good restaurants
serving cheap food, both western and Thai and an excellent
night market on the waterfront where lots of delicious things
are for sale. There is also a daytime market which drags on
into the evening where foodstalls will cook up various specialities
and fruit sellers have a great variety of exotic fruits to
buy and try; a durian is something you will never forget!
This market is opposite the City
Hotel which I always use; it has clean and well-kept
air conditioned rooms from 650 baht.
to the waterfront are a number of small restaurants/bars where
one can relax over a drink and internet cafes provide the
opportunity to catch up with family and friends, or take a
look at thaibirding.com!
A few places close by also hire motor scooters or bicycles
quite cheaply for the day or half day.
(Photo by Douglas Bolt)
is also a good place for arranging travel to other destinations
in Thailand, with a bus station, an airport and boat pier. This
is a good place to travel to Ko Phi Phi
from and there are plenty of travel agents that can arrange excursions
for you. The rates of commission at all agents seem to be the same
so there doesn't appear to be the need to shop around much for bus,
plane or boat tickets. These travel agents can also arrange for
car rental at good rates and a short notice.
Krabi is a fairly
quiet town with little to do at night. A few bars along Chao Fa
Road cater to foreigners and there are a number of bizarre karaoke
bars and hotel bars around that cater to Thais and foreigners are
welcomed although little English is spoken; a drink in one of these
places is a strange experience indeed.
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Southern Thailand Birding Locations
in the Hand
Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand
Wilczur's Bird Art: Gurney's Pitta, Banded Pitta & Rufous-collared
List for Maritime Park and Spa, Krabi
and Sediment Dynamics Along the Coasts of Southern Thailand
Islands and Beaches