Bird Watching Around Hua Hin
Bird watching is a wonderful way to explore our local ecosystems. You may be surprised to learn that there are two excellent bird watching sites near your hip resort town of Hua Hin. Kaeng Krachan and Khao Sam Roi Yot National Parks are both competing for the title of Thailand’s top bird watching spots. These huge parks can easily be reached for a half-day or full-day outing from Hua Hin.
Bird Watching Basics: Bird watching can be simple and you don’t need to know how to identify a single species to get started, but if you want to get more enjoyment from this hobby, you will need 3 items to begin. You need a pair of binoculars, a field guide, and a blank notebook (you may want to keep a bird watching journal).
- Choosing binoculars: Birds almost never let you get close enough to really see them, so you rely on binoculars. Test a wide variety before buying since face shape, hand size, gripping style, and vision vary so widely. Most birders prefer a magnification of 7X or 8X by 42, which means an object is seen 7 or 8 times larger and 42 is the lens size, the higher the number , the brighter the image and the heavier the lens. Cheap binoculars are rarely durable and can produce poor images that cause eyestrain. A reasonably priced pair should last a lifetime.
- A field guide: Buy a guide book of tropical rainforest, mangrove, and mudflats to help you identify what you spotted. Kaeng Krachan has over 250 birds species recorded. The best places for bird watching are in the northern part of the park, particularly around Huai Nam Yen. In Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, the best places to look are around marshland areas, both along the coast and near the nature study center. This is bird watchers’ paradise. As many as 300 migratory birds (from East Asian and Australian) and resident bird species are recorded here. The park has Thailand’s largest freshwater marsh, along with mangroves and mudflats, and is one of only three places in the kingdom where the purple heron breeds. It is nice to get range maps to know which birds are native to this area and which species may be migrating through it at a given time of year. Best season for bird watching is October to February, where the largest flocks of migrants come to Thailand from Arctic region in North Asia- they are called non-breeding visitors.
Getting Started: Dress in comfortable and light weight clothes. Wear comfortable shoes. Apply copious sunscreen and use bug repelling cream. Bring along plenty of water, snacks, extra sunscreen and bug repelling cream and don’t forget your binoculars. Since birds are naturally skittish, you need to have patience; however, the reward will be well worth it.
How to get there: Kaeng Krachan National Park is Thailand’ largest national park (2,915 square kilometers) and home to the gorgeous Nam Tok Pala-U. It is the evergreen forest covered mountains along the border with Myanmar. To go by car from Hua Hin, go toward Petchburi, drive on Hwy 4 about 20 kilometers from Petchburi, and at the Kern Pet Junction, turn right and go 38 kilometers to Pet dam, then 3 kilometers more to the park headquarters. The park charges 400/adult, 200/child for entry fee. Khao Sam Roi Yot is approximately 40 kilometers south of Hua Hin. Take Hwy 4 (Petchkasem Rd.) to Pranburi. In Pranburi turn left at the main intersection and 4 kilometers later, at the police sub-station, turn right. From there, it is 19 kilometers to one of the three parks’ entrance. Admission fee is 400/adult, 200/child under 14 years.
Bird watching is a simple opportunity to expand the understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Remember that you will be encroaching on the birds’ territory, tread lightly and respect their boundaries and take extra care when you are in potential or active nesting areas. This outdoor activity can bring such a sense of wonder and satisfaction. Bird watching is meant to be informative and fun and you have to be quiet to listen to bird calls. This alone will provide you with calm and peaceful solitude few other activities in today’s hectic world offer.