01692 580623/4

Thailand (North) NEW! Gulf Coast & Northern Hills

A 13-day, small group birdwatching tour to Thailand

Limosa’s birding tours to Northern Thailand begin near Bangkok, with a visit to the Gulf of Thailand in search of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank and other of the world's rarest shorebirds. From there, we fly north to explore the bird-rich forests of the country's far northern hills - Doi Lang, Doi Ang Khang, Doi Chiang Dao and Doi Inthanon - as well as the large border wetland at Chiang Saen, with its roost of many handsome Pied Harriers. Green Peafowl, Mrs Hume’s Pheasant, Giant Nuthatch, Golden Bush Robin, Scarlet-faced Liocichla... and a sackful of other sought-after specialities await on this late autumn bird tour to Thailand!

Tour Dates



Richard Thaxton
local guides

Max Group Size: 10
Duration: 13 Days

Ask About Tour

Cost: £4595

inc return flights London Heathrow-Bangkok, nonstop with British Airways

Deposit: £600

Single Supp: £475
Land Only: £4095

Book This Tour

Ask About Tour

If you have any questions about our tours or require further information, we are always happy to hear from you.
Feel free to contact us by email, fax or telephone to discuss any aspect of our tours. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Click here to read our Privacy Policy


Black breasted Thrush Thailand Feb 2015 Brian Small resized

Black-breasted Thrush photographed on one of our visits to Doi Lang, Northern Thailand © Brian Small, Limosa

Our birding tour to Northern Thailand offers a superb introduction to the amazing avifauna of Southeast Asia. It's a region blessed with an exceptionally rich and diverse birdlife, including an impressive list of Oriental specialities. A late November visit also finds large numbers of wintering Siberian passerines present across the region, while the shores of Thailand’s gulf coast boast some of the most exciting wader watching in all Asia.

Our updated itinerary takes in three key areas: moving from coastal habitats around the Gulf of Thailand in Central Thailand to the border hills of Doi Lang, Doi Ang Khang and Doi Chiang Dao in the far north of the country, before concluding with an exploration of the bird-rich forests that adorn Thailand's highest peak, Doi Inthanon.

From the capital Bangkok, we head directly to the tidal mudflats, mangroves and saltpans overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. For sheer number and variety of shorebirds this area is amongst the best in all Asia, with an array of sought-after species - but none more special than the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, at what has latterly become the best place in the world for seeing this charismatic shorebird. The endangered Nordmann’s Greenshank also occurs in winter, when other waders of note include Great Knot, and Red-necked and Long-toed Stints. We’ll also take a boat trip to look for Malaysian Plover and the 'taxonomically challenged' White-faced Plover. Also possible here is the near-threatened Asian Dowitcher, a migrant from its breeding grounds in Siberia. All were seen on our last four Thailand tours.

For the second part of our holiday we catch a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, in the far north of Thailand. From there, we drive the short distance north into the ‘Golden Triangle’, on the border area with Myanmar (Burma) and Laos.

Here, along the Mekong River, a mosaic of wetland habitats includes rice fields, fish ponds, pools and open water. It’s an excellent spot for a wide variety of resident and migratory species, notably wildfowl including Ferruginous and Falcated Duck in winter, but also a chance to find the rare Baer's Pochard and Baikal Teal. We will also pop out to Yonok, where a large mixed roost of Eastern Marsh and handsome Pied Harriers can hold more than 200 birds!

Sitting amidst a scenic mountainous region on the border with Myanmar (Burma), the forested peaks of Doi Lang, Doi Ang Khang and Doi Chiang Dao are clad in upland oak and pine forests that hold numerous local specialities. The elusive Giant Nuthatch, whacky Crested Finchbill, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, Whiskered Yuhina, Spot-breasted Parrotbill and Fire-tailed Sunbird are among mouthwatering possibilities here. The beautiful Orange-bellied Leafbird and Scarlet-faced Liocichla are also present, along with numerous Palearctic migrants.

Chiang Mai is the provincial capital of Northern Thailand. Here we make a special excursion to see the much declined Green Peafowl, before devoting the remainder of our time to birding the forested slopes of Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon (2565m/8415ft). Again, the list of birds to be found here is long and includes many specialities.

Inthanon’s upper slopes are home to the elfin Pygmy Wren-babbler, Bar-throated Minla, Ashy-throated Warbler and jewel-like Green-tailed and Mrs Gould’s Sunbirds, while lower down we may encounter White-rumped Falcon, White-bellied Woodpecker and Slaty-backed Forktail. Then there are other seldom seen species to look for, such as the shy Rufous-throated Partridge, Rusty-naped Pitta, Green Cochoa and Dark-sided Thrush. At this time of year we should also encounter many wintering Palearctic and Siberian passerines, from Yellow-browed, Radde’s and Dusky Warblers to Brown Shrike, Eyebrowed Thrush, Olive-backed Pipit and the sought-after Siberian Rubythroat - the stuff that birders’ dreams are made of!

Thailand's tropical climate is at its best when we visit, while accommodations and the delicious local cuisine are good throughout - in fact, food is something of a religion in Thailand!

Guide Richard Thaxton teams up with our excellent resident Thai birding expert 'End' to lead this super tour to Northern Thailand. Our November 2019 and 2020 tours will be Richard's third and fourth visits to Thailand, and ‘End's’ seventh tour of duty with Limosa.

Ultramarine Fly m Thailand Brian Small Jan 2014 IMG 7453 copy

Ultramarine Flycatcher is another cracker to watch for on Thailand's forested northern peaks © Brian Small, Limosa

Itinerary Update: Our originally advertised itinerary for this tour included a two-night stay on Doi Ang Khang. However, heavy rainfall and landslip led to road closure there from late 2018, and the accommodation on Ang Khang is also closed indefinitely. As it is not currently possible to stay on Ang Khang, we have adjusted the itinerary below to now give an extra (third) night at both Tha Ton (Doi Lang) and Doi Inthanon, which share the same avifauna as Doi Ang Khang. Our updated itinerary also allows time for an afternoon visit to another northern hill: Doi Chiang Dao, which was not on our original itinerary.


Day 1

Our birdwatching tour to Northern Thailand commences with departure from London Heathrow today on British Airways nonstop overnight flight bound for Bangkok.

Days 2-3
We shall be met on arrival in Bangkok (morning of day 2) by our local guide and head southwest from the Thai capital, directly to the shores of the Gulf of Thailand. A two-night stay at a comfortable coastal hotel here will obviate the need to run the gauntlet of Bangkok’s traffic congested streets each morning and evening.  

Our birding destinations for these two days are the coastal sites of Khok Kham, Pak Thale and Laem Pak Bia - areas of intertidal mudflats, saltpans, shrimp and fish ponds, rice paddies, mangroves and marshy pools that are simply outstanding for wintering shorebirds from Northern Asia. Topping the bill, this area has become famous in recent years as the best place to look for one of the world’s rarest, oddest and most charismatic waders: Spoon-billed Sandpiper, which winters here in tiny numbers.

The Gulf is also a reliable spot in winter to see the endangered Nordmann’s Greenshank. With a world population estimated to be less than 1000 individuals, this is another of the world’s rarest waders and we have chances to unearth both these ‘five-star’ Siberian shorebirds during our birding here today, and again tomorrow.

It will come as no surprise to discover that wader watching is generally are excellent here, with an exciting cast of migrant and wintering species present. Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers, Pacific Golden Plover, Broad-billed, Marsh and Terek Sandpipers, Great Knot, and Red-necked and Long-toed Stints are among a range of more “exotic” shorebirds we could see. With luck, we might come across the rare Asian Dowitcher, which also passes through the Gulf of Thailand at this season, while more familiar species we could see include Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Wood and Curlew Sandpipers, plus Red-necked Phalarope.

If the tide is right, we will take a boat trip out through the mangroves to a sandy spit to look for the rare and localised Malaysian Plover, as well as the recently rediscovered White-faced Plover, the latter an enigmatic bird which many authorities now regard as a separate species.

Herons, egrets and terns are numerous in the coastal wetlands that fringe the Gulf of Thailand, with both Chinese and Javan Pond Herons, and buoyant Whiskered Terns much in evidence. Heavy-billed Collared and Black-capped Kingfishers hunt crabs amongst the mangroves, as striking chestnut, black and white Brahminy Kites patrol lazily overhead. Among a wide variety of other species we are likely to come across over these two days are Pacific Reef Egret, Striated Heron, Heuglin’s and Brown-headed Gulls, Caspian, Crested and Lesser Crested Terns, Pink-necked Pigeon, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Golden-bellied Gerygone (Flyeater), Pied Fantail, Asian Pied Starling, White-vented Myna, Brown-throated and Yellow-bellied Sunbirds, and Streaked Weaver.

If time permits, one evening we will visit the limestone outcrop at Na Yang, where we can marvel at the nightly exodus of millions of Wrinkle-lipped Bats from their roost high in the limestone cliffs - whilst marauding Grey-faced Buzzards and Common Kestrels pluck them from the sky. Two nights Petchaburi (Pak Thale)

Day 4
After breakfast and some early morning birding close to Petchaburi, we return to Bangkok in time to catch our flight north to Chiang Rai, in the northernmost region of Thailand.
We'll be picked up on arrival at Chiang Rai and transfer north into the ‘Golden Triangle’, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet. Our destination this evening is the Imperial Golden Triangle Resort, in Chiang Saen district, where we spend the night.

In the late afternoon we'll pop out to the Yonok harrier roost, where a large mixed gathering of Eastern Marsh and exquisite Pied Harriers can hold more than 200 birds. Night Chiang Saen

Day 5
We spend the morning at Chiang Saen lakes, checking through the large flocks of wildfowl that gather here in winter. Ruddy Shelduck occur alongside other Eurasian species. Ferruginous and Falcated Duck need to be searched carefully for and there's always the chance of something rarer, such as Baer's Pochard or Baikal Teal.

The Mekong River flows along the border, where wader watching can also prove rewarding. Long-billed Plover, Small Pratincole and River Lapwing have all been seen here and the sandbars sometimes hold Spot-billed Duck and Pallas's (Great Black-headed) Gull. As Plain Martins scoot over the water, we will take care to search the long grass close to the water for the distinctive Jerdon's Bushchat.

After lunch, we move west to our riverside hotel at Tha Ton, with views of the northern hills off to our right as we drive - and Pied Bushchat and various bulbuls to watch for on roadside wires. Tha Ton will be our base for a three-night stay.

If time permits after we have checked in, we'll take a quick look at the Mae Kok River from the hotel. Black-collared Starlings and Stejneger’s Stonechats may be seen before we pay a late afternoon visit to a local riverbed. Here we can search again for wintering Jerdon’s Bushchat and Citrine Wagtail, plus Long-tailed Shrike and Pied Harrier. Night Tha Ton

Days 6-7
The forested mountains of Northern Thailand (known locally as 'Doi') extend across the border into neighbouring Myanmar (Burma), and are rich in birdlife. This is especially so during the late autumn and winter months, when the region’s numerous resident species are boosted by an abundance of wintering birds from Northern Asia. Possibilities include Brown Shrike, Dusky Warbler, Eyebrowed Thrush and Olive-backed Pipit... and the prospect of getting to grips with an excellent selection of these over the coming days will be fulfilled. This really is a spectacular location for birds!

To make the most of our stay, we’ll be making a couple of very early starts on these two days for the drive (about an hour) up towards the summit of Doi Lang. Set at an elevation of more than 2000m (6500 feet), the birding up here is excellent and well worth the 'extra' second day our updated now itinerary affords.

After a picnic breakfast near a Thai/Burmese border post, we will sit and watch for birds coming into small ‘feeding stations’ that have been specially set up for them. We should find many local specialities: Rufous-throated Partridge, Blue Whistling Thrush, 'embarrassed-looking' Scarlet-faced Liocichlas, Silver-eared Laughingthrush, Grey-winged Blackbird, Striated Yuhina and Spectacled Barwing are among the most regular visitors at the summit. Various wintering species might also be found, perhaps including the large and distinctive Scaly Thrush, plus localised birds such as the very smart Black-throated Tit - a member of the Long-tailed Tit family - along with Grey Treepie and Orange-bellied Leafbird in the flowering trees.

Gradually working our way back down, we will stop to bird along the roadside forest edge and to sit and watch at more small feeding areas. Here we have the chance for more great views of new species: lovely White-gorgeted and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers, Chestnut-headed Tesias, and both Himalayan and Red-flanked Bluetails. The scarce Crested Finchbill can be locally common here and we may also find Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Whiskered Yuhina and White-bellied Redstart. As well as great birding, there are spectacular views from the escarpment over the Burmese Highlands. This is a seldom visited and poorly known corner of Thailand, with much still to be discovered and we might be lucky to spot one or two of the rarer or more difficult species, such as Mrs Hume's Pheasant, Himalayan Cutia, Red-tailed Laughingthrush or Scarlet Finch.

The pine trees up here hold populations of Cinereous and Yellow-bellied Tits, and are also home to the rare and highly localised Giant Nuthatch. The not-so-rare Cook’s Swift (now 'split' from Pacific Swift) breeds and roosts in limestone caves nearby and may pass overhead in huge numbers. Two further nights Tha Ton

Day 8
After an early breakfast this morning, we leave Tha Ton and travel 50 miles southwest to Doi Ang Khang, our first scheduled stop today, where we anticipate at least one of the two access roads will be open again. We will spend time this morning exploring the scenic landscape, which rises to a height of 1500m (5000ft). Although the extent of forest cover here has sadly been much reduced over recent decades, thanks to government intervention (it’s now a National Park) some of this threatened environment has belatedly been protected and Doi Ang Khang is still home to an excellent variety of forest birds.

In the open pine-oak woodlands we might encounter parties of Short-billed and Long-tailed Minivets, large flocks of Chestnut-sided White-eyes and Yunnan Fulvettas, the 'bandit-masked' Slender-billed Oriole and the gaudy Mrs Gould’s Sunbird. Specialities up here include Brown-breasted Bulbul, White-browed Laughingthrush and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler. In more pine woodland, if we are fortunate, the scarce and elusive Giant Nuthatch might put in another appearance, too.  

A visit to a lovely inhabited orchard and feeding station could bring views of Black-breasted and Eyebrowed Thrushes, Grey-winged Blackbird and White-capped Redstart, with perhaps a White-crowned Forktail or even the rufescent Black-browed and Spot-breasted Parrotbills - the latter being distinctly ‘parrot-billed’! And with wintering species arriving from further north there's always the chance of a surprise or two anywhere in these border hills!

Dropping down from Doi Ang Khang, we then head south for two hours and pay an afternoon visit to Doi Chiang Dao, for a spot of birding on this lovely hill. Blue-bearded and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters can be seen (and heard) in the trees, where a bevy of barbets might include Great and Blue-eared, along with both Black-winged and Large Cuckooshrikes. The striking White-headed Bulbul headlines an array of bulbul possibilities and we might even be lucky to find the richly coloured Maroon Oriole calling from the top of a tree.

Leaving Doi Chiang Dao, we return to the valley and continue south to our next hotel, which lies on the outskirts of Thailand's northern provincial capital, Chiang Mai. Night Chiang Mai

Days 9-11
After breakfast in Chiang Mai, we drive a short distance to visit the Royal Project Area at Huai Hong Krai. Our target bird here is the majestic Green Peafowl, a spectacular but endangered Southeast Asian pheasant that’s difficult to see elsewhere nowadays since its population has declined rapidly through habitat destruction and over-hunting. A walk along the trail might also produce Swinhoe’s and Rosy Minivets, and Asian Barred Owlet. Or perhaps a Brown Hawk Owl will let us know of its presence via its characteristic ‘boobook’ call, while the manmade pools at Huai Hong Krai can also be a good place to see Lesser Whistling Duck.

From Huai Hong Krai, we head southwest to Doi Inthanon National Park, where we spend the next three nights at the comfortable Inthanon Highland Resort. Around the resort itself we might find Indian Roller, Hoopoe, Arctic Warbler and Purple Sunbird, while in the local wood and paddies we will look for the extraordinary Red-billed Blue Magpie and Bright-capped Cisticola.
At 2565m (8415ft), Doi Inthanon is Thailand’s highest mountain. Encompassing more than 120,000 acres, this National Park is not only fantastic for birds but the best locality in northern Thailand to appreciate a succession of different habitats controlled by altitude - ranging from scrub and open, dry deciduous forest on the lower slopes through montane evergreen forest to moist ‘cloud forest’ at the top. It will come as no surprise to discover that the park’s avifauna is equally varied and magnificent - and well worth the extra day here that our updated itinerary now affords!

The shrike-sized Collared Falconet, Blossom-headed Parakeet, the pint-sized Violet Cuckoo, Rufous Treepie, Blue-winged and Orange-bellied Leafbirds, Yellow-bellied Fantail, the sought-after but shy and seldom seen Green and Purple Cochoas, Large and Vivid Niltavas, tiny Snowy-browed and Little Pied Flycatchers, Blyth’s Leaf and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Silver-eared Laughingthrush (recently split from Chestnut-crowned), Bar-throated Minla, the eye-catching Silver-eared Mesia, Rufous-fronted and Golden Babblers, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Dark-backed and Rufous-backed Sibias, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Yellow-browed and Yellow-cheeked Tits, and jewel-like Mrs Gould’s and Green-tailed Sunbirds are among a mouth-wateringly long list of exotic names and appearances to conjure with!

Minuscule Pygmy Wren-babblers and diminutive Ashy-throated Warblers haunt the fringes of the summit bog, where we may also encounter the tiny White-browed Shortwing, Red-flanked Bluetail and various wintering thrushes, possibly including the understated Grey-sided Thrush and the timid Dark-sided Thrush with its fantastically incongruous and outrageously oversized bill.

Many of Inthanon’s forest birds rove the woodlands in mixed species feeding flocks. Pin-striped Tit-babbler, White-bellied Erpornis and the restless Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher are typical flock components in the more elevated woodlands, with Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Red-billed Scimitar-babbler and Clicking Shrike-babbler (formerly known as Chestnut-fronted Shrike-babbler) among scarcer associates. Flighty Slaty-backed Forktails grace the upland streams, where we might also see the attractive duo of White-capped and Plumbeous Water Redstarts.

All in all, we are assured of an exciting few days exploring Thailand’s highest mountain! Three nights Inthanon Highland Resort

Day 12
We’ll enjoy a final morning of birding at Doi Inthanon today, perhaps investigating the lower elevation forests that are home to noisy Lineated Barbets and whinnying Greater Flamebacks, the uncommon Black-headed and big White-bellied Woodpeckers, Black-hooded Oriole and Purple Sunbird. With luck, we might come across the very smart Black Baza, localised White-rumped Falcon or shy Black-backed Forktail to round off our North Thailand birding in style!

After lunch, we head to the airport in Chiang Mai and catch the afternoon flight back to Bangkok. On arrival back in the Thai capital, we transfer the short distance for dinner and an overnight stay at our comfortable airport hotel. Night Bangkok

Day 13    
After an early breakfast today, reluctantly, we must return to Bangkok airport and check-in for our morning flight home. Late afternoon arrival (same day) at London Heathrow, where our birding tour to Thailand ends.


Limosa Group Thailand Jan 2017 DSCN4627 resized

Participants enjoy a boat trip through the coastal mangroves on the Gulf of Thailand © Colin Bushell, Limosa

What To Expect

A 13-day, small group birding tour to Thailand, beginning on the Gulf of Thailand looking for shorebirds - including Spoon-billed Sandpiper - before flying north to explore the bird-rich hill forests and mountains of Doi Inthanon, Doi Lang, Doi Ang Khang and Doi Chiang Dao. A visit to the much less well-known site of Chiang Saen, beside the mighty Mekong River, explores a lovely wetland area close to the borders with Laos and Myanmar.

In the coastal lowlands, where the climate is hot and humid, it will be important to be in the field at dawn, so early starts are the norm as with all tropical tours. Daylight hours are relatively short in Thailand - approx. 6.00am-6.30pm - and bird activity is at its peak early and late but generally dies away completely during the middle of the day.
Away from the coast, much of our birding in Thailand will be in areas of hill forest. We’ll spend most of our time here walking on level ground, birding from paved or unpaved roads or tracks, plus some forest trails with occasional steeper sections, but these are usually quite short. After a chilly start in the hills, it will be warm to hot throughout, humid at times. Note that we may be on our feet for several hours at a stretch, walking and watching for birds - so some participants may find it helpful to carry a lightweight collapsible stool.

Our guides will be able to advise you locally about each day's events - if you prefer to opt out of a particular session or walk, please don’t be afraid to ask them.

Thailand has a tropical climate. Late November is an excellent time to visit, when the weather is mostly hot, sunny and largely dry. It will be humid at lower elevations, especially near the coast. At this time of year, daily average temperatures at Bangkok are in the range 22-33C (71-91F); similar in the northwest around Chiang Mai, ranging between 17-34C (63-94F).

November averages 5 days of rainfall in Bangkok and Chiang Mai; this typically occurs as short-lived tropical downpours. At higher altitudes towards the peaks of Doi Inthanon and Doi Lang conditions can range from warm to cool, and it can feel particularly chilly here at night. Overnight frosts are possible at the summit area of Doi Inthanon at 2565m (8415 feet), where it will be very cold first thing, though it warms up quickly once the sun is up.

Some worthwhile photographic opportunities, especially at the coast and in more open habitats. Generally poor or difficult for photography in the forest due to low light levels. At Doi Lang, Ang Khang and to a lesser extent Doi Inthanon, small ‘feeding stations’ can attract birds quite close at times and good photo opportunities exist in these areas.


300 species


10 species


11 nights accommodation at hotels and lodges in Thailand. Hotels on this tour are of good standard, comfortable and air-conditioned, and all rooms have western-style private facilities (not the traditional Oriental-style toilets). At the Inthanon Highland Resort, the available accommodation is more rustic, in wooden cottages with multiple bedrooms, but each room with its own private bathroom. Most hotels can usually offer a laundry service.


All main meals are included in the tour price (and with drinking water also provided), commencing with lunch on arrival in Thailand on Day 2 and concluding with breakfast there on Day 13.

Thai cuisine is delicious and for many travellers there meals are a highlight. Breakfast and dinners will usually be taken at the hotels. Packed lunches most days (plus the odd packed breakfast), but some lunches may be taken at a convenient restaurant along the way.


The walking effort is mostly easy. Away from the coast (where the terrain is flat), much of the birding on this tour is along roadsides, tracks and forest trails.

At Doi Inthanon and Doi Lang we shall be birding at altitudes of up to 2565m (8415 feet). Inevitably when walking in the mountains, there will be some steeper sections along the roads and tracks, although these are usually quite short and, wherever possible, we will aim to drive uphill and bird as we walk back down.

Comfortable, lightweight walking shoes or boots with stout soles and good grip are recommended.


Return flights from London Heathrow to Bangkok, nonstop with British Airways.

Our tour price also includes two Thai domestic flights, from Bangkok-Chiang Rai and returning Chiang Mai-Bangkok.

Ground Transport   Air-conditioned minibus with local driver.

Boat Trips

If the tide is right, we will take a boat trip at the coast, out through the creeks and mangroves to the sand spit at Laem Pak Bia, to look for shorebirds - hopefully including the rare and localised Malaysian Plover as well as White-faced Plover.

CACHED false
SQL SELECT Testimonial.TestIntro, Testimonial.Author, Testimonial.Title FROM Testimonial Left JOIN TestimonialTour ON Testimonial.TestID = TestimonialTour.TestID Where DeletedAt is NULL AND TestimonialTour.TourID = ? Order By TestimonialTour.ID, Testimonial.createdAt
1 759
Request Tour Information Pack


Cookies on the Limosa Holidays Website

Our website uses cookies so that you can book tours with us and we can provide you with a better service. If you're happy with this, please continue to use the site as normal. Find out how the Limosa website uses cookies.

Accept Cookies