Krachan National Park
Kaeng Krachan National Park, in Petchaburi and
Prachuab Kiri Khan provinces, is the largest National Park in Thailand,
occupying 2915 square kilometres (1125 sq. miles); this is possibly
Thailand's premier forest birdwatching location due the quantity and
quality of species that have been found there.
Most of the forest here is in an excellent condition and consists
of evergreen tree species, although a number of deciduous species
are also present, particularly in the lower elevations of the park.
Kaeng Krachan's location on the border with Myanmar means it is part
of a much larger forest complex than just the National Park and an
excellent refuge for a huge number of species, including many of Asia's
rarest mammals and birds; indeed Kaeng Krachan is part of one of the
largest remaining stretches of forest in Southeast Asia and as such
this location is of international conservation importance.
Kaeng Krachan is within three hours of Bangkok so it is just about
possible to visit it as a day trip if one leaves before 5am, although
it is much better to stay 2-3 days and take time to explore the forest
- and it is worth visiting during the week to avoid the weekend traffic.
It is possible to see an enormous number of species here by getting
to many different altitudes and 100 species in a day is a real possibility
but would perhaps be too much of a rush to enjoy fully.
It should be noted that Kaeng Krachan National Park is usually closed
from 1st August until 31st October. Those who have attempted to enter
during this period have always been turned away. This national park
should also be avoided over the New Year period and Thai Songkran
holiday when enormous numbers of visitors means constant traffic along
the road making birding impossible.
Krachan National Park is home to a huge number and range of species
and is a place where some species that are rarely seen anywhere else
in Thailand can be found with patience. This is where many southern
species have their northernmost outposts as well as being where many
other species are at their southernmost extremity. Kaeng Krachan is
also the only place in Thailand where Ratchet-tailed Treepie can be
seen, this species normally being found in Indochina.
A number of exciting ground-dwelling species inhabit the lush forests
here but are extremely hard to find, with Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Kalij
Pheasant, Ferruginous Partridge, Blue Pitta and Eared Pitta all being
found - but only by a lucky few; most people only see these species
after many visits to the park. Giant Pitta has also been seen here
but sightings are EXTREMELY rare, only once every few years at most.
The mid and upper storeys of the forest are also very productive in
birding terms with many species from a wide range of bird families
occurring. Great Slaty Woodpecker, Orange-breasted Trogon and Banded
Broadbill are all regularly seen and more species are being added
to the park list every year as more birders explore this wonderful
habitat. There are so many good birds to see here that a visit of
at least 2-3 days is essential as well as birding at different altitudes
to maximise the number of species seen.
Hornbills are some of the most memorable birds in Thailand and Kaeng
Krachan presents the opportunity to see Great, Oriental Pied and Wreathed
Hornbills. Tickell's Brown Hornbills are present but more scarce,
listen for them and you may be lucky.
Another distinct speciality of Kaeng Krachan national park are the
Broadbills. These spectacular birds are extremely difficult to find
outside of the breeding season, but when they are nest-building, from
mid February to July, Dusky, Silver-breasted, Banded, Black-and-red,
Black-and-yellow and Long-tailed Broadbills become easier to find;
even Green Broadbill has been seen by some lucky observers. Of course,
there is also a good range of commoner birds here with bulbuls, leafbirds,
laughingthrushes, flycatchers, babblers, warblers and woodpeckers
all well represented.
With such extensive, high-quality forest there is still a good mammal
population here. Many species of squirrel can be found including the
amazing Black Giant Squirrel which looks more like a dog in a tree
with Dusky Langurs, Banded Langurs and White-handed Gibbon often seen
leaping around in the canopy. Tigers, tapirs and elephants are still
present in Kaeng Krachan, although seldom seen, and there are even
rumours that Sumatran Rhinoceros, one of the world's most endangered
mammals, still roams the forest but Kaeng Krachan does present visitors
with one of the best chances of seeing Leopard in Southeast Asia.
A checklist of the birds for this location can be found here - Kaeng
If you need help organizing a bird watching
trip to Thailand, take a look at the suggested itineraries for
ideas on creating a tailor-made trip and contact me for advice:
the interactive map below to plan your route to Kaeng Krachan.
Krachan National Park can be reached within 3 hours of Bangkok if
leaving early in the morning and driving a private vehicle. The
simplest way is to get onto Rama 2 road and join the Petkasem Highway
heading towards Petchaburi for about two hours; continue through Petchaburi
until the town of Tha Yang where there are signposts to Panoen Tung
in Kaeng Krachan National Park. Turn off of the Petkasem highway and
follow the road to a strangely angled junction - bear right here and
continue until reaching the dam. Follow the signs to Bang Krang camp
and Panoen Tung. The route shown on the map above goes from Tha Yang
to Panoen Tung via Ban Maka, Ban Song Nok, Samarn Bird Camp, the entrance
gate and Ban Krang camp.
Arriving by public transport is also possible, but will incur some
expense. From Bangkok take a bus to Petchaburi from the Southern
bus terminal. From Petchaburi one must charter a songtaew to the National
Park which should cost in the region of 1000 baht one way. Finding
a songtaew will take a little effort but walking around the bus station
asking to go to Kaeng Krachan National Park should get the right response.
Taxis/songtaews for charter also wait at the town clock tower. If
communication is a problem show the songtaew drivers the Thai script
for the park: Kaeng
Krachan National Park Thai Script.
At park HQ, or the park gate, entrance fees can be sorted out and
at weekends there are drivers who offer a taxi service up and down
the mountain and I'm sure the staff at HQ can contact some of them
during the week. These drivers charge 1500 baht for a half day or
2000 baht for a full day (2016 prices). If this is not possible continue
with your songtaew charter to the campsite (it will cost extra though).
For those wishing to head to the campsite at Km 30 (Panoen Tung) timing
is important. From Ban Krang campsite the road is narrow and in varying
states of repair and certain times are allotted for ascent and descent.
Times for going up are 5.30-7.30 am and 1-3 pm. Times for going down
are 9-10 am and 4-5 pm. As of 2015 driving up the road to Panoen Tung
is only allowed in a vehicle with good ground clearance, a pick up
or 4-wheel drive vehicle, not a standard saloon car or minivan. The
state of the road does vary from time to time and one may read in
some trip reports that driving to the top in a saloon car was possible,
it is best to assume that the road will be fairly poor quality in
places and loose stones on corners in particular can make it difficult
to get enough traction; the park rangers will not allow visitors to
drive up in unsuitable vehicles any longer. The road to Ban Krang
is sealed all the way these days but attempting to cross the streams
past Bang Krang campsite should be done with extreme caution as the
entry and exits from the fords are quite steep - quite a number of
visitors have ripped parts of their cars' bodywork off at these streams.
For those driving in and out of the park every day the gate opens
at 5.30am and closes at 7pm, although it is advisable to be out before
that due to the potential danger of elephants on the road, indeed
you may find the rangers have locked the gate if you reach it after
is the quality of the habitat at Kaeng Krachan that a large number
of interesting birds will be seen anywhere in the park, however, there
are few special locations for a few particular species.
Treepie can only be seen at the highest altitudes of the national
park and has often been spotted near the Royal Lodge a short
walk from Panoen Tung campsite, close to the restaurant at Panoen
Tung and in the vicinity of Km 27 to Km 29. It has also been
seen as low down as Km 24.
Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Pittas and Partridges are most often
found in the gullies and clearings in the forest within a few
kilometres of Ban Krang campsite and the streams in this vicinity
are a good place to search for some of the rarer Kingfishers
during the breeding season. All these species are really hard
to find and on a short visit one would do well to see more than
1 of these species.
It is worth noting that the majority of the birding is from
the road and at weekends constant traffic can make birdwatching
quite unpleasant, dusty and difficult. The park is to be completely
avoided on public holidays when it becomes very busy and difficult
to bird along the road.
The headquarters is some distance outside the forest itself and really
is not the prime birding spot for this site. However, some wetland
and open-country species can be seen around here and it is worth exploring
a little if waiting for transport up the mountain or there has been
some other delay. Egrets, Pond Herons and Pipits can all be seen here
and colourful birds such as Indian Roller and White-throated Kingfisher
are typical residents. Black-collared Starling and Vinous-breasted
Starling can be found here too and and even some forest species, such
as Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and
Large Scimitar Babbler, can be found with luck in the thorny forest
Roads: The roads from HQ to the park gate pass
through farmland and forest fragments. Whilst the national park proper
is the main attraction, some interesting species can be found along
here. Indochinese Bushlark, Greater Coucal and Paddyfield Pipit are
all quite common while Indian Rollers and White-throated Kingfishers
will be seen on the overhead wires. Some of the grassier areas contain
Grey-breasted Prinia, Lesser Coucal and Bright-headed Cisticola, and
listen out for Chinese Francolin calling, you may be able to track
one down or see it crossing a road. Sooty-headed Bulbul is common
and both Black-collared and Vinous-breasted Starlings are around,
although not abundant. At night Large-tailed Nightjars can be seen
on the road itself and Spotted Owlets are fairly easy to find too.
Song Nok: A few kilometres outside of the national
park Ban Song Nok is a private garden and guesthouse owned by "Auntie
Ek". She maintains a waterhole and blind as well as providing
daily food to birds, meaning that this is usually a hotspot for certain
species, particuarly if the weather has been dry.
Ban Song Nok is a popular spot so you usually need to book places
at her blind in advance, but she does not mind people just turning
up to have a word with her and book the hide; if there is nobody there
already you can usually go straight in. Red Junglefowl, Lesser Necklaced
Laughingthrush, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Kalij Pheasant,
Bar-backed Partridge, Scaly-breasted Partridge and Siberian Blue Robin
are all regular visitors here in the dry season, along with many commoner
species, and Red-legged Crake often shows up in the wet season.
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
Birds at Ban Song Nok are not confined to the blind area with the
garden providing plenty of habitat and adjoining the forest. Birds
such as Golden-fronted Leafbird, Lineated Barbet, Banded Bay Cuckoo,
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and Common Flameback all being regularly
seen - Orange-bellied Flowerpecker will be feeding on fruit in the
wet season - so it is worth having a look around for some of these
species before or after you sit at the blind.
It costs 200 baht per person to visit the blind at Ban Song Nok and
flash photography is not usually allowed as it can disturb some species,
particularly the shy partridges - ask before using flash. Auntie Ek
also requests that people do not use call playback here too, please
respect her wishes.
Lung Sin Waterhole:
This artificial waterhole is little more than a bird bath in the forest
but during the dry season it attracts a profusion of birds. Activity
here can be at high levels throughout the day with species such as
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush,
Scaly-breasted Partridge, Bar-backed Partridge, Large Scimitar Babbler,
Kalij Pheasant, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin and
many other commoner birds all being regular.
There can be surprises here too with a Slaty-legged Crake regular
in some years and birds such as Green Magpie, Grey-headed Woodpecker,
Streak-breasted Woodpecker and Besra all turning up from time to time.
Siberian Blue Robin
Apart from the fact that a visit to this spot gives the chance to
see some rare and secretive species, it is fantastic for photographers
with close-range and clear views of all the birds. It is also a great
place for birdwatchers to get really good views of commoner birds
such as Puff-throated Babbler, Black-naped Monarch and Abbott's Babbler
instead of the brief glimpses one often obtains in the forest.
Access to the hide here is strictly by appointment only, so I will
not give directions as turning up without booking first would cause
a problem; to book yourself into this hide it is best to do so through
Baan Maka Nature Lodge or Samarn Bird Camp both of whom will take
birders to the location after confirming your booking.
It costs 200 baht per person to visit Lung Sin Waterhole and flash
photography is not allowed unless you want to book the whole hide
out yourself as it deters the more secretive species from coming to
bathe and drink.
Road to Bang
Krang: This road passes through disturbed forest
which is worth spending some time in to find many of the more common
birds and a few of the less common ones. In the early morning there
is usually a lot of bird activity along this road and it offers a
good opportunity to see Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Black-naped Oriole,
Greater Flameback, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Hill
Myna and Golden-crested Myna perching on exposed trees catching the
early morning sunshine.
Black-thighed Falconets can often be found at a couple of points along
this road; look out for them perched upon dead snags - they use old
woodpecker holes as nest sites. Areas of forest near water along here
are the best places to see Black-and-red Broadbill which is a fabulous
bird that builds its messy nest over pools and streams - it is easiest
to see between March and July.
Fruiting trees along this stretch of road attract a variety of species
Green-eared Barbets, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, Oriental Pied and Great
Hornbills, Stripe-throated Bulbuls and Hill Mynas to mention but a
few and when a tree which is bearing fruit is found it is worth waiting
some time to see what turns up.
The area around Kilometre 9, where there is a sharp bend in the road
and a small bridge over some water is one of the best spots along
this road for bird watching, particularly early in the morning where
roosting woodpeckrs emerge and many birds typically come to warm up
in the morning sun by perching in the treetops.
It is also worth driving out of the park an hour before dusk so that
there is time to stop along this road when birds are spotted. Woodpeckers
seem to be active right up until dark and several species can often
be found along here at this time including Greater Yellownape, Common
Flameback and Streak-breasted Woodpecker. Both Large-tailed and Great
Eared Nightjars can easily be found along this area just before dark
and a number of owls can be heard calling including Brown Boobook
and Collared Scops Owl, but there will not be much time to find them
before you must be off the road and out of the park.
Krang Campsite: Birders will know that it is often
in and around campsites that bird abundance is at its highest due
to the "edge effect" and at Bang Krang this can often be
true. In the dry season many flocking species can be obvious here
with Scarlet Minivet, Blue-winged Leafbird, Black-winged Cuckooshrike,
Swinhoe's Minivet and a variety of Leaf Warblers in almost every flock.
Sultan Tits frequently show themselves to be very confiding here with
both Taiga and Asian Brown Flycatchers lurking around in low trees.
Early morning bird activity can be very high here, particularly if
there are fruiting trees around. Blue-eared Barbet, Green-eared Barbet,
Asian Fairy Bluebird, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Black-crested Bulbul,
Stripe-throated Bulbul and Blue-winged Leafbird are always interested
in these types of trees and other species, even hornbills, are likely
to turn up and feed on fruiting trees here.
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
Blue-bearded Bee-eaters usually frequent this campsite too; sometimes
they are obvious, sometimes a little more searching is required. In
the shady areas around the campsite Hainan Blue Flycatcher can usually
be found in the dry season and for those of you who like Leaf Warblers,
the low tress here offer the chance to get to grips with Yellow-browed,
Two-barred Greenish, Claudia's and Eastern Crowned Warblers.
Several species of woodpecker can often be found here, with Grey-headed
(Black-naped), Greater Yellownape, Common Flameback, Heart-spotted
Woodpecker and Greater Flameback all being frequent and during the
breeding season Silver-breasted, Black-and-yellow and Banded Broadbills
can often be found. Whatever the time of year, though, a morning here
is excellent for getting aquainted with many of the commoner forest
birds and obtaining photos of them.
From the campsite a track crosses the stream and provides access to
a seldom-visited part of the forest. At the stream crossing itself
a small flock of White-rumped Munias are often to be found and along
the track sightings of Black-and-red Broadbill are frequent. This
is also a good area to look for Puff-throated Babbler, Violet Cuckoo,
Orange-breasted Trogon, Streak-breasted Woodpecker and Greater Necklaced
Laughingthrush. From the clearing at the "Youth Camp" it
is often possible to see Grey-rumped Treeswifts flying around as well
as many of the birds that also occur in the campsite. It is difficult
to walk quietly on the tracks around this area as they are made of
gravel and in the dry season they are covered in dead leaves. However,
the track goes for a long way and the adventurous may find something
exciting there and Blue Pitta has been photographed here in the past.
At night the campsite can be good for those that like night birding.
Large-tailed Nightjars are common; listen for their call which sounds
like a resonant "chonk, chonk" and Great Eared Nightjar
can sometimes be seen cruising around just before it gets dark. Other
night birds here include Asian Barred Owlet, Collared Owlet, Brown
Hawk Owl, Collared Scops Owl and, for some lucky birders, Oriental
Bay Owl and White-fronted Scops Owl (see below).
For White-fronted Scops Owl:
Kaeng Krachan is one of the few places where birdwatchers have
a chance of seeing this rare and secretive species. The owls
can often be heard uttering their strange drumming call at night
around the campsite and along the road near streams 1 and 2.
However, in my opinion, walking along the road in the dark will
eventually result in a birder getting crushed by elephants,
so it is best to search for this bird in the campsite where
many birders have found it.
Since March 2011 two White-fronted Scops Owls have been frequently
viewed by large numbers of birders and photographers at a daytime
roost near stream 2; please view these birds quietly and refrain
from using flash.
If the staked-out birds have moved on then this species also
calls and responds to call playback at dawn, throughout the
morning and even in the middle of the day; contrary to what
may be said about these owls I have heard them calling at all
times of the day on many occasions.
Stream Crossings 1 to 3:
Shortly after passing out of the campsite some moist forest is entered,
which continues past the third stream crossing to the point at which
the road begins to climb uphill; this is where many of the "best"
birds are most regularly encountered. Tickell's Brown Hornbills often
frequent this area and it is probably the best area of the park for
seeing Orange-breasted Trogon which can often be seen sitting quietly
out in the open.
This stretch of forest has a good helping of woodpeckers that can
be seen, although thick vegetation and high trees can make them hard
to see. Many species of woodpecker in Thailand join flocks and if
you locate groups of Lesser and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes
there is a decent chance that a woodpecker or two may be with them.
Streak-breasted Woodpecker often joins these groups and sometimes
any of the following may also join the party: Rufous Woodpecker, Buff-rumped
Woodpecker, Greater Flameback, Common Flameback, Greater Yellownape,
Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Banded Woodpecker, Heart-spotted Woodpecker.
This is also a great area to find Great Slaty Woodpecker; a bird which
is very reminiscent of a Pterosaur!
Ochraceous Bulbul is a bird that is common here and due to its restricted
range you may not see it anywhere else; other bulbuls which are frequently
seen along this tretch are Grey-eyed, Black-crested, Black-headed
In the dry season bird abundance can sometimes be high along here
in the morning with small species flocking together to feed. Swinhoe's
Minivet, Blue-winged Leafbird, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Sulphur-breasted
Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Pin-striped Tit Babbler, Asian Paradise
Flycatcher are just a few of the species which can be seen in most
flocks. These flocks start to disappear as species begin to migrate
and pair up to breed.
The breeding season (March to July for most species) is far better
here than November to early March when most birders visit for searching
for many of those colourful resident species that many birders see
in the field guide and are high on the "wish list". Broadbills
in particular become far easier to see at this time with Silver-breasted
Broadbill becoming abundant and easy to see from the end of February
onwards. Many pairs of Banded Broadbills are present along here and
call noisily throughout the day when they are pairing up. A few pairs
of Black-and-yellow Broadbills make a stunning interlude if you can
spot them up in the canopy and you may be lucky enough to find a group
of Dusky Broadbills too. All of the broadbills make quite conspicuous
nests consisting of a hanging mass of vegetation, suspended by a single
piece of vine or branch, often directly over the road!
Tickell's Brown Hornbill
For those that wish to see forest kingfishers, this area gives you
a decent chance in the breeding season. Banded Kingfisher can always
be found but you must be patient, they sit still for ages and are
eaily missed. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (the black-backed version)
is absent for most of the year but it always turns up in mid March
and is progressively easier to see as the nesting season proceeds.
Most visiting birders are keen to see Pittas but it should be known
that these are extremely difficult birds to see. Outside of the breeding
season the only Pitta that there is a realistic chance of seeing is
Blue Pitta and even that is seen very infrequently until it begins
calling in late February to March. From late April to early May Blue-winged
Pittas and Hooded Pittas begin to arrive from further south and are
fairly easily seen as they will call loudly from perches in trees.
In the heart of the breeding season (June/July) Eared Pitta usually
becomes findable and of course we can all dream of seeing Giant Pitta
along here, and for the vast majority that is all it is - a dream!
Green Magpie is a bird straight out of a child's colouring book and
it can usually be found along this piece of road, although it can
be remarkably elusive considering how noisy it is. Crested Jay is
an uncommon prize here too but it is seen on a semi frequent basis
in this area.
Whilst there are many great birds to be found along this stretch of
road I do not want to create the impression that you will see many
of these species on any one visit. Most of these birds are very hard
to find and it will take many visits to see even half of them and
at times it is possible to walk for several kilometres and see virtually
At kilometre Km 27.5 there is an obvious place to park a
car; the spot is marked by a battered sign featuring a bird silhouette.
From here up and down the road for about 1 kilometre is an excellent
place to find Ratchet-tailed Treepie. This species can be difficult
to find and very reluctant to show itself but several pairs are usually
in the area. Long-tailed Broadbill is like something from a fairytale
and frequently nests here and birders are hardly likely to forget
Red-headed Trogon or Red-bearded Bee-eater if they see either of these
A huge tree is just to the right of the road a few hundred metres
uphill of the parking spot, and if it is fruiting it is a great place
to see Great Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Great Barbet, Asian Fairy
Bluebird, Mountain Imperial Pigeon and if you are very lucky, perhaps
Yellow-vented Pigeon or Silver Oriole.
Bird waves can occur in this area and usually contain Grey-chinned
Minivet, Speckled Piculet, White-throated Fantail, White-browed Scimitar-babbler,
White-crested Laughingthrush and Yellow-bellied Warbler; in the dry
season these are also usually joined by Sulphur-breasted Warbler and
Swinhoe's Minivet. The smaller birds will sometimes give away the
location of Collared Owlet as they mob it.
In the shrub layer along the road Radde's Warbler is common in winter
and Collared Babbler can be found at any time of year; Golden, Buff-breasted,
Grey-throated and Spot-necked Babblers are also resident at this altitude.
If you are really lucky you may get a view of either Rufous-browed
Flycatcher or Rusty-naped Pitta; both are fairly abundant in this
area but they are really skulking and shy.
At times it can seem like there are no birds at all along here, but
with patience there are a large number of excellent species can be
Tung Campsite: There are some magnificent views
over the forest from this altitude and often lots of birds too. The
campsite itself is a great spot for Barbets with Blue-throated and
Blue-eared very easily seen and Great Barbet often calling noisily
from treetops. Several other species can nearly always be easily seen
here with Flavescent Bulbul, Blyth's (White-browed) Shrike-babbler,
Mountain Bulbul, Orange-bellied Leafbird and Streaked Spiderhunter
ever present. Migrant species which can commonly be seen here include
Dark-sided Flycatcher, which is amazingly loyal to its favourite perches,
Blue Rock Thrush and Ashy Drongo. This is also a great spot for actually
getting a view of Vernal Hanging Parrot perched in a tree instead
of seeing it zipping across the canopy.
Several view points here provide a great opportunity to view across
the forest and into the canopy.
The view point at the gate has a little shelter so it is a good place
to sit and watch if it is raining and a few trees here regularly attract
Bulbuls, Leafbirds, Barbets, Asian Fairy Bluebird and other fruit-eating
species.The campsite view point 1 overlooks a stand of trees all of
which bear fruit and if you are here at the right time they will be
full of Barbets, Bulbuls and frequently Thick-billed and Yellow-vented
Green Pigeons will join the party.
The restaurant view point is excellent and offers a great view over
some lovely forest. This is a great place to sit and wait for birds
to arrive in the middle of the day and several species of raptors
are likely to be spotted when the conditions are right; Mountain Hawk
Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle and Black Baza often show here. Hornbills
are also likely to be spotted from here as they fly across the forest
- Great and Wreathed Hornbills are frequent but be careful not to
string Plain-pouched Hornbill as the stripe on the throat of Wreathed
is very hard to see in flight and many of the id features in Robson's
Field Guide are incorrect. Genuine sightings of this species at Kaeng
Krachan are exceptionally rare. Smaller birds will also be seen while
sitting here with Blyth's Shrike-babbler, Grey Treepie, Fire-breasted
Flowerpecker and Dark-sided Flycatcher are highly likely to be spotted
in an afternoon session at this relaxing place.
The campsite view point 2 looks out towards Myanmar and again, Raptors
and Hornbills can often be spotted while in the surrounding trees
Bulbuls and Barbets are frequent. This view point has no shelter so
is exposed to the rain and sun making it less attractive to birders
than the other view points which all have seating and shelter.
There is a short nature trail which starts a few hundred metres before
the Panoen Tung checkpoint and goes through some very nice forest.
The short walk along here can often turn up mixed flocks of birds
including species such as Collared Babbler, Black-throated Laughingthrush,
White-browed Scimitar-babbler, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo and Golden
Babbler - Ratchet-tailed Treepie sometimes joins these flocks too
so be vigilant. The open understorey here is a good place to look
for the skulking Rufous-browed Flycatcher; difficult to see but surprisingly
common at this location.
Km 34-36: The road continues
past the campsite for a few kilometres to a trail to TorTip waterfall;
the section between kilometres 34 and 36 being perhaps the best and
the open areas afford some lovely views over the forest providing
the opportunity to scan for raptors - Rufous-bellied Eagle is seen
more often here than most places, Grey-headed Fish Eagle is rare but
Mountain Hawk Eagle, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Crested Goshawk, Grey-faced
Buzzard are all frequently seen and when raptors are migrating other
species, particularly Chinese Sparrowhawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk and
Black Baza, are highly likely.
It is worthwhile looking out for bamboo which has reached the flowering
stage as this is favored by Pin-tailed Parrotfinch. In most years
there is a clump of bamboo which flowers for a few months before dying
and this always attracts these colorful little birds which are extremely
difficult to see otherwise.
Watching Trips To Kaeng Krachan:
If you have only a few days for birding from Bangkok, Kaeng
Krachan makes an excellent
two or three day trip. At any time of year a good selection
of colourful forest birds are present with migrants present
in the dry season and resident birds more obvious in the wet
Contact me to arrange a trip and/or to discuss the best birdwatching
options for you: email@example.com
A few pairs of the stunning Red-bearded Bee-eater occupy this area,
they are easiest to locate when breeding but can show up at any time,
and other species such as Yellow-vented Green Pigeon, Wreathed Hornbill,
Great Hornbill and various barbets will turn up in the fruting trees
Most of the reports of Plain-pouched Hornbill come from this area;
in my opinion the vast majority (all?) of these reports are misidentified
Wreathed Hornbills. It can be very hard to see the stripe on the pouch
of some Wreathed Hornbills and many of them also show the brownish
base to the bill that the field guide suggests is an id feature. I
was once fooled into thinking I had seen a Plain-pouched Hornbill
here due to this feature but a photo was obtained and when we zoomed
in we could see the stripe on the pouch which confirmed it as Wreathed
The trail to Tortip waterfall goes through some nice forest where
some of the southern species at the northernmost limit of their range
are sometimes seen with Streaked Bulbul, Black-and-yellow Broadbill,
Red-throated Barbet and Maroon-breasted Philentoma all having been
within the national park are limited. At park headquarters there are
a few bungalows but the quality of these are pretty low. There is
also a decent campsite at HQ (next to the lake) with good toilet facilities
for those that are required to wait here for any reason. There is
a mulititude of accommodation here too. However, park HQ and the lakeside
accommodation is some distance from the birding and most birders will
want to get to Ban Krang campsite which is pleasantly situated with
enough flat areas to pitch tents and several clean toilet/shower facilities.
Food is usually available from the small restaurant but they do sometimes
run out after the weekend, so it is worth bringing cooking equipment
and food if staying for a few days without your own transport. There
is camping equipment for hire; tents, sleeping bags etc. but some
of the tents are very poor so don't be scared to ask for another one
if the first one you get is little more than a plastic bag and some
sticks. The campsite higher up at Panoen Tung is considerably better,
with good tents for hire and a small restaurant and clean toilets
and showers. The nearby town of Petchaburi is a suitable place to
stock up on food for the camping trip with a large supermarket (Big
C) on the main highway to the south.
For those wishing to stay in comfort then Baan
Maka Nature Lodge is an excellent option and closer to
the park gate (approx 15 minute drive) than the accommodation at the
lake with good food and friendly management who speak fluent English
and go out of their way to help guests with any sensible request.
Bird Camp is also a good option for birdwatchers, with
good quality rooms, good food and helpful owners; this has the added
bonus of being very close to the park gate. Both of these guesthouses
are used to catering to birdwatchers and will provide early breakfasts
and assistance in visiting the forest. There are a couple of rooms
available at Ban
Song Nok too and "Auntie Ek" will probably
provide food as she is very friendly, although I have never eaten
at Ban Maka Nature Lodge
(Photo by Nick
Nearby Padang camp is also a useful place to stay and has wireless
internet available for those that need it. There are also a wide selection
of guesthouses further from the park gate, near the dam, that are
all pleasant enough if all other options are exhausted; it does, however,
take about 25-30 minutes to drive to the park gate from this area.
Staying at any guesthouse does involve travelling into the park every
morning and paying the entrance fee every day.
The closest ATM is now at Kaeng Krachan municipality and there is
a decent small hospital in the same area along with 7/11 and several
other small stores.
The entrance fee to this National Park is now 300
baht per person for foreigners plus 30 baht for your vehicle.
Krachan Bird Checklist
Thailand Birdwatching Tours
Other Western Thailand Birding Locations
Accommodation Review: Baan Maka
by Robert DeCandido
the thumbnail photos to see larger images.
Sunset over the Lake
Fields & Forest
Ban Krang Campsite
Forest after a Storm
Road to Panoen Tung Lodge
View at Panoen Tung
Common Grass Yellow
Kaeng Krachan is a must-visit location for birdwatching trips
in Thailand whether as part of a longer itinerary or for just
a few days from Bangkok. Each time of year has its specialities
but there is always something good to see at Kaeng Krachan.
Look at some suggested itineraries Thailand
bird tours, or contact me for information:
Leaf Warbler Tour, 3rd-17th December 2016
- by Nick Upton
Thailand & Kaeng Krachan Photography Trip, 8-20th June 2016
- by Nick Upton
& Northern Thailand, 1st-14th December 2015 - by
3 Days Kaeng
Krachan, 16-18th April 2015 - by Nick Upton
Thailand, 13-21st February 2015 - by Nick Upton
Krachan & Petchaburi Wetlands, 17-21st June 2013 - by
Kaeng Krachan &
Tung Bang Jak, 4-5th July 2008 - by Nick Upton
Kaeng Krachan,Tung Bang Jak & Khao
Yai, 8-11th May 2008 - by Nick Upton
Kaeng Krachan &
Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale, 19-20th February 2008 - by Nick
Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale & Khao Yai, February 2008 - by
Owl at Kaeng Krachan, 15-19th February 2007 - by Suthin
19-21st June 2006 - by Dominic Le Croissette
Kaeng Krachan, KNC
& Krabi, 30th April-7th May 2001 - by Peter Ericsson
Kaeng Krachan National
Park, 25th September 2000 - by Peter Ericsson
Kaeng Krachan National
Park, 4th July 2000 - by Peter Ericsson
Kaeng Krachan National
Park, 7-8th April 2000 - by Peter Ericsson
Waterhole, Kaeng Krachan - posted 21/04/17
Thailand - posted 10/03/17
Birding Trip - posted 18/01/17
at Ban Song Nok - posted 27/11/16
Krachan & Nearby Sites
- posted 06/05/16
Birding at Kaeng Krachan - posted 07/03/16
& Central Thailand Tour, February 2016 -
in Petchaburi Province - posted 07/02/16
at Lung Sin Waterhole - posted 24/12/15
Season Birding; Kaeng Krachan - posted
Great Birding at Kaeng Krachan - posted
Sin Waterhole - posted 01/01/15
Successful Birding Tour - posted 17/03/14
Birds - posted 25/06/13
at Kaeng Krachan - posted 05/02/13
Crake at Lung Sin Hide - posted 18/12/12
at Ban Maka - posted 05/05/09
(Tickell's Brown) Hornbill - posted
at Kaeng Krachan - posted 10/03/09
Rainy Season Birding Trip- posted 09/08/08
Krachan & Tung Bang Jak - posted
Day Trip: Kaeng Krachan, Tung Bang Jak & Khao Yai
- posted 15/05/08
Quest for Broadbills - posted 26/03/08
at Kaeng Krachan - posted 24/03/08
Birding at Kaeng Krachan & Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale
- posted 10/03/08
Great Days Birdwatching - posted 10/03/08
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