Skip to navigation, or go to main content.

WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Thailand: The Northwest

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour. It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THAILAND: A passport valid for at least 60 days beyond your date of entry is required. Tourist visas are not necessary for U.S. citizens for visits of fewer than 30 days. If you intend to do both of our Thailand tours you will need a Tourist Visa.  For more information on obtaining a tourist visa please visit the Thailand Embassy webpage (http://www.thaiconsulatela.org/service_visa.aspx).

Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Thai embassy. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour. 

If you are coming directly from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you may be asked to show proof of a current Yellow Fever vaccination.

COUNTRY INFORMATION:You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/thailand.html , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on China at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/th.html .

PACE OF THE TOUR: The tour is paced to allow lots of time to study and appreciate the birds we’ll see. We will start our day’s birding early so as to take advantage of the first rays of sunlight:  05:00 breakfasts are the norm much of the time. Bird activity will nonetheless continue at a fairly high level all day. Generally, however, following the early starts, we do not bird right through to dusk unless we have been able to take a leisurely lunch break in the middle of the day. Walking is fairly easy. mostly on roadsides and tracks, occasionally on narrow forest trails. Generally, we will seldom be more than a few hundred yards from our vehicles. There are a few walks while at Doi Ang Khang of about a mile but these will done over several hours. Fruit and soft drinks or water will be available throughout.   

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/thailand?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001

Malaria:  Malaria is chiefly confined to a few lowland, forested areas bordering Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar — areas we do not visit. The CDC, therefore, do not feel that a malaria prophylaxis is necessary. 

Altitude: We reach a maximum elevation of about 8500 feet 

Intestinal Issues:  Although minor intestinal problems do occur in the tropics, Thailand is largely free of these complaints. The Thai people are especially particular about their drinking water and we are served bottled water as an extra precaution. We will always have plenty of bottled drinking water available in the vehicles along with other drinks (sodas, etc.). 

Insects:   Mosquitoes may occur in the plains around Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and we will probably encounter a few ticks, and also a few midges or sandflies in the mountains of the north. We recommend that you wear long pants on those days. Leeches are usually no problem in the dry season. Anyone highly sensitive to insect bites or bee stings should bring an antihistamine.

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE AND HABITAT: Thailand is basically tropical and humid and has a distinctly monsoonal climate, most of the rain falling between May and October during the southwest monsoon. Our trip takes place at the end of the “cool” and dry months and daytime temperatures are unlikely to rise above 35 C (about 94° F). At Chiang Mai, it can be cool at night and the temperature may drop to as low as 13° C (55° F), but is nearly as warm as Bangkok during the day, though less humid. When we visit the summit of Thailand’s highest mountain, Doi Inthanon, 2565 meters (8415 feet) above sea level, it could be distinctly chilly (probably no lower than 42ºF but windy). Nights at Doi Ang Khang can also be chilly (to 40°F). 

The great latitudinal span of the country (from 20 degrees N to only 6 degrees N of the equator) and the variation in topography combine to give the country a fascinating mosaic of different forest types, from dry deciduous to true tropical rain forest. Formerly, the entire country (other than small areas of freshwater swamp) was forested but the environment has been ravaged in the twentieth century so that only 18% of the country was forested at the end of 1980. An extensive network of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries does exist so that representative examples of most habitat types are covered by reserves. 

In summary, while the weather will be hot and dry, the possibility of rain showers cannot be discounted. Because much of our birdwatching is done in higher hills and mountains, the temperature should be pleasant, rather than uncomfortably hot for most of the time. One or two mornings on the highest summits will be cold, so a warm jacket is advised. Clothes can be discarded and left in the vehicles as the day warms up. 

ACCOMMODATIONS: In Bangkok, we stay at a modern business and traveler’s airport hotel. There are swimming pools, a sauna and a health club.  In Chiang Mai we stay in a standard, nice tourist hotel, located near the Night Market. 

Our next three nights will be spent in a resort near the entrance to Doi Inthanon National Park; it is some 38 km drive to the 2,500+ summit of the mountain, though there are many fine birding locations along the way and the grounds are attractively landscaped and have a few species we will be searching for. Our rooms are in Swiss-style wooden chalets, nicely furnished clean and attractive, each chalet having up to 4 or 5 rooms. Bedrooms are air-conditioned. Bathrooms have hot water and towels provided. At Chiang Saen Lake we will stay in a comfortable, but simple, resort near the lake.

While visiting Doi Ang Khang we will be staying in a luxury hotel set on attractive grounds, situated in the cool montane zone on Doi Ang Khang, near the Burmese border. It is ½ km up the hill from the Royal Highland Agricultural Project and assorted northern hill-tribe Thai and Yunnan Chinese villages. Rooms are furnished with all expected modern conveniences including hot water. The proximity of the accommodation to prime birding areas means we’ll be able to take a welcome break in the middle part of the day. 

While at Tha Ton, we use a simple resort right along the banks of the Mae Kok River with air-conditioned rooms on a terrace, accessible by a wooden walkway. For the final night, we stay at another luxury hotel, adjacent to the international airport.  There are private (en suite) bathroom facilities at all the hotels and resorts used on the tour. 

FOOD: In Bangkok and Chiang Mai hotels, there will usually be a choice of Thai or Western food. In country resorts (e.g. Inthanon and Ang Khang) usually only Thai food will be available for lunches/evening meals. Thai cuisine provides a wide range of dishes, catering for a wide range of palates from spicy to unseasoned, and is almost uniformly delicious. Breakfasts are usually termed “American breakfast” consisting of ham and eggs, toast, fruit or juice and coffee-tea. Cereal is usually available in the bigger hotels (e.g., Bangkok and Chiang Mai) but not usually in up-country resorts. Those wishing to avoid a high-cholesterol breakfast can settle for delicious rice soup “congee” with chicken, pork or shrimp for breakfast instead. Some days we’ll take lunch as a picnic in the field and some days we’ll take restaurant lunches.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: Land travel will be in air-conditioned mini-buses throughout. Internal flights are on regularly scheduled airlines using modern equipment and well-trained pilots.

Updated: 14 July 2016