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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Thailand: The South

Khao Yai and Kaeng Krachen National Parks and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper

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 six months from the date of entry and with at least one blank page for an entry stamp are required. Tourist visas are not necessary for U.S. citizens for visits of less than 30 days. If you intend to do both tours or stay on after the tour you will need a Tourist Visa.  

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

Note: Since the journey from the U.S. to Thailand is tiring we recommend you consider arrive a day or more prior to the start. We can arrange lodging at our hotel next to the international airport. Call the WINGS office for details. 

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 Thailand at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/th.html.

PACE OF THE TOUR: 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, when we begin early we do not bird right through to dusk unless we have been able to take a substantial break in the middle of the day. Since we will have multiple vehicles there is usually the opportunity to send a group back to the hotel for those wishing a shorter day. Walking is fairly easy: mostly on roadsides and tracks, occasionally on narrow forest trails or on narrow dikes at the salt ponds near the coast. Generally, we will seldom be more than a few hundred yards from our vehicles. Fruit and other snacks and cold soft drinks and bottled 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

Malaria:  Malaria in Thailand is chiefly confined to a few lowland areas bordering Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar — areas we do not visit. The CDC does not feel that a malaria prophylaxis is necessary for travel in our tour’s itinerary.  However, please consult with your physician well before you depart for the tour to see if these recommendations have changed.   

Yellow Fever:  There is no risk of yellow fever in Thailand. The government of Thailand requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. This does not include the US. 

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. 

Altitude: We reach our highest  altitude of about 5000 feet on our visit to Khao Khieo at Khao Yai National Park. 

Miscellaneous: 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 everywhere. We’ll always have bottled drinking water available in the vehicles. 

Mosquitoes may occur in the plains around Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and we’ll probably encounter a few ticks.  There are a few midges or sandflies in the mountains of the north and possibly on the beaches on the extension. 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. 

CLIMATE: The Thai lowlands are tropical and humid and there is a distinctly monsoonal climate, with 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). 

When we are on the coast it will be rather hot and humid with highs being about 90 degrees and with much of the time being exposed to the sun.  Kaeng Krachan and especially Khao Yai National Parks will be somewhat cooler.  Rain is possible, but unlikely. 

ACCOMMODATIONS: In Bangkok, on the first and last nights, we stay at a very comfortable airport hotel just a few yards from the terminal. There are swimming  pools, a sauna and a health club. 

In Pakchong we will be staying at a resort which possess extensive grounds near the foot of Khao Yai and is conveniently located about 10 km outside the north gate of the park. We have a half-hour’s drive from the resort ascending through the park to our main birding areas. 

While looking at shorebirds on the coast at Laem Phak Bia we will spend two nights at a very comfortable resort on the Gulf of Thailand with spacious rooms and a perfect swimming pool.  

At Kaeng Krachan we’ll stay at either a luxury hotel, or stay closer to the park entrance comfortable air-conditioned bungalows.  

Internet Access: Internet access is currently available in Bangkok and at our hotel in Laem Phak Bia.  Note too that internet access is growing rapidly and by next year, other places on our route may well have this service. 

FOOD: In Bangkok, there will usually be a choice of Thai or Western food.  Otherwise, usually only Thai food will be available for lunches/evening meals. Thai cuisine provides a wide range of dishes, catering for palates from spicy to unseasoned, and is almost uniformly delicious. When on the coast we will have delicious sea food (think shrimp). Breakfasts are usually termed “American breakfast” consisting of ham and eggs, toast, fruit or juice and coffee-tea. Cereal and yogurt will be available in Bangkok and possibly while on the coast, but not in the up-country resorts near Kaeng Krachan and Pak Chong. 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 picnic lunches and some days we’ll have 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.                     
WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. 

TRANSPORTATION: Land travel will be in air-conditioned mini-buses throughout. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in our tour vehicles.

Updated: 14 July 2016