Bird Watching on Koh Chang

koh chang birdwatching

All You Need to Know About Birding on Koh Chang

Koh Chang is an excellent spot for nature enthusiasts. Blessed with lush rainforests, white sandy beaches, and breathtaking waterfalls, the island is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Koh Chang isn’t regarded as a prime birding location.  But it is quite rich in birdlife, boasting almost 200 recorded species, including endemic and migratory birds.

I’m not a birdwatcher myself so this article is written with the assistance of a couple of UK based twitchers who prefer to remain anonymous but were kind enough to help out. This guide aims to share their passion for birdwatching with fellow tourists who wish to learn more about Koh Chang’s feathered inhabitants. From the best times to visit and top birdwatching locations and bird species to watch for, this guide is designed to provide practical information and tips for a memorable birdwatching experience on the island. 

Here’s a taster of what you can expect.  This is a great video from an amateur birder and all round nature lover, Nathalie, who documents her birdwatching travels in Thailand and elsewhere on her Youtube channel.  Far more informative and enjoyable to watch than videos from wannabe influencers.

Best Time to Visit for Bird Watching

Koh Chang experiences a tropical monsoon climate, characterized by three primary seasons: the cool and dry season (November to February), the hot season (March to May), and the rainy season (June to October). Each season brings its unique set of weather conditions and natural changes, influencing the behavior and diversity of bird species on the island.

The best time for bird watching on Koh Chang largely depends on the type of bird species you’re interested in observing. Generally, the cool and dry season (November to February) is the most popular time, as the weather is comfortable, and the skies are usually clear. Many migratory birds also visit the island during this period, providing birders with an opportunity to spot a diverse range of species.

The hot season (March to May) is an excellent time to observe resident birds engaging in breeding activities, while the rainy season (June to October) can be a great opportunity to witness unique bird behaviors related to the monsoon. However, the rainy season may also pose some challenges, such as reduced visibility and accessibility to certain birdwatching locations.

Migratory bird patterns and timing

Migratory birds play a significant role in Koh Chang’s avian diversity, with species from northern Asia, Europe, and Siberia visiting the island to escape the harsh winters in their home ranges. These birds typically arrive on the island between October and November, staying until February or March before heading back to their breeding grounds. For birdwatchers interested in observing migratory species, it’s essential to plan your visit during these months to maximize your chances of spotting these seasonal visitors.

Visit for a full list of the 194 species spotted on Koh Chang

Top Bird Watching Locations on Koh Chang

Koh Chang boasts a diverse range of habitats, providing a haven for a wide variety of bird species. From lush rainforests and mangrove forests to freshwater streams and sandy beaches, these unique ecosystems offer birdwatchers a chance to observe an array of avian life in their natural surroundings.

Klong Plu Waterfall : Located within the Mu Ko Chang National Park, Klong Plu Waterfall is a popular destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. The waterfall’s surrounding rainforest habitat supports a diverse bird population, including the Blue-winged Pitta and the Orange-breasted Trogon.   There is also an abandoned road nearby which is also a popular birdwatching spot.

Klong Prao: Take the access road towards Santhiya Tree Resort.  Here you will spot a multitude of species early morning in the cocnut groves and grassland around KP Hut, Tiger Hut and the undeveloped land and riverside mangroves to the north of Santhiya Tree Resort. Alternatively, take the turning to Klong Plu waterfall and there is a small reservoir.  This is another good spot early morning where you’ll surely see numerous swifts and raptors. 

Kai Bae Valley: This valley runs into the centre of the island.  There is a trail to Kai Bae waterfall which is easy to follow and a good way to experience the jungle.  This area is also home to numerous hornbills which are often spotted by patient visitors early morning. 

Bang Bao Fishing Village: Situated on the southern tip of Koh Chang, Bang Bao Fishing Village is a picturesque location. The village’s coastal and wetland habitats attract a variety of waterbirds and shorebirds, such as the Common Sandpiper, the Black-capped Kingfisher, and the Pacific Reef Heron. 

Salak Phet Mangrove Forest: The Salak Phet Mangrove Forest, located in the southeastern part of the island, is a vital ecosystem that supports numerous bird species. The unique habitat provided by the mangroves attracts a variety of waterbirds, including the Great Egret, the Collared Kingfisher, and the Brown-winged Kingfisher. The area offers a serene environment for birdwatching, with a wooden boardwalk allowing for comfortable exploration and observation of the diverse avian life.

Best times of day to spot birds

Birds are often most active during the early morning and late afternoon, making these the prime times for birding. During these periods, birds are more likely to be foraging, vocalizing, and exhibiting interesting behaviors. Plan your excursions around these times to maximize your chances of observing a diverse range of species.

Birds spotted on Koh Chang

What Birds Might You Spot on Koh Chang?

Koh Chang is home to several endemic and resident bird species that can be found year-round on the island. Some notable examples include the Black-and-red Broadbill, the Banded Pitta, the Blue-winged Pitta, the Orange-breasted Trogon, and various species of hornbills, such as the Great Hornbill and the Wreathed Hornbill. These species often display distinct colors, patterns, and behaviors, making them relatively easy to identify with the help of a field guide or mobile app.  There are around 50 – 60 fairly common species, although almost 200 have been seen on the island.

Endemic and resident species can be found across a range of habitats on Koh Chang, from dense rainforests to coastal areas and mangrove forests. Observing their specific behaviors, such as feeding, nesting, or vocalizing, can provide valuable insights into their natural history and help birdwatchers better understand their role within the island’s ecosystems.

Migratory birds play a significant role in Koh Chang’s avian diversity. Some common migratory species to watch for include Pacific and Barn Swallows, the Common Sandpiper, the Pacific Golden Plover and the Asian Brown Flycatcher. 

Resources This site is a collaborative project to identify and monitor the land and marine wildlife found on the island. Check out the Bird section for photos of species that have been spotted by readers. No introduction needed.  I’m sure you are familiar with this site.  The Koh Chang section has details of the species spotted and is regularly updated with reports by Mark Hogarth a keen expat birder who has made many trips to the island over the years.

Hornbill Conservation Group: This is a Facebook group, in Thai language, setup to help spread awareness of the efforts to conserve and increase the numbers of hornbills living on the island. 

Birdwatching Tours on Koh Chang

Enlisting the help of a local birdwatching guide or joining an organized tour can greatly enhance your birdwatching experience on Koh Chang. Local guides have expert knowledge of the island’s bird species, their habitats, and the best places to spot them. Their experience and familiarity with the local avian life can help you locate and identify species that you might otherwise miss.

For many years the only choice for vacationing birders on Koh Chang was to book a tour run by ‘Toon’ from Jungle Fever.  His early morning tour takes place two or three times a week on the jungle near the Klong Plu waterfall.

He is an avid birdwatcher with a wealth of knowledge of the species that can be seen on the island. His tour starts early morning, around 06:30 – 07:00 and ends late morning.  The price is 800 Baht/person. This is easily organised at any tour agent.  Or via his site

Before you book, you can also download his free ‘Koh Chang Birds‘ app that he has made (Android only).  The app includes photos and information about the most common birds that you’ll spot on the island. 

Another option is to arrange a birding tour with an excellent Thai guide called Thomas.  He has been running various private tours on the island for many years and has recently got into birdwatching.  He is also helping lead the campaign to protect the island’s hornbill population and has been gradually building his knowledge of bird species and the hobby of birdspotting in general.

He offers private tours which are designed to suit participants’ requirements. So if you want a day of birding in various locations combined with seeing some local life, for example, he’ll be able to arrange that for you. Contact him through his Facebook page 

One other option for avid birders is the recently established The Hornbill Camp in Salakphet. This is set deep in a valley and is a prime location for spotting, you guessed it, hornbills. They are often seen flying low over the valley or perched in trees early morning. The campsite has a parking area, free wifi, toilet and shower block.  Visitors can either pitch their own tent or rent one cheaply. Location on Googlemaps.  More details on their Facebook page here. 

The Hornbill Camp, Salakphet