9 Exotic Thailand Animals to See on Your Vacation

Thailand is a paradise. From picturesque beaches, delicious street food, to stunning temples and vistas, this “Land of Smiles” certainly gives you a lot to smile about.  It’s pretty darn cheap. All of this combined makes Thailand a much-beloved vacation spot for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. There’s always something to do, something fresh to see, but nothing perhaps as wondrous and mysterious as catching a glimpse of the local wildlife. Thailand animals are some of the most exotic you can experience in your world travels. Taking the time to visit them can make for some of your more treasured memories from your time abroad.

Here are nine of them you don’t want to miss.

1. Ladies and Gentlemen…The World’s Smallest Mammal

First up is Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (craseonycteris thonglongyai) which shares the honor of being the smallest mammal in the world, and this little guy is found right here, in Thailand.

No larger than a bumblebee (often called the bumblebee bat as a nickname), you can find these cuties in western Thailand, in limestone caves in the Tenasserim Hills region in the Kanchanaburi Province.

2. Those Bear Necessities

While the Asian Black Bear has many varieties throughout Asia and parts of Russia, a unique subspecies with a thinner coat calls the Kingdom of Thailand home.

Sightings are rare; your best bet will be in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan Provinces.

Keep in mind, while they’re probably the cutest things ever (especially as cubs), an adult male can weigh up to 440lbs (200kgs).

Meaning, this is a creature you don’t want to mess with.

They have been known to show aggression toward humans. So if you manage to see one, please enjoy the cuteness of these Thailand animals from a safe distance.

3. These Dolphins Will Make You Flip

The Irrawaddy Dolphin is quite the unique breed among Thailand animals; almost more of a beluga whale than a dolphin in appearance due to its shorter beak.

Historically they are quite helpful and cooperative creatures; known by ancient fisherman to help them drive fish into their nets.

Catch a glimpse of these guys in Thailand’s first marine park, Khao Sam Roi Yot, only three hours south of Bangkok.

4. While You’re in the Water with Thailand Animals…

Once a year, whale sharks will make their way past Koh Tao and yes, you can jump in a diving suit and say hello.

The word “shark” often brings to mind images of Jaws eating the unfortunate inhabitants of Amity Island, which is understandable.

However, while the whale shark may share some genetics with her great white sister, she is a filter feeder (meaning she eats plankton like most whales) and is not known to pose a threat to humans.

So, if you’re wanting to swim with this pretty lady, be sure to synchronize your vacation to Thailand with their migration pattern.

5. The Longest of the Living Cats

While you’re on the journey of seeing the best of Thailand animals, you can’t miss the Clouded Leopard. The longest of any living cat (with exceptionally large canines), experts believe it’s distantly related to the long extinct sabre tooth tiger.

If you’re hoping to see this elegant feline, your best bet is in southern Thailand in Khao Sok National Park.

6. It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a…Fox?

Yes, you read that right ladies and gentlemen Thailand has flying foxes, and you don’t want to miss them.

Ok technically they’re just large bats, but they’re some of the largest bats in the world, which is still pretty cool right?

They famously hang (pun intended) near Wat Pho Bang Khla, an ancient temple located 23 kilometers from Chachoengsao town.

Come closer to dusk and watch these thousand of these guys spread their wings around the temple.

7. Monkey See, Monkey Do

There are countless monkeys to see in Thailand from the Agile Gibbons found at the Hala Bala Wildlife Reserve to Dusty Leaf Monkey at Kaeng Krachan National Park.

However, if you want an up close and personal encounter with some monkeys, then you should be sure to go to Monkey Beach on Koh Phi Phi.

Bring some organic fruits for them to eat (no junk food please). These monkeys will come right up to you and let you feed them.

8. Tiger Tiger, Burning Bright

Equal parts beautiful and ferocious, nothing on earth compares to the majesty of a tiger, and Thailand has the largest tiger population in the world.

Where do you see them? Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place to see these lovelies in their natural habitat, though still a rare sight.

For something a little more guaranteed (and perhaps more memorable), head over to the Tiger Kingdom in Chang Mai. Many such places drug their tigers, but according to patrons, they do not appear to do so here. At least not the young ones.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to have your own encounter with one of these glorious creatures.

9. Don’t Forget the Elephants

Perhaps the most iconic of all of Thailand animals; the elephant.

You should be careful where you chose to experience these monsters.

Everyone wants to ride an elephant, but in order for an elephant to allow a human rider, they endure some rigorous training. Many of the animals in the elephant camps used to work in the logging industry which is now banned. These animals cannot be returned to the wild so the tourism industry sustains many of them.

All this to say, if you care about the well-being of the elephants it is best to choose the elephant rides carefully. There are plenty of other ways to interact with the animals in healthy ways for both of you.

Check out Elephant Nature Park, which is a safe haven for rescued elephants, or in the wild at Khao Yai National Park.

What’re You Waiting For?

If you’re not already booking your tickets to Thailand, then there’s nothing else to say.

It’s a place of mystery and beauty and has some of the most exotic animals in the world. It is a definite must see for your next fit of wanderlust.

Spend a week there, spend a month there. Enjoy this beautiful place, but do so responsibly and respectfully.