Wildlife in Thailand
Thailand is an exotic place filled with exotic plants and animals. As a result, there is a thriving animal tourism industry to see tigers, elephants, and monkeys. It relatively well developed and has a lot of ethical options. On the other hand, there are animals you don’t want to see, like bugs and snakes. We’ve had our fair share of encounters with them, and you probably will too.
Bugs and Snakes
The bugs you probably don’t want to see are bugs, snakes, and an occasional scorpion. We’ve only had one run in with a snake, and really I should say run over with a snake because that’s what we did. We were riding our bikes when a snake quickly slithered over the road. We didn’t have time to react and both rode over it. I threw my legs into the air and didn’t get bit, but it was a close call. You don’t see snakes much in the city, but they are around. Also, we’ve seen scorpion bodies dead in the street, but never one that was alive thankfully.
We are most familiar with the bugs. They are everywhere. If you sit down anywhere in a park, by the river, or anywhere near greenery, ants will begin crawling on you. And the ants in Thailand are no joke. Their bites hurt and swell. We even have them sometimes infiltrate our apartment. Bugs in Thailand, in general, are fierce and hard to kill, at least harder to kill than American bugs in our experience. We’ve adjusted to it not, but it took us a while.
Tigers are majestic creatures, and you can see these fierce felines in Thailand. Do your research before visiting them. There is a place called Tiger Temple, which has been shut down several times and faces a lot of criticism about not treating their tigers ethically. We went to the Tiger Kingdom outside of Chiang Mai and had a great experience. It’s always sad to see animals like this in cages, but other than feeling like a zoo, the place seemed to take care of the tigers well.
You don’t really go to a sanctuary to see monkeys. Instead, most of the tropical beaches in Thailand are the home of monkeys. So on a beach excursion, you are likely to see some monkeys running around. They are super cute, but also very tricky. Watch your stuff because these little rascals will steal from you with no hesitation. Some of the best spots to see them are Lopburi ruins, Koh Phi Phi, and Khao Yai National Park.
Elephants are some of the most amazing animals we’ve ever seen. Seriously, they live up to the hype. These gentle giants are marvelous creatures. They meander around, seemingly unaware of their tremendous size. You can sense their kind hearts and spirits and know they do not use their strength as a weapon to hurt others, but simply to protect themselves and their young. It is important to do your research before visiting the elephants. Some groups do not treat them ethically and actually do them a lot of harm by letting people ride them. We went the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai. This is a solid group with locations in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Phuket.
Finally, working in Thailand, you will probably fall in love with your neighborhood street doggos. Be careful and feel out which ones are nice, but you can build a relationship with them from a distance. We’ve named the one in our neighborhood and talk to them every time we ride by. They have no idea what to do with us because they aren’t used to being talked to like pets, but we do it anyway. It’s our way of having a pet.
Thailand has some amazing animals. Make sure to take advantage of your opportunity to see some of the most exotic and beautiful animals you can while living in SE Asia and don’t forget to be kind to the little fluffies running through your own neighborhood.