6 Amazing Wildlife And Nature Destinations in Asia

Throughout last couple of years I have been travelling quite a bit through many wonderful countries experiencing some incredible moments. In this post I want to share the most mesmerizing destinations featuring nature & wildlife I have had the chance to visit, observe and photograph.

Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

Resort challets blend with nature in Raja Ampat
Lively underwater world is present almost everywhere in Raja Ampat
Wilson's bird-of-paradise performing his morning clean-up in West Papua's rainforest
Boys from the local village Enyar enjoying their weekend and cheering at our boat
Typical coastline in Raja Ampat, turquoise waters and rocky formations

Raja Ampat (or the Four Kings) is one of the best and most unique marine life destinations in the world. This region of West Papua is truly fascinating and it consists of more than 1500 islands. Its distant location and high prices of accommodation protect it from swarms of tourists and keep it’s reefs untouched and lively all year long.

When to go?

As a marine life destination, you can visit Raja Ampat any time of the year, but go there from October to April (notably mid-October to mid-December) for the best chance of having the pleasant weather.

Travellers’ tip

If you want to see one of Raja Ampat’s wonders, the migration of Manta rays, you should go there anytime from mid-December to mid-February.

Chances of spotting wildlife

If you go to Raja Ampat, you are guaranteed to see an extensive variety of marine life. Beside marine life, there is also abundance of birds (notably cockatoos, birds of paradise and hornbills).

Did you know?
Raja Ampat is a part of the Coral Triangle – which is a huge area sometimes called “Amazon of the seas”, hosting the richest marine biodiversity on the planet.

Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

Yellow Vinesnake in Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
Great Hornbill couple in the treetops, they usually spend their whole lives together
White Gibbons are the fastest moving animals on the trees
Siamese crocodile is the king of the local river

Khao Yai National Park might be the best place in all Thailand where you can see unique wildlife, picturesque landscapes and panoramic waterfalls. The local guides like to say that you can encounter so-called Khao Yai’s Big 3 in here – elephants, gibbons and hornbills. But besides that, it is also the place which hosts large quantities of reptiles, birds and mammals.

When to go?

Any time of the year is great to visit Khao Yai. However avoid visiting the park during the public and school holidays and (if possible) weekends. Regarding wildlife – the rainy season (May – October) is ideal for reptiles, amphibians and waterfalls, the cool season (November – February) is great for mammals and hiking and the hot season (March – April) is good for any activities, just do not expect lush waterfalls.

Travellers’ tip

Go on a tour with a good guide. It will probably cost a bit, but it is a worthy investment. You will be able to see the park’s beauty with the added insight of the guide which includes detailed descriptions of the local spots and animals. For most of the tourists it is almost impossible to spot snakes, scorpions, most of the bird life and so on without a guide. If you decide to go, hire a guide, either online or just at the parks’ headquarters. Also when you are there, do not forget to go on a night safari. Creatures of the night provide an interesting experience.

Chances of spotting wildlife

Very high for gibbons, hornbills, reptiles and amphibians. Decent for elephants, gaurs and specific species of birds and snakes.

Did you know?
Elephants love salt licks and shallow rivers. If you are looking for them, ask your guide to visit these places often because of a high chance to see the Khao Yai’s famous elephant families.

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Crystal clear waters abundance of wildlife awaits in Perhentian Islands
Dusky leaf monkeys live in groups in the islands' jungles
Monitor lizards look dangerous, but they are calm and harmless most of the time
Perhentian Islands are one of the most popular seaside destinations in Malaysia

If you are looking for a truly relaxing tropical island to visit in Southeast Asia’s region at a pocket-friendly price, you do not have to look any further. Perhentian Islands are small, but really beautiful and they host an abundance of wildlife both above and below water. Not forgetting the picturesque beaches and cosy accommodations.

When to go?

From May to September. And for the nicest experience you should go there in May or September, because there are less visitors and the weather is ideal. Avoid visiting Perhentian Islands from October to April, because it is closed for the monsoon season, due to heavy rainfall and strong currents.

Travellers’ tip

Divers say that Perhentian Islands are one of the best locations to acquire your PADI license. Water is warm and without any strong currents, tempo is slow and beginner-friendly and there are also plenty of dive sites which makes it quite an attractive deal for your first PADI course in combination with affordable prices.

Chances of spotting wildlife

Surprisingly high. Perhentian Islands are not only idyllic for observing marine life, but also traditional wildlife. It is easy to spot huge monitor lizards, dusky leaf monkeys, flying squirrels and if you are lucky, even plenty of birds.

Did you know?
The Islands are very popular with the local people, so try to avoid visiting them during the peak season (June to August) and public and school holidays when the beaches become very crowded.

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Amazing sunsets are daily part of the Yala experience

After the devastating tsunami in 2004 and Civil War, Yala National Park is now fully recovered and is one of the Asia´s prime locations to see an abundance of wildlife. In Yala there is a huge chance that you will encounter mammals, reptiles, amphibians and large quantities and varieties of bird life. Besides Nuwara Eliya and Hikkaduwa, Yala is definitely a personal Sri Lankan highlight.

When to go?

Any time of the year really. For the best experience I would recommend going after the rainy season (February – April), which is when the animals have plenty of water and bird life is truly spectacular.

Travellers’ tip

Be mindful of how many people share a jeep with you on your journey into Yala. I would avoid over-crowded tours and with a little bit of patience book a tour with maximum 3-4 people on board. It is also possible to book the whole jeep for yourself, with a surcharge in cost.

Chances of spotting wildlife

Very High for elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, birds, lizards and buffalos (low chance of spotting leopards or black bears though, as the size of park is massive).

Did you know?
Even Yala was a fighting territory during the Civil War and sometimes you can see the separatist’s bunkers hidden amongst the bushes. Luckily now it’s all over and tourists can visit this gem of a place.

Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia

Adult female orangutan hanging out in the treetops in Gunung Leuser National Park
Baby orangutan playing in the treetops
Short tail Macaque relaxing on the ground
Cheeky Thomas Leaf Monkey playing around

Gunung Leuser might be easily the best place for wildlife encounters in the whole South East Asia. The Park is still mostly in its original condition and the longer your hike is, the bigger the chance of a unique and unforgettable experience. Seeing orangutans, bears, wild elephants or massive pythons is very hard to beat (if you are a nature/wildlife enthusiast, of course).

When to go?

Any time of the year. You might see less people during Indonesia’s low season though (October to February).

Travellers’ tip

To maximize the quality of a wildlife encounter, don’t go in a group which consists of more than 4 people including a guide. When you meet an orangutan face to face – keep calm and smile :).

Chances of spotting wildlife

Very high for orangutans, monkeys, snakes & hornbills. Decent for giant flying squirrels, gibbons, boars and bears. Very small for tigers, rhinos, leopards or elephants.

Did you know?
Gunung Leuser National Park is the only remaining place in the world where orangutans, tigers and elephants live together naturally in one environment.

Taman Negara National Park, Malaysia

Orang Asli - the indigenous people of the Malay Peninsula sliding down the river in Taman Negara National Park
Better be careful during hiking in Taman Negara as there are hundreds of different spider species
Taman Negara is the oldest rainforest in the world, it's growth started around 130 million years ago
Rainforests' streams and rivers provide welcoming refreshment during the arduous hikes

Taman Negara is a vast tropical rainforest located in Malaysia’s Pahang region. Taman Negara’s rainforest is 130 million years old, which makes it the oldest environment of this kind in the world. The rainforest is home to huge amounts of unique fauna and flora and you can also find the highest peak of Peninsular Malaysia there – Gunung Tahan. It is good to mention, that Taman Negara is not a place for beginner-level hikers. The treks are long and exhausting and it is incredibly hard to spot any wildlife (because of its vastness). Only experienced nature lovers who can invest more time into this place will discover its true beauty.

When to go?

The best time to go is during the dry season (February to September). If you want to avoid crowds, do not go there during the peak season (April to August).

Travellers’ tip

Trekking through Taman Negara is tough and it is better to be prepared. It will be super humid and exhausting, so I recommend taking only the most essential equipment you really need. And do not forget something for swimming, including one or two towels, since you will really appreciate jumping into the rivers or smaller streams during the hike.

Chances of spotting wildlife

Very Low. Taman Negara is so vast that your chances of seeing wildlife are really slim. It is an amazing place for those who want to discover the true tropical rainforest environment but I would recommend a different destination for wildlife lovers.

Did you know?
Taman Negara hosts the truly original inhabitants of this environment called Orang Asli. There are several tribes living in Taman Negara, although only one allows tourists to visit their village. These aboriginal people are also the only ones who are allowed to hunt in this forest.

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