Thailand is a country that’s well known for its natural beauty and lush forests with plenty of wildlife. With the abundance of fauna and flora, people often wonder if there are monkeys in Thailand.
Thailand has an abundance of primates, including monkeys. There are a total of 11 monkey species in Thailand. The most common type is the macaque, a cute but very aggressive type of monkey that injures many tourists yearly. Always remember that monkeys are not tame animals.
Which Monkeys Can You Find In Thailand?
Eleven monkey species are native to Thailand, though none are endemic, meaning you can find them all in other places, too. The Eleven species can be divided into two categories: macaque and langur.
Most of the monkeys you will see in Thailand belong to the macaque family. There are six separate macaque species in Thailand. They are:
- Assam Macaque
- Crab-eating Macaque
- Northern Pig-Tailed Macaque
- Sundaland Pig-Tailed Macaque
- Rhesus Macaque
- Stump-Tailed Macaque
Macaques are Old World monkeys, meaning their noses are lower on their faces and their nostrils are close together. These characteristics make them very cute and almost human-looking.
However, macaque monkeys are very aggressive. Like all monkeys, they are mischievous and love to beg for (or steal) tourists’ food and belongings, but they don’t usually do so cutely and funnily. Many tourists have been hospitalized because a macaque tried to steal their sunglasses.
These aggressive tendencies worsen during mating season, when the macaque males are easily agitated, making them even more aggressive than usual.
You can find five species of langur in Thailand. They are not nearly as common as the macaque, and you must look carefully to spot them in the wild. The five langur species in Thailand are:
- Banded Langur
- Dusky Langur
- Pale-Thighed Langur
- Robinson’s Banded Langur
- Tenasserim Langur
Langur monkeys can be as aggressive as the macaque, and you should handle them with the same care if you ever encounter them.
However, langur monkeys also get used to humans much faster than macaques. Some traders even sell langur monkeys as pets. So, if you see one at a temple or an area frequented by humans, there’s a good chance that the langur will be tame.
However, if there’s any doubt, keep your distance from any langur monkey to be safe.
Where To Find Monkeys In Thailand
Because of the abundance of monkeys in Thailand, you can find them almost everywhere. All zoos, like the massive Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Si Racha, have plenty of monkeys of various species.
It is also not uncommon to find tame monkeys in temples or people’s homes, again because of how abundant they are. Most of the tame monkeys will be of the langur species, though.
However, tourists and travelers will do well by traveling off the beaten track. Not only will you experience more of the incredible sights of Thailand, but you will also see more monkeys.
Here are a few highlights you should include in your travel itinerary.
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai was established as Thailand’s first national park, only two hours from Bangkok. It is home to many wildlife species, including some endangered ones, and you can find every one of Thailand’s monkey species there.
Keep in mind that Khao Yai fines anyone who feeds the monkeys. Unfortunately, this has not helped deter people from doing so, damaging Khao Yai’s ecosystem as the monkeys move closer to the roads to beg for (and steal) food from tourists.
This has become a massive problem lately since the monkeys are becoming more aggressive in their attempts.
Lopburi is well-known as one of the oldest cities in Thailand, rich in history and cultural significance. The city was founded more than 1,000 years ago. It’s only two hours north of Bangkok, so reaching Lopburi is not challenging.
There are many reasons to visit this fantastic city, but one of its outstanding features is its monkeys. Experts estimate that approximately 3,000 monkeys are living in and around Lopburi.
The last Sunday of November is a perfect time to visit Lopburi since that is when the Lopburi Monkey Festival takes place.
During the festival, locals place food around ancient Khmer ruins to entice and entertain the monkeys. It’s a sight to behold when 3,000 monkeys overrun ancient ruins to enjoy these treats.
The Indochinese Peninsula is covered with lush jungles that are the perfect places to find monkeys. One such spot is Railay Beach, near Ao Nang. You will find monkeys in their natural habitat, lazing in the sun or balancing on walkway rails.
The monkeys at Railay Beach tend not to be too aggressive, but it’s still important to take proper precautions when you go there.
Koh Phi Phi Don
Koh Phi Phi Don is one of the two islands that make up Koh Phi Phi. The island is a popular destination among tourists, especially adventurous ones, as you can get to it with a kayak.
What adds to the popularity of Koh Phi Phi Don is that it has two monkey beaches frequented by monkeys, especially macaques.
Many brave tourists dare to set foot on the beaches to see the monkeys up close, but it’s generally not a good idea. Remember that macaque monkeys are very aggressive and unpredictable, especially those on Koh Phi Phi Don since they’ve been spoiled by tourists feeding them.
It’s much safer to stay on your kayak and admire the monkeys from a distance.
How To Handle Monkeys In Thailand
Monkeys can be very entertaining to watch. But as we’ve seen, they can also be very dangerous if you don’t handle them properly. Here are a few pointers for you to protect yourself, your belongings, and the monkeys.
- Don’t take any valuables with you when you go monkey-watching. Monkeys love stealing things they find interesting, and they can get very aggressive when you get into a tug-of-war with them trying to get your things back.
- Don’t feed the monkeys. The monkeys in Thailand have become even more aggressive since tourists and locals started feeding them. They now expect that kind of treatment, and if someone doesn’t feed them enough, they might turn violent. The best way to stop that is to stop feeding them.
- Don’t smile. Many wild animals perceive a smile as a threat, and that’s even more true of monkeys. They show their teeth when they threaten someone, so they will perceive you in the same way if you show your teeth.
- Don’t look like a threat. Don’t go too close to any of the monkeys. Some of them are pretty territorial, and they will think you are threatening them when you move too close.
- Don’t show fear. It’s generally acceptable when a monkey comes closer to you by its own choice, but the moment you start to show fear, it might become aggressive.
- If you aren’t sure if you will be able to follow these steps (especially the ones about not smiling or not showing fear), it’s best to keep your distance. Admire the monkeys from afar; that way, you know that you will be fine.