Thale Noi waterbird sanctuary
Thale Noi waterbird sanctuary (sometimes spelled Talay or Thalae Noi) is Thailand’s largest waterfowl reserve, located at the northern end of Lake Songkhla (which is Thailand’s largest fresh water lake).
Thale Noi is about 450 square kilometres in size and attracts bird watchers who come to observe the 180 plus species of waterbirds that use the lake. Naturalists can also enjoy many rare species of flora, fish, reptiles and mammals.
We visited Thale Noi on our way from Phattalung town up to the beaches of Khanom and Sichon further north. Unless you are a keen bird watcher Thale Noi probably doesn’t warrant going out of your way for. But if you are in the area it’s definitely worth stopping for a night.
When to visit Thale Noi waterbird sanctuary
The best months for bird watching are November to March when more migratory birds can be seen. From February to April Thale Noi is resplendent in pink waterlilies.
We recommend avoiding weekends and public holidays because this is when coach loads of Thai tourists descend on Baan Thale Noi. The big buses park up in front of the restaurants and keep the engines running while they blast out Thai pop music.
What to do at Thale Noi
You could easily spend all day at Baan Thale Noi sitting by the lake side in a seafood restaurant. The food is delicious and cheap.
In Baan Thale Noi you can also walk out along the piers. Or local fishermen can take you out on the lake in their longtail boats. They charge about 450 baht per hour and can take 4 or 5 people. Don’t expect to get too close to the birds because the longtail boat engines are pretty noisy but it’s still a beautiful experience gliding through the lotus flowers.
Just off the main lake front road is a concrete walkway that leads into the local village. Here you can see fish drying in the sun, and local women sitting outside their homes weaving cane baskets.
If you have transport you should head south around Thale Noi on the 4010. The elevated road has been built over the marshy land that separates Thale Noi from Lake Songkhla. This is probably the best place for bird watching, as well as seeing herds of water buffalo and the traditional stilted fishing platforms (Yor Yak).
The road is popular in the evening but almost deserted at sunrise.
Where to stay in Thale Noi
There are a few resorts in the surrounding area just outside Baan Thale Noi but we stayed at a small guesthouse on the lake front of Baan Thale Noi. Our pleasant room at Ban Lan Bua resort was 800 baht per night.