Elephant on the banks of the Kinabatangan River

Our favourite wildlife holidays

When it comes to wildlife experiences in Asia, it’s impossible not to think of Borneo.

There are more plants and animals in Borneo than in Europe and North America put together, making it one of the best places in the world to immerse yourself in the mind-boggling diversity of nature. But it’s not the only wildlife hotspot in Asia. There are plenty of amazing nature-based experiences to be discovered across the continent, and we’ve collected some of our favourites below.

These span bonding with elephants in Myanmar and Thailand, checking camera traps and salt licks in the rainforests of Laos, and joining in with conservation efforts in the threatened wilderness of Cambodia’s Botum Sakor National Park. What they all have in common is a strong focus on environmental conservation, community-based tourism and animal welfare, so you can be certain that your visit will make a positive impact on the places, people and animals you visit.

Our top itineraries for wildlife lovers

A selection of itineraries focussing on wildlife and conservation

Top destinations for nature buffs

Our favourite places to appreciate Asia’s spectacular wildlife

Borneo

Sepilok isn’t just the best place in North Borneo to see orangutans – it's one of the island’s premier conservation destinations, with exemplary projects doing fantastic work.

Borneo

Stay in an eco-lodge on the banks of Sabah’s longest river, where elephants, macaques and gibbons forage in the dense riverside foliage, and frogmouths, nightjars and hornbills wheel overhead.

Laos

A visit to Laos is all about the wild and untamed beauty of the mountains – and it doesn’t get much wilder and more untamed than this. Covering nearly 6,000 square kilometres, Nam Et-Phou Louey provides a haven for endangered animals.

Cambodia

Covering most of Preah Vihear Province in the remote northern plains, Kulen Promtep is a haven for rare birds, and one of the few remaining places to see the endangered giant ibis — Cambodia’s national bird.

Cambodia

A visit to Mondulkiri is about feeling as far away from civilisation as it’s possible to be, sleeping in rainforest huts surrounded by the hoots of yellow-cheeked crested gibbons and trekking through jungle to meet rescued elephants.

Borneo

Danum Valley is one of the few places in the world that has never been settled, logged, hunted or otherwise interfered with by humans. Hidden in its untouched forests, wildlife thrives – from the world’s tallest tropical tree to the highest concentration of orangutans anywhere in the world.

Borneo

Covering an area twice the size of Singapore, come to Tabin for mud volcanoes, jungle trekking, an orangutan release centre, and the chance to spot over 300 types of exotic bird – from the bronzed drongo to the blue-crowned hanging parrot.

Cambodia

Forget jostling with sharp-elbowed crowds to get that perfect sunrise snap of Angkor Wat. What if you could explore 800-year-old cave temples with only silver langur, barking deer and pileated gibbons for company?

Laos

Home to the largest elephant population in Laos – as well as a stellar conservation project working to ensure their survival – remote Sayaboury is one of our favourite places to get up close and personal with these gentle giants.

Cambodia

A tatty yet alluring colonial town on the Mekong River, not far from the Laos border, Kratie is one of a handful of places left in the world to spot the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin.

Malaysia

Home to sun bears, elephants, Malayan tigers and clouded leopards, Taman Negara is amongst the oldest primary rainforest in the world. Explore its tangled depths on a treetop-skimming canopy walk, whitewater raft, or challenging mountain hike.

Wildlife-themed experiences

Our best guided tours and excursions for experiencing Asia’s wildlife

Sepilok
Wildlife

Established in 1964, this sanctuary (the first of its kind in Borneo) rescues baby orangutans orphaned by logging or the illegal pet trade and rehabilitates them so that they can be released back into the wild.

Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary
Wildlife

Greater adjutants, rufous-winged buzzards, Indochinese bushlarks and white-winged ducks: a list of Kulen Promtep’s avian residents reads like a page out of Darwin’s logbook.

Mulu National Park
Adventure
Scenery
Wildlife

Mulu National Park is home to some of the most impressive subterranean landscapes you’ll ever see.

Gaya Island
Active
Wildlife

Borneo is a firm contender for top marine destination on the planet, and there are few natural environments more magical than the coral reefs around Gaya Island.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve
Adventure
Wildlife

Malaysia’s largest wildlife reserve covers well over 1,000 sq km in the far east of Borneo yet is home to just one wildlife resort.

Danum Valley
Adventure
Wildlife

Exploring Danum Valley is an experience we’ll never forget. Miles upon miles from anywhere, surrounded by rainforest that’s never been logged, settled, or interfered with in any way, this is one of the richest natural wonderlands on Earth.

Kuching
Wildlife

Just south of Kuching, the Semenggoh Wildlife Reserve has provided a sanctuary for rescued orangutans since 1975.

Batang Ai
Culture
Culture & History
Wildlife

Borneo’s Iban people may have abandoned their former practice of headhunting, but thankfully their traditional culture survives in many other forms.

Luang Prabang
Responsible entreprise
Wildlife

We’ve seen a lot of wildlife sanctuaries in our time, and this one might be the very best.

Popular questions

Things we're often asked...

Do you let people ride elephants?

In short, no. Animal welfare is one of our core principles, and we adhere to the guidelines laid out by WAP (World Animal Protection). WAP recommends against elephant rides because training the elephants to do so usually involves cruel breaking-in techniques, and so we do not support any animal sanctuary that continues this practice.

Can you help me see orangutans in Borneo?

Yes! If you are interested in seeing rescued orangutans in rehabilitation, the orangutan sanctuaries at Sepilok and Semenggoh are the best places to do so. Sightings in the wild are never guaranteed, but we can certainly point you to the places where you’ll have the very best chances.

How likely is it that I’ll see wildlife on my holiday?

Wild animal sightings can never be guaranteed — that’s part of the excitement of it! — but there are places where you’re much more likely to spot wildlife than others. Borneo is the undisputed capital of animal-spotting in Asia, and within Borneo certain locations (such as the Kinabatangan River) have a much higher concentration of wildlife than others. Conservation centres such as Sepilok’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre also offer a great chance to see animals being rehabilitated for release into the wild.

Where are the best places to see wildlife in Asia?

The best place in Asia to see wildlife is Borneo — but it’s by no means the only place. There are some fantastic nature-based experiences to be found across Asia, whether wildlife is the focus of your trip or just an element.

Cambodia has the largest contiguous rainforest area on continental Southeast Asia, making it our second-favourite destination for wildlife and conservation experiences, while Laos has remote and rugged national parks where you can sleep in “nests” hanging from the trees and go for night safaris into the jungle. There are also some excellent, highly welfare-conscious elephant sanctuaries you can visit in Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

What kinds of things can I do on a wildlife themed holiday?

Our wildlife trips have a strong focus on conservation, so expect to be sleeping in eco-lodges in national parks, helping rangers check camera traps for sightings of rare animals, and seeing first-hand how community-based tourism can help protect the environment and support sustainable local development.

You’ll also have lots of opportunities for wildlife-spotting, including river cruises to watch animal life on the riverbanks, and nature walks to learn about medicinal plants, creepy crawlies and birds. To have the best chance of spotting lots of interesting wildlife, you need to head out at different times of day — so you should also expect dawn excursions to observation towers, and night safaris to spotlight nocturnal critters!

How dangerous are the animals in Asia?

There are dangerous animals in Asia, as there are in most parts of the world, but they’re usually more anxious to avoid you than you are to avoid them! The chances of coming into close contact with any dangerous animals is close to zero, but even if you did, you’ll always be accompanied by an expert local guide who’ll point out the hazard and know exactly what to do.

Proboscis monkey - Alastair Donnelly

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