Recently I went whale watching in Thailand. Yes, that’s right. Whale watching in Thailand. I know it’s hard to imagine but there are whales less than two hours drive away from Bangkok. Ideal if you want to get out of the city for a day! Bryde’s whales have been residing nearby Phetchaburi province for several decades, one of Thailand’s major fishing areas. This trip is organised by Hivesters, also known for their Talad Noi tour, and Wild Encounter Thailand.
At 06.00AM we left from our meeting point in Ekkamai where two minivans were waiting for us to take us to the whale spotting boat. There were just 20 spots open for this trip, to make sure it won’t be too crowded. As these kind of trips are popular. If you plan on going, make sure to sign up immediately.
Before we were going on the boat, khun Tour (that’s the name of our guide, how cool is that!) explained us first about the boat (rules, safety, etc.) and what to expect of this trip. Unlike other operators who use local fishermen as guides, Khun Tour is a certified cetologist (aka a whale & dolphin specialist) and an expert in the field of whale conservation in the region. He believes his work in promoting local eco-tourism will prove increase both consumers and other local operators’ awareness on safe and responsible whale watching practices.
After the short meeting we proceed on boat out into the Gulf of Thailand. I was excited like a kid in a candy shop, because who would ever thought of seeing a whale in Thailand? Even though they can’t guarantee you will spot a whale, because the Bryde’s whales sighted on this trip live in the wild, therefore they are unpredictable. Hivesters nor Wild Encounter Thailand can’t confirm what time we will encounter whales.
The boat itself is a basic Thai fishing boat turned into a comfortable whale-spotting boat with a rooftop sun deck and open sides to make sure you won’t miss any whale action. After about two hours on the boat with no fishing boats in sight and the mainland far behind us, I started to think we won’t be seeing any whales. Some people came on this trip for a second time as they haven’t spot any whales during their first time. But then khun Tour started yelling “12 o’clock!!”. Apparently there was a whale right in front of us but we couldn’t see any. Turned out this whale was about 20 minutes away from us. Dang! This man got some superpower senses! 20 minutes later we arrived close enough to spot the whale. And YAY we did!
I saw many photos of whales coming up vertically with their mouths open and I expected to see the same, but in reality these whales are playing hide and seek! They come up to get some air and they’re gone before you can snap photos, all in maybe less than a second. The next two hours we were following the same whale. Khun Tour told us this was a shy baby whale of 6,5 meters long and that’s why we had to keep some distance.
If you expect to take a whale selfie I have to disappoint you, unless you have a big lens. That’s why I don’t have many photos, I don’t own a big fancy lens to my disappointment. Thank goodness khun Tour has one! The beautiful whale photos below are from Wild Encounter Thailand!
After pursuing this baby whale with lots of oohs and aahs it was time to head back to the shore. I hoped we would encounter some dolphins or other whales, but too bad that wasn’t the case. I was happy I saw a whale though! We arrived around 16.00hr at the pier and headed back home to the meeting point. The staff of Wild Encounters Thailand really have passion and for them this wasn’t another day trip, but another chance to gather information and add them to their database.
The price of this tour is 2,000THB per person, this is including a certified guide, transportation to/from Bangkok-Petchaburi in a minivan, lunch, water and travel insurance. Make sure to bring sunscreen and comfortable clothes. In the end, after lots of sunscreen, I got sunburned. I guess my skin is more Dutch than I thought!