8 Incredible Wildlife Encounters in Asia

Updated: Dec 26, 2020

There are so many amazing things to see and beautiful experiences to have in Asia. One of the best experiences you can ask for is an authentic and ethical animal experience! Here are 8 amazing wildlife encounters you can't miss when visiting Asia:


1. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

Chiang Mai, Thailand

This experience is so amazing that I've gone back to Chiang Mai twice for it! It's one of the best up close and personal wildlife experiences you can get, while still remaining ethical. This amazing organization saves elephants who are being mistreated at circuses or other tourist attractions. They bring them to this sanctuary where they are able to completely roam free and do whatever they please. When you come visit for the day, you get to feed the elephants bananas, take a mud bath with them, and then rinse them off in the river. Again, the best part is that the elephants do whatever they please- they aren't forced into anything. So if they're done eating or don't want to go in the mud, they just walk away and go do what they want!

Chiang Mai Thailand Elephant Jungle Sanctuary

2. Swimming with Whale Sharks

Oslob, Cebu, Philippines

This is one of my favorite animal experiences! It has definitely become extremely touristy, but it's worth it. You just get to swim amongst dozens of these gentle giants and watch how graceful they are. It's unbelievable how close to shore they are! But don't worry the government regulates this, so they have serious laws in place to make sure the whale sharks stay safe.



3. Wildlife Safari

Yala, Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park, Sri Lanka

There are safari opportunities at all 3 of these national parks to see lots of wildlife- elephants, bears, leopards, monkeys, deer, buffalo, pigs, and so much more! It's an awesome experience to just sit back and observe nature doing its thing.

Elephant at Yala National Park Sri Lanka


4. Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

More commonly referred to as Ubud Monkey Forest, is the sanctuary and natural habitat of the Balinese long-tailed Monkey. It's an awesome place to see literally hundreds of monkeys everywhere. But be careful- they are cheeky! They love to steal any object they can, so hold on tight to your phone and make sure your bag is zipped up tight. Also, don't bring any food into the park. They can smell it and will get aggressive trying to get it from you. There are multiple workers throughout the park who will offer an awesome photo-op like the one below if you just ask!

Monkey Forest in Ubud Bali Indonesia

5. Komodo Dragons

Rinca Island, Indonesia

You can actually see these killer animals on Komodo Island and Rinca Island- both in Indonesia. But after going to both, I definitely recommend Rinca island because it seemed more natural. The Komodo dragons were everywhere, just living their own lives. Whereas Komodo island felt very commercialized and touristy. But regardless, seeing these huge, deadly creatures is definitely a must on your animal encounter quest in Asia.

Komodo dragons on Rinca Island in Indonesia


6. Pandas

Chengdu, China

At the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding you can get up close and personal with Giant Pandas. There are less than 1,900 of these beautiful animals left in the wild, and they are only found in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces in China. At this Research Base you can also see red pandas, black-necked cranes, white storks, and over 20 other rare species of animals. (If you come at the right time, you can also see newborn pandas! It was my favorite part of the park!)

Newborn panda babies from Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Image from chinatravel.com ©


7. Orangutans

Borneo, Malaysia or Sumatra, Indonesia

These are two hotspots to see orangutans in the wild or at a number of conservation parks. It's really popular to take a multiple day boat tour along the Kinabatangan River in Borneo or a trek through Bukit Lawang, Sumatra to get as much time as possible to see these beautiful creatures.

Orangutan mother and child in Borneo, Malaysia
Image from intrepidtravel.com ©


8. Swimming with Giant Mantas

Nusa Penida or Komodo Island, Indonesia

These are two different hotspots in Indonesia for swimming with Giant Manta Rays. It's a common misconception that Manta Rays are dangerous, but they are completely harmless and will swim next to you gracefully! If you want to guarantee a sighting, make sure you give yourself a couple of days to try because I only had 1 day to explore Manta Bay on Nusa Penida island, and we didn't see any unfortunately. But a girl from my hostel saw dozens of them the day before (her videos were incredible), so it really just depends!

Nusa Penida swimming with Manta Rays
Image from nusapenidaisland.com ©


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