Depending on where you visit in Thailand, there’s a chance you may encounter monkeys on your travels. I took these photos in Krabi on the pathway that connects East Railay to Phra Nang Beach. The cliffs and treetops there are home to a troop of macaques and they’ve become accustomed to sharing their territory with humans.
I kept my distance when taking these photos, using a zoom lens to capture the images. Most of the people I saw were sensible, but unfortunately one family of tourists thought it was a good idea to encourage the monkeys closer by offering them sweetcorn and cans of drink. It wasn’t long before the bolder monkeys were jumping up at them attempting to grab their beach bags. This freaked out one young girl who started screaming. Fortunately, nobody was hurt but it was a classic example of how not to interact with wild monkeys.
Whilst attacks and bites from monkeys aren’t that common, they do happen. That doesn’t mean that you have to avoid areas where you see macaques, but you should never forget these are still wild animals no matter how cute or funny they might look.
Tips for dealing with wild monkeys
The majority of visitors that come to Thailand and encounter monkeys do so without any problems. Don’t be scared if you do see them and if you don’t bother them the chances are they won’t bother you. Monkey experts offer the following advice:
- Don’t make direct eye contact with monkeys (it might be viewed by alpha males as a challenge).
- Don’t cross the path between a mother and her infant.
- Don’t antagonise or tease the monkeys.
- Don’t feed the monkeys (Thais are guilty of doing this, not just foreigners).
Where you may encounter wild monkeys in Thailand
You won’t see wild monkeys everywhere in Thailand, but there are some popular tourist locations (especially in southern Thailand) where you probably will see them.
In Krabi, you’ll see macaques near the Rayavadee Hotel behind Railay Beach as well as on the steps that lead up to the shrine at Wat Tham Seua (Tiger Cave Temple). They can also be seen on Monkey Beach on Phi Phi and this is one location where there have been a number of reports of monkeys biting tourists.
Lopburi is probably the most famous location in Thailand associated with monkeys and if you mention to a Thai person you are heading to Lopburi they may tell you it is known as ‘Monkey Town’. The primates are such a feature here that they get their own annual monkey festival where they are treated to a buffet of fruit and other goodies.