Bird Watching in Taman Negara

Taman Negara Bird Watching

For those interested in this hobby, there are a few places to go bird-watching in Taman Negara. The first thing you should know is that this is a rainforest area and one of the oldest in the world, dating back 130 million years.

This means you will be doing tropical birding here. The main area for bird watching in Taman Negara is around the park headquarters and its surroundings. However, for serious birders, a few other places are great.

In total, there are over 350 479 species of birds recorded in the entire Taman Negara area, based on the last count done in 2018.

Bird Watching in Taman Negara

Taman Negara National Park Bird Watching
A group of Hornbills perched on a tree at Taman Negara.

To do bird watching here, you should know that Kuala Tahan will be your main gateway into Taman Negara National Park.

Kuala Tahan is a small village town that offers accommodations, local restaurants, floating restaurants, tour desks, and convenient shops.

There are no modern cafes, restaurants or shopping malls found here. There are also no ATM machines or pharmacies found here.

So, if you need any supplies or special items, ensure you get them before you leave the larger cities.

Visitors will take the boat taxi service across the Tembeling River from Kuala Tahan into the national park. For those interested, read this article on the best way to go to Taman Negara.

Bird Photography at Taman Negara
A Great Hornbill was seen at the Mutiara Resort.

Bird Watching Places in Taman Negara

Below is a list of places for birdwatching in Taman Negara, Pahang, which is narrowed down for you. Some of these places are very popular, while one of them is a new birdwatching spot.

If you are looking for Broadbills, Taman Negara is home to many, which include Green, Banded, and Black-and-yellow Broadbills.

And if you are a fan of Barbets, look out for the Gold-whiskered and Red-throated Barbets, which are challenging to spot.

When you are here, your bird guide will most likely take you to the popular ones where you can see the most birds. Again, this all depends on luck, weather, and timing.

Taman Negara Hornbill Valley
Hornbill Valley in Taman Negara, one of the new birdwatching spots here.

The list of birdwatching places in Taman Negara is as follows;

Lata Berkoh (Berkoh Waterfalls)—This is one of the good places in the mornings or afternoons. The journey there will allow you to spot many birds. It is a short ride from the main area of Taman Negara.

Hornbill Valley (Lembah Enggang) - One of the very new areas for bird watching in Taman Negara where you can spot hornbills, barbets and many other birds.

This location is by the main road, about a 10-minute drive from Kuala Tahan. Your bird guide will drive you to the area where you alight from the vehicle and do bird watching by the road.

The best time is just before 7:00 a.m. and in the late afternoon. On a bird count in April 2017, 173 species of birds were spotted here.

One of the star birds is no other than the Helmet Hornbill. The Hornbill Valley in Taman Negara is also gazetted as a conservation area.

Burung Taman Negara
Lembah Enggang or Hornbill Valley in the morning.

Taman Negara Forest Loop Trail - This is the easiest trail, looping around the back of the Mutiara Resort. The walkway is boarded, so it is easy to walk without worrying about leeches or bugs on the ground.

Taman Negara Swamp Loop Trail - Another easy trail at the other end of the resort, which is also boarded. Walking here requires silence to spot the birds in the bush or canopy. In one section, a swampy area where birds are often spotted is seen, but you need to be silent and slow here.

Tahan Hide Trail - This trail connects from the Forest Loop Trail and takes you all the way to the Tahan Hide, a lookout point for wildlife. Along the way, birds are spotted in the canopy and mid-canopy levels.

Jenut Muda Trail - This is one of the most popular and best trails and is relatively easy. The Great Argus Pheasant is often spotted here along with other star birds like the Banded Pitta, Gould's Frogmouth, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, and many others. Watch for the leeches here, though.

Canopy Walk at Taman Negara
The Taman Negara Canopy Walk.

Canopy Walk Trail - This is one of the active trails from the park to the canopy walk. However, more birds are spotted along the walk than on the canopy walk, as sometimes, many people on the canopy walk distract the birds.

Bukit Teresek Trail - This is the further trail, 2.5 km away from the park quarters. However, the journey here will bear fruit, as many birds have been spotted in the first part of the trail. The unique Crestless Fireback is also spotted on this trail.

Beyond The Batek Orang Asli Village - This requires a boat ride upriver, passing the famous ethnic Batek Orang Asli tribe village. The ride will take about 20 to 30 minutes through mild rapids to a spot upriver.

Hornbills are often sighted around here among other birds. But to be honest, I am yet to explore this part. Therefore, I will update this once I have visited this spot.

Around The Mutiara Resort - This is the best area for beginners as you can do some casual birding around the resort grounds. There is a resident Great Hornbill named Abu who is frequently seen in the trees around the resort reception area or the park headquarters area.

Tembeling River Bird Watching
A Coucal was spotted along the Tembeling River during a boat trip.

Along The Tembeling River - Usually, when you depart Taman Negara, you will take a two-hour boat ride down the Tembeling River to Kuala Tembeling, where your van transfer will be waiting to take you back to KL.

On this boat ride, you will spot several birds along the river. I spotted broadbills, kingfishers, raptors, swallows, water birds, and others on my journey back.

The trick is to sit behind the boat nearer to the captain, who can slow the boat down when you want to photograph the birds. And no, he will not stop the boat for you unless you are the only passenger.

Star Birds of Taman Negara

Most birdwatchers or photographers come here searching for the many star birds of Taman Negara.

They are mostly found in popular areas, while some require some serious trekking. Just to highlight, you may not see them all in one trip—perhaps less than half of the birds below.

The list of star birds in Taman Negara is as follows;
  • Malaysian Rail-babbler
  • Malaysian Blue Flycatcher
  • Short-toed Coucal
  • Blue-winged Pitta
  • Gould's Frogmouth
  • Large Frogmouth
  • Ferruginous Wood-Partridge
  • Mountain Peacock Pheasant
  • Crestless Fireback
  • Barred Eagle Owl
  • Bay Owl
  • Masked Finfoot
  • Great Argus
  • Malaysian Peacock Pheasant
  • Black-and-white Bulbul
  • Rufous-tailed Sharma
  • Red-legged Crake
  • Storm's Stork
  • Wallace's Hawk-Eagle
  • Bat Hawk
  • Jambu Fruit Dove
  • Rufous-collared Kingfisher
  • Olive-backed Woodpecker
  • Great Slaty Woodpecker
  • Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker
  • Trogons
Taman Negara Birding
Some birds were spotted sitting on a tree along the Tembeling River.

Best Time For Bird Watching in Taman Negara

For the avid birder, there are the best and worst times to watch birds. As an amateur bird watcher, I find the worst times to watch birds to be during school holidays, weekends, public holidays, and the rainy season.

I recommend booking your visit for a weekday, as the best bird guides would be free and there would be very few people around the national park. This way, you can enjoy your birding in Taman Negara without distraction and noise.

Chalet at Mutiara Taman Negara
One of the chalets at Mutiara Taman Negara.

Where To Stay In Taman Negara?

The golden question for birders. Depending on your budget, there are basic air-conditioning rooms from the many budget hotels in Kuala Tahan. Even cheaper, there are homestays available. But for optimum relaxation, there is the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort.

The resort is located in the national park where the park headquarters is. This is luxury in the rainforest, and an average room costs around RM350.00 (USD 80.00) per person, but you know you will get a good night's rest here.

Your second choice would be the general guest houses, which cost around RM120 to RM140 per room. They are basic, with an attached bathroom, hot water, and air conditioning.

What is the Weather in Taman Negara?

Just to get you in the proper attire, the weather in Taman Negara is pretty hot and humid, with temperatures around 74°-88°F (23°-31°C).

Humidity gets really high in the late mornings and afternoons, and you can expect random showers unless it is rainy from October to January. Birdwatching in Taman Negara is not recommended during the rainy season.

In general, you need to be as comfortable as possible. Shorts, T-shirts, or short-sleeved light-material clothes are recommended, along with comfortable hiking or trekking shoes. A hat is optional, as you will most likely be in the rainforest under the canopy.

What to Prepare For Taman Negara?

Just like any other rainforest, you need to have a poncho or raincoat, lots of drinking water, leech socks (if you truly are scared of them), a very basic first aid kit, energy bars, and insect repellent (the local ones, please).

Other than that, you will perspire quite a bit during your walks, so you may need to bring along a towel or tissue.

If you are lugging a Bazooka lens with a massive tripod, I recommend using a comfortable shoulder pad to carry your gear.

A good pair of binoculars is recommended, as it can be tricky to spot birds in Taman Negara due to the thick rainforest.

I use the mid-level Omicron Savvy IV HR to spot birds. They are affordable and very easy to use, and I have brought them around the world with me.

During my last birdwatching in Flores, Indonesia in late 2016, the binoculars served me pretty well as I managed to spot many birds.

Taman Negara Birds
Some of the river birds around Taman Negara.

Booking a Bird Watching Tour in Taman Negara

For those interested, you can contact me to make a booking. I am in contact with one of the local bird tour operators in Taman Negara.

There are many other places for birdwatching in Malaysia, and over the years, I have been active birdwatching in Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.

So, for the Peninsular, this place was an eye-opener, as the many birds spotted were quite interesting. For serious birders, you can also read this article for a complete list of birding events in Malaysia.

In 2018, I created a dedicated Birdwatching Malaysia website and have put all my birding articles there. Please visit that website.


My recent trip to Taman Negara was with the company above. It was a four-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. I stayed at the Mutiara Taman Negara and explored the many places around here.

This is also my first time birdwatching in Taman Negara, and it was a fruitful trip with several birds spotted.

I am planning to go back for another round of birding here, as there are still many places that I want to visit.

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.


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