Birdwatching in Vietnam

Besides a long (mostly war) history, a rich culture ad beautiful landscapes, Vietnam is also a paradise for bird watchers !

Vietnam has a total of about 850 bird species, of which 13 are endemic, 3 have been introduced by humans and 9 are very rare. 43 species have been globally threatened.

About a month ago, for the Vietnamese Mid Autumn Festival, we went to Di Linh with 3 families for the weekend. As we live in Mui Ne, it just took us a relaxed 2,5- 3 hours drive to reach Ivory Falls Villa : https://ivoryfallsvilla.com/ . The villa is located in the cooler mountains of Di Linh, it has several comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant overhearing the waterfall, which is on the domain of the villa with a view over ricefields. It is a perfect escape from the heat of Saigon and Mui Ne and less far as Dalat. Perfect for a weekend getaway !

Di Linh

Di Linh is usually referred as Deo (pass) Nui San or Deo (pass) Suoi Lanh and it can be considered as a separated birding area from Da Lat. However, all the bird species of the avifauna here can be found in Da Lat though several species are easier to locate then those in Da Lat including Vietnamese Cutia, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Black-headed Parrotbill and Green Cochoa are among them.

Other places in Vietnam that are suitable for bird watching :

Cuc Puong National Park :

To date, 248 species of bird have been recorded at Cuc Phuong National Park, including two globally threatened species, Chestnut-necklaced Partridge (Arborophila charltonii) and Red-collared Woodpecker (Picus rabieri), and 12 globally near-threatened species. The national park supports populations of Red-vented Barbet (Megalaima lagrandieri), and Bar-bellied Pitta (Pitta elliotii), which are endemics to Indochina and Thailand. Cuc Phuong National Park is situated at the northern end of the Annamese Lowlands Endemic Bird Area. However, none of the restricted-range bird species restricted to this EBA have yet been recorded at the national park.

Most highlights

Red-collared Woodpecker, Pied Falconet, Rachet-tailed Treepie, Bar-bellied, Blue-rumped and Eared Pittas, White-winged Magpie, Limestone Wren Babbler.

Accommodation :

As Cuc Phuong National Park is only about 30km away from Ninh Binh, I would advise to make the combination and visit this fantastic area as well, it has plenty choices like Chez Loan Homestay, Bai Dinh Garden Resort, …

Visitor accommodation is available at the park headquarters and inside the national park near the Bong ranger station. The forest is accessible on foot from both locations but some birding trails (such as the Cave of the Early Man for Limestone Wren Babbler) are only accessible by car.

 

Tam Dao National Park :

About 100 species have been recorded at Tam Dao, specialities include Purple and Green Cochoas, Chestnut Bulbul, Grey Laughingthrush, Coral-billed and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers and Greater Rufous-headed and Short-tailed Parrotbills. Winter visitors that may turn up here between December and March include Black-breasted, Japanese, Eyebrowed and Grey-backed Thrush and Fujian Niltava.

Most highlights

Grey Laughingthrush, Black-throated Laughingthrush, Green and Purpple Cochoas, and Short-tailed Parrotbill.

Accommodation : Belvedere Tam Dao Hotel, Sofia Tam Dao Hotel,…

Fansi Pan Mountain Sapa :

About 350 species have been recorded in this area. The avifauna of the area has strong Himalayan affinities, and includes many species that are known from few or no other sites in Vietnam, such as Gould’s Shortwing, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Crested Finchbill and White-collared Yuhina. Although bird richness is high, abundance, particularly of medium-sized birds, is low, relative to certain other forest areas in Vietnam, and a considerable amount of effort is needed to see a high proportion of the area’s specialities.

Most highlights

Beautiful Nuthatch, Red-tailed, White-browed and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Streaked and Spectacled Barwings, Blue-winged, Chestnut-tailed and Red-tailed Minlas, Black-headed Sibia, Vinous-throated, Ashy-throated and Golden Parrotbills, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird and Black-headed Greenfinch.

Birding routes

Ham Rong Orchid Garden: The Ham Rong Orchid Garden is found behind Sa Pa town, with access to it along the road behind the church. The garden comprises a series of ornamental gardens, linked by pathways, all of which reward careful exploration for birds. With a bit of searching, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler, White-browed Laughingthrush and Ashy-throated and Vinous-throated Parrotbills can be found year-round, while, during the winter, the site is good for passerine migrants.

Fan Si Pan mountain: All three trails to the summit of Fan Si Pan mountain (from Cat Cat village, Sin Chai village and Tram Ton pass) are good for montane species, particularly higher elevations. The trails are difficult going in places, and can be dangerous during bad weather. Therefore, it is inadvisable to attempt any of these routes without a guide, or to attempt them at all during the rainy season.

The new cable car can take us to the top for mountain birding or hikking down hill

Accommodations

Numerous hotels and restaurants in town, Lucky Daisy Homestay is a great place to stay !

 

Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park :

Over 200 bird species have been recorded at Phong Nha-Ke Bang, with regard to the avifauna of Phong Nha Nature Reserve, Timmins et al. (1999) recorded several globally threatened species, including Crested Argus Rheinardia ocellata, Chestnut-necklaced Partridge Arborophila charltonii and Red-collared Woodpecker Picus rabieri, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler Jabouilleia danjoui. On the basis of the occurrence of four restricted-range bird species, Phong Nha lies within the Annamese Lowlands Endemic Bird Area. Phong Nha area is considered to be of particular importance for bird conservation, because the populations of species of conservation concern are not at immediate risk of extirpation or major population declines.

Most highlights

Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Red-collared Woodpecker, Brown Hornbill, Sooty Babbler and Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler.

Birding routes

Visitors can get the trail up to the grotto by boat to see Sooty Babbler. The new trail to Thien Duong cave is the best route to see many species including Sooty Babbler, Limestone Warbler, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Red-headed Trogon

There are several forest trails in the park for birding however foreigners need to have permission to entry. When you get permit, go to Tra Ang bridge area where the Rachet-tailed Treepie, Sooty Babbler, White-winged Magpie, Red-collared Woodpecker and many more are available.

Bach Ma National Park :

Around 330 bird species have been recorded at Bach Ma National Park. Most notable is a recent record of the globally endangered Edwards’s Pheasant close to the park. However, extensive loss of forest at low elevations means that it is unlikely that the park itself supports a significant population of this species, and the chances of seeing this bird at there are virtually nil. There are, however, plenty of other galliforms to attract birders, including Annam Partridge, Rufous-throated Partridge and the beli subspecies of Silver Pheasant. Bach Ma is most famous for its population of Crested Argus, although this species is more often heard than seen. In addition, the abundant and diverse forest avifauna of Bach Ma provides visiting birders opportunities to observe many other birds, such as Blyth’s Kingfisher, Brown Hornbill, Ratchet-tailed Treepie and Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler.

Most highlights

Rufous-throated Partridge, Annam Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Crested Argus, Red-collared Woodpecker, Red-vented Barbet, Brown Hornbill, Red-headed Trogon, Blyth’s Kingfisher, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, Blue-rumped Pitta, Bar-bellied Pitta, Long-tailed Broadbill, Silver-breasted Broadbill, White-winged Magpie, Indochinese Green Magpie, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Orange-headed Thrush, Siberian Thrush, Japanese Thrush, Sultan Tit, Masked Laughingthrush, White-crested Laughingthrush, Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrush, Black-throated Laughingthrush, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, Spot-necked Babbler, Grey-faced Tit Babbler, Black-browed Fulvetta, Fork-tailed Sunbird.

Birding routes

Bach Ma offers a range of trails for visitors. Each trail takes less than one day and many small trails can be explored from the road to the summit. Visitors can get details from the park visitor centre.

Rhododendron Trail: begins at the summit road, about 2 km below the summit, and passes through montane forest to the top of a waterfall. From there, a steep path with 689 concrete steps leads to the bottom of the cliff, 300 m below. From the bottom, visitors can retrace their steps or continue to the Five Lakes Cascade Trail.

Pheasant Trail: starts 5 km from the park entrance and leads through lowland evergreen forest to a series of waterfalls. As the name suggests, several galliform species can be found along this trail, including, with a lot of luck, the elusive Crested Argus. Brown Hornbill and White-winged Magpie are among the other interesting species that can be seen along the Pheasant Trail as well as the rare Blyth’s Kingfisher on the river.

Good birding is also possible from the main road 2-3 km downhill from the park headquarters, past Khe Su village. This area, within the park’s buffer zone, is a known site for Annam Partridge. The surfaced road from the park headquarters to the summit can also yield many species, and the area around the summit guesthouses is particularly good for Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Sultan Tit and Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler.

Accommodations

Bach Ma National Park has six guesthouses. Two guesthouses, providing 10 rooms, are close to the park entrance, and four guesthouses (Bach Ma, Saola, Do Quyen and Kim Giao), with a total capacity of 26 rooms, are situated near the summit, at an altitude of 1,250 m asl.

 

Yok Don National Park :

Yok Don is the largest national park in Vietnam, it holds a forest dominated by depterocarps which is open in dry searon or called deciduous forest, the ecosystem that is almost as productive as the African savanna. Gaur, Banteng, Elephant, Kouprey, Water Buffalo, Tiger, Asian Wild Dog, Eld’s Deer, Muntjac and Wild Pig are some of the large mammals who inhabit this ecosystem. Birdlife of this park is also different which not found in other type of habitats such as White-rumped Falcon, Collared Falconet, Rufous Treepie, Black-headed Woodpecker…

About 300 species have been recorded for the park, the high number of lowland birds, many widespread species are very common here such as Sooty-headed Bulbul, Indian Roller, Greater Flameback, Black-hooded Oriole. Beside those common species, many sought after species that are only can be seen here and no where else in Vietnam.

Most highlights

Mekong Wagtail, White-rumped Falcon, Collared Falconet, Black-hooded Woodpecker and other woodpeckers, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Alexandrine, Grey-headed, Blossom-headed Parrakeets, Yellow-footed Green Pigion, White-rumped and Red-headed Vultures.

Lo Xo pass :

Lo Xo is actually the name of a pass on Ho Chi Minh road leading Da Nang southwest-ward to Kon Tum. The mountain forest along Vietnam border with Laos. It is located in the Kontum Plateau EBA nearby Ngoc Linh national park, the tantalizingly close but for now off-limits Mount Ngoc Linh, are mostly covered in primary evergreen forest although the effects of wartime defoliation can still clearly be seen at certain points along the highway. One of the most important birds, Black-crowned Barwing, discovered in 1996 and known from only three sites in Vietnam and Laos, seems to favour the easily accessed scrub and secondary growth bordering the;highway. Other good birds such as Red-tailed Laughingthrus, Short-tailed Scimitar-babbler (Indochinese Wren-babbler) are found on the Dakblo Rd leading to Laos, unfortunately it hard to access this site due to military security permission in recently years.

Most highlights

White-winged Magpie, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Red-tailed Minla, Black-crowned Barwing.

Birding routes

Keep along the main road 14 but find some scrub or coffee plantation to find Black-crowned Barwing, the bird is easy to see around area just about 2 km near Dak Che bridge shows on the map below.

Mong Den – Kon Phong :

Lo Xo is actually the name of a pass on Ho Chi Minh road leading Da Nang southwest-ward to Kon Tum. It is located in the Kontum Plateau EBA nearby Ngoc Linh national park, the tantalizingly close but for now off-limits Mount Ngoc Linh, are mostly covered in primary evergreen forest although the effects of wartime defoliation can still clearly be seen at certain points along the highway. One of the most important birds, Black-crowned Barwing, discovered in 1996 and known from only three sites in Vietnam and Laos, seems to favour the easily accessed scrub and secondary growth bordering the;highway. Other good birds such as Red-tailed Laughingthrus, Short-tailed Scimitar-babbler (Indochinese Wren-babbler) are found on the Dakblo Rd leading to Laos.

Most highlights

White-winged Magpie, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Red-tailed Minla, Black-crowned Barwing.

Birding routes

Keep along the main road 14 but find some scrub or coffee plantation to find Black-crowned Barwing, the bird is easy to see around area just about 2 km near Dak Che bridge shows on the map below.

 

Cat Tien National Park :

Cat Tien National Park supports a variety of habitat types, including primary and secondary lowland evergreen forest dominated by species in the Dipterocarpaceae; primary and secondary lowland semi-evergreen forest, dominated by Lagerstroemia spp; freshwater wetlands with open lakes and seasonally inundated grasslands, containing Saccharum spontaneumS. arundinaceum and Neyraudia arundinacea; flooded forest, dominated by Hydnocarpus anthelmintica mixed with Ficus benjamina; and a range of secondary habitat types, including grassland and areas dominated by bamboo.

To date, 76 mammal, 320 bird, 74 reptile, 35 amphibian, 99 fish and 435 butterfly species have been confirmed to occur at the national park; and there are unconfirmed records of an additional 32 mammal, 19 bird, nine reptile, four amphibian, 31 fish and four butterfly species. The species confirmed to occur include 16 mammals, 15 birds and eight reptiles that are globally threatened.

Cat Tien is one of the most important sites in Vietnam for the conservation of large mammals. Among the large mammal species that have been confirmed to occur at the national park are Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus), Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros, Eurasian Wild Pig (Sus scrofa), Sambar (Cervus unicolor) and Gaur (Bos gaurus), of which the later three species reportedly occur at high densities relative to other areas in Vietnam. Of the large mammal populations at Cat Tien National Park, the most globally significant one is that of Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros. This is the only known population of the species in mainland South-East Asia and the only known population of the sub-species R. s. annamiticus in the world. However, the population size and range of this species at the national park has declined over the last two decades, and current estimates put the population size at seven or eight individuals and the range at 6,500 ha.

Most highlights

Orange-necked Partridge, Germain’s Peacock Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Green Peafowl, Wreathed Hornbill, Lesser Adjutant, Woolly-necked Stork, Blue-rumped and Bar-bellied Pittas, Pale-headed and Black-and-buff Woodpeckers, Black-and-red, Banded, Dusky Broadbill, Blyth’s Frogmouth, Grey-faced Tit Babbler.

Birding routes

The Lagerstroemia and Ecological Trails, which begin near the park headquarters are good places to search for Germain’s Peacock Pheasant and pittas. The Dak Lua road may provide easier birding, especially early in the day when broadbills and Siamese Fireback can be seen.

Haven rapid trail is one of good places for broadbills, woodpeckers, barbets.

Jeeps can be rented to the turn off to Bau Sau (Crocodile Lake) and Bau Chim (Bird Lake). Green Peafowl and waterbirds can be seen around these lakes, as well as Siamese Crocodile and, for the fortunate visitor, large mammals such as Gaur. The 5 km trail from the Dak Lua road to Bau Sau is also a good place for Germain’s Peacock Pheasant and pitas.

Dalat :

The Dalat Plateau is one of the five endemic bird areas (EBAs) in Vietnam identified by BirdLife International. Eight of the eight restricted-range bird species that occur in this EBA, Crested Argus (Rheinardia ocellata), Yellow-billed Nuthatch (Sitta solangiae), Black-hooded Laughingthrush Garrulax milleti, White-cheeked Laughingthrush (G. vassali), Collared Laughingthrush (G. yersini), Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler / Indochinese Wren Babbler (Jabouilleia danjoui) and Vietnamese Greenfinch (Carduelis monguilloti). Grey-crowned Crocias (Crocias langbiansis).

The Dalat Plateau also supports distinctive and endemic sub-species of Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Blue-winged Minla, Black-throated Sunbird and Red Crossbill, Vietnamese Cutia, Black-crowned Fuvetta, Indochinese Fulvetta, Black-headed Parrotbill. The last four among them nowadays are recognised as split spcies and known to be endemics

Most highlights

Bar-backed Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Red-vented Barbet, Black-browed Barbet, Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Jerdon’s Baza, Rusty-naped Pitta, Blue Pitta, Burmese Shrike, Indochinese Green Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Slender-billed Oriole, Maroon Oriole, White-throated Rock Thrush, Green Cochoa, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Lesser Shortwing, White-tailed Robin, Spotted Forktail, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Grey-crowned Tit, Grey-bellied Tesia, White-spectacled Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Collared Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Streaked Wren Babbler, Eyebrowed Wren Babbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Vietnamese Cutia, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Indochinese Fulvetta, Grey-crowned Crocias, Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Black-headed Parrotbill, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Red Crossbill, Brown Bullfinch.

Birding routes

The cool climate, pine forests, lakes and waterfalls make Dalat a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists; weekends and, especially, public holidays can be very busy. The Dalat area is also known throughout Vietnam for its market gardens and nurseries growing vegetables and flowers.

Many birding sites within a few minutes drive from Da Lat city.

Mount Lang Bian

Only 12 km north of the city, Lang Bian mountain (also called ‘Nui Ba’) is easily reached by motorbike taxi or car. A trail leads up the mountain through pine forest to remaining montane evergreen forest at the summit. Vietnamese Greenfinch can be found in the pines all the way along the trail, with Red Crossbill in the pines nearer the summit. The endemic Collared Laughingthrush Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-crowned Fulvetta can be found in the evergreen forest leading up to the summit. Other interesting species found here include Green Cochoa, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-throated Sunbird and Vietnamese Cutia.

Tuyen Lam lake

This man-made lake is just 3km outside of the city and is easily reached by motorbike or car but it is necessary to hire a boat to access the remnant forest at the far end of the lake where the best birding is to be found. There are some trails through the forest but they are poorly marked and hard to find. Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Grey-crowned Crocias and Vietnamese Greenfinch, Vietnamese Cutia are among the local specialities.

Ta Nung valley

This site, around 15 km from Da Lat by motorbike or car, is one of the best sites for Grey-crowned Crocias. Indochinese Green Magpie, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded, White-cheeked and ‘Orange-breasted’ Laughingthrushes, and Grey-headed Parrotbill can also be seen here.

Deo Nui San

This forested mountain pass on the main road Di Linh to Phan Thiet around 80 km from Da Lat is the most reliable site for ‘Orange-breasted’ Laughingthrush. Blue and Rusty-naped Pittas, Green Cochoa, Black-hooded and White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Indochinese Fulvetta and Grey-headed Parrotbill are also possible here.

Giang Ly

Giang Ly is located inside , situated right on the road TL723 connect Da Lat and Nha Trang. The broadleaves forest here at 1600m asl supports habitat to almost endemicsm of Da Lat pletaeu (except Orange-breasted Laughingthrus). Inadditional, Indochinese Fulvetta sometimes show-up makes this spot better replace for Langbian Mt.

Cong Troi (“Heaven Gate”)

About 30 km from Da Lat city, Cong Troi is a relativety new birding spot, a newly constructed road (to Dak Lak province, and not completed yet) helps us to access this excellent birding area. Here we can find everything those available on Langbian mt, and even Ta Nung, Tuyen Lam lake as well as Giang Ly. We also have built several bird-blinds at Cong Troi forest where the Collared Laughingthrush, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia and many other birds come close for photography.

Bidoup Mt

The highest peak (2,287m) in the core zone of Bidoup Nui Ba national park, the Indochinese Fulvetta is confined only above 1,800m on the trail to the top of the mountain. Although the Collared Laughingthrush, Green Cochoa also easily to see here, Bidoup mt is not a popular birding spot because it’s difficult logistics, we have to camp at least one night in the forest to get there.

Saigon Deluxe Group Tour

Hue Deluxe Group Tour

Connect With Us

Our Tours

  • Authentic Vietnam Tour
    11 days

    This amazing 11 days tour will guide you through so many beautiful landscapes  of Vietnam. From the North to South, from the Hanoi -the capital…

  • Highlight Vietnam Tour
    8 days

    Our program will connect you  with the best must – see sites   and get a taste for the rich culture and history.  You will explore …

  • North Vietnam Tour In Style (Group tour)
    4 days

    Hanoi capital is one of the most visited of the Vietnam popular destinations, is the beautiful capital city of Vietnam, sprawling in the banks of the…

  • Lost in Ba Khan Village Resort
    3 days

    Bakhan Village Resort is positioned to offer quality standard and unique experience by employing experienced management. The major concept of Bakhan Village is to retain…

  • Escape to Ba Khan village resort
    2 days

    Soft opening in July, 2019, the resort is the first and only high-end property in this beautiful but little known mountain town of  Ba Khan….