Birding Tour Vietnam: Southern and Central Vietnam Endemics and Specialties


Dates and Costs


05 – 20 March 2024

Spaces Available: Tour full, please email to be added to waitlist. Extra 2025 dates added below.

Price: US$5,990 / £4,997 / €5,835 per person sharing – based on 4 – 5 participants, which includes the domestic flights.

Single Supplement: US$770 / £643 / €750


* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.


08 – 23 March 2025

Spaces Available: Tour full, please email to be added to waitlist. Extra dates added below.

Price: US$6,589 / £5,497 / €6,418 per person sharing – based on 4 – 5 participants, which includes the domestic flights.

Single Supplement: US$847 / £707 / €825


25 March – 09 April 2025

Second 2025 departure added due to popular demand.

Price: US$6,589 / £5,497 / €6,418 per person sharing – based on 4 – 5 participants, which includes the domestic flights.

Single Supplement: US$847 / £707 / €825

Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)

Tour Details

Duration: 16 days
Group Size: 4 – 5
Tour Start: Ho Chi Minh City
Tour End: Ho Chi Minh City

Price includes:

Two domestic flights (Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku and Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City) with 44 pounds (20 kilograms) hold luggage and 15 pounds (7 kilograms) hand luggage.
Meals (from evening welcome meal on Day 1 until breakfast on Day 16).
Bottled water (if taken from our vehicle/our supply), please bring a refillable water bottle. Note that water taken from your room (other than free water provided by the accommodation), e.g., out of a minibar/hotel restaurant etc., will be responsibility of individuals to pay for.
One free drink (excluding wine/hard liquor) with meals.
Accommodation (based on two sharing).
Guiding fees with expert local guide and international tour leader.
All entrance fees to national parks, nature reserves, bird blinds (bird hides), etc.
Bird conservation contribution.
All ground transport while on tour, including toll fees.
Airport transfers (may be shared).

Price excludes:

International flights into and out of Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City.
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, etc.
Porter fee (if you’d like someone to carry your camera equipment/tripods etc.).
Extra drinks beyond those included with meals as described above (and all wine/hard liquor).
Drinking water (and any other drinks) out of hotel minibars.
Personal insurance.
Visa fees.
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog).

Download Itinerary

Birding Tour Vietnam: Southern and Central Vietnam: Endemics and Regional Specials

Extra-small-group birding tour

March 2024/2025


This extra-small, small-group birdwatching tour to central and southern Vietnam starts and ends in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. This birding tour is a guaranteed departure with just four tour participants and has a maximum of just five tour participants, making it one of the most exclusive birding tours in Vietnam, with unrivalled viewing opportunities of great birds.

Vietnam birding toursBar-bellied Pitta, one of the stunning near-endemic targets on this exciting tour.


The tour focusses on finding as many of the endemic, near-endemic, and special birds of the region and provides excellent opportunities for anyone wanting to photograph Asian birds. We will visit the well-known sites of Cat Tien National Park, the Da Lat and Di Linh Plateaus, Mang Den, and Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, as well as some less-well-publicized sites for specific target birds. By being in a very small group we will be able to utilize a series of bird blinds (bird hides), which will allow for some excellent photographic opportunities and close-up views of some of the key (and often secretive) species outlined below. A small group will also be beneficial when birding within the forest environments, enabling everyone to stand a higher chance of gaining great views of the many birds that are possible on this very exciting tour.

Some of the key species we will look for during the tour include, but are certainly not limited to, Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, Blue Pitta, Rusty-naped Pitta, Siamese Fireback, Silver Pheasant, Green Peafowl, Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Orange-necked Partridge, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Necklaced Barbet, Red-vented Barbet, Long-tailed Broadbill, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Green Cochoa, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush, Golden-winged Laughingthrush, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler, Red-tailed Minla, Indochinese Fulvetta, Black-crowned Barwing, Short-billed Scimitar Babbler, Indochinese Green Magpie, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Dalat Bush Warbler, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Vietnamese Cutia, Grey-crowned Crocias, and plenty more. The tour also offers excellent animals, including gibbons, monkeys, and interesting reptiles.

Vietnam birding toursThe striking Indochinese Green Magpie is often seen on this tour.



Detailed Itinerary (16 days/15 nights)



Day 1. Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

After your arrival in Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport, you will be met by our hotel representatives and transferred the short distance to our hotel. Your time today is at your leisure. We will have a group welcome meal at our hotel in the evening.

Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City


Day 2. Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien National Park

We will depart our hotel early and get some breakfast along the way. We will spend the morning and early afternoon in some bird blinds (bird hides) halfway between Ho Chi Minh City and Cat Tien National Park, where we will hope to find Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, Orange-necked Partridge, and Siamese Fireback, as well as a range of babblers and bulbuls. Although this is the first birding we do of the whole tour, it’s likely to rate as one of the best mornings on the tour, with many highlight species possible.

Vietnam birding toursWe will look for Blue-rumped Pitta during the tour.


Days 3 – 4. Birding at Cat Tien National Park

Cat Tien was the first national park to be established in southern Vietnam. The park has an impressive bird list, with more than 300 species recorded, including several globally threatened species and Indochinese endemics, such as Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Orange-necked Partridge (with luck), Siamese Fireback, Green Peafowl, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, and Grey-faced Tit-Babbler.

Vietnam birding toursGermain’s Peacock-Pheasant is a target while birding at Cat Tien National Park.


There are literally hundreds of species to look for in the national park and other birds we will hope for during our stay include Ashy-headed Green Pigeon, Orange-breasted Trogon, Banded Broadbill, Black-and-red Broadbill, Dusky Broadbill, Violet Cuckoo, Great Hornbill, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Banded Kingfisher, White-crested Laughingthrush, White-bellied Woodpecker, Black-and-buff Woodpecker, Great Eared Nightjar, Large-tailed Nightjar, and Blyth’s Frogmouth. In addition to birds, Cat Tien’s forests are an important refuge for Black-shanked Douc Langur, one of the least-known primates in Asia, and Red-cheeked (Yellow-cheeked) Gibbon and we will look for both of these during the tour. The sound of the whooping and screaming gibbons is the sound of the early morning here and is super impressive.

Our time here will offer some great birds and wildlife. The accommodation and food here is basic, but the bird/wildlife sightings make it worthwhile and an essential stop on any birding tour of Vietnam, the national park is that special. The temperatures here climb steeply during the day and so we will have early morning and late afternoon birding sessions, with the middle part of the day spent sitting out the heat.

Overnight (two nights): Cat Tien National Park


Day 5. Cat Tien National Park to Da Lat

We will have a final early morning birding session at Cat Tien National Park before we head north to the Da Lat Plateau during the middle of the day. We will have lunch along the way and will get on with some afternoon birding near Da Lat city after our arrival, where we will look for Red-vented Barbet, Long-tailed Broadbill, and other interesting targets.

Overnight: Da Lat


Days 6 – 7. Birding at Da Lat Plateau

We have two full days to explore the excellent birding sites around Da Lat, and we will focus on Ta Nung Valley, Ho Tuyen Lam (Tuyen Lam Lake), and Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park. We will spend one day utilizing bird blinds (bird hides) for a range of special birds and will birdwatch along forest trails and remote roadsides to mop up our many target birds.

Ta Nung Valley is a small remnant evergreen forest patch, where we will look for the rare and endemic Grey-crowned Crocias, along with White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Blue-winged Minla (a distinct local subspecies known as “Plain Minla”), Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Vietnamese Greenfinch, and Black-throated Sunbird (also a very distinct subspecies, known as “Langbian Sunbird”), all of which can be found here.

Vietnam birding toursGrey-crowned Crocias is not known from many sites, it is an Endangered (BirdLife International) Vietnamese endemic, found in in the montane zone of central Annam, Vietnam.


Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park is one of the five largest national parks in Vietnam. Vietnamese endemics found here include Black-crowned Fulvetta, Dalat Bush Warbler, and Collared Laughingthrush. Other target birds in this national park include Rusty-naped Pitta, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, White-spectacled Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, Mrs. Gould’s (Annam) Sunbird, Spotted Forktail, Black-throated (Grey-crowned) Bushtit, Hume’s Treecreeper, Grey-bellied Tesia, Dark-sided Thrush, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, and a very distinctive endemic subspecies of Red (Dalat) Crossbill.

Collared Laughingthrush is a beautiful yet rare Vietnamese endemic (photo Phuc Lee).


Ho Tuyen Lam (Tuyen Lam Lake) is a man-made lake just outside the town. Vietnamese endemics found here include Vietnamese Cutia, Grey-crowned Crocias, and Vietnamese Greenfinch. Other target birds from this area could include Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-headed Sibia, Black-headed Parrotbill, Burmese Shrike, Black-collared Starling, Vinous-breasted Starling, and Slender-billed Oriole, as well as many others.

Overnight (two nights): Da Lat


Day 8. Da Lat Plateau to Di Linh (Birding at Nui San Pass)

We will have a final morning of birding around the Da Lat area. Later we will drive to Nui San Pass (Deo Suoi Lanh near Di Linh town), a forested pass along the road from Di Linh to Phan Thiet. Here we will look for one of the most beautiful birds in the region, Indochinese Green Magpie, along with near-endemic Black-headed Parrotbill. Other possibilities include Silver-breasted Broadbill, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Red-vented Barbet, Orange-headed Thrush, Black-chinned Yuhina, and Hainan Blue Flycatcher.

Overnight: Di Linh


Day 9. Di Linh (Birding at Nui San Pass)

We will have a morning birding at Nui San Pass area to look for Blue Pitta, and other targets such as Indochinese Green Magpie, Black-headed Parrotbill, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Red-vented Barbet, Bar-backed Partridge, Collared Babbler, Yellow-vented Green Pigeon, Silver Pheasant, Maroon Oriole, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Long-tailed Broadbill, Orange-breasted Trogon, and Red-headed Trogon.

In the afternoon we will travel back to Ho Chi Minh City to be well placed for our early morning flight the following day.

Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam birding toursBlue Pitta is a stunning bird, and we hope to see it during the tour.


Day 10. Morning flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku then travel to and birding at Mang Den

We will fly from Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Pleiku airport, Kon Tum Province in Central Vietnam. After arrival at Pleiku we will drive to Mang Den, our first birding stop in Central Vietnam.

We plan on spending the afternoon in a bird blind (bird hide) looking for one of our top targets in the region, the increasingly rare, recently discovered, and endemic Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush. We will also have a back-up opportunity the following day if needed and there are lots of other excellent birds on offer in this area.

Overnight: Mang Den

We will search for the declining Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush while at Mang Den.


Day 11. Birding at Mang Den

We will spend the morning and afternoon birding sessions near Mang Den, where we will continue our search for Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush, if required. Other specials of Mang Den, of which there are many, include Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, White-winged Magpie, Rufous-faced Warbler, and Grey-headed Parrotbill.

Overnight: Mang Den


Day 12. Mang Den to Tu Mo Rong

There will be time for some early morning birding at Mang Den looking for more of the above species. In the afternoon we head further north to the rural village of Tu Mo Rong, where we will arrive in the late afternoon at our very basic accommodation for two nights.

Overnight: Tu Mo Rong


Day 13. Birding at Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve

We will spend the majority of the day birding at Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve. This is a really special area, where two species (Golden-winged Laughingthrush and Black-crowned Barwing) were described to science as recently as the 1990s! These new species were originally found by BirdLife International expeditions to the remote Mount Ngoc Linh (2,598 meters / 8,520 feet), which is the highest peak of the Central Highlands. We will of course be looking for these two key species, but plenty of other species are possible, such as Indochinese Fulvetta, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, Green Shrike-babbler, Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler, Red-tailed Minla, Green Cochoa, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, and Rusty-capped Fulvetta.

Vietnam birding toursOne of our targets at Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve is Golden-winged Laughingthrush.


Laughingthrushes feature heavily on the tour, including the stunning Red-tailed Laughingthrush.


Here we might find an interesting mixed flock or two which could hold interesting species like Kloss’s Leaf Warbler, Grey-cheeked Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Pygmy Flycatcher, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Mountain Bulbul, White-browed (formerly Blyth’s) Shrike-babbler, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Silver-eared Mesia, and Vietnamese Cutia.

During our time in Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, we will bird forest trails, remote mountain roadsides, and make use of two bird blinds (bird hides) which may offer excellent photo opportunities of some of the most desired species.

Overnight: Tu Mo Rong


Day 14. Tu Mo Rong to Da Nang

Today, is a long travel day as we make our way from Tu Mo Rong in the mountains down to Da Nang, Vietnam’s third largest city, on the coast. We will make a couple of birding stops along the way and stop for breaks and lunch as needed. We might spot some interesting birds during some of these breaks, such as Wire-tailed Swallow and Striated Swallow.

Depending on our timings and how tired we are (and the weather situation), we might have time to visit the nearby Son Tra Nature Reserve, where we will look for the Critically Endangered (The International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN) Red-shanked Douc Langur. If we don’t have time this afternoon, we will be covering the site looking for the monkey and other birds the following morning in any case.

Overnight: Da Nang

Vietnam birding toursRed-shanked Douc Langur is one special and attractive animal, and we will be looking for them at the end of the tour near the city of Da Nang.


Day 15. Bird and mammal watching on the Son Tra Peninsula, afternoon flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City

The final morning of the tour will be spent bird and mammal watching at the Son Tra Peninsula. We will look for the rather special Red-shanked Douc Langur as our main target, one highly desired primate. We might find some interesting birds while looking for the monkeys, such as White-crested Laughingthrush, Racket-tailed Treepie, Indochinese Blue Flycatcher, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Olive-backed Sunbird, and Crimson Sunbird.

After lunch we will fly from Da Nang back to Ho Chi Minh City for the final night of the tour. We will have a final group meal together in the evening and will try and decide on a “bird of the trip”, which we can assure you will be no easy task based on previous experiences here!

Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City


Day 16. Tour concludes with international departure from Ho Chi Minh City

A non-birding day. The tour concludes with your departure from Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City anytime during the day. Please note that breakfast is included today but no other meals are included. Also note that the hotel check-out time is noon, if you intend to stay beyond check-out time additional fees will be payable to the hotel and will depend on their availability situation.

Overnight: Not included


Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

Download Itinerary

Southern and Central Vietnam:
Endemics and Specials Set Departure Trip Report

14 – 28 March 2023

By Andrew Walker


Bar-bellied Pitta gave some great views early in the tour, what a stunning bird!


This exciting Vietnam birding tour covered the southern and central part of the country and resulted in loads of great birds and some excellent photographic opportunities. The tour started in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on the 14th of March 2023 and ended back there on the 28th of March 2023. We visited some of the top birding destinations in Vietnam, such as Cat Tien National Park, Da Lat, Nui San Pass, Mang Den, and Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve. The full itinerary including a map can be found here.

We recorded 277 bird species (14 heard only) during the tour, the trip list follows the report. The tour highlights included a long list of endemic, near-endemic, and special birds. Some of the non-passerine highlights included Orange-necked PartridgeGermain’s Peacock-PheasantGreen PeafowlSiamese FirebackGreat Eared NightjarCollared OwletBlue-bearded Bee-eaterBanded KingfisherRed-vented BarbetIndochinese BarbetNecklaced BarbetBlack-and-buff WoodpeckerWhite-bellied Woodpecker, and Collared Falconet.

Vietnam birding report

The rarely seen Orange-necked Partridge gave some fantastic views.



Some of the passerine highlights enjoyed on the tour included Bar-bellied PittaBlue-rumped PittaRusty-naped PittaBlue PittaBlack-and-red BroadbillBanded BroadbillLong-tailed BroadbillSilver-breasted BroadbillIndochinese Green MagpieGrey-crowned CrociasVietnamese CutiaWhite-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babblerShort-tailed Scimitar BabblerLarge Scimitar BabblerRed-billed Scimitar BabblerBrown-crowned Scimitar BabblerScaly-crowned (Indochinese) BabblerGolden-winged LaughingthrushRed-tailed LaughingthrushChestnut-eared LaughingthrushWhite-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-headed SibiaBlack-headed Parrotbill, (Annam) Golden-breasted FulvettaIndochinese FulvettaYellow-billed NuthatchGreen-backed (Langbian) TitBlack-throated (Grey-crowned) BushtitLesser (Langbian) ShortwingMrs. Gould’s (Annam) SunbirdBlack-throated (Langbian) SunbirdVietnamese Greenfinch, and Red (Dalat) Crossbill.

Vietnam birding report

We enjoyed fantastic views of the shy and secretive Indochinese Green Magpie during the tour.

Vietnam birding report

The rare Vietnamese endemic Golden-winged Laughingthrush was a tour highlight.

Detailed Report

Day 1, 14th March 2023. Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The group arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, and we met our excellent local guide, Phuc, for a welcome dinner in the evening and discussed the plans for the next few weeks of exciting birding in southern and central Vietnam.



Day 2, 15th March 2023. Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien National Park

An early departure from Ho Chi Minh City saw us reach Tan Phu Forest Enterprise, where we made our way to a bird blind (bird hide) for the morning. We didn’t have to wait long for bird activity to get going, the clear highlight was a pair of Bar-bellied Pittas that gave a great showing eventually, and the wonderful supporting cast included Siamese FirebackLaced WoodpeckerGrey-headed (Black-naped) WoodpeckerGreater Racket-tailed DrongoScaly-crowned (Indochinese) BabblerAbbott’s BabblerPuff-throated BabblerIndochinese Blue FlycatcherSiberian Blue Robin, and Ochraceous Bulbul.

After lunch we visited another blind/hide with a different set of birds. We were again richly rewarded, with great views of the tough Orange-necked Partridge and a pair of Blue-rumped Pittas. The area was very busy, and we enjoyed prolonged views of White-throated Rock ThrushBuff-breasted BabblerPuff-throated BabblerStripe-throated BulbulPale-legged Leaf WarblerGreater Coucal, and several of the species also seen in the morning. After our afternoon birding session, we completed our journey to Cat Tien National Park. We arrived just as the sun was setting and checked into our accommodation within the national park.

Vietnam birding report

A pair of Blue-rumped Pittas gave prolonged views.

Day 3, 16th March 2023. Birding Cat Tien National Park

We had a wonderful day birding in Cat Tien National Park. After spending the previous day sat in blinds for most of the day, today we walked around and found loads of great birds. As we ate breakfast, we heard Asian Barred Owlet and Great Eared Nightjar and as the sun rose, we picked up Black-crowned Night HeronAsian Palm SwiftOriental Magpie-Robin, and Racket-tailed Treepie. A real highlight here was hearing and seeing Red-cheeked (Yellow-cheeked) Gibbons, such an impressive sound and sight!

Starting out along a park road we quickly found Indochinese CuckooshrikeChestnut-winged CuckooBanded Bay CuckooGreen-billed MalkohaOriental DollarbirdGreen-eared BarbetBlue-eared BarbetThick-billed Green Pigeon, and Silver-backed Needletail. The birds were coming thick and fast with species moving along the river or deeper into the forest and scrub. Both Common Hill Myna and Golden-crested Myna and both Black-naped Oriole and Black-hooded Oriole were vocal and showed as they moved about, with Red-breasted ParakeetVernal Hanging ParrotGreater Racket-tailed DrongoCommon FlamebackLaced Woodpecker, and White-bellied Woodpecker also present. A group of six Black-and-red Broadbills provided a highlight when they eventually showed well, as did a male Banded Kingfisher and the attractive Blue-bearded Bee-eater.

Vietnam birding report

We had a good showing from two groups of Black-and-red Broadbills during our morning birding session in Cat Tien National Park. Seeing ten birds in a morning was quite impressive.



A mixed flock moved through the area we were watching and it hung around for a while, allowing us to catch up with most birds well. The flock contained the near-endemic Grey-faced Tit-Babbler, as well as Scarlet MinivetSwinhoe’s MinivetBar-winged Flycatcher-shrikeVelvet-fronted NuthatchBronzed DrongoAshy DrongoGrey-eyed BulbulBlack-crested BulbulGreat IoraTwo-barred WarblerYellow-browed WarblerBlue-winged LeafbirdGolden-fronted Leafbird, and Asian Fairy-bluebird. We spent the middle of the day sitting out the heat of the day, but just before that we found another flock of four Black-and-red Broadbills, a great way to end the morning birding session.

We spent the afternoon driving through an area of grassland savannah habitat and found several new species, the best of which was probably Green Peafowl, an absolutely stunning bird, though they were quite shy. We also found plenty of other birds to keep us occupied while searching for the peafowl, including Chinese FrancolinRed JunglefowlRed Collared DoveIndochinese RollerVinous-breasted StarlingIndian CuckooOriental Pied HornbillBrown ShrikePied Bush Chat, and Great Eared Nightjar.

Vietnam birding report

Green Peafowl can reach a length of around 8.2 feet (2.5 meters), seriously impressive!

Day 4, 17th March 2023. Birding Cat Tien National Park

We spent the morning birding near the national park headquarters and found lots of birds again. A fruiting tree pulled in Black-crested BulbulBlack-headed BulbulGrey-eyed BulbulBlack-hooded OrioleOriental Pied Hornbill, and Golden-crested Myna. A small group of Eurasian Hoopoes were flying around, as were White-bellied WoodpeckerGrey-headed WoodpeckerLaced WoodpeckerCommon Flameback, and Black-and-buff Woodpecker. Other birds noted around the park headquarters included Taiga FlycatcherScarlet MinivetLarge WoodshrikeGreat IoraOlive-backed SunbirdGreater Racket-tailed DrongoBronzed DrongoAshy DrongoViolet Cuckoo, and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo.

We settled into a bird blind (bird hide) for a couple of hours and found several species, including our top target, the near-endemic Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant. A pair of birds walked in to view and fed for a while, the spectacular male even displaying to the female. A few other birds showed well too, like Green-legged PartridgeGreater CoucalPuff-throated BabblerWhite-rumped ShamaOriental Magpie-Robin, and Siberian Blue Robin.

We spent the morning birding near the national park headquarters and found lots of birds again. A fruiting tree pulled in Black-crested BulbulBlack-headed BulbulGrey-eyed BulbulBlack-hooded OrioleOriental Pied Hornbill, and Golden-crested Myna. A small group of Eurasian Hoopoes were flying around, as were White-bellied WoodpeckerGrey-headed WoodpeckerLaced WoodpeckerCommon Flameback, and Black-and-buff Woodpecker. Other birds noted around the park headquarters included Taiga FlycatcherScarlet MinivetLarge WoodshrikeGreat IoraOlive-backed SunbirdGreater Racket-tailed DrongoBronzed DrongoAshy DrongoViolet Cuckoo, and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo.

We settled into a bird blind (bird hide) for a couple of hours and found several species, including our top target, the near-endemic Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant. A pair of birds walked in to view and fed for a while, the spectacular male even displaying to the female. A few other birds showed well too, like Green-legged PartridgeGreater CoucalPuff-throated BabblerWhite-rumped ShamaOriental Magpie-Robin, and Siberian Blue Robin.

Vietnam birding report

This rather impressive male Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant put on a great display for the female, and we enjoyed watching it too! Yet another early “bird of the trip” contender.



In the afternoon we took a walk in some nearby forest. It had been a very hot day, but as the temperature dropped slightly, we found several interesting birds, such as Lesser YellownapeBlack-and-buff WoodpeckerCollared FalconetRed-breasted ParakeetBar-winged Flycatcher-shrikeVelvet-fronted NuthatchAsian Fairy-bluebirdLittle Spiderhunter, and Ruby-cheeked Sunbird. At dusk we saw both Great Eared Nightjar and Large-tailed Nightjar.

Day 5, 18th March 2023. Cat Tien National Park to Da Lat

For our final birding session in Cat Tien National Park, we headed out east of the headquarters to explore a different area. As soon as we got out of the vehicle we were greeted by the sight of the shy Black-shanked Douc Langur swinging through the trees. A fruiting tree here was attracting Ashy-headed Green PigeonThick-billed Green PigeonAsian Fairy-bluebird, and several bulbul species. Both Siamese Fireback and Red Junglefowl were feeding on the edge of the track and, after a bit of cat-and-mouse, we got some fairly good views of a pair of Banded Broadbills, but the Orange-breasted Trogon that was calling remained deep in the forest and the Oriental Pied Hornbills didn’t hang around long enough for everyone to see perched.

As we made our way further along the track, a few woodpeckers made an appearance, and included the impressive White-bellied Woodpecker, along with Pale-headed WoodpeckerCommon FlamebackLaced WoodpeckerLesser Yellownape, and the miniscule White-browed Piculet. During the morning we also picked up a couple of mixed flocks and within them found Black-and-red BroadbillGrey-faced Tit-BabblerVelvet-fronted NuthatchYellow-browed WarblerArctic WarblerGreat IoraIndochinese CuckooshrikeBar-winged Flycatcher-shrikeRuby-cheeked SunbirdCrimson SunbirdVan Hasselt’s SunbirdLittle Spiderhunter, and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, amongst others.

In the afternoon we left Cat Tien National Park behind us and drove east to the mountains of Da Lat, once the mountain playground of the French as an escape from heat of the lowlands. We arrived in the late afternoon and checked into our new accommodation for the next three nights.

Day 6, 19th March 2023. Birding Da Lat Plateau

We spent most of the day in two bird blinds (bird hides) and racked up a long list of high-quality birds. As soon as we entered the first blind the action got going. The near-endemic White-cheeked Laughingthrush was straight in, along with the local subspecies of Black-headed (White-spectacled) Sibia. It was difficult to know where to look first with raucous laughingthrushes bouncing all around, and with Mountain Fulvettas and Grey-throated Babblers also present in numbers. As we settled in and got familiar with these species, we started seeing other birds too, such as Large NiltavaWhite-tailed RobinSiberian Blue RobinSnowy-browed FlycatcherGrey-bellied Tesia, and Lesser (Langbian) Shortwing. There was a bit of extra excitement when a chunky Rusty-naped Pitta came bounding in to view and fed for a while!

Vietnam birding report

White-cheeked Laughingthrushes gave a great showing early in the morning.

Our time in the first blind flew by and we reluctantly left for a different one a short distance away. This one took some maneuvering to get into up a steep slope, but once settled we were again treated to more great views of tough birds, such as Streaked (Annam) Wren-BabblerRufous-browed FlycatcherLesser (Langbian) Shortwing, and others. A Large Hawk-Cuckoo even put in a brief appearance, as did Grey-cheeked Warbler and Rufous-capped Babbler.

Vietnam birding report

The tiny, golf-ball-sized, and secretive Grey-bellied Tesia gave astounding views out in the open.

Vietnam birding report

Rusty-naped Pitta came out of the dark forest and delighted us with a good view.



After lunch we went back into the first blind/hide and spent some more time there. It was interesting seeing the difference from the morning session, the fulvettas and babblers were still present, but there were no laughingthrushes at all. Two new species came in very quickly and showed well, firstly Dark-sided Thrush, and secondly, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, two usually very secretive birds. We also enjoyed a pair of Rusty-naped Pittas visiting the blind.

After our time in the blind/hide, we decided to take a walk along a track near the road, where we found even more new species, some of the highlights here included Yellow-billed NuthatchNecklaced BarbetLarge CuckooshrikeMountain BulbulFlavescent BulbulLesser Racket-tailed DrongoGreen-backed (Langbian) TitSiberian ThrushMountain TailorbirdKloss’s Leaf WarblerBlyth’s Leaf Warbler, and Red (Dalat) Crossbill. It had been a long day, but the birds we saw certainly made it worthwhile.

Day 7, 20th March 2023. Birding Da Lat Plateau

We spent the early part of the morning birding the Ta Nung Valley, where we kicked things off with sightings of Flavescent BulbulHill Prinia, and Burmese Shrike. As we started walking, we found a small flock of Vietnamese GreenfinchesWhite-throated Rock Thrush (a male this time) and Eurasian (White-faced) Jay. A fruiting tree was busy with birds, including Indochinese BarbetBlue-eared BarbetBlack BulbulAshy (Brown-backed) BulbulRed-whiskered Bulbul, and Asian Fairy-bluebird. An area of thicker vegetation gave us our main target for the morning, the rare endemic Grey-crowned Crocias, which showed well.

A group of flowering trees held Streaked SpiderhunterMrs. Gould’s (Annam) SunbirdBlack-throated (Langbian) SunbirdFire-breasted Flowerpecker, and Hainan Blue Flycatcher.

Vietnam birding report

The rare endemic and Endangered (BirdLife InternationalGrey-crowned Crocias gave some good views feeding on the edge of the canopy early in the morning.



Later in the morning we visited the Datanla Waterfall area, where we found more new species, such as Banded Bay CuckooSquare-tailed Drongo-CuckooLong-tailed MinivetIndochinese CuckooshrikeWhite-browed Shrike-babbler (this subspecies until very recently a full species called Dalat Shrike-babbler), Kloss’s Leaf WarblerIndian White-eyeBlue-winged (Plain) MinlaChestnut-vented NuthatchLittle Pied Flycatcher, and Red (Dalat) Crossbill.

During the afternoon we visited a forested area near a lake not far out of town. The birding was tough as it had clouded over with some rumbling thunder, and the light levels were very low. We walked a track and managed to find a few good species, such as Red-vented BarbetLong-tailed Broadbill, and Indochinese Green Magpie, unfortunately the latter two species didn’t stick around for everyone to see well, so we would have to hope for better views later in the tour. Vietnamese Cutia and Black-hooded Laughingthrush were heard only, again we’d have to hope for views later in the tour. Mugimaki FlycatcherWhite-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babblerBlack BulbulGreen-backed (Langbian) Tit, and Chestnut-vented Nuthatch all showed well.

Vietnam birding report

The local form of Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird (known in this area of Vietnam as Annam Sunbird) is rather attractive!  

Day 8, 21st March 2023. Da Lat Plateau to Di Linh (birding Nui Sun Pass)

Our final birding session in Da Lat saw us up in the mountains, birding from roads aiming to pick up mixed flocks. This tactic proved very successful, and we found our main target, Vietnamese Cutia in two such flocks. This wasn’t the only highlight though, as we also found Black-headed ParrotbillBlack-throated (Grey-crowned) BushtitMaroon Oriole, and Collared Owlet using this method. Additional species seen in the mixed flocks included Large CuckooshrikeLesser Racket-tailed DrongoRed (Dalat) CrossbillWhite-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babblerChestnut-vented NuthatchKloss’s Leaf WarblerYellow-browed WarblerGreen-backed (Langbian) TitMugimaki FlycatcherLittle Pied FlycatcherGrey-chinned Minivet, and Long-tailed Minivet. We had a very low flyover by a Grey-faced Buzzard and also noted both Siberian House Martin and Asian House Martin overhead.

After a final lunch in Da Lat, we left the city and transferred towards Di Linh, our base for the next two nights. Along the way however, we stopped for some birding from a bird blind (bird hide) where we found some incredible birds. Top the list of jaw-dropping birds was the pair of Indochinese Green Magpies that came in and showed extremely well (see photo in summary section of this report), what a special bird. Other highlights included Silver-breasted BroadbillBlack-headed ParrotbillBlack-chinned YuhinaWhite-bellied ErpornisGrey-faced Tit-BabblerOrange-headed Thrush (two subspecies), White-throated Rock ThrushAlström’s WarblerHainan Blue FlycatcherBlue-and-white Flycatcher, and Mugimaki Flycatcher. This was a great blind session with constant activity keeping us on our toes throughout.

Day 9, 22nd March 2023. Di Linh (birding Nui Sun Pass)

We visited a bird blind (bird hide) in the morning with one target in mind, Blue Pitta. After a while we glimpsed a female and male skirting around the back of our viewing area a couple of times, but they didn’t show well, or for everyone, it was rather frustrating. We decided to stick it out a bit longer and were handsomely rewarded when the pristine male, which had been rather shy up until this point, hopped right out in the open giving close and open views for what seemed like an age! What an incredible bird, our fourth and final pitta species seen on the tour.

Vietnam birding report

This male Blue Pitta teased us by giving fleeting glimpses for a couple of hours before eventually popping right out into the open giving us those much-hoped-for views.



As much as the pitta was the clear highlight of the morning, we also had Large Scimitar BabblerRed-billed Scimitar Babbler, and White-browed Scimitar Babbler visit the blind, three usually secretive species that showed well feeding and bathing. An Orange-breasted Trogon made a couple of brief appearances too, and the rest of the supporting cast included Orange-headed ThrushHainan Blue Flycatcher, and White-throated Rock Thrush.

In the afternoon we called in to some rice paddies, finding Chinese Pond Heron (a couple in breeding plumage), Little EgretCoppersmith BarbetBlack-collared StarlingGreat MynaVinous-breasted StarlingChestnut-tailed StarlingAshy Woodswallow, and Black-winged Kite. After this stop we went back to the forest, where some roadside birding gave us great views of a couple of Long-tailed Broadbills – a crazy looking bird! We also saw Barred Cuckoo-DovePin-tailed Green PigeonYellow-vented Green PigeonIndochinese Barbet, and Black-chinned Yuhina.

Day 10, 23rd March 2023. Di Linh to Ho Chi Minh City, flight to Pleiku, and on to Mang Den

A travel day as we made our way into central Vietnam. We left Di Linh after breakfast, took the long drive back to Ho Chi Minh City, where we boarded a short flight to Pleiku. From Pleiku we drove to Mang Den, arriving at our base for the next couple of nights in the early evening.

Day 11, 24th March 2023. Birding Mang Den

We spent the morning birding session along forested roads in the Mang Den area, although there was a depressing amount of deforestation to deal with. We did however find a few new birds or improved views of several species we’d seen before. Some of the better birds of the morning included Rufous-faced WarblerPale Blue FlycatcherBlack-chinned YuhinaShort-billed MinivetGrey-chinned MinivetBlack-throated (Grey-crowned) BushtitCrested GoshawkCrested Serpent Eagle, and Black Bulbul (both black-headed and white-headed subspecies). A White-winged Magpie teased us with a very brief view but wouldn’t give us anything more! One of the most interesting non-avian finds involved a sighting of the rare Sokolov’s Glass Lizard, a strange thing that looked a bit like a skink and a bit like a snake, it even hung around long enough for us to get some photos to clinch the identification, this species has a tiny known global range!

We’d planned to go to a bird blind (bird hide) for the afternoon, however on arrival at our location it was clear a thunderstorm was approaching and a short while later it hit us. We sat it out in our vehicle for a while, but it was obvious it wasn’t improving so we decided to drop down off the mountain and call it a day. A small section of rice paddies held Little EgretEastern Cattle Egret, and Chinese Pond Heron, as well as both Long-tailed Shrike and Brown Shrike. After our dinner and checklist session a few of the group had a Grey Nightjar fly over the hotel.

Day 12, 25th March 2023. Birding Mang Den and travel to Tu Mo Rong

After the rain of the previous afternoon, we were relieved to wake to a dry morning. We headed straight back up the mountain to our spot from the previous day and built a quick bird blind (bird hide) in a promising-looking area of forest. We were expecting a bit of a wait and were ready for the long haul, so when a pair of Chestnut-eared Laughingthrushes, our main target bird, hopped into view after only two minutes we were all rather elated! As we’d gone to the effort of building a blind/hide, we decided to give it another 30 minutes or so to see what would happen. We had a few more sightings of the laughingthrushes, in fact there were three birds, and a pair of Mountain Fulvettas came in too.

Vietnam birding report

The main reason for our visit to Mang Den was to see Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush. This Vietnam near-endemic is listed as Vulnerable (BirdLife International) because it is known from one site, is likely to have a very small global range, and is susceptible to a range of threats, such as rampant deforestation and the illegal cage bird trade. Worrying times for this species!



Satisfied with our laughingthrushes we covered some of the same ground as the previous morning and found a few mixed flocks and several new trip birds such as Clicking Shrike-babblerGolden Babbler, and Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler. In addition, Yellow-billed NuthatchMaroon OrioleShort-billed MinivetBlack-chinned YuhinaWhite-bellied Erpornis, and Kloss’s Leaf Warbler all put in appearances too.

In the afternoon we travelled to our base for the next two nights at Tu Mo Rong near Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, and prepared for what we hoped would be an exciting day of Vietnamese birding.

Day 13, 26th March 2023. Birding Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve

We had an enjoyable morning at Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, seeing some very special birds. On arrival at the nature reserve we hiked up into the mountains through some beautiful forest for an hour or so, until we reached our bird blind (bird hide). We waited patiently for our two main target birds to come in, and it was an enjoyable wait with several new species seen, including Indochinese FulvettaRufous-winged FulvettaRusty-capped FulvettaBrown-crowned Scimitar BabblerBlack-headed (Brownish-backed) SibiaLarge NiltavaFujian NiltavaRufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, and Snowy-browed Flycatcher. Our first major target bird came in quite quickly, and what an absolute belter – Red-tailed Laughingthrush. A single individual came in and spent quite a while on show for us, just incredible.

Vietnam birding report

The magnificent Red-tailed Laughingthrush put on quite the show for us.

Vietnam birding report

We found the rarely seen hoae subspecies of Vietnamese Cutia in Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve.



We had to wait a bit longer for our main target, but eventually in it came, the rare endemic Golden-winged Laughingthrush, an Endangered (BirdLife International) species found only at three sites in the whole world (see photo in trip summary above). This species was only described in 1999 and is threatened by habitat loss and illegal trapping, so we were extremely happy to see it.

After our session in the blind/hide, we took the walk back down off the mountain, and while doing so found a few interesting birds, such as Black-crowned BarwingVietnamese CutiaWhite-browed (formerly, until recently, Blyth’s) Shrike-babblerGolden-breasted FulvettaGrey-cheeked WarblerChestnut-crowned WarblerGrey-headed Canary-flycatcher, and Green-tailed Sunbird. In the mid-afternoon we headed back to our accommodation and took some rest.

Day 14, 27th March 2023. Tu Mo Rong to Da Nang and mammal watching on the Son Tra Peninsula

Essentially a travel day as we made the long drive from Tu Mo Rong to Da Nang through some special landscapes. A few stops along the way gave us some new birds for the tour, such as Yellow-cheeked TitPygmy FlycatcherWhite-throated NeedletailBlue Rock ThrushWhite-rumped MuniaWhite (Siberian) WagtailWire-tailed Swallow, and Striated Swallow.

After checking into our hotel for the final night of the tour we visited the Son Tra Nature Reserve, where, despite the low cloud, wind, and drizzle, we found our target, the simply incredible Red-shanked Douc Langur. As far as monkeys go, this one is very special, not only is it beautiful, but it is also Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List).

Vietnam birding report

We saw two family groups of the unique Red-shanked Douc Langur in Son Tra Nature Reserve, a really nice way to end our tour through central and southern Vietnam. Full mammal and reptile species lists for the tour are given at the end of the report.

Day 15, 28th March 2023. Bird and mammal watching on Son Tra Peninsula, flight from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City, where tour concluded

We had a final morning birding and mammal watching at Son Tra Peninsula before we flew back to Ho Chin Minh City, where this exciting Vietnam birding tour concluded. We again enjoyed excellent views of a family group of Red-shanked Douc Langurs. Our final new bird of the tour was a Peregrine Falcon that was mobbing a Crested Honey Buzzard, an exciting observation. We also saw White-crested LaughingthrushRed-whiskered BulbulRacket-tailed TreepieOlive-backed Sunbird, and Crimson Sunbird.

After breakfast we discussed the coveted “bird of the trip”, and it was no easy task with high-quality birds day after day on this tour. However, one bird stood out from the crowd, just, and that was the displaying Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, a great choice. Other notable mentions went to all of the pittas, broadbills, kingfishers, and laughingthrushes we had seen.

We took our flights from Da Nang back to Ho Chi Minh City and the tour concluded. A huge thank you to our local guide, Phuc, for helping to make this a wonderful tour, and to our drivers for safe travels. Thank you to everyone for making this such an enjoyable Vietnamese birding tour.

Bird List – Following IOC (13.1)

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen. The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following BirdLife International: EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common Name Scientific Name
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Orange-necked Partridge Arborophila davidi
Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi
Green Peafowl – EN Pavo muticus
Green-legged Partridge Tropicoperdix chloropus
Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron germaini
Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
Chinese Francolin Francolinus pintadeanus
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Great Eared Nightjar Lyncornis macrotis
Grey Nightjar (H) Caprimulgus jotaka
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
Swifts (Apodidae)
Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris
Germain’s Swiftlet Aerodramus germani
White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus
Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis
Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus
Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
Pacific Swift Apus pacificus
House Swift Apus nipalensis
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis
Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii
Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus
Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon) Columba livia dom.
Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis
Barred Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia unchall
Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
Zebra Dove Geopelia striata
Ashy-headed Green Pigeon Treron phayrei
Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra
Pin-tailed Green Pigeon Treron apicauda
Yellow-vented Green Pigeon Treron seimundi
Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea
Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia
Plovers (Charadriidae)
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus
Great Egret Ardea alba
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
Jerdon’s Baza Aviceda jerdoni
Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
Shikra Accipiter badius
Grey-faced Buzzard Butastur indicus
Owls (Strigidae)
Collared Owlet Taenioptynx brodiei
Asian Barred Owlet (H) Glaucidium cuculoides
Collared Scops Owl (H) Otus lettia
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Orange-breasted Trogon Harpactes oreskios
Red-headed Trogon (H) Harpactes erythrocephalus
Hoopoes (Upupidae)
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
Rollers (Coraciidae)
Indochinese Roller Coracias affinis
Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Blue-bearded Bee-eater Nyctyornis athertoni
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti
Asian Barbets (Megalaimidae)
Red-vented Barbet Psilopogon lagrandieri
Lineated Barbet Psilopogon lineatus
Green-eared Barbet Psilopogon faiostrictus
Necklaced Barbet Psilopogon auricularis
Indochinese Barbet Psilopogon annamensis
Blue-eared Barbet Psilopogon duvaucelii
Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalus
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
White-browed Piculet Sasia ochracea
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus canicapillus
Stripe-breasted Woodpecker (H) Dendrocopos atratus
White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
Common Flameback Dinopium javanense
Greater Flameback (H) Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus
Pale-headed Woodpecker (H) Gecinulus grantia
Bay Woodpecker (H) Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Black-and-buff Woodpecker Meiglyptes jugularis
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Collared Falconet Microhierax caerulescens
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae)
Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri
Vernal Hanging Parrot Loriculus vernalis
Typical Broadbills (Eurylaimidae)
Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae
Silver-breasted Broadbill Serilophus lunatus
Black-and-red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos
Banded Broadbill Eurylaimus javanicus
Pittas (Pittidae)
Rusty-naped Pitta Hydrornis oatesi
Blue-rumped Pitta Hydrornis soror
Blue Pitta Hydrornis cyaneus
Bar-bellied Pitta Hydrornis elliotii
Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis virgatus
Woodswallows, Butcherbirds & Allies (Artamidae)
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
Ioras (Aegithinidae)
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris
Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus
Swinhoe’s Minivet Pericrocotus cantonensis
Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei
Indochinese Cuckooshrike Lalage polioptera
Shrikes (Laniidae)
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Burmese Shrike Lanius collurioides
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Vireos, Greenlets, Shrike-babblers (Vireonidae)
White-browed (Dalat) Shrike-babbler Pteruthius aeralatus annamensis
White-browed (Blyth’s) Shrike-babbler Pteruthius aeralatus aeralatus
Clicking Shrike-babbler Pteruthius intermedius
White-bellied Erpornis Erpornis zantholeuca
Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)
Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii
Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Fantails (Rhipiduridae)
White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis
Monarchs (Monarchidae)
Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
White-winged Magpie Urocissa whiteheadi
Indochinese Green Magpie Cissa hypoleuca
Racket-tailed Treepie Crypsirina temia
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
Yellow-cheeked Tit Machlolophus spilonotus
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
Ochraceous Bulbul Alophoixus ochraceus
Grey-eyed Bulbul Iole propinqua
Ashy Bulbul Hemixos flavala
Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
Black-headed Bulbul Brachypodius melanocephalos
Black-crested Bulbul Rubigula flaviventris
Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus conradi
Stripe-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysoni
Flavescent Bulbul Pycnonotus flavescens
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Dusky Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne concolor
Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Siberian House Martin Delichon lagopodum
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica
Striated Swallow Cecropis striolata
Cupwings (Pnoepygidae)
Pygmy Cupwing (H) Pnoepyga pusilla
Cettia Bush Warblers & Allies (Cettiidae)
Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis
Mountain Tailorbird Phyllergates cucullatus
Grey-bellied Tesia Tesia cyaniventer
Bushtits (Aegithalidae)
Black-throated Bushtit Aegithalos concinnus
Leaf Warblers (Phylloscopidae)
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
White-spectacled Warbler (H) Phylloscopus intermedius
Grey-cheeked Warbler Phylloscopus poliogenys
Alström’s Warbler Phylloscopus soror
Two-barred Warbler Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis
Chestnut-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus castaniceps
Blyth’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
Kloss’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus ogilviegranti
Grassbirds & Allies (Locustellidae)
Dalat Bush Warbler (H) Locustella idonea
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Hill Prinia Prinia superciliaris
Yellow-bellied Prinia (H) Prinia flaviventris
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis
Parrotbills & Allies (Paradoxornithidae)
Golden-breasted Fulvetta Lioparus chrysotis
Indochinese Fulvetta Fulvetta danisi
Black-headed Parrotbill – VU Psittiparus margaritae
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Black-chinned Yuhina Yuhina nigrimenta
Indian White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
Babblers, Scimitar Babblers (Timaliidae)
Chestnut-capped Babbler Timalia pileata
Grey-faced Tit-Babbler Mixornis kelleyi
Pin-striped Tit-Babbler Mixornis gularis
Golden Babbler Cyanoderma chrysaeum
Rufous-capped Babbler Cyanoderma ruficeps
Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus phayrei
Red-billed Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ochraceiceps
White-browed Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus schisticeps
Large Scimitar Babbler Erythrogenys hypoleucos
Grey-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps
Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)
Scaly-crowned Babbler Malacopteron cinereum
Rufous-winged Fulvetta Schoeniparus castaneceps
Rusty-capped Fulvetta Schoeniparus dubius
Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps
Buff-breasted Babbler Pellorneum tickelli
Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti
Streaked Wren-Babbler Gypsophila brevicaudata
Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler Napothera danjoui
Alcippe Fulvettas (Alcippeidae)
Mountain Fulvetta Alcippe peracensis
Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)
Vietnamese Cutia Cutia legalleni
Grey-crowned Crocias – EN Laniellus langbianis
Red-tailed Laughingthrush Trochalopteron milnei
Golden-winged Laughingthrush – EN Trochalopteron ngoclinhense
Black-headed Sibia Heterophasia desgodinsi
Blue-winged Minla Actinodura cyanouroptera
Black-crowned Barwing Actinodura sodangorum
Silver-eared Mesia – EN (H) Leiothrix argentauris
White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
Black-hooded Laughingthrush (H) Garrulax milleti
Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush – VU Ianthocincla konkakinhensis
White-cheeked Laughingthrush Pterorhinus vassali
Fairy-bluebirds (Irenidae)
Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella
Nuthatches (Sittidae)
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis
Yellow-billed Nuthatch Sitta solangiae
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch Sitta nagaensis
Starlings, Rhabdornises (Sturnidae)
Golden-crested Myna Ampeliceps coronatus
Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa
Great Myna Acridotheres grandis
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Vinous-breasted Myna Acridotheres leucocephalus
Black-collared Starling Gracupica nigricollis
Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnia malabarica
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Dark-sided Thrush Zoothera marginata
Siberian Thrush Geokichla sibirica
Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina
Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
Rufous-browed Flycatcher Anthipes solitaris
Hainan Blue Flycatcher Cyornis hainanus
Pale Blue Flycatcher Cyornis unicolor
Indochinese Blue Flycatcher Cyornis sumatrensis
Fujian Niltava Niltava davidi
Large Niltava Niltava grandis
Blue-and-white Flycatcher Cyanoptila cyanomelana
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus
Lesser Shortwing Brachypteryx leucophris
Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane
White-tailed Robin Myiomela leucura
Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki
Pygmy Flycatcher Ficedula hodgsoni
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata
Little Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni
Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra
Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
White-throated Rock Thrush Monticola gularis
Amur Stonechat Saxicola stejnegeri
Pied Bush Chat Saxicola caprata
Grey Bush Chat Saxicola ferreus
Leafbirds (Chloropseidae)
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis moluccensis
Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
Flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae)
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis
Van Hasselt’s Sunbird Leptocoma brasiliana
Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis
Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis
Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata
Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja
Purple-naped Sunbird Kurochkinegramma hypogrammicum
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
Vietnamese Greenfinch Chloris monguilloti
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
Total seen 263
Total heard only 14
Total recorded 277

Reptile List

Deceased reptiles are marked with (D) after the common name.

Common Name Scientific Name
Dragons (Agamidae)
Crowned Pricklenape Acanthosaura coronata
Spotted Flying Dragon Draco maculatus
Gekkonidae (Geckos)
Asian House Gecko Hemidactylus platyurus
Flat-tailed House Gecko Hemidactylus platyurus
Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko
Skinks (Scincidae)  
Common Mabuya Eutropis multifasciata
Spotted Forest Skink Sphenomorphus maculatus
Glass and Alligator Lizards (Anguidae)
Sokolov’s Glass Lizard Dopasia sokolovi
Colubrid Snakes (Colubridae)
Green Cat Snake Boiga cyanea
Speckle-bellied Keelback Rhabdophis chrysargos
Javan (Indochinese) Rat Snake Ptyas korros
Typical Blind Snakes (Typhlopidae)
 Brahminy Blindsnake (D) Indotyphlops braminus
Total 12

Mammal List

Common Name Scientific Name
Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)
Northern Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca leonina
Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta
Black-shanked Douc Langur Pygathrix nigripes
Red-shanked Douc Langur Pygathrix nemaeus
Gibbons (Hylobatidae)
Red-cheeked (Yellow-cheeked) Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae
Deer (Cervidae)
Sambar Rusa unicolor
Northern Red Muntjac Muntiacus vaginalis
Chevrotains (Tragulidae)
Lesser Oriental Chevrotain Tragulus kanchil
Squirrels (Sciuridae)  
Berdmore’s (Indochinese Ground) Squirrel Menetes berdmorei
Pallas’s Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus
(Asian) Red-cheeked Squirrel Dremomys rufigenis
Cambodian Striped Squirrel Tamiops rodolphii
Maritime Striped Squirrel Tamiops maritimus
Treeshrews (Tupaiidae)
Northern Treeshrew Tupaia belangeri
Northern Smooth-tailed Treeshrew Dendrogale murina
Mustelids (Mustelidae)
Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula
Suids (Suidae)
Wild Boar Sus scrofa
Bovids (Bovidae)
Domestic Water Buffalo Bubalus bubalis
Total 18


This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.


Central and Southern Vietnam: Endemics and Specials


General Information



Our Central and Southern Vietnam: Endemics and Regional Specials extra-small, small-group birdwatching tour – with a maximum of just five participants (and also departs with just four participants) gives a fantastic personalized tour experience. This Vietnamese birding tour concentrates on finding the endemic and special birds of the region, with top targets including Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Orange-necked Partridge, Golden-winged Laughingthrush, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Black-crowned Barwing, Indochinese Green Magpie, Vietnamese Cutia, and many more!

We will spend time birding in forest on foot and patiently sat in bird blinds (bird hides) waiting for secretive species to show themselves, as this is the best way to see these most-wanted of birds, and will also provide excellent photographic opportunities for those wishing to get photos of great Asian birds. The tour covers a range of altitudes and habitats to maximize the number of species recorded. We consider Vietnam to be one of the best birding destinations in all of Asia and we are confident you will agree, after experiencing it on this wonderful tour.



This is a birding tour that also offers excellent bird photography opportunities. The tour moves at a moderate pace with early morning starts on most days. Time will be spent birding on forest trails and from bird blinds (bird hides) waiting for more secretive species to show (such as pittas, pheasants, partridges, and laughingthrushes). We will spend considerable time within the bird blinds (bird hides) on certain days in specific locations as this is the best way to see many of our top target birds. While we are waiting for the secretive birds to show, we will have lots of opportunities for bird photography and close-up views of these great birds. Please note that even if not everyone/anyone is interested in photography we will still spend lots of time in the bird blinds (bird hides) as they do offer the best chances (and only chances in some cases) for many difficult pittas, pheasants, partridges, babblers, laughingthrushes, and more.

The bird blinds (bird hides) are basic non-permanent structures constructed within the forest to allow us to get views of tough birds. We will bring small stools into the blinds for sitting in place (some have basic benches for seats). The blinds (bird hides) are usually constructed with tarpaulin or a tight mesh material and most will have a “roof” overhead. Each participant will have a “window” to see out of for viewing the area directly in front of the blind (bird hide).

The heat and humidity in the south of the country is likely to be tiring for most people. There will be a fair bit of walking involved, with hikes of around 2.5 miles (four kilometers) on most days, but these are considered fairly easy and are on tracks, roads, and trails, with frequent birding stops made. There will be a few incline sections while we are birding in the mountains, such as for 0.6 to 1.2 miles (one to two kilometers). We will always take these slowly so that most people will be able to manage them. We will be in the lowlands for part of the tour (e.g. at Cat Tien National Park), but we will also be birding at higher elevations, such as when we are birding at Da Lat and Ngoc Linh (e.g. up to an elevation of around 6,500 feet / 2,000 meters). Several of the bird blinds (bird hides) we visit are very easily accessible with short walks on flat surfaces, however a couple of them do require more effort to reach, such as at Da Lat (short hike but steep in places) and Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve (longer hike and steep with uphill and downhill sections). We will take these hikes slowly and they may take 30-60 minutes to reach in some cases and walking sticks/hiking poles will be useful for anyone not great with balance. It is possible to hire a porter to help carry your belongings, such as photography equipment (for a small extra fee) should you wish.

We will usually have an early and basic breakfast before birding, or we will take a boxed breakfast into the field. Our birding days will usually begin at around 05:30-06:00 hrs. Bird activity usually wanes during the middle of the day, and we will usually take a break at this time to have lunch and refresh, rest, and relax (particularly when at Cat Tien National Park, where it is very hot from mid-morning until mid-afternoon). We will then usually have an afternoon birding session prior to our group dinner. On a couple of occasions during the tour, we are likely to go out after dinner (or push dinner a little later back) to look for owls and other nightbirds. Most walks will be optional, and should you wish to sit out any activities you will be able to rest at the accommodation (on occasions when we are coming back to the same accommodation).

There will be some three-to-four-hour drives and a couple of longer drives (of around seven hours) during the tour as we move between different cities and birding locations. There are two domestic flights during the tour, the costs for these are included in the tour price and further details of these are provided in the “Domestic Flights” information further down this document.



Ahead of the tour we will email you a detailed daily itinerary complete with meeting/arrival instructions. We will provide you with a printed blank diary page within the itinerary document so that you can note down any names of birding sites that you may want to log.

On arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), you will be provided with a printed version of the same itinerary. Each evening your tour leader will go through this with you to let you know any specifics to be aware of for the following day (e.g. clothes and equipment needed, breakfast time, time for leaving hotel, key target birds we will be looking for, etc.).

Attached to the itinerary document will be a bird list and list of other animals possible on the tour (or a blank list to write them in as we go). We follow the latest IOC (International Ornithological Congress taxonomy) for birds and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for all other animals recorded during the tour so all itineraries and checklists follow these taxonomies.

Each evening we will go through the daily bird and animal lists, logging all the species from the day. The listing session is optional, we realize that some of our clients aren’t fussed about the listing aspect, but others are. If you do not want to take part in the nightly bird list that is perfectly fine, but it is a useful way to remember what was seen during the day, so recommended.

Birding Ecotours leaders maintain eBird checklists from all birding activities during a tour (from unexpected roadside stops to planned birding activities). Tour leaders will share these eBird lists with all participants who use eBird, if desired. Just make sure to provide your eBird user details to the tour leader at the beginning of the tour for us to be able to do this, unfortunately we can’t retrospectively go back and share past checklists after the tour.

After the tour you will be emailed a PDF copy of a trip report, this will be in the form of an illustrated daily diary and will include a complete checklist of all wildlife recorded. If the tour leader manages to get any interesting photographs these will be included in the trip report (if you get pictures and are willing to share those with others, we can sometimes include some of those photos too). Leader photos will also be added to our Flickr page and will be added into a “trip report gallery” which you can view, download, and share.



Most visitors require a tourist visa to visit Vietnam, and these usually need to be obtained from a Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country, or online for an e-visa. Visa on arrival may be possible with entry into certain airports (e.g. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City), but is not recommended for this tour. We recommend using the Vietnamese government website for an e-visa, there is a small fee for this, and it is usually issued within a few days. Please check specifics with your government/local Vietnamese embassy/consulate/the website. We can provide you with a letter from a local sponsor, which may be required for your application process, though an e-visa should be suitable for most visitors coming in and out of Ho Chi Minh City. We usually recommend starting the visa application process a couple of months before the tour start date.

Please make sure that you bring a photocopy of your passport with you on the tour, to be kept in a different location to your original passport, in case of loss/damage. This can be kept with other important documents such as vaccine certificate, emergency contact details, and insurance documents. Vietnamese law requires everyone to carry photo ID at all times, and the photocopy of your passport should be sufficient to satisfy this need. Your passport should be in a good (i.e. neat, clean, and tidy) condition, sometimes entry is refused or delayed if the condition of the passport is not considered appropriate by immigration officers.

Australian, United States (US), and United Kingdom/British (UK) citizens need to have at least six months’ validity remaining in their passports (one month for Canadian citizens) and all nationalities should have at least one blank page for the visa stamp. Refer to the information here for US citizens, here for UK citizens, here for Canadian citizens, and here for Australian and please check these websites for any recent changes to ensure you are suitably covered.

Citizens of other countries should check their own governments’ advice and contact their nearest embassies/consulates for up-to-date regulations and requirements.



As per our standard Terms and Conditions, we strongly recommend that you buy trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself against medical issues, accidents, illness, repatriation, loss of valuables or luggage, and travel interruptions or delays of all kinds.



Please consult your doctor/travel clinic regarding any vaccine requirements for visiting Vietnam.

All travelers should be up to date with routine vaccinations and boosters, such as the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and the Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio vaccine. We also recommend that most travelers are vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Typhoid, while some travelers should be vaccinated for Cholera, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, and Tuberculosis, particularly those people with any underlying health issues. Please update yourself on the Covid-19 vaccination entry requirements ahead of the tour. No Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is currently required for Vietnam. Please check with your government that this is still the case at time of travel.

Insect repellent with a high DEET content is highly recommended for some of the areas we visit, primarily for the nuisance factor of mosquito and other insect pests. There is a low risk of Malaria in Vietnam (please consult your doctor/travel clinic on what action to take). However, biting insects and ticks can also result in other issues, such as Dengue, Chikungunya, Leishmaniasis, Zika, and Scrub (Bush) Typhus (a rash from Chiggers). Cream for reducing itchiness of bites is recommended.

Scratches from plants and bites from insects should be cleaned, treated, and covered quickly to avoid infection.

Please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here for further health issues to be aware of in Vietnam. The UK “Travel Health Pro” website provides important information for UK travelers going to Vietnam, here. Both the linked pages are worth studying prior to joining the tour to be better prepared.

Sunscreen (rated SPF 30 or higher) should be carried, and a hat should be worn to protect from the powerful rays from the sun, with sunglasses to help prevent glare. A plentiful intake of water (please bring a reusable water bottle which we can fill daily with safe drinking water) is essential to maintain hydration – it is likely to be very hot and humid when we are in the south of the country (e.g. particularly in the lowlands at Cat Tien National Park).

Poor air quality is a significant public health concern in many areas of the world and the cities (particularly) in Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi can suffer from poor air quality at some times of the year. Please be aware of this if you have any underlying (particularly breathing/respiratory) health issues.

The standard of health services in Vietnam is much lower than what you will be familiar with at home. Bringing a supply of some of the following could be beneficial: hand sanitizer, antiseptic cream/wipes, plasters, antacid, diarrhea medicine (e.g. Imodium or Pepto-Bismol), antihistamine, motion sickness medicine, cough drops, cough suppression/expectorant, decongestant, medicine for pain and fever (e.g. acetaminophen, aspirin, paracetamol, or ibuprofen), mild laxative, mild sedative, and saline nose spray. Earplugs are always useful if you are a light sleeper.

The CDC website provides a full and detailed list of suggested items to pack that may help with your health and safety in Vietnam, this can be found here.

Please also be sure to check the “Dangerous Animals and Plants” section below.



Please make sure that you are covered with suitable medical insurance in case of an emergency while on the tour, because without insurance the cost for medical care is likely to be extremely high. As per our general Terms and Conditions, we require you to notify us at the time of registering for this tour of any medical conditions that we should know about (these should include, but not be limited to, walking/mobility issues, allergies, heart conditions, diabetes, epilepsy, long-term illnesses etc.). At times on this tour, particularly in central Vietnam, we are in remote areas away from hospitals and medical facilities.



There are several dangerous animals to be aware of in Vietnam, these include Saltwater Crocodile, King Cobra, Malayan Pit Viper, White-lipped Tree Viper, Eastern Russell’s Viper, Many-banded Krait, Vietnamese Giant Centipede, Yellow Sac Spider, Weaver Ant, mosquito sp., Gaur (also known as Indian Bison), and bats (flying foxes). Care should be taken when walking in the forest, particularly where you put your hands and feet when moving through vegetation. Before putting your boots on in the morning check there is nothing hiding inside of them.

A special mention should be made for leeches. Our tour is during the dry season and therefore the chance of encountering them is much reduced (though never impossible). They are an annoyance rather than being a health issue. Insect repellent sprayed on shoes and ankles usually helps to keep them at bay (as well as other annoying ticks, mosquitoes, and chiggers). If you have “leech socks” they could be useful and can usually be purchased fairly easily online.

Many plants in the tropics protect themselves from being eaten by animals by growing sharp thorns, needles, and spikes, others use sharp appendages to allow them to grow and spread (e.g. some palms and creepers). Care should therefore be taken when walking through forest and not grabbing hold of any plants without first carefully checking them and watching out for clothes catching onto them.



Please do not drink the tap water while in Vietnam. Bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere (though please bring a refillable water bottle to try and reduce the amount of plastic waste). Ice is considered safe in high standard restaurants and hotels but should probably be avoided in rural areas or on street stalls. Beer and soft drinks are usually inexpensive and widely available. Wines and spirits (which are imported) are generally more expensive. Vietnamese drip coffee is commonly found across the country, however if you want something quick and familiar it would be worth bringing some instant coffee with you. If you are a tea drinker, green and jasmine teas are commonly found in hotels and restaurants, but black tea is not as common, so it would be worth bringing your own black tea bags with you.

One free drink is included with each meal within the tour costs. However, please note this excludes wines and hard liquor (spirits), but does include beer, soft drinks (Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Fanta, etc. depending on availability), water, fresh coconut, hot tea, ice tea, and coffee, etc. An ample supply of drinking water is available throughout the tour in our vehicle.

Vietnamese food definitely adds to the experience of a Vietnam birding trip and is usually fresh and healthy. Vegetarian food is widely available too. Dishes are usually rice or noodle based and served with chicken, pork, beef, shrimps, or tofu. These dishes usually contain a hearty supply of fresh vegetables. Pho (a rice noodle soup) and Banh Mi (a baguette with filling) are two of the most popular foods and we will likely get these frequently. Western food is available in tourist areas and cities such as in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, and Da Nang, however in more rural and remote areas western food is not available. Breakfasts are often simple and consist of bread or noodles with eggs. Quite a few of our breakfasts will be simple (such as eggs in a baguette and fruit) and taken on-the-go, to not encroach too much into our precious early morning birding sessions. Following the tradition of much of Asia at lunch and dinner, a variety of dishes will be placed on our table (a mix of meat dishes and vegetarian dishes) and the group will share the meal. Occasionally, depending on location, individual meals will be possible and food will be chosen from a menu.

Mealtimes are likely to be somewhat flexible depending on our birding/travel plans and so if you need to eat food at a specific time of day (e.g. to agree with medication you are on) you may need to bring snacks to supplement the above, such as cereal bars/protein bars, dried fruit etc. There are limited opportunities to purchase snacks from convenience stores on this trip, so if you want items that are familiar, it is probably best to bring these from home.



The currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese đồng (VND/₫/đ). It is in the top three weakest global currencies circulating (as of May 2023). Frequently used bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000, and 500,000 đồng. Lower denomination notes of 50, 70, 100, and 200 đồng are rarely used. Coins are no longer minted or in active use but are still legal tender with coins of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 đồng still occasionally floating about. At the time of writing (May 2023), one United States Dollar (USD/US$) is equivalent to approximately 23,500 Vietnamese đồng and one British Pound (GBP/£) equates to approximately 29,250 Vietnamese đồng.

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted at restaurants, shops, and hotels in major towns and cities and can be used for drawing cash from ATMs (bank charges may apply). Check with your card supplier whether you need to notify them of your trip to Vietnam, so you don’t find your card doesn’t work on your arrival in the country.

It will be possible to exchange or draw money at the ­airports and in some of the towns and cities we pass through during the tour. It is also possible to change money in banks, exchange bureaus, hotels, and even some shops, but it will be easier all round to either bring cash with you from home, or sort it out at the airport. A small amount of local cash will be useful for personal purchases for items not included in the tour costs and for any gratuities. See the full list of what is/isn’t included in the tour cost in the itinerary document here and in the green box on the left side of the tour page on the website.



Due to the location and size of Vietnam, the country has a complex climate. Our tour occurs during the dry season, which runs from December until April, though rain showers are always possible. This is considered the best time for birding in Vietnam.

In the lowlands, we can expect daytime temperatures in the region of around 86 – 95oF (30 – 35oC), with very high humidity likely. Nighttime temperatures will be lower, but still warm/hot. We will be birding at a range of elevations and therefore we are likely to experience a wide range of temperatures when at these higher elevations, such as 45 – 77oF (8 – 25oC) during the day, with cooler nighttime temperatures that may drop to as low as 40oF (5oC).



In Vietnam the power plugs and sockets are of Type A, C, and D. The standard voltage is 110 / 220 volts (V), and the standard frequency is 50 hertz (Hz). Adaptors are needed for most visitors from overseas, you may also need a voltage converter and should be careful with certain appliances that may use a different frequency. For further information, including photographs of the different plug sockets and information on whether you will require an adaptor/converter, please check here.



Cell (mobile) phone signal is likely to be available at most locations we visit on the tour (roaming charges might apply depending on your phone contract, check with your supplier that your phone will work in Vietnam). A less expensive alternative to using an international SIM card could be to purchase a local SIM card on your arrival at the airport, a local convenience store, or phone shop. Wi-Fi is available at most of the hotels we stay in, as well as in various, restaurants, shops, bars, and coffee shops, and should be sufficient for most people’s needs.



We use modern, comfortable, air-conditioned vehicles during our Vietnam birding tours, such as a 12-seater Ford Transit minibus or equivalent.

A seat rotation policy will be in place on this set departure tour, this will ensure everybody has equal opportunities within the vehicle throughout the tour. Motion sickness will not excuse you from our seat rotation policy and if you are prone to motion sickness you should ensure you bring the necessary medication.

We require that you are fit and flexible enough to maneuver yourself to the back of the vehicle when it is your turn to sit in that position. Tour participants should be mindful of the extra equipment they bring into the general seating area of the vehicle (rather than the luggage section) and should ensure they do not clog up general thoroughfare or extra seats with camera equipment, tripods, etc. from both a comfort and a health and safety perspective.



There are two domestic/internal flights included within the cost of the tour. The first flight will take us between Ho Chi Minh City and Pleiku, the second flight will take us from Da Nang back to Ho Chi Minh City. Please be aware that these domestic flights will have a weight restriction of 44 pounds (lbs) / 20 kilograms (kg) for hold luggage and 15 lbs / 7 kg for hand luggage. If you exceed these limits your bag may be refused by the airline, or you might have to pay an additional fee (this fee will be the responsibility of the individual client and will need to be paid to the airline directly at check-in). Please note that when flying in Vietnam there are very strict rules about what you can and cannot pack in hold luggage (as well as the usual more widespread rules about hand luggage contents). All batteries and all electronic equipment must be packed in hand luggage. Ignoring these rules can get you pulled off the plane to take them out of your hold baggage, or can even get you removed from the plane and prevented from flying! So it is strongly recommended to not ignore the rules!



Due to restricted space in the vehicles and domestic flight baggage weight allowances (see “Domestic Flights” information above), please pack as lightly as possible for this tour. A medium, soft-sided duffle bag (not the hard sided cases) usually works best for packing in the vehicles. A daypack should be used to keep items that you wish to use daily when in the vehicle or in the field.



We stay in a range of accommodation on the tour. Most of the accommodation is of a good standard, however the accommodation in Cat Tien National Park is rather basic, as is the accommodation at Tu Mo Rong (our base for birding at the remote Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve). The more basic accommodation is the only option for when birding in these remote areas. Some accommodation, such as in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat, and Da Nang is very nice and comfortable. All rooms (everywhere we stay) have air conditioning and/or a fan (air conditioning is not really considered necessary while staying in the mountains where it is cooler). Most rooms in Cat Tien National Park have mosquito nets. All rooms have private bathrooms with hot water, 24-hour electricity, and most (if not all) have Wi-Fi connections. We use “standard” rooms on this tour, as is typical of most group birding tours around the world, and these are deemed by us to be sufficient for most people. If you would like to upgrade to a higher standard of room, such as a “luxury” room, this might be possible, depending on availability in some, but not all locations. Please note that there would be an extra charge for upgrading your room, please contact us to discuss options. As is typical in Asia, most beds have a hard or very hard, often thin mattress, a couple of the more upmarket hotels in cities have slightly softer mattresses.



Loose, lightweight field clothing with green and brown colors works best for our birding activities and helps blend into the forest environments that we will spend most of our time in. Bright colors are to be avoided for birding attire, please (e.g. no pale colors, white, red, orange etc.). Given the potential insect issues (and fierce tropical sun) mentioned above, we recommend long pants/trousers and long-sleeved shirts (these can be rolled up should you get too hot). Shorts can be great for when you are relaxing around the accommodation but always be aware of biting insects and the strong rays of the sun.

You will also need to bring some warmer clothing, certainly a minimum of a warm fleece/jacket for early morning/evening when temperatures can be low, and when birding in the mountains. Something warm to sleep in for the nights when at higher elevation when temperatures could be cold is also advisable. Rain is always a possibility in Vietnam, so rain gear (and a small umbrella) is always useful to have on hand, particularly should we get a rain shower while birding in one of the bird blinds (bird hides) with no roof.

Casual and informal dress is fine in the hotels/accommodation. Sunglasses, sunhat, and sunscreen (rated SPF 30 or higher) are essential.

We always recommend lightweight walking boots for when out on foot to give extra ankle support while walking and added protection against animal stings/bites. Sandals/trainers (tennis shoes) are useful for in the vehicles and for walking between your room and restaurant in the hotels and lodges, but not for when birding please.



Do not forget: Binoculars, field guide (see “Books” section below), flashlight (torch), prescription drugs (please bring the generic names for these drugs with you), toiletries, prescription glasses (and a spare pair), insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, batteries (for electronic equipment and chargers for the re-chargeable batteries, if required), converter plugs and plug adaptors if needed, alarm clock (or use your cell phone alarm setting), money pouch, suggested medical kit (as outlined in “Heath and Pests” section above), walking sticks/hiking poles, and daypacks.

Our tour leader/local guide will have a telescope for use during the tour. Most of the birding will be carried out in forest environments so we are unlikely to rely heavily on a scope during this tour, therefore we do not recommend bringing your own scope, unless you like to “digi-scope/phone-scope”. The communal scope will be for everyone to look at the birds but not for taking photos through. With our small group (only four to five tour participants) there should be plenty of time for scope views of birds.

Other important items to remember to bring include: key travel documents, cash (or ATM/credit cards to draw money), passport, proof of vaccinations and your travel or health insurance cards – photocopies of all can be carried by the tour leader in case of emergency, US Dollars (US$) or British Pound Sterling (GBP/£) can be changed to Vietnamese đồng if you prefer not to simply draw from ATM’s (such as at the airport), cash for anything of a personal nature that is not included within the tour cost.

To help with the checklist session, we recommend bringing two different colored pens and a 12-inch (30 centimeter) plastic ruler. Using different colors on alternate days makes the listing activity much easier!

Teabags and instant coffee could be useful items to bring, as well as snacks if you are likely to require any to supplement meals/take with medication at specific times etc.

We will spend lots of time in bird blinds (bird hides). We will be sitting on low stools or bench seats, so if you need extra comfort you might like to bring a foam pad to sit on or a blow-up cushion for your seat/back. Alternatively, your fleece could double up for something like this.

You can read more on what to bring on a birding tour, on this blog post here.



Vietnam is a relatively safe country and has been ranked as one of the safest countries in the world for travelers. However, petty theft is a legitimate concern in the big cities/tourist areas, with drive-by snatchings (with items such as cameras, cell phones, and wallets/handbags being the main targets) being a frequent issue (for locals too, not just tourists). Please use safety/lock boxes, when provided in hotels, for storage of personal possessions like passports, money, jewelry, and any other valuable items and follow any advice given to you by the Birding Ecotours tour leader, our local guide, or the hotel staff.

If you arrive ahead of the tour or stay after the tour and would like to do some sightseeing by yourselves, please be aware of taxi scams (such as rigged meters, overcharging, short-changing, confusing currency, and fixed prices). If you would like us to help organize any city sightseeing, please let us know. If needed, two trusted taxi companies appear to be Mai Linh and Vinasun and they can be found at the airport and your city hotel should also be able to help with reliable people.



Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that originated in Vietnam, where it is the national and official language. French is the most widely spoken foreign language in Vietnam, but English has also attained popularity in the country, especially within the younger demographic. Our local guide will help translate between Vietnamese and English when needed.



There is one recently published field guide that we recommend for this tour. See our recommended field guide blog here, for further information covering the region:

Birds of Vietnam – Richard C Craik and Le Quy Minh (2018), Lynx Edicions. We suggest the Flexibound version of this book for use in the field during the tour, rather than the hardback version as it is less likely to get damaged when traveling.


Other bird books that feature Vietnam include:

Birds of South-East Asia – Craig Robson (2018), Helm (Princeton in US).

Collins Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia – Norman Arlott (2017), William Collins (HarperCollins imprint).

Pocket Photo Guide to the Birds of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – Peter Davidson (2016), Bloomsbury Publishing.


Other specific interest books:

Vietnam: A Natural History – Eleanor Jane Sterling et al. (2008), Yale University Press.

A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Bali – Indraneil Das (2015), Bloomsbury Publishing.

A Photographic Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Lowland Monsoon Forests of Southern Vietnam – Anna B Vassilieva et al. (2016), Edition Chimaira.

Field Guide to the Mammals of South-East Asia – Charles M Francis (2019), Bloomsbury Publishing. Second Edition.

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Mammals of Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – Chris R Shepherd and Loretta Ann Shepherd (2018), John Beaufoy Publishing.

Primates of Vietnam – Tilo Nadler and Diane K Brokman (2014), Endangered Primate Rescue Center, Vietnam.

Butterflies of Vietnam – Alexander L Monastyrskii and Alexey L Devyatkin (2016), Plan-o-rama Media Co. Ltd.

An Illustrated Guide to the Land Snails and Slugs of Vietnam – Dinazarde C Raheem et al. (2017), London Natural History Museum.



You can listen to and download many calls and songs of Vietnamese birds from the highly recommended xeno-canto website.



Aves Vox – a good app that enables the downloading of bird songs and calls from the xeno-canto website onto your cell phone.

eBird – there is a wealth of information contained on this website and the mobile app is now excellent and useful too. Photo, video, and sound galleries are available for practically every species in the world through The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library.

Merlin – an app that can help you identify birds by sight (from photos) and sound (from recordings) and is a useful tool to aid bird identification. The app is getting expanded all the time with new data and regional information so is worth keeping an eye on.

IOC World Bird List – this website contains all the latest details on the world of global bird taxonomy. You can read about newly described species, splits (creation of a new species) and lumps (deletion of a species) of existing species, and plenty of other important information.

Lonely Planet – contains a wealth of information on Vietnam. If you are interested in extending your stay in the country before or after the tour, this will help you find some must-see places.

Birding Ecotours

Download General Information

‘I was very impressed with the quality of birds seen on this trip as well as other wildlife.’
Tim Marshall
‘Andrew Walker is an outstanding birder with superb ability to assist clients in “getting on” species.’
Peter Ross

Important Information

Group size note:

Please note that this is an extra-small, small-group tour (even smaller than our usual small-group set departure tours!), with a maximum of just five tour participants and a tour guaranteed departure with just four participants. This is because we utilize bird blinds (bird hides) within the forest (see conservation note below) and this is the maximum number of clients we feel is suitable for these, to allow more comfortable viewing and excellent visibility and photographic opportunities for everyone on the tour. We feel that a larger group (anything over five participants) would result in insufficient views from the blinds for some tour participants, which we wish to avoid. Our preference in general is for small-group tours as this provides better experiences for you, and this is especially important on this tour. This works for your benefit by allowing you much better views of the birds, as well as great attention from our expert local guide and the Birding Ecotours tour leader, and therefore results in a great all-round birding experience. The smaller group size is also a huge benefit when we are birding within forests and really maximizes your chances of many great and rarely seen birds.

Photographic opportunities:

This tour offers excellent photo opportunities. We spend considerable time in bird blinds (bird hides) on this tour across a range of sites and elevations, and there is a realistic chance of photographing stunning, secretive, and rare species, including pittas, pheasants, partridges, babblers, and laughingthrushes, as well as numerous common species that are exciting too! Some of the possibilities for great photos include Bar-bellied Pitta, Blue Pitta, Rusty-naped Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta, Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant, Orange-necked Partridge, Rufous-throated Partridge, Siamese Fireback, Golden-winged Laughingthrush, Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush, Collared Laughingthrush, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, Brown-crowned Scimitar Babbler, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, and dozens more.


Conservation notes:

The conservation situation for many of the endemic and near-endemic birds we look for on this tour is rather perilous. The main reason for this is due to uncontrolled deforestation, hunting, and the illegal cagebird trade. Many of the species are considered Vulnerable or Endangered by BirdLife International, and most of these are in decline.

By joining this tour, you are helping with finances to go directly through our excellent team on the ground towards education programs for school children, helping with supplementary feeding of rare and endangered birds, and providing income to the local people who maintain the bird blinds (bird hides) we visit, including reformed hunters trying to make a living by now protecting the birds they once hunted. This model has been working well in other parts of Asia such as in parts of Thailand and Indonesia and is to be encouraged, it is a step in the right direction, and by visiting birders being seen in remote areas of Vietnam, hopefully it will help trigger the realization that there are treasures in the forest worth protecting for future generations, and that they can provide frequent income from visitors rather than one-off income from a cagebird. It is an uphill task, but one we are passionate about being involved in.

The additional benefit, and the benefit to you on this tour, is that these bird blinds (bird hides) give incredible glimpses into the secretive forest world that is so tough to see otherwise, and can result in staggering sightings of extremely difficult birds, like pittas, pheasants, partridges, babblers, and laughingthrushes.

Join our newsletter for exclusive discounts and great birding information!


Thank you!