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The best comprehensive birding of Vietnam - 2018/2019

  • Category:Long birding tours
  • Tour name:The best comprehensive birding of Vietnam - 2018/2019
  • Destinations:Cat Tien - Da Lat - Di Linh - Yokdon - Mang Den - Ngoc Linh - Bach Ma - Phong Nha - Cuc Phuong - Tam Dao
  • Duration:22 days
  • Hotel:Standard to 4-stars
  • Price:3,400 - 4,600 USD


Vietnam is one of the most beautiful, friendly and fascinating countries in Asia and an early season visit there finds the country at its best, the climate mostly cool, dry and enjoyable, the winter birds still in and the resident ones gearing up for breeding. Vietnam hosts, according to your splitting beliefs, no less than 14 true endemic species (and this number continues to increase as further work is done, and new discoveries made), a further 30or so restricted to Indochina and a number of very interesting and distinct “subspecies” several of which are destined to be future splits. A large range of Southeast Asian species of wider distribution and a host of birds wintering from further north add to the richness of this destination. 

Vietnam is also host to the largest selection of mammals of any Southeast Asian country. Many are critically endangered, little known and almost impossible to see but amongst them are more than 20 species of primate – an astonishing total for such a relatively small country. Some are widespread, but a unique aspect of this tour is to seek out some of the rarer ones – especially a number of colourful Leaf-Monkeys and two species of endemic Gibbons. We have a chance of up to nine species (Delacour’s and Ha Tinh Leaf-Monkeys, Black-shanked, Black-shanked and Red-shanked Douc Langurs and Buff-cheeked and Northern White-cheeked Gibbons) some of which are amongst the rarest primates on earth hanging on in their last isolated strongholds. 

Our unique and comprehensive itinerary, covering the best sites from south to north, seeks out all but a few inaccessible endemic birds and several of the mammals. The tour was runsuccessfully from 2011 to 2018, since 2016 we updated all birding conditions in Vietnam, which some new birding spots were discovered while other famous spots are not good anymore. For example: Lo Xo pass is replaced by Mang Ri; We reduce time at Bach Ma where the weather is usually damp wet and misty but add Sa Mu pass as official site for Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush. Moreover, Fansipan mt in Sa Pa is easy to reach by cable-car which started to operate since April 2016, this give us a chance to explore the two mysterious endemics White-throated Wren-babbler and Pale-throated Wren-babbler. And we shall do better of this unique country in a way that few westerners have ever enjoyed. Birds and wildlife photography is high opportunity, with easy to moderate walking.

Cost for this tour is from $US 3,400 to $US 4,600 depending on group size. Our knowledgeable guide and professional service will help you to see most of endemics and more than 300 other species during the trip. Transport by model minibus, accommodation in luxury/good standard hotels and park bungalows and we will enjoy memorable Vietnamese food throughout. The price includes park entry fees, local transportation and all meals.

* Full tour - US$ 3,860/person (Single supplement $710)

* Southern & Central (ending at Phong Nha on day 17) - US$ 2,828/person (Single supplement $560)

* Maximum size: 8 participants plus tour leader


- Tour 1 (in cooperation with Parnership for International Birding) Novemember 4th to 24th, 2018 led by Nguyen Hao Quang

This tour is starting from Ha Noi and ending in Ho Chi Minh city, please contact us for further details - (2 spaces available)

- Tour 2 (in cooperation with Parnership for International Birding) Januanry 20th to February 5th, 2019 led by Nguyen Hoai Bao

- Tour 3 (in cooperation with BirdQuest) March 2nd to March 23rd, 2019 led by Nguyen Hao Quang - Sa Pa extension March 23rd to March 26th

(Full booked)

- Tour 4 March 4th to 29th, 2019 (with 4 days in Laos) led by Nguyen Hoai Bao 

- Tour 5 (Tentative February 20th to March 10th) with Cambodia extension led by Nguyen Van Thang


Detail Itinerary

(For private group, please contact us to customize)

Day 1 (D) - Arrival day

Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), pick up at the airport and transfer to Victory hotel


If time permits, we can visit Go Cong beach, a river mouth in Mekong delta, this mudflat is home for some interest targets such as “White-faced” Plover, Nordman Greenshank, other common shorebirds and especially Spoon-billed Sandpiper. More about this option

Welcome dinner and briefing

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City

Day 2 (B, L, D) - Transfer to Cat Tien NP

After an early start we will drive northwards towards the renowned Cat Tien National Park for first exploration of this superb National Park in the afternoon.

Overnight at the Cat Tien National Park HQ guesthouse (3 nights)

Day 3 & 4 (B, L, D) - Birding in Cat Tien NP

The premier National Park in South Vietnam, Cat Tien is located in Cochinchina in the Da Lat foothills and boasts an impressive mosaic of forest and seasonal wetlands which largely escaped the defoliants used in the Vietnam War. We will bird by jeep track and forest trails to seek out the endemic Germain’s Peackock-Pheasant, other spectacular birds such as Siamese Fireback, Green Peafowl and Scaly-breasted Partridge, endemic Pittas, the endemic Grey-faced Tit-Babbler and a host of other species also known from Malaysia and Thailand.

Key species

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

Day 5 (B, L, D) - Transfer to Di Linh

We leave Cat Tien for the relatively short drive to Di Linh. Certain birds can be easier to locate here at the Nui San Pass than in Da Lat including Blue and Rusty-naped Pittas, Spotted Forktail, White-cheeked, Black-hooded and Orange-breasted Laughing-Thrushes, Vietnamese Cutia and “Black-headed” Parrotbill, a probable split from the more widespread Grey-headed

Overnight Juliet Villa

Day 6 (B, L, D) - Birding Di Linh - Transfer to Da Lat

After an early morning return to the Nui San pass (which will give us our first chance for the elusive Green Cochoa) we will drive up to the Langbian Plateau and the evocative French hill town resort of Da Lat. We will stop at any interesting patches of habitat en route and also see several attractive waterfalls. Da Lat is situated at a delightfully cool 1475 metres asl in a temperate region dotted with lakes and waterfalls and surrounded by forest including various native pine woodlands.

Overnight Monet Garden Villas & Resort, Da Lat (3 nights)

Day 7 & 8 (B, L, D) - Birding in Da Lat

We will explore the Da Lat Plateau including the 2169 metre Mt Langbian, cloaked with evergreen forest right up to its peak and accessed by a progressively steeper footpath. Our efforts should be rewarded however as this is the home of the spectacular endemic Collared Laughing-Thrush, as well as Yellow-billed Nuthatch and the Vietnamese forms of  Cutia, Rufous-winged (Black-crowned) Fulvetta and Black-throated (Grey-crowned) Tit which are sure fire bets for splitting before too long. The elusive and handsome Green Cochoa is also here and should be vocal at this time of year and a number of other Asian and wintering birds will also be encountered.

Nearer to Da Lat itself is Ta Nung Valley, famous for the relatively recently re-discovered Grey-crowned Crocias which is regularly encountered here. Other endemics such as Black-hooded and Orange-breasted Laughingthrushes and Vietnamese Greenfinch are also possible

Key species

Bar-backed Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Red-vented Barbet, Black-browed Barbet (Annam Barbet, Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Jerdon’s Baza, Rusty-naped Pitta, Blue Pitta, Burmese Shrike, Indochinese Green Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Slender-billed Oriole, Maroon Oriole, White-throated Rock Thrush, Green Cochoa, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Lesser Shortwing, White-tailed Robin, Spotted Forktail, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Grey-crowned Tit, Grey-bellied Tesia, White-spectacled Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Collared Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Streaked Wren Babbler, Eyebrowed Wren Babbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Vietnamese Cutia, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler, Da Lat Shrike-Babbler (split from White-browed), Blue-winged Minla, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Indochinese Fulvetta (no chance on this itinerary), Grey-crowned Crocias, Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Black-headed Parrotbill, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Red Crossbill, Brown Bullfinch

Day 9 (B, L, D) - Transfer to Ban Me Thuot

An early morning departure for Ban Me Thuot and a stop at Lak lake for some waterbirds and wintering warblers en route. Later on we reach Yok Don national park for 1 night stay at Ban Don Tourism area. Our main target here is Mekong Wagtail but other species such as Black-headed Woodpecker, Collared Falconet, White-rumped Falcon, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch are among the specialities.

Overnight Yok Don national park (1 night)

Day 10 (B, L, D) - Birding in Yok Don NP - Transfer to Mang Den

After our morning birding at Serepok river bank for Mekong Wagtail, we will head for the rarely visited Mang Canh Forest.

Overnight Hoa Sim hotel (2 nights)

Day 11 (B, L, D) - Birding in Mang Den

Our main target for full day birding at Mang Canh is Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush but we will also be on the lookout for Black-hooded Laughingthrus, Pale-capped Pigeon, the endemic Ratchet-tailed Treepie and we have another chance for Yellow-billed Nuthatch as well as the first chance for Brown Hornbill

Key species

Pale-capped Pigeon, Northern Brown Hornbill, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, White-winged Magpie, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Grey-crowned Tit, Rufous-faced Warbler, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Chestnut-eared Laughingthrush, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Grey-crowned Crocias (rare), Rufous-backed Sibia, Grey-faced Warbler, Blue-rumped, Blue and Rusty-naped Pittas

Day 12 (B, L, D) - Transfer to Dak To or Tu Mo Rong

In the morning, we will finalise our bird seen in Mang Den area. Late afternoon we will then we drive on to Dak To town for 1 night stay. (If time permit, we can take further drive to a very small town at Tu Mo Rong where a small guesthouse can accommodate maximum 6 people)

Overnight at Hoang Gia Trang hotel (1 night)

Day 13 (B, L, D) - Birding at Mang Ri -  Special quest for Golden-winged Laughingthrush

Mang Ri pass, a new road cross Ngoc Linh natural reserve area has just completed building in May, 2016. Which has reached recent birding fame as the site to see the endemic Golden-winged Laughingthush, Indochinese FulvettaBlack-crowned Barwing. Here, at the forest edge, we have a great chance of finding this recently described species and others to look for include Brown Hornbill, Indochinese Wren-Babbler (formerly known as Short-tailed Scimitar-Babbler), White-winged Magpie, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, Himalayan Cutia, Green Shrike-babbler and a another chance for Yellow-billed Nuthatch.

This early morning we will drive about 2 hours on "bad-road" to Mang Ri searching for our main targets. Later we drive to Bach Ma national park.

See more this new site

Evening looking for Hodgson‘s Frogmouth

Overnight Bach Ma National park’s Summit guesthouse (1 night)

Day 14 (B, L, D) - Birding in Bach Ma - Transfer to Khe Sanh

A morning day on Bach Ma mountain (1400m asl), this park is just opening after 3 years closed for road construction, we will have our best chance for Indochinese Wren-Babbler, Chestnut-collared (Indochinese) Yuhina, Black-throated Laughingthrush, Rufous-throated Partridge.

Afternoon we will access the mid ranges of Bach Ma where we will search in particular for the endemic but elusive Annam Partridge. Later we do some foothill birding to look for the Mask Laughingthrush.

Later afternoon will we drive to Khe Sanh city in Quang Tri province which near Lao border

Overnight at Green hotel (Khe Sanh town)

Day 15 (B, L, D) - Birding at Sa Mu pass

Leave early morning for 2.5 hours drive to Shamu pass via Ho Chi Minh trail western branch. This is fairly new spot near the Laos border that is home to near endemics Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush, Indochinese Wren Babbler and a rare seen Moustached Barbet

Afternoon we drive to Phong Nha – Ke Bang national park

Overnight at Sai Gon-Phong Nha hotel (2 nights)

Day 16 (B, L, D) - Birding in Phong Nha Ke Bang NP

Two major targets will occupy our time in Phong Nha, the near endemic Sooty Babbler (also found in similar habitat in adjacent Laos). Here we also have further chances for a range of birds including Siamese Fireback, Red-collared Woodpecker, Brown Hornbill as well as the isolated form of Sulphur-breasted Warbler now split as “Limestone Warbler”

Day 17 (B, L, D) - Driving northward

A pre-dawn search for two endangered primates - Black and Ha Tinh Leaf Monkeys as well as the beautiful Red-shanked Duoc langur before the drive north to Cuc Phuong National Park, but we might cut our long driving by stay overnight at Thanh hoa city.

For those who ends the tour on this day will be transfered to Dong Hoi airport if requested

Hotel is flexible arranging on the way, if time permit we can reach Cuc Phuong on this day

Northern extension

Day 18 (B, L, D) - Drive to Cuc Phuong, stop en route birding at Van Long

Early we leave for Cuc Phuong and stop en route at Van Long Van Long Nature Reserve, 30km from Cuc Phong, where we will take a sampan ride to some dramatic limestone cliffs that are one of the last haunts of the critically endangered Delacour’s Leaf-Monkey.

Cuc Phong is Vietnam’s oldest National Park and an area of lowland forest and lakes easily accessed by a paved road. It is rich in birdlife and we have our last chances here for both Pittas, Red-collared Woodpecker and White-winged Magpie as well as a supporting cast which includes Malayan Night-Heron, Pied Falconet, Eared Pitta, Silver-breasted Broadbill, White-tailed Flycatcher, Fujian Niltava and the annamensis form of Limestone Wren-Babbler.

Overnight at Cuc Phuong national park (2 nights)

Day 19 (B, L, D) - Birding in Cuc Phuong NP

Our final morning birding at Bong area, we drive back to park’s gate for afternoon birding around the botanical garden as well as visiting the Primates center.

Cuc Phuong NP

Day 20 (B, L, D) - Transfer to Tam Dao

Our last morning in Cuc Phuong is looking for White-winged Magpie, and also Rachet-tailed Treepie if we have missed them before.

Afternoon, we will drive to Tam Dao hill for 2 nights.

Overnight at Gia Le hotel (2 nights)

Day 21 (B, L, D) - Birding in Tam Dao NP

Our targets in Tam Dao are Blue-naped Pitta, Short-tailed Parrotbill and Grey Laughingthrus, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler but also many other sought-after species. This will be the best opportunity to finalise our trip with species such as the Ashy Bulbul, Black-throated Laughingthrus, Chestnut Bulbul, Fujian Niltava, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Spot-necked Babbler, Chestnut-collared Yuhina (split from Striated), Greater Rufous-headed and Short-tailed Parrotbills, and Collared Treepie.

Day 22 (B, L) - Birding in Tam Dao, tour ending

We have a full morning birding in Tam Dao summit, and later we spend a bit time in the mid-range of the mountain.

After lunch, we will take a short driving to Noi Bai airport for your evening flight home


Northern extension can be made for Ba Be (White-eared Night-heron) and Sa Pa, 1-week birding at these two sites is recommeded