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  • Photograph of Bar-bellied Pitta

    A male Bar-bellied Pitta, captured by Brian Field, from a hide at a 'feeding station' in Cat Tien National Park.

    VIETNAM

    Photograph of Orange-breasted Laughingthrush

    A fine image of an Orange-breasted Laughingthrush at Ta Nung by Dubi Shapiro.


    Best Wildlife in Vietnam

    Mammals
    Buff-cheeked and Southern White-cheeked Gibbons, Black-shanked, Grey-shanked and Red-shanked Douc Langurs, Annamese Silvered, Delacour’s and Hatinh Langurs, Long-tailed (Crab-eating), Pig-tailed and Stump-tailed Macaques, Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Black Giant Squirrel, Northern Tree Shrew, Common Palm Civet, Binturong, Sambar, Lesser Mouse Deer and Indian Muntjac. Also a chance of Indo Chinese Black Langur and Pygmy Loris, an outside chance of the very rare Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey which occurs at a few sites in the northeast, and it may also be possible to obtain permits for restricted areas where it is possible to see Soala, Black Muntjac and Annamite Striped Rabbit.

    Birds
    The birds listed are usually present during the northern winter.

    Specialities(mostly Vietnamese and Indochinese endemics)
    Siamese Fireback, Green Peafowl, Germain's Peacock Pheasant, White-faced (Swinhoe's) Plover, Pale-capped Pigeon, Chinese (Black-browed), Indochinese (Black-browed) and Red-vented Barbets, Bar-bellied and Blue-rumped Pittas, Mekong Wagtail, Ratchet-tailed and White-winged Magpies, Collared Treepie, Grey-crowned (Black-throated) Tit, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-headed (Grey-headed) and Grey-headed Parrotbills, Black-hooded, Chestnut-eared, Collared, Orange-breasted (Spot-breasted), Red-tailed and Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, Sooty Babbler, Grey-faced Tit Babbler, Vietnamese Cutia, Black-crowned Barwing, Black-crowned (Rufous-winged) Fulvetta, Grey-crowned Crocias and Vietnamese Greenfinch. Also a chance of Annam and Orange-necked Partridges, Silver Pheasant, Crested Argus, White-eared Night Heron, Red-collared Woodpecker, and Blue, Blue-naped, Eared and Rusty-naped Pittas. The endemic Edward's Pheasant has not been seen since 2000.

    Others
    Banded, Black-and-red, Dusky, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Great and Oriental Pied Hornbills, Orange-breasted and Red-headed Trogons, leafbirds, minivets including Rosy and Swinhoe’s, White-crested Laughingthrush, Blue, Common Green and Indochinese Green Magpies, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Sultan Tit, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Black-faced Spoonbill, Saunders’s Gull and Heart-spotted Woodpecker, as well as Red Junglefowl, Chinese Pond Heron, Woolly-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Pied Falconet, Black Baza, Black, Lesser Fish and Rufous-bellied Eagles, Grey-headed Lapwing, green pigeons, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Red-breasted Parakeet, Asian Emerald, Banded Bay, Hodgson’s Hawk and Violet Cuckoos, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater and Lesser Coucals, Collared Owlet, Great Eared and Large-tailed Nightjars, Germain’s Swiftlet, Silver-backed Needletail, Banded, Pied, Stork-billed and White-throated (Smyrna) Kingfishers, Blue-bearded and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Indian Roller, Dollarbird, Coppersmith and Green-eared Barbets, White-browed Piculet, Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Common and Greater Flamebacks, Black-and-buff and Great Slaty Woodpeckers, Ashy Woodswallow, Common and Great Ioras, Burmese Shrike, White-browed and Chestnut-fronted Shrike Babblers, Maroon and Slender-billed Orioles, Greater Racket-tailed and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Racket-tailed Magpie, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, bulbuls, tesias, leaf warblers, Lesser Shortwing, Siberian Rubythroat, Siberian Blue Robin, Red-flanked Bluetail, Slaty-backed, Spotted and White-crowned Forktails, flycatchers including Blue-and-white, Blue-throated, Hainan Blue and Mugimaki, and Large Niltava, White-rumped Shama, Black-breasted, Grey-backed, Japanese, Orange-headed, Siberian and White’s Thrushes, fulvettas, Spot-necked Babbler, scimitar babblers, Limestone Wren Babbler, Silver-eared Mesia, Black-headed and Rufous-backed Sibias, Common Hill and Golden-crested Mynas, Red-billed and Vinous-breasted Starlings, Little and Streaked Spiderhunters, and Red Crossbill. Also a chance of Chinese Egret, Collared Falconet, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, Brown Wood Owl, Blyth’s and Hodgson’s Frogmouths, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Green and Purple Cochoas, Red-tailed Minla and Asian Golden Weaver.

    Reptiles
    Siamese Crocodile, flying lizards and Tockay Gecko.

    Invertebrates
    A rich diversity of butterflies including Common and Golden Birdwings, swallowtails, swordtails and Leaf Butterfly.

    Plants
    The rich flora includes a Rafflesia; Sapria himalayana.

    Other Natural Wonders of Vietnam

    Ha Long Bay A beautiful bay with many towering karst limestone islands.

    Hang Son Doong ('Mountain River Cave') This is the world's largest cave at 200 m (656 ft) high, 150 m (492 ft) wide and at least 6.5 km (4 miles) long.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Vietnam

    Photograph of Red-shanked Douc Langur

    The handsome Red-shanked Douc Langur in the Son Tra Forest Reserve by Coke & Som Smith.

    Best Times for Wildlife in Vietnam

    February-March is the best time to look for birds, although some winter visitors may have already left by the end of March.

    Recommended Books etc. for Vietnam

    Birds of South-East Asia by C Robson. Helm, 2014. (Second Edition)

    Birds of South-East Asia Concise Edition by C Robson. Helm, 2015.

    A Field Guide to the Mammals of South-East Asia by C M Francis. New Holland Publishers, 2008.

    A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia by I Das. Bloomsbury, 2015.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Vietnam

    Many trip reports, some for Vietnam, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Vietnam. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Vietnam' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Vietnam

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Vietnam

    Some Organized Tours to Vietnam

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to Vietnam in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.