Enjoy your complimentary pre-flight overnight hotel before your holiday begins. Full details from our office! Read more about our Pre-flight Service here!
Day 1: Mon 21 Nov - London Heathrow - Ho Chi Minh City
After relaxing in our complimentary VIP Airport Lounge, we fly direct with Vietnam Airlines on an overnight flight to minimise our journey time. Your pre-flight hotel at Heathrow gives additional opportunity to relax before your long journey (direct flight time is 12 hours).
Day 2: Tue 22 Nov - Arrive Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
We arrive at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport at 0600 hrs and transfer to our downtown hotel to drop luggage. We then take a guided tour of downtown Ho Chi Minh City visiting the former Presidential Palace, the French colonial Notre Dame Cathedral and the old Saigon Post Office. Our guide will point out any birds we see, including common species of the region and perhaps some wintering flycatchers and thrushes. After lunch we enjoy birding at the Botanical Garden, where more common species might include Eastern Spotted Dove, Zebra Dove, Plaintive Cuckoo, Coppersmith Barbet, Eastern Black-naped Oriole, Scarlet Minivet, Brown Shrike, Black and Ashy Drongo, Sunda Pied Fantail, Common Iora, Common Tailorbird, Sunda Yellow-vented and Streak-eared Bulbul, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Ornate Sunbird and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. Overnight at the Bong Sen Annex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 3: Wed 23 Nov - Ho Chi Minh City to Cat Tien National Park
We depart Ho Chi Minh City after breakfast for Cat Tien National Park, 150 km to the north. The largest remaining area of lowland tropical forest in southern Vietnam, Cat Tien National Park contains a mix of primary and secondary evergreen and semi-evergreen forest with large areas dominated by grassland and bamboo, a result of wartime defoliation and post-war logging. The park is accessed via the Dong Nai River and on arrival we take a ferry across the river to the park HQ accommodation area. Cat Tien boasts an incredible diversity of birds and mammals. Endangered birds include Germain’s Peacock-pheasant, Green Peafowl and elusive Orange-necked Partridge while the mammal list includes Leopard Cat, Lesser Mousedeer, Gaur and three beautiful primates - Black-shanked Douc Langur, Silvered Langur and Buff-cheeked Gibbon. Overnight for four nights at Cat Tien National Park HQ Guest House.
Days 4, 5 and 6: Thu 24, Fri 25 & Sat 26 Nov - Cat Tien National Park
We have three full days to enjoy some wonderful birding at Cat Tien National Park. There are excellent trails starting right at the park headquarters, and with no outside vehicles permitted in the park we will use jeeps to access areas further afield such as Crocodile Lake and the Ta Lai grasslands. The 5 km walk through semi-evergreen forest to Crocodile Lake can be an excellent place to look for Germain’s Peacock-pheasant as well as two of the park's other star birds, near-endemic Blue-rumped and Bar-bellied Pitta, while the beautiful Siamese Fireback can often be seen on an early morning drive. Among the many other avian treats to be found at Cat Tien are Indochinese Frogmouth, Great-eared Nightjar, Grey-headed and Lesser Fish-eagle, Great and Wreathed Hornbill, Banded and Stork-billed Kingfisher, Red-vented Barbet, Heart-spotted, Pale-headed, Black-and-buff, Great Slaty and White-bellied Woodpecker, Collared Falconet, Dusky, Black-and-red and Banded Broadbill, Golden-crested Myna and Grey-faced Tit-babbler. Large waterbirds including Lesser Adjutant and Asian Woollyneck are commonly seen in more open areas, particularly in the vicinity of Crocodile Lake, where Asian Golden Weaver can also be found breeding in lakeside reeds. Large flocks of doves, pigeons and parakeets of various species can often be seen in the grassland areas in the late afternoon.
Day 7: Sun 27 Nov - Cat Tien National Park to Di Linh
There is time for some final early morning birding at Cat Tien National Park before heading up Highway 20 to Di Linh. A short drive from the town we visit Deo Suoi Lanh, exploring an excellent area for Black-hooded, White-cheeked & Orange-breasted Laughing-thrushes and the near-endemic Black-headed Parrotbill. After an afternoon of birding, we return to Di Linh town where we stay at Ivory Falls Villas for one night.
Day 8: Mon 28 Nov - Di Linh to Dalat
A second, this time early morning visit to Deo Suoi Lanh could give us other exciting Dalat Plateau specialities including Blue Pitta, Indochinese Green Magpie, Spotted Forktail and Green Cochoa. Later we continue along Highway 20 to the cooler climes of Dalat itself. Situated at an elevation of 1,500 m, the former French hill station and honeymoon capital of Vietnam, Dalat, will be our base for exploring the high ground. The Dalat Plateau is one of Vietnam’s five Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) as defined by BirdLife International and is home to several endemic and near-endemic bird as well as some very distinct and endemic subspecies. As well as being a popular tourist destination Dalat’s temperate climate makes it one of the major vegetable and flower growing areas in the country and the city boasts some wonderful restaurants. Overnight for three nights at Dreams Hotel, Dalat
Days 9 & 10: Tue 29 & Wed 30 November - Dalat Plateau
The habitat on the Dalat Plateau is a mix of coniferous (dominated by Benguet Pine), montane evergreen and secondary forest. The montane evergreen forest extends up to 2,287 m on Mount Bi Doup and 2,167 m on nearby Mount Lang Bian, the second and third highest peaks on the plateau respectively. The long list of endemic and near-endemic species and subspecies found in this area includes Lowe’s Green-pigeon, Red-vented, Necklaced and Annam Barbet, Dalat Shrike-babbler, Annam Minivet, Yellow-crowned Green Magpie, Langbian Tit, Annam Grasshopper-warbler, Brown-backed Bulbul, Grey-crowned Tit, Indochinese Fulvetta, Black-headed Parrotbill, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Annam Streaked and Indochinese Wren-babbler, Vietnamese Cutia, Orange-breasted, Black-hooded, White-cheeked and beautiful and skulking Collared Laughing-thrush, White-spectacled Sibia, Plain Minla, Grey-crowned Crocia, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Langbian Lesser Shortwing, Langbian and Annam Sunbird and Vietnamese Greenfinch.
Other specialities of the Dalat area include Bar-backed Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Yellow-vented Green-pigeon, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Spot-bellied Eagle-owl, Rusty-naped and Blue Pitta, Maroon and Slender-billed Oriole, Indochinese Cuckoo-shrike, Burmese Shrike, White-faced Jay, Manipur Treecreeper, Dark-sided Thrush, Green Cochoa, Large Niltava, Rufous-browed Flycatcher and Spotted Forktail and Red Crossbill. There are several excellent birding sites all within a short drive of Dalat including Mount Lang Bian and Tuyen Lam Lake, both of which have a mix of coniferous forest at lower elevations with montane evergreen at higher elevations. Other areas to explore in the vicinity include the forested valley en-route to the village of Ta Nung, and some of the more accessible areas of Bi Doup-Nui Ba National Park.
Day 11: Thu 1 Dec - Dalat to Yok Don National Park
We leave Dalat and drive north to Yok Don National Park, arriving around lunchtime. We will have time to explore the banks of the Srepok River and the dry deciduous forests of the National Park. Several of Yok Don specialities are not easily seen elsewhere in Vietnam, and we spend the afternoon looking for Fulvous-breasted, Rufous-bellied & Black-headed Woodpecker, Alexandrine & Blossom-headed Parakeet, White-rumped Pygmy-falcon, Rufous Treepie, Small Minivet and Burmese Nuthatch. Overnight at Yok Don National Park for one night.
Day 12: Fri 2 Dec - Yok Don – Mang Den
After some early morning birding at Yok Don, we continue driving north, ascending up to the newly established hill resort town of Mang Den, on the Kontum Plateau. Mang Den is the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding areas of montane evergreen forest. The number one target for birders here is the recently-discovered and near-endemic Chestnut-eared Laughing-thrush which despite uncontrolled logging in the area is thankfully still fairly common. The Kontum Plateau shares several specialities with the Dalat Plateau to the south including near-endemic Indochinese Wren-babbler, Black-hooded Laughing-thrush and Yellow-billed Nuthatch. Vietnamese endemic Grey-crowned Crocias, once thought to be restricted to the Dalat Plateau, was also recently discovered here. Overnight at T&T Hotel, Mang Den for two nights.
Days 13 & 14: Sat 3 & Sun 4 Dec - Mang Den
We have two further days exploring the birding delights around Mang Den. As well devoting time searching for and hopefully obtaining good views of Chestnut-eared Laughing-thrush, other interesting species that may be encountered include Pale-capped Pigeon, Austen’s Brown Hornbill, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Rusty-naped Pitta, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, White-winged Magpie, Rufous-faced Warbler, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded Laughing-thrush, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Grey-crowned Tit, Grey-headed Parrotbill, and Pale Blue-flycatcher.
Day 15: Mon 5 Dec - Mang Den to Lo Xo/Kham Duc
There is time for some morning birding at Mang Den before we drive north for four hours to the Lo Xo Pass. Once there, we explore roadside scrub and remnant patches of forest in the vicinity of Lo Xo Pass where the recently discovered and near-endemic Black-crowned Barwing may be found. Other possibilities at Lo Xo include White-winged Magpie, White-cheeked, Black-hooded and Red-tailed Laughing-thrush, Red-tailed Minla and Green-tailed Sunbird, while White-capped and Plumbeous Water-redstart can occur along the river below the pass. Later, we travel a short distance to the small town of Kham Duc where we stay overnight at Be Chau Giang Hotel for one night.
Day 16: Tue 6 Dec - Kham Duc/Lo Xo to Bach Ma National Park
If needed, we will return to Lo Xo Pass for birding targets before continuing northwards to Bach Ma National Park. Our journey will skirt the coast of Central Vietnam, and roadside birding stops near to the shore might yield recently split White-faced Plover and patchily distributed Light-vented Bulbul. We expect to arrive at Bach Ma in the afternoon with time for some birding once checked into our accommodation, which boasts spectacular views of Mount Bach Ma towering above the forests! Overnight at the Summit Guest House, Bach Ma National Park for one night.
Day 17: Wed 7 Dec - Bach Ma National Park to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Encompassing a range of habitats including cultivation, secondary, scrub, lowland evergreen forest and above 900 m, spectacular montane evergreen forest, Bach Ma National Park supports a wide variety of birdlife. We have a full morning to search for key species including Rufous-throated and Green-legged Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Austen’s Brown Hornbill, Blue-rumped and Bar-bellied Pitta, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbill, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, White-winged Magpie, Indochinese Green Magpie, Annam Sultan Tit, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Lesser Necklaced, Masked and Black-throated Laughing-thrush and White-gorgeted Flycatcher. In the afternoon we depart north to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, where we stay for two nights at Saigon Phong Nha Hotel.
Day 18: Thu 8 Dec - Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
The habitat at Phong Nha-Ke Bang is a mix of limestone forest, remnant lowland evergreen forest and areas of cultivation. Species we look for here includes two near-endemic limestone specialists - Sooty Babbler and the recently described Limestone Leaf-warbler. Other interesting birds at the park include Tonkin Partridge, White-bellied Green-pigeon, Brown Fish-owl, Austen’s Brown Hornbill, Red-collared Woodpecker, Blue-rumped and Bar-bellied Pitta, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, White-winged Magpie and Indochinese Wren-babbler. In addition to some unique bird species Phong Nha-Ke Bang is also home to two very rare primates, beautiful Red-shanked Douc Langur and the range-restricted Ha Tinh Langur and there is a fairly good chance of coming across both these species while birding here.
Day 19: Fri 9 Dec - Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park to Hue
We leave Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park after breakfast and drive to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. After checking in at our centrally located hotel we will take in the some of the cultural highlights of Hue with visits to the Imperial Citadel from where the Nguyen Dynasty of emperors ruled Vietnam between 1802 and 1945, followed by the impressive mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc with its landscaped gardens and lakes. Birds that could be seen during the afternoon’s sightseeing at this time of the year may include wintering warblers, thrushes and flycatchers as well as the more common resident species. Overnight at Midtown Hotel, Hue.
Day 20: Sat 10 Dec – Hue – Ho Chi Minh City - UK
After breakfast there will be further time to explore the city or local birding options, before we transfer to Hue Airport for the short flight back to Ho Chi Minh City, in good time for our flight back to the UK. This will be overnight and we arrive on Sun 11 Dec.