The forests, lakes and wetlands of Vietnam are full of birds, many of which may be unfamiliar even to well-travelled bird watchers, including twelve endemic and many rare and endangered species. With a country as lush and diverse as Vietnam, away from the built up areas, interesting and colourful birds can be seen almost everywhere throughout the country.

In the far north of Vietnam, the forested hills surrounding the beautiful rice paddies of Sapa are home to a rich variety of birds including Little Forktails, Golden Breasted Fulvettas, several species of Scimitar-babblers and Laughingthrushes, and make prolonging a visit to Sapa for trek and birding enthusiasts well worthwhile.

To the west of Hanoi, Ba Vi National Park is easily accessible from the capital and is the playground of Fujian and Small Niltavas, Orange-headed, Siberian, Scaly, Grey-backed and Japanese Thrushes, Hainan Blue Flycatchers and Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrushes.

At Tam Dao National Park, to the north of Hanoi, Chesnut Bulbul, Fork-tailed Sunbird, Blue-naped Pittas and Scimitar Babblers are among the favourites for focussing lenses while, south of the capital, Van Long Nature Reserve is a refuge for wetland birds such as the rare Black Faced Spoonbills, Cotton Pygmy Geese and White-Browed Crakes who share their habitat with Delacours Langurs.

Nearby, the dense forests of Cuc Phuong National Park, whose rarer inhabitants include Pied Falconets, Silver Pheasants, Bar-Bellied Pittas and Red collared Woodpeckers among over 300 bird species living among other wildlife such as the langurs and Clouded Leopards.

In Central Vietnam, amongst the forests and limestone cliffs of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, Chesnut-necklaced Partridge, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Sooty Babbler and Limestone Leaf-warbler can be found while, further south, at Bach Ma National Park, close to Hue, Blyth’s Kingfisher, Crested Argus, Northern Brown Hornbill and Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo are among the attractions.

Lo Xo provides a sanctuary for Black-crowned Barwings, sharing the area with a variety of Laughingthrushes, while Yok Don National Park is a haven for species such as White-rumped Pygmy-falcon, Mekong Wagtail and Rufous Treepie.

In the south of Vietnam, Birdlife, as with all other life here, is dominated by the greater Mekong flood- plain, and the area of Tam Chim National Park and Wetland Reserve is a globally important sanctuary for many several rare species of waterbirds. The area has attracted considerable international research and is known especially for its red-headed and Sarus Cranes, Oriental Darters, Painted Storks, Nordman’s Greenshanks, Black-backed Swamphens, and Asian Golden Weavers.

Further up the Mekong, near the Cambodian border, Tra Su Forest hosts rare Milky Storks, Javan Pond and Black-crowned Herons, among its feathered denizens.

South of the Mekong, U Minh Ha National Park, is home to Greater spotted Eagles, Black-headed and Glossy Ibis, Lesser Adjutant and Asian Openbills, whilst on the mudflats and mangroves of nearby Mui Ca Mau National Park, on the very southern end of the Vietnamese mainland, feature Chinese Eagrets, Asian Dowitchers, and Eastern Curlews.

The mix of primary and secondary forests within Nam Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam’s primary birding site, is a haven to over 340 species of bird, such as Red Junglefowl, Green Peafowl, Siamese Firebacks and Blue-rumped and Bar-Bellied Pittas readily encountered, while many birds of prey, such as Ospreys, Crested Serpent Eagles and Grey-headed Fish Eagles search over the landscape for their prey.

Close to Dalat, Ta Nung Valley, Mount Lang Bian and To Tuyen Lam Lake are home to many species including Orange breasted and Collared Laughingthrushes, Large Niltavas, Yellow Billed Nuthatches and Vietnamese Cutias among many others.