The Best of Vietnam: Feb 28—Mar 18, 2017

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Departs: Hanoi
Ends: Ho Chi Minh City
Tour Limit: 8
Operations Manager: Erik Lindqvist
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Bar-bellied Pitta

Bar-bellied Pitta— Photo: Machiel Valkenburg


A fabulous expedition through the endemic-rich country of Vietnam offers fascinating wildlife, historical and cultural highlights, and delicious Southeast Asian cuisine.

Our tour begins in the gorgeous Asian city of Hanoi. We will explore several delightful bird-rich national parks around this bustling city. We will search here for some truly awesome birds such as the enigmatic Gray Laughingthrush; charming Streak-breasted, Red-billed, and both Indochinese and Common Green Magpie; and colorful Sultan Tits. We may also cross paths with some winter visitors like Scaly, Orange-headed, Siberian, Gray-backed, Black-breasted, and Japanese thrushes.

VIDEO: The Best of Vietnam, 2016, by Machiel Valkenburg

We leave the north of the country and fly to Hue, where we will enjoy ancient delights such as the Imperial Citadel, from where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945; Thien Mu Pagoda with its seven-tiered tower; and the elaborate mausoleums of the emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh.

Venturing further to the Lang Bian Plateau, a true avian hotspot and center of bird endemism, we will make a special effort to locate several species found here but nowhere else in the world: Gray-crowned Crocias (only rediscovered within the last seven years); Black-hooded, White-cheeked, and the striking Collared Laughingthrush; Yellow-billed Nuthatch; and Vietnamese Greenfinch.

The last national park on our route is located in the southeast of the country. Here we will visit the well-known tropical moist lowland forests of Cat Tien National Park; this intriguing park is one of the last remaining areas that support the full spectrum of the rich Cochinchina avifauna. The park is especially good for ground birds like Siamese Fireback, Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant (both surprisingly common), and the lovely endemic Bar-bellied Pitta. We may also come across the colorful Orange-breasted Trogon, the strange Black-and-red Broadbill, or the enchanting Banded Kingfisher. We end the tour in the French-styled colonial city of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as “the Paris of the East.” Here we enjoy the class of the city and end the tour with a delicious cherry: we hope to find the endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Accommodations good to very good; varied and  high quality cuisine; travel by comfortable 19-seater bus and plane; pace moderate with mostly roadside birding; one delightful boat trip; easy to moderate walking conditions; midday breaks on many days; warm and moderately humid in the south, occasionally cool and rainy on the plateau.