WHERE and WHEN to watch birds in Indochina

The three countries have some well-known birding spots in each, beside many hotspots already known by international birders, lot of other sites are developing for nature tourism that promise to become incredible place of birding in the future.

Vietnam has the most advanced eco-tourism sites and the best-known network. In Cambodia, recent conservation work has discovered several excellent areas. Lao is still developing and birding isn’t popular yet in the country.

As the monsoon climate, the best time to visit southern Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao is during dry season (winter) during December-April, when many species are breeding, they usually active and vocal during this time, especially in the morning. The North Vietnam is a bit different, Spring occurs in March-May, the best period to visit mountainous parks to avoid misty, cold and fogy in winter or hot and humid in summer.

Vietnam

In the south, Cat Tien national park perhaps the best choice for those who want to bird for 2-4 days. Several small spots in Mekong delta including Tram Chim wetland reserve area, muddy beaches in Tien Giang or Ben Tre provinces and some bird sanctuaries are good for waterbirds and waders during migration time. Come up to montaine, Da Lat area is superb; birders can enjoy both unique birdlife and cool climate with beautiful landscape in this tourist town.

In central highland, Yok Don national park offer tourists other kind of habitats, deciduous depterocarps forest, and Serepok river here supports habitat for Mekong Wagtail. Kon Tum plateau providing excellent sites including Mang Den and Lo Xo pass, recently babblers (Chestnut-eared Laughingthrus and Black-crowned Barwing) are main targets for all birders in the World. The new road in between Kon Tum and Quang Nam provinces near Ngoc Linh mt gives us a chance to see Golden-winged Laughingthush at Mang Ri & Ngoc Lay

The lowland annamite in the central nearby Hue city, Da Nang, Hoi An… the evergreen forest in Bach Ma national park is one of the best birding spot. A bit further north, Phong Nha – Ke Bang national park provides a good limestone forest and wonder caves.

In the north, there are several excellent sites near Ha Noi. Tam Dao national park is a good montane forest where just about 1.5 hours drive from Noi Bai airport. Ba Vi mountain is also good for some good species. Cuc Phuong national park has some best limestone forest. In the very north, Sa Pa - Fansipan region will introduce birders Himalayan avifauna and Ba Be national park is for those who keen to see White-eared Night-heron.

Cambodia

Birding information booklet

Around Siem Reap, several excellent birding sites are home to Sam Veasna Center for Conservation (SVC).  Ang Trapeang Tmor, the Sarus Crane reserve area is just about 2 hours drive. It has excellent small wetland and grassland habitats. Prek Toal in the core of Tonle Sap supporting breeding colonies of large waterbirds.  Following road 6 Siem Reap – Phnompenh, a grassland near Kompong Thom providing good habitat for Bengal Florican and also many grass-birds, crakes. Tmatboey locates on the east perhaps the best spot in Cambodia, both mythical Ibises are found during dry season. A village named Kampi nearby Kratie is one of the best site to see Irrawady Dolphin, you also find Mekong Wagtail here while searching for dolphin.

Laos

As mentioned, Lao is still developing and birding here is difficult. Only the best-known is Nahin, a village locates on the road 8 leading to Vietnam, this spot supports a population of a very recently describe species, Bare-faced Bulbul. Beside, near-endemic taxa Sooty Babbler and Limestone Warbler and rare Red-collared Woodpecker can be encountered.