Tram Chim National Park is an eco-tourist area known as a “green island” with a typical natural landscape of the submerged region of Dong Thap Muoi. The park is home to many botanical species and nearly 200 species of water birds which account for about a quarter of the birds in Vietnam. This includes many rare and precious species of water birds. Among them, the most well-known are the red-headed cranes, one of 15 endangered species of cranes in the world. Nearly 60% of the population of red-headed cranes resides in Tram Chim National Park.
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City arrival (Dinner, Guide)
Arriving at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before a Welcome dinner. You will then enjoy a water puppet show, an art form in which puppets are suspended over water, directed by puppet masters who must sit semi-submerged for hours at a time. The tradition of water puppetry is at least 1,000 years old, originating with peasants in the Red River Delta of the north. The puppets, which the French used to call “the souls of the Vietnamese rice fields,” are made of the water-resistant wood of the fig tree and depict villagers, farm animals, dragons, and more. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City - Cao Lanh - Tam Nong (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
After breakfast, you’ll leave the urban skyline of Ho Chi Minh City to travel to Cao Lanh by road, crossing the Bassac and Upper Mekong rivers on the way. You’ll board a boat to visit Rung Tram Forest, Tam Nong National Park and Wetland Reserve - home to over 200 resident and migratory species, including endangered species such as the Sarus Crane, Oriental Darter, lesser Adjutant, Painted Stork and Asian Golden Weaver. Other species include Cotton Pigmy Goose, Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Greater Painted Snipe.
Day 3: Tam Nong - Ho Chi Minh City (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
For this morning’s bird watching, a time when many kinds of bird are flying out from their nests in the daily search for food. Between January and May, you may be lucky enough to encounter the rare red-headed cranes that migrate between Tam Nong and Cambodia. In the afternoon, you’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City for your overnight accommodation.
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City - Nam Cat Tien (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
In the morning, your driver will take you to Nam Cat Tien National Park. After checking in at your guest house and lunch in the park centre’s canteen, you’ll drive to the nearby Ben Ngu area. There, you’ll wander around the massive trees, dripping with vines, and visit the rapids (water level permitting). You’ll then return to the park centre for dinner and an hour-long ‘Night Safari’ tour. Your overnight accommodation will be in the park guesthouse.
About 150km from Ho Chi Minh City, Nam Cat Tien is one of Vietnam’s largest protected areas – a complicated network of wetlands and tropical forest nearly 74,000 hectares in two sections bisected by a river, the larger about fifty or sixty kilometres across in both directions. Its bio-diversity is considerable with over fifty endangered species listed in the ‘Red Book’ including the Javan Rhinoceros, the Siamese Crocodile and the Indochina Tiger. Of particular interest is its large bird population – well over three hundred species have been identified so far, which include Germain’s Peacock Pheasant, Grey-faced Tit Babbler, Orange-necked partridge, and endangered water birds such as Lesser Adjutant, White-winged Duck and White-shouldered Ibis.
Day 5: Nam Cat Tien (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
After breakfast, you’ll be driven for 9 km in a Jeep, then hike for a further three kilometres through the rainforest to Crocodile Lake – hopefully encountering some of the indigenous wild fauna during your trek.
You’ll be able to watch the birds and wildlife around the lake. From your hide, you’re likely to see monkeys, deer and other small mammals and, if you have a good pair of binoculars, there’s a chance of spotting less familiar fauna, such as the Siamese crocodiles after which the lake is named.
You’ll then hike back to the main road and drive seven kilometres westwards for another one-kilometre hike along the forest trail to the giant Ficus Tree, which covers over two hectares. Your overnight accommodation will be in the park guesthouse.
There are several trails through the forest. Although, for conservation reasons, they avoid the deeper areas that are the habitat of the rarer species, they are well designed and offer good opportunities to see a wide range of flora, fauna and birdlife. The best time to visit Nam Cat Tien National Park is during the dry season, from December to late May.
The Bird Lake is a good alternative for Crocodile Lake for those who like bird watching. The best time for bird watching is from February to April.
The flora in the Ficus Tree area was heavily depleted by defoliation during the war, thus allowing fast growing bamboo to take over. Somehow, the Ficus tree that you will see has survived, and become one of the most spectacular trees in the park.
Day 6: Nam Cat Tien - Dalat (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
In the early morning, a cruise down Dong Nai River aboard a motor boat will take you to Ta Lai village to visit the farms and houses of S’Tieng and Chau Ma ethnic minorities. You’ll then return to the park centre for lunch, and depart for your next destination, Dalat.
The people of Ta Lai village are now committed to protecting the forest by returning to their traditional weaving skills instead of hunting and logging. If you wish, you can lend support to the sustainability of this development by purchasing their produce.
Day 7: Dalat (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll be driven to Ta Nung valley. This site, around 15 km from Dalat, is one of the best sites for many precious birds like the Grey-crowned Crocias, Indochinese Green Magpie, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded, White-cheeked and Orange-breasted Laughingthrushes, and the Grey-headed Parrotbill. In the afternoon, you will return to the city centre, with the rest of the day free at leisure. You’ll spend the night in Dalat.
Day 8: Dalat (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
In addition to the wonderful Ta Nung Valley, there are two other important birding sites around Dalat - Mount Lang Bian and Ho Tuyen Lam.
Mount Lang Biang, is a 2,169 m high peak 20 minutes by road from Dalat. Wintering Mugimaki Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Grey-crowned Tit, Vietnamese Cutia, Black-crowned Fulvetta and Vietnamese Greenfinch can be found in the pine and montane evergreen forest here. The most sought-after species at Lang Bian, however, is the beautiful and skulking endemic Collared Laughingthrush.
Ho Tuyen Lam is a man-made lake, just 3 km from the centre of town. At the far end of the lake there are tracks leading through the pines to areas of remnant tropical evergreen forest. Burmese Shrike, Slender-billed Oriole, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Vietnamese Cutia, Red Crossbill and Vietnamese Greenfinch can be found amongst the pines, whilst the evergreen forest is home to Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded, White-cheeked and Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Grey-crowned Crocias and Black-crowned Parrotbill amongst others. You’ll spend the night in Dalat.
Day 9: Dalat - Hanoi (Breakfast, Guide)
After breakfast, you will be free until the driver arrives to take you to the airport to take the flight to Hanoi. Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel, the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. North of the lake are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there. Much of the city was transformed by the French when it became a French protectorate in the 1880s and there are wide boulevards and large colonial buildings which are now home to government departments and foreign embassies. You will spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 10: Ha Noi - Van Long - Cuc Phuong (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
In the morning, you’ll drive to Cuc Phuong National Park, south of Hanoi. En-route, you’ll pause at Van Long Nature Reserve where you’ll travel in traditional Vietnamese style with a sampan ride through the flooded rice fields, which lead to the dramatic limestone cliffs, home to the largest population of one of Vietnam’s critically endangered primates, Delacour’s Langur. There are also large numbers of water birds at Van Long including several species of ducks, waders, bitterns, herons and egrets as well as White-browed Crake and a raptor or two.
In the afternoon, you’ll continue your drive to Cuc Phuong Forest National Park to visit the Primate Rescue Centre and the Botanical Garden. Your overnight stay will be in a guesthouse in the park’s headquarters.
The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre is a temporary home for many gibbons and langurs that have been injured, or orphaned by poachers. Among them are two of the rarest species in the world, Delacour’s Langur, confined to two or three spots in north Vietnam, and the elegant Cat Ba Golden Langur, now reduced to a colony of around 50 individuals in Cat Ba Island National Park. Strenuous efforts are being made to conserve both species. When those in the rescue centre have regained their strength, a carefully staged programme will release them into the wild.
Day 11: Cuc Phuong National Park (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
The first national park to be established in Vietnam, Cuc Phuong is an area of limestone hills covered in primary rainforest. The best birding is in the centre of the park where there are several excellent trails including the Loop Trail and the Valley Trail. The main road through the park can also be very productive especially for seeing over-wintering thrushes early in the morning. At the park, you can enjoy one or two full-day programmes to search for Cuc Phuong specialities such as Pied Falconet, Bar-bellied, Blue-rumped and Eared Pitta, Silver-breasted Broadbill, White-winged Magpie, White-tailed Flycatcher, Fujian Niltava and Limestone Wren-Babbler. Your overnight stay will be in a guesthouse in the park’s head quarters.
You may consider an optional ‘night spotting mini-safari' (if weather permits). In the late evening, you'd set off into the primary forest, an opportunity to see the park's nocturnal dwellers: the Black Giant Squirrel, the Indian flying Squirrel, Samba deer, the Slow Loris and several other small carnivores.
Day 12: Cuc Phuong National Park - Tam Dao (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
After breakfast, you’ll drive northward to Tam Dao. After check-in to your hotel, you’ll have a half-day to explore the forest above Tam Dao. Winter visitors that are possible sightings here include Black-breasted Thrush, Japanese Thrush and Fujian Niltava. You’ll spend the night in Tam Dao.
Day 13: Tam Dao - Hanoi (Breakfast, Lunch, Guide)
There are several good trails in the hills above the town, of which the Water Tank Trail and the Radio Transmitter Trail in particular are normally quite productive. Species to look out for here include the Grey Laughingthrush, Chestnut Bulbul, Black-chinned Yuhina and Fork-tailed Sunbird. During mid afternoon, you’ll drive back to Hanoi for your overnight accommodation. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
Day 14: Hanoi Departure (Breakfast, Driver Pickup)
Your time will be your own until your private car and driver arrives to take you to the airport in good time for your departure flight.
- Free Vietnam Visa invitation letter.
- Private door-to-door pick-up & drop-off services.
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
- Domestic flight tickets: Dalat - Hanoi, including domestic airport taxes.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants
- All sightseeing tickets.
- VAT and other taxes
- 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Travel insurance
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Vietnam visa stamp fee
- Other services not mentioned above.