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A Report from

Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong 1995,

Tony Coatsworth

What to take Where and when to go Health Travel Accomodation

What to take

If you travel a lot on buses and boats you want to take as little as possible. For a six week trip, we each took a large rucksack for clothes and a small pack for day use. We used the small packs on our 'trek' in Thailand and left the big packs at the guesthouse.

In Vietnam, US Dollar bills were very handy and you could get crazy rates of exchange. I was briefly a millionaire when I changed a hundred dollars.

Lightweight walking boots are a necessity for slogging through the forests. Otherwise a minimum of clothes is required - most hotels can do laundry within 24 hours

A Swiss Army Penknife, a money belt, a water bottle and a few medical supplies are about the only other essentials

We both have Opticron 10 x 42 binoculars - the 'High Resolution' and Sequoiah models. A telescope would have been handy at Krabi and Mai Po in Hong Kong for identifying waders.

'A guide to the birds of Thailand' by Lekagul and Round is all you need. However this was very expensive in the UK and I managed to get it in Bangkok for 880 Baht at the time.

Where and when to go

This was our first trip to the Far East and we mainly went sight-seeing and to visit a friend in Hong Kong. Work really dictated that we took our holidays March/April time which was Ok weather-wise but not the best for bird-watching.


In Bangkok, like any capital city, there are few bird-watching opportunities. However at Wat Arun and the Grand Palace there are a few gardens. Lumphini park is a little patch of green amongst the sky-scrapers which would be promising early morning. Around Chiang Mai in the north, Doi Inthanon National Park was very good. Shop around for the 'treks' though. We were persuaded into going on one where the guide was more keen on rushing on to the village bar rather than waiting to look at birds. Ask around and if possible, go on your own or with a group of other birders.

In the south, at Krabi it is essential to go on a boat trip with the famous 'Mr Dai'. In a few hours we saw more birds with him than the rest of the holiday altogether. You can book from the quayside restaurant and he takes you into the Mangrove swamps and mud flats in a small boat. He can whistle up various species including the elusive Mangrove Pitta, Ruddy Kingfisher and Masked Finfoot.


Bit of a bird desert, with the after effects of the War and people trapping anything that moves, there are not many birds here at all. Fascinating place for a holiday though. The only real birdy spot we found was Bha Ho waterfalls, a few kilometres south of Nha Trang off the main highway. We saw Blue Whistling Thrush there. Also in thick fog in Hanoi we experienced a fall of Siberian Stonechats which seemed to be in every bush.

Hong Kong

Mai Po marshes is the main birding attraction in Hong Kong. However you do need to get permits and unfortunately our friend over there just got us on the tourist trip, which was full of shouting locals pointing at the mainland. I've no idea what the situation is now - there was talk of filling the whole thing in for a container depot but I'm hopeful that with International pressure it will be preserved as a Reserve.


Common sense dictates that you stick to bottled water and watch what you eat. Otherwise we took no special precautions apart from the recommended jabs.


We flew Manchester - Dubai - Bangkok and returned Hong Kong - Dubai - Manchester flying with Emirates Airlines. Pretty good flights with individual video screens which give you a choice of in-flight movies. Reasonable food as well but a bit mean with the drinks, still at least you know where Mecca is all the time with the handy moving map.

Bangkok is one giant traffic jam, but the water buses are brilliant although you have to be quick jumping off and on as they don't hang around.

We went from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by the overnight bus - not for the faint hearted. Our bus had numerous dents in it and we also saw a dead body on the road. We arrived at 7 am black and blue - needless to say we flew back.

From Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and Saigon - Nha Trang - Hanoi we flew with Vietnam Airlines who lease planes off Thai Air - fantastic in-flight meals of Crispy Duck. From Hanoi to Hong Kong we were fortunate to fly into the old airport which was a real experience swerving round skyscrapers then screeching to a halt before you end up in the sea.


Thailand is totally geared up for backpackers and touts will approach you all the time with offers of accomodation. Phuket was horrible but we went across to Phi Phi Island where there are no vehicles and a bit more laid back. You can also see the coral reef just out from the beach which saves going on organised 'cruises'. I expect this will all change this year as the film 'The Beach' is released which was filmed there, and the whole place gets totally commercialised. Every inch of the 'James Bond' island featured in 'The Man with the Golden Gun' is covered in trinket stalls.

Vietnam is a little bit harder as fewer people speak English, especially in the north. Also the food gets progressively worse as you head north but there's always baguettes and cheese. (also the cheapest beer I've ever come across)

Hong Kong was fantastically expensive in comparison although we were staying with a friend on Discovery Bay. After the handover in 1997 and the economic crisis things may well have totally changed.

Thailand, Vietnam & Hong Kong 12/3/95 - 17/4/95

Species seen during our holiday starting in Bangkok, round Thailand and then up Vietnam to Hong Kong. All sites are in Thailand unless otherwise stated. The 'trek' was a three day trip from Chiang Mai - one and a half days walking in the forest, then a day downstream on a raft.

The naming convention is taken from 'An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region' by Inskipp, Lindsey and Duckworth.


1   Red Junglefowl               Gallus gallus           17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
2   Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Picoides canicapillus   17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
3   Streak-breasted Woodpecker   Picus viridanus         28/03/95 Krabi
4   Coppersmith Barbet           Meglalaima haemacephala 31/03/95 Wat Arun, Bangkok
5   Red-headed Trogon          Harpactes erythrocephalus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
6   Dollarbird                   Eurystomus orientalis   28/03/95 Krabi
7   Common Kingfisher            Alcedo atthis           17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
8   Brown Winged Kingfisher      Halcyon amauroptera     28/03/95 Krabi
9   Ruddy Kingfisher             Halcyon coromanda       28/03/95 Krabi
10  White Throated Kingfisher    Halcyon smyrnensis      17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
11  Black Capped Kingfisher      Halcyon pileata         28/03/95 Krabi
12  Blue-throated Bee-eater      Merops viridis          28/03/95 Krabi
13  Blue-tailed Bee-eater        Merops philippinus      08/04/95 Suoi Tien, Nha Trang, Vietnam
14  Plaintive Cuckoo             Cacomantis merulinus    04/04/95 Tay Ninh, Vietnam
15  Chestnut-bellied Malkoha   Phaenicophaeus sumatranus 28/03/95 Krabi
16  Greater Coucal               Centropus sinensis      17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
17  Lesser Coucal                Centropus bengalensis   30/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket
18  Himalayan Swiftlet           Aerodramus brevirostris 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
19  Edible-nest Swiftlet         Aerodramus fuciphagus   24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket
20  Asian Palm Swift             Cypsiurus batasiensis   14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok
21  House Swift                  Apus affinis            13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok
22  Spotted Dove                 Streptopelia chinensis  13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok
23  Red-collared Dove         Streptopelia tranquibarica 31/03/95 Wat Arun, Bangkok
24  Masked Finfoot               Heliopais personata     28/03/95 Krabi
25  White-breasted Water Hen     Amaurornis phoenicurus  17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
26  Common Moorhen               Gallinula chloropus     17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
27  Black Tailed Godwit          Limosa limosa           28/03/95 Krabi
28  Whimbrel                     Numenius phaeopus       24/03/95 Phuket Docks
29  Western Curlew               Numenius arquata        26/03/95 Krabi
30  Common Greenshank            Tringa nebularia        28/03/95 Krabi
31  Wood Sandpiper               Tringa glareola         11/04/95 Ba Ho, Nha Trang, Vietnam
32  Terek Sandpiper              Xenus cinereus          28/03/95 Krabi
33  Common Sandpiper             Actitis hypoleucos      24/03/95 Phuket Docks
34  Ruddy Turnstone              Arenaria interpres      28/03/95 Krabi
35  Great Knot                   Calidris tenuirostris   28/03/95 Krabi
36  Red Knot                     Calidris canutus        28/03/95 Krabi
37  Pacific Golden Plover        Pluvialis fulva         28/03/95 Krabi
38  Kentish Plover               Charadrius alexandrinus 28/03/95 Krabi
39  Lesser Crested Tern          Thalasseus bengalensis  26/03/95 Krabi
40  Great Crested Tern           Thalasseus bergii       24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket
41  Black-naped Tern             Sterna sumatrana        24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket
42  Common Tern                  Sterna hirundo          24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket
43  Little Tern                  Sterna albifrons        28/03/95 Krabi
44  Black Kite                   Milvus migrans          17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
45  Brahminy Kite                Haliastur indus         23/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket
46  White-bellied Sea Eagle      Haliaeetus leucogaster  29/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket
47  Little Grebe                 Tachybaptus ruficollis  17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
48  Great Cormorant              Phalacrocorax carbo     17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
49  Little Egret                 Egretta garzetta        28/03/95 Krabi
50  Chinese Egret                Egretta eulophotes      28/03/95 Krabi
51  Pacific Reef Egret           Egretta sacra           24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket
52  Grey Heron                   Ardea cinerea           17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
53  Great Egret                  Egretta alba            26/03/95 Krabi
54  Intermediate Egret           Egretta intermedia      08/04/95 Suoi Tien, Nha Trang, Vietnam
55  Cattle Egret                 Bubulcus ibis           28/03/95 Krabi
56  Chinese Pond Heron           Ardeola bacchus         28/03/95 Krabi
57  Little Heron                 Butroides striatus      17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
58  Lesser Frigatebird           Fregata ariel           24/03/95 Phi Phi Island, Phuket
59  Mangrove Pitta               Pitta megarhyncha       28/03/95 Krabi
60  Brown Shrike                 Lanius cristatus        08/04/95 Nha Trang, Vietnam
61  Black-billed Magpie          Pica pica               17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
62  Large-billed Crow            Corvus macrorhynchos    14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok
63  Ashy Woodswallow             Artamus fuscus          19/03/95 Chiang Mai
64  Scarlet Minivet              Pericrocotus flammeus   20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
65  Black Drongo                 Dicrurus macrocercus    17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
66  Ashy Drongo                  Dicrurus leucophaeus    17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
67  Bronzed Drongo               Dicrurus aeneus         20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
68  Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo  Dicrurus remifer        17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
69  Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus     28/03/95 Krabi
70  Blue Rock Thrush             Monticola solitarius    15/04/95 Discovery Bay, Hong Kong
71  Blue Whistling Thrush        Myiophoneus caeruleus   11/04/95 Ba Ho, Nha Trang, Vietnam
72  White-browed Shortwing       Brachypteryx montana    20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
73  Brown Flycatcher             Muscicapa dauurica      28/03/95 Krabi
74  Oriental Magpie-Robin        Copsychus saularis      13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok
75  Slaty-backed Forktail        Enicurus schistaceus    17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
76  Siberian Stonechat           Saxicola maura          14/04/95 Hanoi, Vietnam
77  Black-collared Starling      Sturnus nigricollis     17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
78  Common Myna                  Acridotheres tristis    13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok
79  White Vented Myna            Acridotheres cinereus   19/03/95 Chiang Mai
80  Brown-throated Treecreeper   Certhia discolor        20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
81  Dusky Crag Martin            Hirundo concolor        26/03/95 Krabi
82  Barn Swallow                 Hirundo rustica         13/03/95 Grand Palace, Bangkok
83  Pacific Swallow              Hirundo tahitica        23/03/95 Kata Beach, Phuket
84  Wire Tailed Swallow          Hirundo smithii         04/04/95 Tay Ninh, Vietnam
85  Red Rumped Swallow           Hirundo daurica         27/03/95 Krabi
86  Asian House Martin           Delichon dasypus        11/04/95 Ba Ho, Nha Trang, Vietnam
87  Black-crested Bulbul         Pycnonotus melanicterus 17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
88  Red-whiskered Bulbul         Pycnonotus jocosus      15/03/95 Chiang Mai
89  Light-vented Bulbul          Pycnonotus sinensis     17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
90  Red-vented Bulbul            Pycnonotus cafer        17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
91  Streak-eared Bulbul          Pycnonotus blanfordi    14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok
92  Mountain Bulbul              Hypsipetes mcclellandii 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
93  Oriental White-eye           Zosterops palpebrosa    13/04/95 Nha Trang, Vietnam
94  Common Tailorbird            Orthotomus sutorius     17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong
95  Dark-necked Tailorbird       Orthotomus atrogularis  08/04/95 Nha Trang, Vietnam
96  Ashy Tailorbird              Orthotomus sepium       28/03/95 Krabi
97  Yellow-browed Warbler        Phylloscopus inornatus  20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
98  Greenish Warbler           Phylloscopus trochiloides 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
99  Masked Laughing-Thrush       Garrulax perspicillatus 15/04/95 Discovery Bay, Hong Kong
100 Red Faced Liocichla          Liocichla phoenicea     20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
101 Rufous-winged Fulvetta       Alcippe castaneceps     20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
102 Grey-cheeked Fulvetta        Alcippe morrisonia      20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
103 Rufous-backed Sibia          Heterophasia annectens  20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
104 Black-headed Sibia          Heterophasia melanoleuca 20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
105 Orange-bellied Flowerpecker  Dicaeum trigonostigma   27/03/95 Phang Nga, Krabi
106 Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker  Dicaeum cruentatum      14/03/95 Lumphini Park,Bangkok
107 Brown-Throated Sunbird       Anthreptes malacensis   28/03/95 Krabi
108 Olive-backed Sunbird         Nectarinia jugularis    17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
109 Green-tailed Sunbird         Aethopyga nipalensis    20/03/95 Doi Inthanon Nat. Park
110 Tree Sparrow                 Passer montanus         12/03/95 Bangkok Airport
111 Plain-backed Sparrow         Passer flaveolus        02/04/95 Ho Chi Minh City
112 Grey Wagtail                 Motacillia cinerea      17/03/95 Mae Taeng - Trek
113 Richard's Pipit              Anthus novaeseelandiae  08/04/95 Suoi Tien, Nha Trang, Vietnam
114 Olive-backed Pipit           Anthus hodgsoni         19/03/95 Chiang Mai
115 Black-faced Bunting          Emberiza spodocephala   17/04/95 Mai Po, Hong Kong

If anyone wants further information, please E-Mail me at

The Birds of Thailand
Craig Robson: Buy from

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A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia
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