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A Report from

Vietnam, 23 July – 14 August 2003,

Jan Vermeulen


General Information
Systematic List of Birds


This is an account of a 23 days non-birding trip to Vietnam from 23 July – 14 August, where I managed to see a few birds.

I was accompanied on this trip by my sister Marlies Vermeulen, her sister-in-law Marleen Dufraing and of course my girlfriend Willemien van Ginneken


We flew to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) from Brussels via Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian  Airlines – service quite good and flight on time at a cost of € 1050. This flight took approximately 15 hours. The time difference with the Netherlands was 5 hours.


You do need a visa for Vietnam, currently € 60.


The official currency of Vietnam is the Dong. Take travelling cheques with you or cash. The exchange rate at the bank in Saigon was 16.400 Dong to US$1.


Many birdwatchers rule out third world destinations as options for holidays fearing strange food, language barriers, sickness, bugs, and galore and intense heat. They needn’t have any such reservations about Vietnam.

Bottled mineral water is widely available, stick to this and bottled soft drinks or Tiger beer.


Theft is really not a problem in Vietnam. The people are very friendly, easy going and helpful. They smile and greet you and almost without exception respond to a greeting or smile.

For vaccinations consult your own doctor for up to date advice. Generally you should be immunised or “topped up” against hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio. In addition to this you are recommended to take Malaria tablets.

We had virtually no health problems and saw surprisingly few mosquitoes, the only real nuisance being a few of leeches in Cuc Phuong National Park. Leeches are a real pest and you can pick them up not just in the forest but also in damp grass, often when you least expect it. Although there is no complete answer to the problem, as precaution wear long trousers tucked securely into your socks and spray insect repellent liberally on your clothing and shoes! If they do get on to you, you can simply flick or pull them off. They don't leave their head in you or cause infections.


Most young people speak English, but the older people speak French. Nearly everywhere English will get you through.


The main rainy season usually lasts from May to October and most birders visit Vietnam between November and April, which is the “dry “ season. However during our visit the weather was quite good throughout, with a few showers, but prolonged rain mostly at night.


Vietnam is a very easy place to travel around. The driving is entertaining unless you are the nervous type. Drivers use the horn the entire time even when the road is empty. The custom seems to be hoot and let the world know you are there.


I have decided to follow the English names of James F. Clements (Birds of the World, A CheckList, Fifth Edition, 2000).


There are no common bird species in Vietnam and outside the forested areas we visited we hardly saw any birds and the future prospects for any unprotected area look grim. For a detailed report of species and numbers please refer to the systematic list at the end of this report.



James F. Clements. Birds of the World. A Check List.
Craig Robson. A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia
Michael Walters. Complete Checklist. Vogels van de Wereld.
Nigel Wheatley. Where to watch birds in Asia.


Brian Gee. Vietnam, 7th November – 5th December 1996.
Jon Hornbuckle. Report on a birding trip to Vietnam, 24 March – 14 April 1998.
Susan Myers. Vietnam May 1999.

I relied heavily on the excellent report and incredibly detailed list of Brian Gee.



I use this software to keep track of the birds I have seen and to make lists of any country, labelling endemics and birds previously seen in that country, outside it, or both. BirdArea can produce checklists of the birds of any country of Clements’ world birds.


July 23/24        Chaam * Brussels * Amsterdam * Kuala Lumpur * Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
July 25             Mekong Delta
July 26             Ho Chi Minh City * Dalat
July 27             Mount Lang Bian
July 28             Hoy Tuyen Lam
July 29             Dalat * Nha Trang
July 30             Nha Trang
July 31             Boat trip * Mut Island – Mot Island – Tam Island
August 1         Nha Trang * Hoi An
August 2         Hoi An * My Son * boat trip – Thu Bon River * Hoi An
August 3         Hoi An * Hué
August 4         Hué
August 5         Hué
August 6         Hué – night train Hanoi
August 7         Hanoi
August 8         Hanoi * Halong Bay * Cat Ba Island
August 9         Cat Ba NP
August 10       Cat Ba Island * Halong Bay * Hanoi
August 11       Cuc Phuong NP
August 12       Cuc Phong NP
August 13       Hanoi
August 14/15  Hanoi * Kuala Lumpur * Amsterdam * Chaam

Systematic List of Birds

Chaam, 20 September 2003,                                                                                                                                                                           

If you need any help or further information, contact me at the following address and I'll try and help if I can!

Jan Vermeulen
Bredaseweg 14
4861 AH Chaam
The Netherlands
Telephone: (031) – 161 – 491327

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