Why birding in Dalat Plateau

Situated at an elevation of 1500 m on the Dalat Plateau and home to many of Vietnam’s endemic and near-endemic bird species. The habitat is a mixture of coniferous (dominated by Benguet Pine), montane evergreen and secondary forest. The montane evergreen forest extends up to 2287 m on Mount Bi Doup and 2167 m on nearby Mount Lang Bian, the second and third highest peaks on the plateau respectively. 

The long list of endemic and near-endemic species and subspecies found in the Dalat area includes Lowe’s Green-pigeon, Red-vented, Necklaced and Annam Barbets, Dalat Shrike-babbler, Annam Minivet, Yellow-crowned Green Magpie, Langbian Tit, Annam Grasshopper-warbler, Brown-backed Bulbul, Grey-crowned Tit, Indochinese Fulvetta, Black-headed Parrobill, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Annam Streaked and Indochinese Wren-babblers, Vietnamese Cutia, Orange-breasted, Black-hooded, White-cheeked and Collared Laughingthrushes, White-spectacled Sibia, Plain Minla, Grey-crowned Crocias, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Langbian Lesser Shortwing, Langbian Sunbird, Annam Sunbird and Vietnamese Greenfinch. Other specialities of the Dalat area include Bar-backed Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Yellow-vented Green-pigeon, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Spot-bellied Eagle-owl, Rusty-naped and Blue Pittas, Maroon and Slender-billed Orioles, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Burmese Shrike, White-faced Jay, Manipur Treecreeper, Dark-sided Thrush, Green Cochoa, Large Niltava, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Spotted Forktail and Red Crossbill. 

What to see?

Bird fauna Dalat plateau – Birding in Dalat

The Dalat Plateau is one of the five endemic bird areas (EBAs) in Vietnam identified by BirdLife International. Eight of the eight restricted-range bird species that occur in this EBA, Crested Argus (Rheinardia ocellata), Yellow-billed Nuthatch (Sitta solangiae), Black-hooded Laughingthrush Garrulax milleti, White-cheeked Laughingthrush (G. vassali), Collared Laughingthrush (G. yersini), Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler / Indochinese Wren Babbler (Jabouilleia danjoui) and Vietnamese Greenfinch (Carduelis monguilloti). Grey-crowned Crocias (Crocias langbiansis).

Birding in Dalat plateau
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Birding in Dalat plateau
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Birding in Dalat plateau
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The Dalat Plateau also supports distinctive and endemic sub-species of Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Blue-winged Minla, Black-throated Sunbird and Red Crossbill, Vietnamese Cutia, Black-crowned Fuvetta, Indochinese Fulvetta, Black-headed Parrotbill. The last four among them nowadays are recognized as split species and known to be endemics  

Most highlights for Birding in Dalat plateau

Bar-backed Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Red-vented Barbet, Black-browed Barbet, Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Jerdon’s Baza, Rusty-naped Pitta, Blue Pitta, Burmese Shrike, Indochinese Green Magpie, Eurasian Jay, Slender-billed Oriole, Maroon Oriole, White-throated Rock Thrush, Green Cochoa, Rufous-browed Flycatcher, Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Lesser Shortwing, White-tailed Robin, Spotted Forktail, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Yellow-cheeked Tit.

Grey-crowned Tit, Grey-bellied Tesia, White-spectacled Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Collared Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Streaked Wren-Babbler, Eyebrowed Wren-Babbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Vietnamese Cutia, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Black-crowned Fulvetta, Indochinese Fulvetta, Grey-crowned Crocias, Rufous-backed Sibia, Black-headed Sibia, Black-headed Parrotbill, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Vietnamese Greenfinch, Red Crossbill, Brown Bullfinch.

When is the best time for birding in Dalat

Before focusing on birding we must know

Dalat Climate

Dalat features a “Tropical wet and dry or savanna” climate (Köppen classification: Aw). The highest temperature is 27.1°C (80.78°F) and the lowest is 13.6°C (56.48°F), with an average yearly temperature of 20.0°C (68.03°F). Annual rainfall averages nearly 2791.0 millimeters (109.88 inches).

Monthly Averages

Historical monthly average weather conditions for Dalat.

MonthsHigh / Low (°C)Rain
January23.4° / 14.0°7.5 days
February25.8° / 13.6°6.4 days
March27.0° / 15.0°11.9 days
April27.1° / 16.5°21.8 days
May26.3° / 17.4°29.2 days
June24.6° / 17.2°29.1 days
July23.9° / 17.2°29.5 days
August24.1° / 17.3°29.2 days
September24.0° / 17.2°29.6 days
October23.8° / 16.5°27.7 days
November23.6° / 15.8°19.0 days
December22.6° / 14.8°7.6 days

“The best time for birding in Dalat is from Nov to Apr when it is not much rain and migratory time”

Note that It will be cool, you should prepare for clothing

Where birding in Dalat

Birding routes

The cool climate, pine forests, lakes, and waterfalls make Dalat a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists; weekends and, especially, public holidays can be very busy. The Dalat area is also known throughout Vietnam for its market gardens and nurseries growing vegetables and flowers.

Many birding sites are within a few minutes’ drive from Da Lat city.

Mount Lang Bian

Only 12 km north of the city, Lang Bian mountain (also called ‘Nui Ba’) is easily reached by motorbike taxi or car. A trail leads up the mountain through the pine forest to the remaining montane evergreen forest at the summit. Vietnamese Greenfinch can be found in the pines all the way along the trail, with Red Crossbill in the pines nearer the summit. The endemic Collared Laughingthrush Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-crowned Fulvetta can be found in the evergreen forest leading up to the summit. Other interesting species found here include Green Cochoa, White-cheeked Laughingthrush, Black-throated Sunbird, and Vietnamese Cutia.

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Tuyen Lam lake

This man-made lake is just 3km outside of the city and is easily reached by motorbike or car but it is necessary to hire a boat to access the remnant forest at the far end of the lake where the best birding is to be found. There are some trails through the forest but they are poorly marked and hard to find. Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded Laughingthrush, Grey-crowned Crocias, and Vietnamese Greenfinch, Vietnamese Cutia are among the local specialties.

Ta Nung valley

This site, around 15 km from Da Lat by motorbike or car, is one of the best sites for Grey-crowned Crocias. Indochinese Green Magpie, Yellow-billed Nuthatch, Black-hooded, White-cheeked, and ‘Orange-breasted’ Laughingthrushes, and Grey-headed Parrotbill can also be seen here.

Deo Nui San

This forested mountain pass on the main road Di Linh to Phan Thiet around 80 km from Da Lat is the most reliable site for ‘Orange-breasted Laughingthrush. Blue and Rusty-naped Pittas, Green Cochoa, Black-hooded and White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Indochinese Fulvetta, and Grey-headed Parrotbill are also possible here.

Giang Ly

Giang Ly is located inside Bidoup national park, situated right on the road TL723 connects Da Lat and Nha Trang. The broadleaves forest here at 1600m asl supports habitat to almost endemic of Da Lat plateau (except Orange-breasted Laughingthrus). In additional, Indochinese Fulvetta sometimes show-up makes this spot better replace for Langbian Mt.

Cong Troi (“Heaven Gate”)

About 30 km from Da Lat city, Cong Troi is a relatively new birding spot, a newly constructed road (to Dak Lak province, and not completed yet) helps us to access this excellent birding area. Here we can find everything available on Langbian mt, and even Ta Nung, Tuyen Lam lake as well as Giang Ly. We also have built several bird-blinds at Cong Troi forest where the Collared Laughingthrush, Indochinese Wren-babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, and many other birds come close for photography.

Bidoup Mt

The highest peak (2,287m) in the core zone of Bidoup Nui Ba national park, the Indochinese Fulvetta is confined only above 1,800m on the trail to the top of the mountain. Although the Collared Laughingthrush, Green Cochoa also easy to see here, Bidoup mt is not a popular birding spot because it’s difficult logistics, we have to camp at least one night in the forest to get there.

Di Linh

Di Linh is usually referred as Deo (pass) Nui San or Deo (pass) Suoi Lanh and it can be considered as a separated birding area from Da Lat. However, all the bird species of the avifauna here can be found in Da Lat though several species are easier to locate than those in Da Lat including Vietnamese Cutia, Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, Black-headed Parrotbill, and Green Cochoa are among them.

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Tips for birding in Dalat

Transportation

Da Lat is about 6-7 hours by car/bus from Ho Chi Minh City (300 km), and 5 hours from Nha Trang on the National Highway 20. There are two fights from Sai Gon/Ha Noi to Da Lat at Lien Khuong airport.

Accommodations

Da Lat is a big tourism city, hotels from standard to 5 stars, guesthouses and restaurants everywhere.

In Di Linh town, Bao Phu hotel is the best “mini-hotel” for big birding groups while Juliet Villa is nicer, located near the forest but only able to accommodate a maximum of 6 people.

The best tour cover Birding in Dalat Plateau

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