Little known by birders around the world, the Sa Mu pass is located in the northwest Quang Tri province and belongs to Bac Huong Hoa Natural Reserve Area. The area encompassed by lowland and mid-montane evergreen forest in central Vietnam, adjacent to the international border with Laos.

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Birding in Sa Mu pass - Bac Huong Hoa Natural Reserve 10

The avifauna of reserve area is typical of the Annamese Lowlands EBA, birding in Sa Mu more than 200 species has been recorded included many important species either restrict ranged or threatened, those are:

Edwards’s Pheasant ??

Siamese Fireback

Crested Argus

Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo

Blyth’s Kingfisher

Crested Kingfisher

Austen’s Brown Hornbill

Great Hornbill

Red-collared Woodpecker

Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler

White-cheeked Laughingthrush

Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush 

How to get there and bird?

From Khe Sanh town, you follow Ho Chi Minh Tay road about 50km in 1 hour by car to reach the highest point of the pass (1,100 meters above sea level). It is worth spending at least a full morning birding around this point where the Rufous-cheeked Laughingthush is commonly seen. If you have more time, explore several trails which hope to see mystery Edwards’s Pheasant… who knows? Find a good stream habitat for scared Blyth’s Kingfisher. Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler is fairly common at lower attitude (600-800m)

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Birding in Sa Mu pass - Bac Huong Hoa Natural Reserve 11
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Birding in Sa Mu pass - Bac Huong Hoa Natural Reserve 12

Where to stay

Many mini-hotels are available in Khe Sanh town and Lao Bao town, one of the best choices is the Thai Ninh hotel which is the closest and biggest one

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