Welcome to our comprehensive guide to wildlife watching in Vietnam! If you are a first-time visitor to this beautiful country and want to experience its incredible biodiversity, this guide is for you. I will cover everything you need to know about primate, amphibian and reptile, and insect and butterfly watching tours in Vietnam, including the best places to go, the unique species you can see, the best time to visit, and how to make the most of your wildlife watching experience. Let’s dive in and explore the wonders of Vietnamese wildlife!
See also for birding here: Birdwatching in Vietnam – A Comprehensive Guide for First-Time Visitors
Why Wildlife Watching in Vietnam is Unique
Wildlife watching in Vietnam is unique for several reasons, especially when it comes to primates, reptiles and amphibians, butterflies, and insects. Vietnam has a diverse range of ecosystems, from lush rainforests to mountainous regions, which provide habitat to a variety of species.
Vietnam is home to some of the world’s rarest primates, including the Delacour’s langur and Cat Ba langur, both of which are critically endangered. These primates are found only in Vietnam and are a sight to behold in the wild.
Vietnam is also home to a variety of reptiles and amphibians, including the king cobra, the Chinese softshell turtle, and the world’s largest cave, Hang Son Doong, which is home to its own ecosystem of cave-adapted species.
The butterfly and insect population in Vietnam is also diverse, with over 25,000 species of insects and over 1,300 species of butterflies recorded. Many of these species are unique to Vietnam and can be found in the country’s various ecosystems.
Vietnam’s unique wildlife makes it an ideal destination for wildlife-watching enthusiasts who want to witness rare and exotic species in their natural habitats.
Planning Your Wildlife Watching Trip to Vietnam
Importance thing when planning a Wildlife-watching trip to Vietnam, there are several factors to consider to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. One of the most important factors to consider is the best time to go Wildlife watching in Vietnam.
- For wildlife watchers interested in primates, the best time to visit Vietnam is during the dry season, from December to April. This is when the forests are less dense, and the primates are more active and easier to spot. Some of the popular primate species to see in Vietnam include the black-shanked Douc, red-shanked Douc, and the Cat Ba Langur.
- For those interested in amphibians and reptiles, the rainy season from May to October is the best time to visit Vietnam. During this time, the amphibians and reptiles are more active, and Their breeding season begins. Some of the unique species found in Vietnam include the Chinese crocodile lizard, Annam flying frog, and the Vietnamese mossy frog.
- If you are interested in insects and butterflies, the best time to visit Vietnam is from May to September. This is the peak season for insect activity, and you can see a wide variety of species, including butterflies, beetles, and moths. The Cat Tien National Park and the Cuc Phuong National Park are popular spots to see these insects and butterflies.
Another important factor to consider when planning your Wildlife watching trip to Vietnam is visa requirements. Many nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam, and it is essential to ensure that you have the proper documentation before your trip. You can check the visa requirements for your country online or consult with a travel agent or embassy to determine the necessary documentation.
Read more about Apply Vietnam Visa Online
Budget is also a crucial consideration when planning a Wildlife watching trip to Vietnam. The cost of travel, accommodations, and tours can add up quickly, so it is essential to establish a budget and plan accordingly. There is various wildlife-watching option like Private tour, park tour, fix-date tour, and guide tour, it is a good idea to research and compare different options to find the best fit for your needs.
Top 10 Wildlife Watching Hotspots in Vietnam
Wildlife watching hotspot in North Vietnam
Cuc Phuong National Park: This park is home to a variety of primates, including the critically endangered Delacour’s langur, as well as a wide range of reptiles and amphibians.
Cat Ba National Park: This park is located on an island in Ha Long Bay and is home to the highly endangered Cat Ba langur. The park is also home to a variety of reptiles and amphibians, as well as several species of butterflies and insects.
Wildlife watching hotspot in Central & Central Highland of Vietnam
Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its limestone caves, but it’s also home to a variety of primates, including the black-shanked douc langur, as well as a wide range of reptiles and amphibians.
Bach Ma National Park: This park is located in central Vietnam and is home to a variety of primates, including the Indochinese silvered langur. It’s also home to several species of butterflies and insects.
Son Tra Peninsula: This peninsula near Da Nang is home to the endangered red-shanked douc langur, as well as a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
Takou Nature Reserve: This reserve in southern Vietnam is home to several species of primates, including the black-shanked douc langur, as well as a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park: This park in the central highlands is home to several species of primates, including the gray-shanked douc langur, as well as a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
Wildlife watching hotspot in South Vietnam
Cat Tien National Park: This park in southern Vietnam is home to several species of primates, including the endangered golden-cheeked gibbon, as well as a wide range of reptiles and amphibians.
Con Dao National Park: This park is located on an archipelago off the coast of southern Vietnam and is home to several species of primates, including the endemic Con Dao langur. It’s also home to a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
Phu Quoc National Park: This park is located on an island off the coast of southern Vietnam and is home to several species of primates, including the endangered Phu Quoc langur, as well as a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
10 Unique wildlife Species Found Only in Vietnam
9 unique Primates of Vietnam
- Delacour’s langur
- Cat Ba langur
- Grey-shanked douc langur
- Tonkin snub-nosed monkey
- Red-shanked douc langur
- Black-shanked douc langur
- Hatinh langur
- Pygmy loris
- Bengal slow loris
Read more about Primates of Vietnam here
10 unique Reptiles & Amphibians of Vietnam
- Vietnamese crocodile lizard
- Vietnamese leaf turtle
- Tonkin bug-eyed frog
- Annam flying frog
- Vietnamese salamander
- Sapa frog
- Horned mountain toad
- Giant gecko
- Ke Go gecko
- Vietnamese mossy frog
10 unique Insects & Butterflies of Vietnam
- Atlas moth
- Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing-butterfly
- Purple emperor butterfly
- Giant robber fly
- Stick insect
- Jewel beetle
- Giant water bug
- Goliath beetle
- Lantern fly
- Spider-tailed horned viper
Read more about the Insects & Butterflies of Vietnam here
Essential Equipment for First-Time Wildlife Watching in Vietnam
When preparing for Wildlife watching in Vietnam, it is important to have the right equipment to make the most of your experience. Here are some essential equipment items for first-time Wildlife watching in Vietnam
Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars is crucial for spotting and observing birds in their natural habitat. Look for binoculars with a magnification of at least 8x or 10x and a wide field of view.
Wildlife-books: A field guidebook can help you identify the wildlife you see on your trip.
- Field Guide to the Mammals of South-East Asia (2nd Edition) by Charles Francis (buy on Amazon)
- Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia by Indraneil Das (buy on Amazon)
Apps and helpful websites: In addition to a field guidebook, there are also many apps and websites available for your smartphone that can help you identify wildlife during the Vietnam wildlife tour
- Reptile: https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/
- Amphibians: https://amphibiansoftheworld.amnh.org/
- iNaturalist apps: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/seek_app
- Google lens: https://lens.google
Camera: A camera with a telephoto lens can help you capture high-quality photos of the primate you see or a macro lens is for your reptiles, amphibians, insects, and butterflies.
Clothing: Wildlife Watching in Vietnam will reach many diverse weather conditions from Hot and Humid to really cool, depending on your destination on the schedule to prepare.
Read more about Vietnam’s weather condition
Insect-repellent: Insect repellent is essential in Vietnam to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other biting insects. Look for a product with at least 20% DEET for maximum protection.
Best Wildlife Watching Tours in Vietnam Based on Your Schedule
Primate watching tours (1 day to 14 days)
Primate-watching tours in Vietnam can range from one day to two weeks or more, depending on the specific areas you want to visit and the level of primate-watching you are looking for. Some popular options include the Cat Tien National Park, where you can see gibbons, langurs, and other primates in their natural habitat. Another option is the Son Tra Nature Reserve in Da Nang, where you can spot the rare red-shanked douc langur and other primates. Longer tours can also include visits to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and Cuc Phuong National Park.
Reptile & Amphibian watching tours (1 day to 10 days)
Reptile and amphibian watching tours typically range from one to ten days, and offer a unique opportunity to see some of Vietnam’s rarest and most fascinating creatures up close. Some popular destinations for these tours include the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex and the Cat Ba National Park, where you can see a variety of snakes, lizards, and frogs. Longer tours may also include visits to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park and the Bach Ma National Park.
Butterfly & Insect watching tour (Combination Tours)
Butterfly and insect-watching tours in Vietnam are typically combined with bird-watching tours, as many of the same habitats attract both types of wildlife. Some popular destinations for these tours include the Cuc Phuong National Park and the Cat Tien National Park, where you can see a variety of butterflies, beetles, and other insects in their natural habitats.
Types of Wildlife Watching Tours in Vietnam
General Private Wildlife Watching Tours are the most popular option for birders in Vietnam. These tours are private and all-inclusive, so you can simply book a tour and enjoy your wildlife experience without any worries.
If you have a specific list of wildlife you want to see in Vietnam or if you want to combine wildlife with other activities, then a custom tour is the best option. You can work with a tour operator to create a customized itinerary that meets your specific needs and preferences.
Guide Wildlife Tours are another great option, providing you with an expert guide and a private car for a more personalized and cost-effective experience. This option is ideal for those who prefer a more private and customized tour, while still having the guidance of an expert.
For a more immersive and local experience, you can opt for Local Wildlife Tours. These tours provide you with a local guide and other services at popular National Parks in Vietnam. This is a great option for those who want to explore eco spots that are less known to the general public.
Finally, Fit-dated Tours are perfect for those who want to join an open tour with an expert guide and other guests. These tours are designed to fit specific dates and provide the best chance to see the wildlife during the optimal season. By sharing the tour with a small group of 3-6 people, you can save on costs while still enjoying a great experience.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts in Vietnam and How to Contribute
Wildlife conservation efforts in Vietnam are crucial to protect the unique biodiversity of the country, which is threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and illegal wildlife trade. Several organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, are working to conserve Vietnam’s wildlife and habitats.
One of the most prominent organizations in Vietnam is the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNForest), which oversees the conservation and management of Vietnam’s forests and wildlife. The government has also established several protected areas, such as national parks, wildlife reserves, and natural reserves, to safeguard the country’s wildlife and habitats.
There are also various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work to conserve wildlife in Vietnam, such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV). These organizations run various conservation projects, such as protecting endangered species, combating wildlife crime, and promoting sustainable livelihoods for local communities.
Individuals can contribute to wildlife conservation efforts in Vietnam by supporting these organizations through donations, volunteering, and spreading awareness about wildlife conservation issues. It is also important to be responsible and ethical travelers by avoiding activities that harm wildlife, such as wildlife trafficking and consuming products made from endangered species. By working together, we can help conserve Vietnam’s unique wildlife for future generations.
Why Vietnam Should Be Your Next Wildlife Watching Destination.
Vietnam is a truly unique destination for wildlife watching, offering a diverse array of primate species, reptiles and amphibians, and butterflies and insects. Whether you’re a seasoned wildlife enthusiast or a first-time visitor, Vietnam’s national parks and reserves are sure to leave you in awe of the natural world.
But it’s not just about seeing these incredible creatures. It’s also about protecting them for future generations. Vietnam has made strides in recent years to protect its wildlife, but more work needs to be done. You can help support conservation efforts by choosing responsible tour operators, avoiding products made from endangered species, and supporting organizations that work to protect Vietnam’s wildlife.
So why not make Vietnam your next wildlife-watching destination and see these incredible creatures in their natural habitat? Not only will you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but you’ll also be contributing to the conservation of Vietnam’s unique and precious wildlife.