Vietnam - December 2023/January 2024

In December 2023 - January 2024, my wife and I spent 4 weeks in Vietnam.

Below is the program of our trip. We started in the south in Ho Chi Minh City, then visited the nearby Mekong Delta, took a flight to Hoi An in Central Vietnam, explored this area for a week, took a flight north and stayed several days in Hanoi, Lan Ha Bay, Cat Ba Island and Tam Coc near Ninh Binh.


Day 1 Mon 18-12 Departure Amsterdam, The Netherlands (15:15); arrival Doha, Qatar (23:35).
Day 2 Tue 19-12 Departure Doha (02:00); arrival Ho Chi Minh City (13:10), Taxi from airport to Liam Apartments in Ho Chi Minh City (VND 500K), night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 3 Wed 20-12 Day in Ho Chi Minh City, night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 4 Thu 21-12 Visit to tunnels of Cu Chi Tunnels Ben Duoc, night in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 5 Fri 22-12 Taxi (11:00) Ho Chi Minh City to Hotel Hong Thai Riverside Homestay in Ben Tre province, Mekong Delta (2 hours) (VND 1.100K), afternoon private boat tour, night in Ben Tre province.
Day 6 Sat 23-12 Taxi to Mango Riverside Resort. Day at resort. Night in Ben Tre province.
Day 7 Sun 24-12 Bike tour rice fields, night in Ben Tre province.
Day 8 Mon 25-12 Bike tour rice fields, afternoon resort swimming pool, visit Ben Tre city, night in Ben Tre province.
Day 9 Tue 26-12 Taxi (12:00) from Ben Tre to Ho Chi Minh City (VND 1,100K), flight to Da Nang (16:00), Taxi from airport to Hotel Zen Retreat Hoi An (VND 350K), night in Hoi An.
Day 10 Wed 27-12 Morning bike tour rice fields, visit to  Hoi An, night in Hoi An.
Day 11 Thu 28-12 Morning Cooking Class (Marinka). Scooter delivery (Mark) at hotel. Night in Hoi An.
Day 12 Fri 29-12 Morning fishing at resort. Afternoon visit to Hoi An. Bike tour rice fields. Night in Hoi An.
Day 13 Sat 30-12 Day in My Son (Mark). Marinka at resort. Night in Hoi An.
Day 14 Sun 31-12 Day in Son Tra Nature Reserve. Night in Hoi An.
Day 15 Mon 01-01 Morning bike tour. Taxi from Zen Retreat in Hoi An (12:05) to Da Nang airport (VND 350K), flight to Hanoi (15:15), Taxi from airport to Hotel Hanoi Tirant (USD 25), night in Hanoi.
Day 16 Tue 02-01 Day in Hanoi, walk through Old Quarter, night in Hanoi.
Day 17 Wed 03-01 Day in Hanoi, visit to Military Museum and Tempel of Literature, evening visit to Puppet Theatre, night in Hanoi.
Day 18 Thu 04-01 Taxi from Hotel Tirant Hanoi (14:00) to Ben Beo Harbor in Cat Ba (VND 1.2 mio), night at floating homestay in Lan Ha Bay.
Day 19 Fri 05-01 Morning at floating homestay in Lan Ha Bay, taxi to Hotel Perle d’Orient at Cat Ba Island, night at Cat Ba Island.
Day 20 Sat 06-01 Visit to Cat Ba National Park (Mark), Marinka at (private) hotel beach, night at Cat Ba Island.
Day 21 Sun 07-01 Visit to Cat Ba National Park (Mark), Marinka at (private) hotel beach, afternoon scooter tour over the island, night at Cat Ba Island.
Day 22 Mon 08-01 Taxi from Cat Ba Island to Hotel Tam Coc Wonderland in Tam Coc, afternoon bike tour, night in Tam Coc.
Day 23 Tue 09-01 Bike tour Lying Dragon Mountain, afternoon boat tour Trang An, night in Ninh Binh.
Day 24 Wed 10-01 Morning Thung Nam Bird Park (Mark); afternoon tam Coc, night in Tam Coc.
Day 25 Thu 11-01 Taxi from Tam Coc Wonderland in Tam Coc to Wyndham Grand Vedana Ninh Binh Resort (near Cuc Phuong NP), afternoon bike trip to Cuc Phuong NP, night in Wyndham Resort.
Day 26 Fri 12-01 Pick-up 05:30 at Wyndham Resort for bird day-tour in Cuc Phuong NP (Mark), Marinka at resort, night in Wyndham Resort.
Day 27 Sat 13-01 Taxi from Wyndham Resort to airport Hanoi, afternoon walk through French Quarter in Hanoi, flight (19:10) to Amsterdam.
Day 28 Sun 14-01 Arrival Doha, Qatar (23:20); departure Doha (05:55); arrival Amsterdam (11:00).

Speaking a few words in Vietnamese is highly appreciated:
Hello - Xin chao
See you soon - Tam-biet
Thank you - Cam on

Withdrawing money from ATMs of the larger banks is fine. Maximize your Vietnamese dong withdrawals. You don't want to pay 2 euros for withdrawing only 1 million VND (38 euros). If you are going to withdraw, do not withdraw a round amount, but for example 1,900,000 so that you also get smaller denominations. Many shops cannot exchange large banknotes.
You are not allowed to import or export the dong in Vietnam. So make sure you exchange your remaining dong into foreign currency at the end of your trip or spend it at the airport.

As of December 9, 2023, the rates were as follows (change regularly):

Euro 1 VND 26,107
Euro 100 VND 2,610,707
Euro 200 VND 5,221,414
VND 100,000 Euro 3.83
VND 1 million Euro 38.30

SIM card
It is wise to purchase a SIM card upon arrival and have it installed in your phone. Normally, only data (internet) use is sufficient, unless you also want to make calls. Choose provider Viettel, it is the best. A 30-day card costs around VND 100,000, so it is very cheap. Buy from an official store that will also ask for your passport, not from street vendors. Take a paperclip with you to remove your Dutch SIM card from your phone.

Plug / socket
With your Dutch plug you can go almost anywhere in Vietnam. In the event that your plug does not fit into the socket, which would be a very big exception, you can always ask at the reception of your hotel first.

With the Grab app you can easily and cheaply arrange a taxi. Grab is the equivalent of Uber in Asia.

Scooter rental
Make sure you rent a fully automatic scooter. A very good choice is the Honda Vision 110cc.

To eat
Vietnamese food is truly amazing with some dishes you shouldn't miss;

1. Banh Mi: Vietnamese baguette filled with (pork) meat, mayonnaise and pickled vegetables;
2. Bun Cha: noodles with pork meatballs;
3. Pho; Vietnamese noodle soup with meat;
4. Banh Xeo: crepe with meat and vegetables;
5. Bun Bo Hue: noodles with onions and lots of beef and pork.

Also try the various coffees such as egg coffee.

Information regarding Ho Chi Minh City (South), Hoi An (Central), Hanoi (North), Cat Ba Island (North) and Ninh Binh area (North).

Ho Chi Minh (South)
Ho Chi Minh is the largest city in Vietnam. Previously the city was known as Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City is full of contrasts. Modern high-rise office buildings, hotels and hip clubs alternate with houses in French colonial architecture, temples and atmospheric colorful markets. The nicest shops, markets, clothing stores and restaurants can be found in Cholon, also known as China Town. This colorful district, which used to be a separate city, is also the place where you can buy things cheaply. You won't be bored for a second in this lively area. Take the topless City Tour Bus to get a good idea of ​​the city in an hour. In any case, also go to the Binh Tay Market, this is the nicest market in Ho Chi Minh City.
The Cu Chi tunnels are located about 35 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. There are two locations: Ben Ginh and the more recommendable Ben Duoc. The latter are a little further away but are not nearly as touristy. A network of about 250 km of underground tunnels. In this way the Viet Cong moved under the minefields in the jungle, kept in touch with each other and were able to carry out surprise attacks on the Americans. The tunnel system even extends to the border with Cambodia. You can book a tour at any hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.

Mekong Delta (South)
The Mekong Delta is a unique water world, where boats, houses and markets float on the countless rivers, canals and streams that wind like arteries through the landscape. The floating markets in the Mekong are one of the most popular sights in Vietnam. You can visit the delta in a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, but for a more authentic experience and to get a better picture it is best to go at least 2 days. Visit a floating market, take a boat trip through the narrow canals and cycle through the countryside.

Hoi An (Central)
Hoi An Town is an exceptionally well-preserved trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries. It is also known as the most atmospheric city in Vietnam, or perhaps even in the whole of Southeast Asia. The city is full of picturesque historic houses, pagodas and cafes. It is extremely popular to buy handmade clothing. Hoi An offers a breathtaking mix of ornate Chinese temples, a Japanese-style bridge, wooden shophouses, French-colonial houses and ancient canals. The best way to explore this city is on foot. You should explore the area around Hoi An by bike or scooter along narrow paths through the rice fields. From the center it is only a 10-minute bike ride to the countryside. You can also go to the nearby beaches by bike. Hoi An offers plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. Enjoy the city's many riverways – rent a boat, go paddling or take a tour to see life on and along the water. You can walk from the old town to the river where you will be engulfed by boat trips on the Thu Bon River. Hoi An is the most popular place to take a cooking class in Vietnam. Bach Ma National Park is located 2 hours north and is a beautiful nature reserve. Closer is Son Tra Nature Reserve/Monkey Mountain, near Da Nang (37 km from Hoi An) and My Son Sanctuary (40 km west of Hoi An), a Hindu temple complex where many birds can be seen.

Hanoi (North)
Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, has shed its hostile war-torn image as one of Southeast Asia's best and most culturally important cities. There are numerous museums that offer you a chance to better understand Vietnam's history of revolution, war and art, while the tangled web of streets in the historic Old Quarter is a great place to wander. There are also many other sights such as old temples, pagodas, markets, bridges and a historic citadel. The most famous district is Hoan Kiem District (also known as the Old Quarter), which is considered the city's business center and main tourist destination. Hanoi Old Quarter is located near Hoan Kiem Lake. You will find beautiful colonial architecture, Buddhist temples and pagodas in this district. Expect to find many hip cafes, bars, a variety of restaurants, bakeries, boutiques and art galleries in this historic area.
For foodies, this city is a dream. Here you can eat delicious street food that is also very affordable.

Lan Ha Bay (North)
Not many people know this, but although the whole area is known as Halong Bay, there are in fact 3 different bays: Halong Bay, Bai Tu Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay. All three bays are all accessible from the same port (Tuan Chau harbour) and all three bays have virtually indistinguishable karst landscapes. Halong Bay is the most famous bay out of all and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located South of Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay is a lesser known alternative. While it may not be a UNESCO Heritage Site, it has a virtually indistinguishable landscape to Halong Bay.

Ninh Binh (North)
Also known as “Halong Bay on Land”, Ninh Binh is full of steep karst mountains rising amid tranquil rice fields, rivers and dotted with temples and ancient settlements. It is one of the most famous sights in Vietnam, because the area is incredibly beautiful and not very far from the capital Hanoi. The two best ways to explore the area are by taking a scenic boat trip through the mountain landscape or by bicycle. Cycle or sail past the rice fields and high mountains. Despite the increased tourism, this is still a place with a great atmosphere and something not to be missed during a tour.
Cuc Phuong National Park is located 45 km north-west of Ninh Binh and is a beautiful nature reserve with rich flora and fauna.
Van Long Nature Reserve is located 20 km north of Ninh Binh.


Ho Chi Minh (3n: 19 – 22 Dec)
Liam Apartment - Infinity pool - Rivergate Residence (Euro 128 for 3n). Taxi pick-up from the airport on 19-12 (VND 500K).
Review: Nice well-kept pool with lovely landscaping, nice views over the city. Modern, clean, comfortable room, good breakfast. Friendly helpful staff. Owner Tracy is very nice.

Ben Tre (1n: 22 – 23 Dec)
Hong Thai River Side Homestay (Euro 69 for 4n). They arranged a taxi pick-up on 22-12 at 11:00 to go from Liam Apartments in Ho Chi Minh to Ben Tre (VND 1.100K) and a taxi from Hong Thai River Side Homestay in Ben tre to Ho Chi Minh Airport on 26 December at 12:00 (VND 1.100K).
Review: Nice room, next to the river in the Mekong Delta. The accommodation is lovely, with 8 stand-alone wooden huts above the water. They are built by hand and give a real holiday vibe. Each hut has a fridge. Great view on the Mekong River and the garden with the flowers (butterflies!) and fruits is beautiful, great atmosphere. Host Mr. Thai is absolutely incredible. The food was incredible, all very fresh, and cheap. The food was prepared by his wife and was some of the best food I’ve eaten. Elephant Ear fish which is only found in the MD was served and was a real treat. The beds were very comfy and the AC worked really well. Mr. Thai organized a boat tour and a scooter trip around Ben Tre for us.

Ben Tre (3n: 23 – 26 Dec)
Mango Riverside Resort (Euro 180 for 3n).
Review: Excellent and very comfortable resort near Mekong river. Lovely swimming pool. Wonderful large garden with little pond (collared kingfisher) and many flowers (butterflies!). Best service in Vietnam! Especially by Ben who is by far the best host we have ever came across.

Hoi An (6n: 26 Dec – 1 Jan)
Zen Retreat Hoi An (Euro 211 for 6n). They arranged a taxi pick-up from Da Nang airport on 26-12 (VND 350K) and a taxi from Zen Retreat to Da Nang airport on 1 January at 12:05 (VND 350K).
Review: The retreat entails a gorgeous collection of bungalows set around a lake and pool. A most amazing and wonderful place: calm, beautiful, friendly, personal. Amazing area with beautiful gardens and flowers, rooms and pool with lovely and very attentive personal. A lovely newly renovated hotel between the rice paddies with a village feel, close to An Bang beach and Hoi An City. The location is about 10 minutes from the center of Hoi An by car or scooter, which you can rent at the hotel. You can also take a taxi which are very cheap. There are very lively restaurants (The Lantern owned by Chef Thanh who also has a cooking class which is the best in Hoi An). There is a basket boat to use and free bikes. Perfect hotel, not too big and not too small. Every detail seemed lovingly considered, wonderful breakfast looking out at the property with fresh fruit and the best Vietnamese coffee, a gorgeous pool area that was so inviting. At night, the entire grounds are warmly lit, including the sweet boardwalk that extends into the lake, and the little thatched roof huts (one is a library with comfy chairs and books in multiple languages!). Take a free bicycle and bike around Hoi An through the rice fields. The rooms were spacious and stylishly designed. The bed was super comfy.

Hanoi (3n: 1 - 4 Jan)
Hanoi Tirant Hotel (Euro 226 for 3n). They arranged a taxi pick-up from the airport on 01-01 (USD 25).
Review: Very clean hotel and an exceptionally helpful staff. The rooms were clean and comfortable. Rooftop swimming pool and bar give an amazing overview over Hanoi. Breakfast was amazing with lots of choices. It is located in the heart of the Old Quarter with many shops and things to see. Perfect location, just a quick walk (100m) to the lovely Hoan Kiem Lake, a must see, where you can walk around and enjoy a beautiful temple and many eateries. The foyer of the Hanoi Tirant Hotel was a good place to sit and have a cup of coffee while figuring out your activities for the day. Some incredible restaurants within walking distance.

Cat Ba / Lan Ha Bay (1n: 4 - 5 Jan)
Lan Ha Floating Homestay (Euro 426 for 4n). They arranged a taxi pick-up on 04-01 at 14:00 from Hotel Hanoi Tirant (VND 1.2 mio) and a bus from Cat Ba (VND 350K p.p.) (4.5 hours) to Ninh Binh on 8 January at 12:00. 
Review: I absolutely loved the hospitality of the homestay owners! They were incredibly helpful, friendly, and went out of their way to make sure I was comfortable throughout the duration of my stay. I also love the location! Once you arrive, it’s as though you’ve transported to a whole new world! The views from the floating homestay are breathtaking! It’s an incredibly unique homestay that offers an experience in Lan Ha Bay / Ha Long Bay unlike anything else. You’re surrounded by the nature and picturesque landscape. You can explore the neighborhood by paddling board or a small boat which are available for the guests. Thang is an excellent host, such a genuine guy who taught us many things about Vietnamese and local culture. From the moment we arrived to the pier for pick-up he took care of everything for us, from meals to the boat trip around Lan Ha Bay to our transfer back to Hanoi a few days later. A truly unique experience hosted by top notch hospitality. The food cooked here is delicious, and they serve wine! You have so many choices regarding what you can do: be chill and read with an amazing view, ask a local to get you to wild beaches (one with monkeys so don’t bring any food!!) or even paddle and kayak around the home stay (which is amazingly beautiful). If you want to be peaceful and enjoy the views, this is the perfect place!! Since lunch and breakfast are for free and the entrance fee and overnight fee of the stay (roughly 15$) are included as well, it was hardly more expensive than staying in a double room in the city. Don't forget to bring your own beer and snacks.

Cat Ba Island (3n: 5 - 8 Jan)
Hotel Perle d’Orient (Euro 420 for 3n).
Review: Amazing 5-star hotel in French colonial style. Private beach which is absolutely stunning. Best hotel we have ever stayed. In Europe or US you would pay at least Euro 1,500 per night.

Ninh Binh (3n: 8 - 11 Jan)
Tam Coc Wonderland Bungalow (Euro 121 for 3n). Taxi to arrange in Cat Ba to get to Ninh Binh.
Review: A small family run hotel with wonderful clean spacious room, very comfy beds, effective AC  and spacious shower. Breakfast is simple but ok. The owner is a bit strange but very enthusiastic. The location is great - outside the hustle and bustle of Tam Coc, but only a short 10-minute walk into town. A karst type mountain in the back and rice fields in the front. Cinnamon tea or lemon juice is offered each time you return to the hotel. The pool has a great view. Also a lovely bonus that the place offers a free foot bath (hot water bath for your feet) before bedtime, we thought this was a lovely touch. Free bikes and you can rent scooters.

Ninh Binh (near Cuc Phuong NP) (2n: 11 – 13 Jan)
Wyndham Grand Vedana Ninh Binh Resort (Euro 121 for 2n). They have arranged the Hotel’s limousine shuttle service (USD 15 p.p.) to take us the Hanoi airport.
Reviews: Massive resort spread out between the hills and mountains of rural north Vietnam. Possibly the ugliest resort we have ever seen. This should not be open for tourists but just for large conferences and companies. All the rooms and resort facilities are new and clean. You need a buggy or bike to go around. Right beside Cuc Phuong National Park. Buffet breakfast is enormous but staff has no clue what they are doing. Nobody speaks English. The rooms here come with balconies, allowing for a refreshing breeze and beautiful views.

Relevant Birding Hotspots in the area

Mekong Delta
Lying to the west of Ho Chí Minh City, Mekong Delta stretches all the way to the Gulf of Thailand. Nine rivers flowing from six countries meet here, completing their journey of thousands of kilometers to the sea. For this reason, the Mekong Delta’s Vietnamese name is Nine Dragon River Delta. The Mekong Delta region is covered with natural grasslands, freshwater wetlands and coastal wetlands. Large parts of the natural grasslands in the Mekong Delta have been converted to agricultural land. Visiting to the mighty Mekong River and its delta, one experience out of the many that you can look forward to is bird- watching.
Nearest birding spot near Ben Tre is Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary (30km east of Ben Tre): GPS: 10.158049, 106.615349. Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary is a unique ecological area, typical for coastal mangrove forests of the Mekong Delta. The best way to explore the Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary is by boat, which takes you deep into the mangrove forest. There are also a number of bamboo bridge paths through the forest that you can explore on your own.

Saigon Botanical-Zoological Gardens, Ho Chi Minh City
Entrance: GPS: 10.787496, 106.705221. After getting in take the path to the right (the zoo is to the left) which takes you to the Butterfly House and the Orchid House and a lake that host a variety of lilies and resident birds. I never managed to visit this place.

Son Tra Nature Reserve/Monkey Mountain Da Nang
GPS: 16.118167, 108.273278. Son Tra Nature Reserve/Monkey Mountain Da Nang is famous for stunning seaside mountains with high biodiversity and is vital to the Red-shanked Douc Langur (Pygathrix nemaeus) population in Vietnam, 37 km (22 miles) up the coast line from Hoi An. Another unique feature of the Son Tra Nature Reserve is the existence of about 12 herds of brown-legged (or five-coloured) langurs. This is an extremely rare species with only 200 individuals living in Vietnam and in Son Tra forests. In addition, there are other rare species such as the yellow monkey, red-faced monkey, muntjac, wild boar and musk-deer; 106 species of birds including the silver pheasant, 23 species of reptiles and countless species of insects. There are multiple hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty available. The best area to watching birds is in Linh Ung Pagoda, and then along the main road in Son Tra Mountain, and third one is along the beach (Nguyen Tat Thanh and Man Thai). The very top (700m) of Son Tra is called Ban Co peak (See above GPS coordinates) which is also very good for birdwatching. Automatic motorbike (some roads are too steep) is prohibited in Son Tra Mountain, so you should hire a semi-automatic scooter, a grab car or private car to get in. We only spent 2 hours here by foot after leaving our scooter at the entrance. Not to many birds but we managed to spot 3 different groups of Red-shanked Douc Langurs!

My Son
GPS: 15.768668, 108.118994. 40 km West of Hoi An. My Son is a concentration of abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples constructed between the 4th and the 14th century AD by the kings of Champa. Take a walk around the valley and try to see: Crimson Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, White-crested Laughingthrush, Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Buff-throated Bulbul, Indochinese Green Magpie, Racket-tailed Treepie, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Hainam Blue Flycatcher, Dark-necked Tailorbird, etc.
During my visit, the weather was rainy so birding was not very good. Best observations were of a Green-eared Barbet, some Sooty-headed Bulbuls, a Common Iora and a Northern Pig-tailed Macaque.

Hanoi City
Note that there are not many birds in the city. Basically only red-whiskered bulbuls, Swinhoe’s white-eyes and Eurasian tree-sparrows. Vuon Nhan is probably the best place to go birding; GPS 21.014203, 105.879237. Check out the orchard, the forest and the riverside. I never managed to visit this place.

Thung Nam Bird Park
Just West of Ninh Binh (5km). GPS: 20.221027, 105.891728.
With over 45 species of birds and stunning landscapes that seem to have sprung from a fairy tale, Thung Nham Bird Park is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Visitors can take a boat tour around the park's lakes and wetlands, allowing them to get up close and personal with the birds. Bird park ticket price: Adult: 100,000 VND; Boat tour fee: 20,000 VND. The bird park is open from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. There are also a few caves to visit. Be here early because it can be busy with tourists.
During my visit, the weather was rainy so birding was not very good. Best observations were of Blue Rock Thrush, Pale-footed Bush-warbler, Plain Prinia and many Asian Open-billed Storks and Egrets which breed here in large colonies.

Van Long Nature Reserve
A beautiful wetland 20km north of Ninh Binh. GPS: 20.365191, 105.878530. Van Long Nature Reserve has a limestone ecosystem and is home to the biggest community of Delacour’s Langur with over 100 individuals. Take a boat tour! This nature reserve hasn't been discovered and over-run with tourists like Trang An and Tam Coc. Similar natural features, but smaller scale, and the boat tours are still run by the locals on a small scale. A boat tour here is cheap: only 100,000 VND / person (boat of 2) for a boat trip about 1 hour – 1.5 hours. The reedy wetland is a bird-watchers paradise and species spotted here included  White-browed Crake, Cinnamon and Yellow Bittern, Black Bittern, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bonellii’s Eagle, Egrets, Herons etc. Look out for Delacour’s Langurs and Lime-stone Wren-Babbler! I never managed to visit this place.

Cuc Phuong National Park
West of Ninh Binh (45 km, 1.5 h). Entrance + visitor center: GPS: 20.249762, 105.714502. Entrance fee is 60,000 VND for adults. Cuc Phuong NP is a tropical rainforest in North Vietnam, located 100km southwest of Hanoi and 60km from the sea. It is the first and largest nature reserve of Vietnam and occupies 25,000 ha, three-quarters of which are covered by limestone mountains whose highest peak is 645m. These mountains form two parallel ranges, enclosing a valley where the climate is quite different from that of surrounding areas. Most noteworthy fauna are the yellow monkey, red bellied squirrel and flying reptile. There are 307 species of birds. Insects abound, especially butterflies. Some of the rare birds that you might encounter are the Silver-Pheasant, Red-Collared Woodpecker, Brown Hornbill and the Bar-Bellied Pitta.
There's only a single road in and out. You can take (your own) bike and cycle from HQ on the road into the jungle and reach the Bong park center after about 20 km. The park is quite hilly (going into the park) but going at a bike pace allows you to really enjoy the natural beauty of the place. You can also choose to rent a scooter near HQ. Please bear in mind that wherever you want to park your bike you have to pay a parking fee (VND 3,000 – 5,000)!
Forest trails around Bong such as Loops Trail and Village Trail are usually good for Eared Pitta, Blue-rumped Pitta and Bar-bellied Pitta. You may also see here Pied Falconet, Red-collared Woodpecker and Limestone Warbler. The botanical garden by the gate near HQ is a good spot for White-winged Magpie, Racket-tailed Treepie and Blue-rumped Pitta.
At the Bong park center (end of the road) you find a restaurant and the starting point for the hike to the 1000 year old tree which broke down some years ago already but still has a very impressive base. The hike leads through the jungle on stairs and a path. It is well kept but contains quite a lot of steep parts to climb and to descent. The trail is not equipped with handrails. The trail to the tree and back takes about 2,5 hours and measures 6 miles.

I arranged a 1-day bird tour with Vietnam Birding Tours on Friday 12 January , including pick-up (05:30) from my hotel near the entrance of the park (USD 130). This is including entrance to 2 special photography bird hides (near the Bong center) which may be shared by others (max 6). Unfortunately, no bird guide was available so I only got a driver to pick me up and to show me the location of the bird hides. We got basically all the targets in the hides, except for  Blue-rumped Pitta.
Best birds in the hides were: Bar-bellied Pitta (Near Endemic), White-rumped Shama, Buff-breasted Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Rufous-tailed Robin, Tonkin Partridge (Endemic - Subspecies), Rufous-throated Fulvetta, Fujian Niltava, White-tailed Flycatcher, Japanese Thrush, Grey-backed Thrush.
Best birds outside the hides were: Scarlet Minivet, Common Sultan Tit, Crested Goshawk.