For birdwatchers, the Dalat Plateau is a dream destination
Located 1,500m above sea level, the Dalat Plateau in Lam Dong province features a year-round temperate climate. Thanks to its mild weather, lush natural landscapes, and rich architectural heritage, Dalat has many endearing monikers, such as “the misty city,” “the city of a thousand pines,” “the city of a thousand flowers,” and “the land of cherry blossoms.” For ornithologists, bird watchers, and photographers, Dalat and surrounding areas, such as Lac Duong district, are also known for being home to many colorful bird species.
Dalat and its surrounding districts are one of five endemic bird areas (EBAs) in Vietnam, designated by BirdLife International. Eight out of Vietnam’s 13 endemic bird species can be found here, in addition to many near-endemic and signature species. This makes Dalat one of the top destinations in Asia for bird enthusiasts worldwide. There are many places to birdwatch and photograph birds near Dalat’s city center.
Located 5km to the south of the city, Datanla Falls boasts a majestic natural beauty. At the entrance to the falls lies the Datanla Restaurant. Many signature bird species may be witnessed from the restaurant or whilst strolling nearby. While enjoying a cup of coffee, visitors can leisurely observe the birds cavorting in a nearby flower garden. Some notable species include Annam Barbets, Verditer Flycatchers, Langbian Sunbirds, Annam Sunbirds, Streaked Spiderhunters, and Langbian Tits. With a little luck, visitors may even spot two beautiful endemic species — Dalat Shrike-Babblers and Vietnamese Cutias.
Tuyen Lam Lake
As the largest freshwater lake in Dalat, Tuyen Lam is located 6 km to the south of Dalat’s city center. The air here is fresh, the atmosphere calm, and the natural scenery diverse and alluring. Some remaining woods may be found on the far side of the lake. Following well-trod paths, visitors may discover spectacular bird species such as Yellow-billed Nuthatches, Black-hooded Laughingthrushes, Gray-crowned Crocias, Vietnamese Cutias, Eurasian Jays, and Maroon Orioles.
Lang Biang Mountain
Home to hundreds of animal species and thousands of plant species, Lang Biang Mountain (also known as Ba Mountain) is in Lac Duong district, 12 kilometers to the north of Dalat. This mountain is an ideal destination for ecotourism and wilderness exploration.
A mountain trail leads visitors through the pine forest into a mixed evergreen forest. On their journey, visitors may encounter endemic bird species including Collared Laughingthrushes, Yellow-billed Nuthatches, and Black-crowned Fulvettas, as well as other key species like Vietnamese Greenfinches and Red Crossbills, Green Cochoas, White-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Vietnamese Cutias, Black-throated Sunbirds, and Blue-winged Minlas.
Giang Ly Stream
Located within Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park in Lac Duong district, the area around Giang Ly Stream lies near Provincial Route 723, which connects Dalat and Nha Trang. Located 1,600m above sea level, this region’s extensive pine forests are home to all of Dalat’s endemic species except for Orange-breasted Laughingthrushes. Visitors may encounter stunning birds along the stream, from Gray-chinned Minivets, Dalat Shrike-Babblers, Vietnamese Cutias, Yellow-crowned Green Magpies, Chestnut-vented Nuthatches, and Yellow-billed Nuthatches to water-wading species such as Spotted Forktails and Slaty-backed Forktails.
Ta Nung Valley
Located 10km to the west of central Dalat, the Ta Nung Valley used to be a prominent birdwatching spot. While the natural forest cover in this area has shrunk, in the remnants of the evergreen forests, visitors can easily spot many species endemic to the Dalat Plateau, including Barbets, Laughingthrushes, Long-tailed Tits, Sunbirds, Vietnamese Greenfinches, and Rufous-backed Sibias. With some luck, visitors might even encounter rare endemic species such as Grey-crowned Crocias.
Thirty kilometers from Dalat City lies Cong Troi (Heaven’s Gate), a birdwatching spot along the new road to Dak Lak province that’s become popular relatively recently. Here, visitors may find all of the species that live around Lang Biang Mountain, Ta Nung Valley, Tuyen Lam Lake, and Giang Ly Stream. The birds in Heaven’s Gate are quite friendly and approachable, making it easy to take spectacular photos of species such as Rusty-naped Pittas, Blue Pittas, Rufous-browed Flycatchers, Blue-and-White Flycatchers, Cuckooshrikes, Forktails, and Leaf Warblers.
In the heart of Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park (Lac Duong District) is the 2,287m tall Bidoup Peak, the tallest in this range. At an altitude of 1,800m, visitors may spot some Indochinese Fulvettas. Encounters with Collared Laughingthrushes and Green Cochoas are also fairly common. Climbing to the peak is quite arduous due to the harsh climate and rugged trails, so visitors should be well-prepared and ready to camp overnight. However, getting to see and photograph your favorite birds will make the preparations worthwhile.