Triumph over yourself on the conquest to the highest Indochina’s peak, Fansipan
With an altitude of 3,147.3 meters (0.3 m higher than in 1909), conquering Fansipan Mountain, also dubbed as the roof of Indochina, becomes a must activity when traveling to Sapa. Though the adventure seems easier with a 15-minute modern cable ride, most adventure mountaineers still enjoy climbing to the summit. After this strenuous trek, the trophy they get is utterly worth – a jaw-dropping bird eye’s view of Sapa valleys and Hoang Lien Son Range in the cold mist, as well as a remarkable experience of challenging oneself.
I. About Fansipan Mountain
Fansipan, located in the center of the Hoang Lien Son range, is about 9 km southwest of Sa Pa Town. The local ethnic people call the mountain “Hua Xi Pan”, which means a giant precarious stone in the middle of the sky. For adventurous tourists, Fansipan is an ideal destination for mountain climbing as the conquering Hoang Lien jungle always brings both satisfaction and challenge to them.
The best time to visit Fansipan is from late September to April next year, especially from October to December. At this time, the weather here is quite cold, yet still has pleasant sunlight. This is also the season when flowers bloom brilliantly on the slopes of the woods.
There are some days when the weather in Fansipan changes constantly. In the middle of the mountain, you might enjoy the cheerful sun, but the higher you move, clouds and drizzle can appear, creating a beautiful rainbow.
II. How to conquer Fansipan Mountain
Visitors can reach Fansipan peak either by climbing or by cable car system.
1. Cable car system
Since 2016, Sun Group has operated the Fansipan cable car route to provide visitors the opportunity to set foot on the top of the mountain with ease. The cable car station is located in Fansipan Legend Tourist Area, you can buy a round-trip ticket for 700,000 VND/adult and 500,000 VND/child, children under 1m will be free of charge.
The 15-minute cabin trip gives zoom-out natural scenes at an altitude of a thousand meters – the primeval Hoang Lien Son forest, Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa town, etc. After stopping at the arrival station, visitors need to climb 600 steps more to reach the top of Fansipan and touch the landmark marked as the Roof of Indochina.
2. Climb to Fansipan peak
Climbing to Fansipan Mountain takes around 3-4 days, along with the requirements of perfect health condition, equipment, and guides. Despite the arduous route, in return, you will admire awe-inspiring scenery all along the way to the mountain’s top.
The most popular route is departing at the ranger station on the top of Tram Ton pass to travel through the mountains and stop late in the afternoon at a site about 2,800m high. Here, you will camp, cook and spend the night. On the following day, continue to climb to the top of Fansipan.
There are also two other route options available for those with great fitness and extra time: The one starts at San Sa through Ban Sin Chai – This is actually about 9km shorter; and the other starts at Cat Cat Village – This is the longest of the three, but offers much more scenic opportunities.
III. How to get to Sapa
From Hanoi, tourists can choose a train, bus, or motorbike as the vehicle to travel to Sapa.
You can take a train from Hanoi Train Station or Tran Quy Cap Train Station to Lao Cai Railway Station, for about 195.000 – 450.000 VND, depending on the seat. After that, visitors continue to go by bus or taxi to Sapa Town for about 40km.
There are numerous Hanoi – Sapa bus companies, such as Green Bus, Sapa Express Bus, Eco Sapa Limousine, available for both daytime and nighttime travel. The fare ranges from 250,000 – 400,00 VND/person.
Riding a motorbike from Hanoi to Sapa is an adventure that most travelers prefer, however, you need to be a skillful and careful rider as the road to Sapa is quite challenging. You can effortlessly rent motorbikes in Hanoi at the cost of 80,000 – 150,000 VND/day, depending on the type. Bear in mind to check the vehicle’s condition before departing.
*Recommended route: Hanoi – Vinh Phuc – Viet Tri – Phong Chau – Doan Hung – Yen Bai – Lao Cai – Sapa (Total distance is about 360km).
IV. Significant notes when climbing to Fansipan
It’s advisable to hire a local guide as they are familiar with the way to Fansipan. They can help you deal with unexpected situations that may arise along the way.
Do not separate from your group. The risk you don’t want most when traveling to Fansipan is losing a member, this often happens when a team member with weaker physical ability falls behind, or simply because the member arbitrarily separates from the group to explore alone without notice. In case you get lost from the group, find a way back to the old ways, and wait for everyone to find you.
Steep, slippery, and dangerous cliffs are inevitable on the road to Fansipan mountain, so you need to be extremely careful in every move. It is suggested to move in a Z shape, and test the firmness of the rocky surfaces you intend to put feet on.
Always carry communication devices and protective gear with you, some food and water.
Minimize luggage as much as possible, carrying too many bulky items can make your trip more tiring.
Dress warmly since the climate in the mountains is fairly low. The higher the altitude, the lower the temperature, even in some places, it is only about 8 degrees Celsius.