With the height of 3,143m, Sapa has the pride to have Mount Fansipan – the highest peak in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Famous to be Indochina’s roof, conquering Fansipan peak is amazing experience that travellers should not miss.
Prior to 2016, Fansipan used to attract at least 1,000 trekkers daily thanks to the magnificent view from the summit and beautiful, not too tricky path climbing up. However, there is a cable car built to take you from the mountain’s foot to a station near the summit from February, 2016, which expands tourism to the sky-high attraction.
Despite being only 9km away from Sapa town, it takes at least 2 to 3 days to complete the journey without before cable car tourism. All trekkers need to be assisted by a local guide, who can be found conveniently at Hanoi or Sapa travel agencies. The starting point of the climb is already 1,800m above sea level, in which you will be probably introduced to the guide. The guides mostly come from hillside tribe, who are true locals with many years of climbing experience. He will help travellers register with security post before embarking on the climb.
Fortunately, climbing Fansipan is basic, there is no rough condition that requires ropes or technical climbing skills. Walking through the forest at this point (when you just started the climb) is kind of joyful. The first few kilometers offer a fair amount of descending and a few river crossings, with beautiful landscape and comfortable weather. Lunch stop at Camp No. 1 will be your first target. Aside from the first stop, there are no designated rest stops along the way until trekkers reach the second camp, not to mention the climb increases in steepness and technicality after Camp No. 1. Hence, try to pack yourself with enough energy. During the second path, you will have to climb ladders, balance on small footrests and handgrisps while traversing across rock faces. There would be a few tricky situations to conquer. But there are always magnificent view of nature for your soul, as you keep climbing higher, it gets better view and your goal appears slowly to your eyes. Reaching Camp No.2, you can rest through the night, spending quality time setting bonfire with new friends who are climbing too. Camp No. 2 had same 10 rooms sharing a tin roof. Sleeping bags are provided inside each room. However, toilets are communal, there is no electricity and only a few taps. Early in the next morning, about 3AM, you may start heading to the summit for sunrise at about 5:15AM.
Simply being spectacular, sunrise over Nothern Vietnam appears to your eyes at its most beauty. After taking your time to feel all the paid-off effort at the famous summit, you can check out two temples located in the area. Restrooms with hot water faucets are there for you to freshen up.
Most of Fansipan is covered by dense forests, which get hot and humid during the day but significantly drop temperature after sunset. Before the trip, you should need to pack your back carefully to “survive” in both situations. The food supply is limited during the journey, you may want to bring some light canned food for more options. There are 2 camps for your rest during the trips, however, a good guide will let you rest for 10-15 minutes after 1-2 hour climbing at an eye catchy spot, so your rest is not a waste of time. Electricity is not available during the whole trip, hence, remember to bring your power bank if you wish to take nice pictures from the summit by your phone.
If you are not that much of a trekker but still want to expose your eyes to the view from top of Indochina, there is now cable car offered at about $26 price. The 2-3 days trip would change into a 15 minutes ride upto the summit. However, using cable car will just give you a superficial experience with tons of other tourists instead of the clear, peaceful views from the summit at sunrise hour, which especially given to trekkers.
Cable Car to Fansipan
Most tourists come to Sapa from Hanoi by train or bus. It takes only about 5-6 hours by bus. But the paths are quite stiff, narrow and slippery, which can break your heart when drivers driving upwards. For a safer option, travellers may choose to travel by an 8-hour overnight train to Lao Cai train station. The train route between Hanoi and Sapa offers relatively comfortable sleeper cabins for you to relax before the rough journey (if you are climbing up). From Lao Cai train station, it takes an hour to drive to Sapa town. Travellers can take a taxi to the town or reach right away to the starting point of the climb or cable car station. The mountain foot is only 2km away from Sapa town, but you would need 30 minutes or more as the roads are narrow and packed with cars or other heavy vehicles sharing the roads.
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