Located in Lao Cai province, 9km southwest of Sapa Township in Northwest of Vietnam,, Fansipan is the highest peak of Indochina with the height of 3143m above sea level. Fansipan or Fan-si-Pan (Phan Xi Pang) is dubbed “the Roof of Indochina”, it is approved as one of the very few eco-tourist spots of Vietnam, with about 2,024 floral varieties and 327 faunal species.
Those looking to climb it should be in good shape and prepared to have muddy wet feet. The scenery is incredible remember to bring a camera. The trails around Sapa are a lot of fun. You will get the chance to go through some minority villages if you have the time to explore. The people in Sapa are extremely nice. Explore the restaurants that are not on the main strip, you will get great food at a fraction of the cost. Hanoi beer is available in local restaurants for around 30 cents a liter. The food there is great!
HOW TO GET THERE
To get to the mountain you need to take a train from Hanoi to Lao Cai. From there you will take a mini bus up in to the town of Sapa. Transportation from Hanoi to Sapa can be arrange for a reasonable price. You might also be able to take a bus but it takes much longer.
When getting into town, make reservations for transportation go to the Hotel in Sapa – 2-way transportation can be hired. However, hiring a guide (English speaking?) is highly recommended you will get meals, a porter, 2-way transportation, accommodations in a hut, and waived permit and entrance fees.
HOW TO CLIMB
Fansipan Tour Operators in the area will arrange hikes to the summit taking from one to three days. Most will recommend taking the two – or three – day options and guides who will take tourists on the round trip in a single day are few and far between.
A very small village is located at around 1 500 m where accommodation and food is offered. Further up, at 2 800 m, is an overnight camp. Most booked trips will include the use of these facilities in their price should they be required.
THE POPULAR TRAIL
Day 1: You start going through several different valleys with a lot of lush jungle. The first day entails 2-4 hours of hiking. There is typically a lot of mud so come prepared. You might have the option of moving up to a high camp but the camp right by the river is beautiful. Enjoy the river to clean off ( it is a bit nippy)
Day 2: From the camp you pretty much go straight up the mountain side. It is a mixture of light 3rd class rock, root and tree climbing. The trail can be very slick and there are a lot of spots where the trail drops off. If you have trouble with heights you might not want to consider this hike. From the camp it takes 2-5 hours to reach the summit. Going up is not to bad but if it rained recently the trial can be very slick. Coming down is where you want to be careful.
Day 3: From the camp it takes about 3 hours to get down, be careful about grabbing on to the grass if the trail is slick it will tear up you hands. When you reach the bottom you will end up in a beautiful hill tribe village.
WHEN TO CLIMB
The prime time to climb the mountain is between October and April. During the summer it is very rainy but is still climbable if the weather holds.
If you have your own tent and sleeping bags you can arrange to camp on the mountain. Tents and sleeping bags can be hired from Active Travel Vietnam. If you can you should bring a sleeping bag that is rated to at least 40 degrees. It can get a bit cold at night.