September 12, 2016

Fansipan Climbing

mt fansipan climb

Fansipan Climbing is one of the most challenging activity in Vietnam. The Fansipan Mountain has long been the best hiking place in Vietnam. It is a favorite destination for intrepid travelers, and those who are fond of jungle trek, summit conquering, and mountain hiking.

At 3143m Mt Fansipan is the highest peak in Vietnam and the entire Indochina peninsula. To successfully conquer the highest peak, mountaineers need to be in good shape and properly equipped with such things as sleeping bags, waterproof tents, food, stove, raincoat, and other miscellaneous survival gear.

Climbing Mt Fansipan Vietnam is not an easy activity. Fansipan trekking tours are not designed for everyone. Hikers are required to have a good health, and pre-trip training. People who have heart problems are not encouraged to join in the adventure.

Fansipan Mountain can be climbed in a steep and fairly strenuous hike. Previously, it would take about 5–6 days from Sapa to reach Fansipan peak and return. Now the total time is usually only about 3 days, even 2 days, or for experts and strong, healthy people, it can be done in one day.

Although there is a cable car which can take you up to the summit, but the hiking trail is still available. We at Hiking Vietnam provide different Fansipan hiking tours as well as practical information about climbing Fansipan mountain Vietnam.

How high is Mount Fansipan?

Fansipan is the highest mountain in the Indochinese Peninsula (comprising Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), hence its nickname “the Roof of Indochina”. It is situated on the border of Lao Cai Province and Lai Chau Province in the northwest region of Vietnam, with its peak located on Lao Cai side. Administratively, it is shared between Tam Duong district, Lai Chau and Sapa town, Lao Cai.

The mountain is part of the Hoang Lien National Park. It has a topographic prominence of 1,613 metres (5,292 ft), ranking 6th in Vietnam.

The height of the Fansipan mountain was 3,143 metres (10,312 ft) in 1909, but now the height of the mountain is 3,147.3 metres (10,326 ft).

Mt Fansipan Map

How to get to Fansipan Mountain?

All Fansipan climbing tours begin from Sapa town, Lao Cai province, so you will need to arrive Sapa before taking any Fansipan climb tour.

Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi is the nearest landing point for international travelers. From Hanoi, there are two options to travel to Sapa. The first is to take the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai from where you will need to arrange transport to Sapa. The overnight train journey takes 8 hours while the sleeper bus reaches in 6 hours. The second option is to rent a private car with driver or to take a sleeper bus from Hanoi that will take you all the way to Sapa.

Hanoi to Sapa by private car

It is easy for you to rent a private car with driver to get to Sapa. The service is available at every tour companies, hotel desks. The alternative choice is to book a taxi. You will be picked up at any time in the day, at any place in Hanoi. It’s flexible! The car journey takes about 6 hours. You can stop on the ways for coffee break or taking picture of the scenery.

Hanoi to Sapa by bus

There are several transport companies offering bus tickets Hanoi to Sapa (day and night buses). Most of the coaches depart from My Dinh bus stations in southwest Hanoi.

Hanoi to Sapa by train

Train is the most popular mean of transport to go to Sapa. All the trains stop at Lao Cai train staion which is about one more hour drive to Sapa. There are both day and night trains. But the overnight trains are more comfortable with choice of soft-sleepers. Prices depend on types of your seat: normal, hard berth or soft berth, equipped with air-conditioner or not, etc… The earliest overnight train departs at 19:40 and the latest one is at 23:00. It arrives in Lao Cai around 6-7 am in the morning of the following day.

From Lao Cai, you can either take a local bus or to rent a private car for Sapa. In Sapa, find the way out of the town heading to Silver Waterfall, keep going as you see the sign of Love Waterfall, stop at Tram Ton which is at the height of 1800m. This is the start point of the most popular Fansipan hiking trail – Tram Ton route.

Fansipan hiking permit

As being a foreigner, permit is required to climb Fansipan Mountain. If you book your Fansipan hiking tour through a tour company, they will be in charge of the permit. Otherwise, you need to book a tour guide and apply for the hiking permit at the Center for Ecotourism and Environmental Education which is located in Sapa, just on the road to Cat Cat village.

When you arrive at the Sapa Center of Tourism, they will let you know if the permit is approved. Because Fansipan trekking is sometimes disallowed in the dry season. If you get the permit, you know then which Fansipan hiking trail you will follow. If you travel solo we recommend you applying for the hiking permit one day in advance, so that you will have time for trip preparation.

How to conquer Fansipan Mountain?

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Conquer Fansipan by cable car

If you are not interested in hiking up the Fansipan mountain or you are physically unable to, you can opt to take the cable car. The cable cars run from Muong Hoa Valley up to the final station on the mountain, you can enjoy spectacular views of the poetic Sapa town, the gorgeous valleys, and the terraced rice fields.

Fansipan hike up cable car down

The second option to conquer Fansipan summit is to hike up, and take the cable car down. You may need 1-3 days for the adventure, depending how hard/long you want your trip to be.

Trek up Fansipan and hiking down

This is the most challenging option. You can do it for 1-4 days depending on your plan. This is also the most popular option at Hiking Vietnam. Please read the Fansipan Hiking Trails section for more details.

Fansipan cable car

A cable car to the peak of Fansipan was inaugurated on February 2, 2016. The gondola lift departs from a terminal in Muong Hoa Valley near Sapa and takes 20 minutes to arrive at the summit. The service holds two Guinness World Records for the longest non-stop three-rope cable car in the world, spanning 6.3 km (3.9 mi), and the greatest elevation difference by a non-stop three-roped cable car for the 1,410 m (4,630 ft) difference in elevation between the termini.

Currently, there are also climbing trains that help you get past the walking stairs.

When to go climbing Mt Fansipan Vietnam?

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The best time to climb Mt Fansipan is the dry season starting from late September to early May. During this time, October, November, February and March are the four best months for climbing Fansipan.

The warmest months are July and August, and the coldest months are December and January. Snow falls in some years on the highest peaks.

In common with the rest of northern Vietnam, Hoang Lien Nature Reserve experiences a marked wet season from May to September, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August. Mean annual rainfall is 2,763 mm, with a high of 4,023mm and a low of 2,064mm. Humidity ranges from 75 to 91 percent with a yearly mean of 86 percent.

Fansipan hiking trails

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There are three different route options to conquer Fansipan Mountain depending on your skill level and how much time you have. It’s definitely recommended that you go with a guide, and a porter – they can show you where to go, help carry supplies, and offer cultural insights that would otherwise be missed.

All Fansipan hiking tours take a few days, so be prepared for some camping. The entire experience will take you on an adventure that you won’t want to miss!

Fansipan hiking trail: Tram Ton route

  • Route: Sapa – Tram Ton – 2,200m – 2,800m – Fansipan Peak – Tram Ton – Sapa.
  • Duration: 1 – 2 days
Fansipan hiking trail: Tram Ton route

Tram Ton Trail remains the most popular route for intrepid travelers. The journey starts with a short drive from Sapa town to the starting point – Tram Ton itself offers several dramatic views. The first day of the trek takes you to the base camp at 2,800 m and is a 7 to 10 hour trek depending on how many rest stop you want to take. The second day starts early and if you ascend the summit by dawn, you can expect to reach back to the Sapa town in time for a late lunch. The hiking trail is just hard enough to give you the sense of adventure without tiring you out. Enjoy pine forests, magnificent flower blooms and majestic bamboo thickets on the way. Now many adventure travelers complete the trail in a single day.

Fansipan hiking trail: Sin Chai route

  • Route: Sapa – Tram Ton – 2800m – Fansipan Peak – 2200m – Sin Chai Village – Sapa
  • Duration: 3 days
Fansipan hiking trail: Sin Chai route

Sin Chai Trail is a more strenuous trail that will definitely require an overnight stay at base camp. This trail demands a bit of technical climbing at some points. From Sin Chai village, you start at 1260 meters, hiking for about 12 hours to reach Fansipan summit. We recommend 3 days to complete this trail.

Fansipan hiking trail: Cat Cat route

  • Route: Sapa – Cat Cat – 2,300m – Mount 2,900m – Campsite2,600m – Fansipan Summit – 2,800m Fansipan Summit – 2,800m – Tram Ton Pass – Sapa.
  • Duration: 3-4 days
Fansipan hiking trail: Cat Cat route

Cat Cat trail is the longest of the three trails and usually requires two nights of overnight halt in the mountains, but you will be blessed with the most scenic routes and the best experience of the myriad flora and fauna of the tropical forests. You begin at 1245 meters and hike approximately 18 hours to reach Fansipan summit.

Fansipan solo hike

If you are interested in hiking Fansipan without a guide, we strongly advise that you do not tackle either of these trails on your own, as there have been unfortunate mount Fansipan deaths.

The best option is to take a Fansipan guided tour. The local guide is knowledgeable about the route and an experienced trekker.

Fansipan climbing safety

Slips and falls

Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and also be sure to wear gloves as there are scramble ladders at points and also tree roots and rock surfaces that you may need to grip.


Be dressed for the climate but also factor in some amount of rain and cold weather.

Mosquitos, leeches, snakes

There are many warning about these dangers in the mountains though not many have reported actually seeing a snake. Even so, it is best to be prepared for the mosquitos and leeches.

Read more

Fansipan climbing tours

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Actually Fansipan climbing tours are hard trekking tours which offers challenges to adventure lovers. Conquering Fansipan requires strength, skill or even pre trip practices and proper logistic from organizer. You should follow strictly all disciplines referring to personal behavior towards natural and cultural environment, limitation of luggage as well as health warning.

At Hiking Vietnam we run four Fansipan hiking packages offering you the chance to conqueror Mt Fansipan based on your tour frame and personal interests.

Climbing Fansipan in one day

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Fansipan trek 1 day is the shortest itinerary. This is also the most challenging Fansipan hiking tour that we design for intrepid travelers, and those who do not have much time and are fit enough to do the adventure.

Fansipan trekking 2 days

trek, hike, climb mt fansipan 1

Fansipan trekking 2 days also starts with car transfer from Sapa town up to the Tram Ton – Heaven’s Gate. You start the climb right from the entrance of Hoang Lien park rangers. After the end of the first day, you almost reach the top. You reach Fansipan peak in the morning fo the second day. Then you hike down, following the same route to Tram Ton where you are picked up again and transferred back to Sapa town.

Fansipan 3 days 2 night package

trek, hike, climb mt fansipan 4

Fansipan 3 days 2 night package is more challenging. There is no transfer since the adventure begins from Sapa town, and also finishes there. You will hike through some H’mong villages before trekking up the Hoang Lien National Park. You will reach Fansipan summit on the second day, then back the Sapa town by another trail.

Fansipan trekking 4 days

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Fansipan trekking 4 days is our longest Fansipan tour. You start your adventure from Sapa town, sneaking through local Black H’mong and Red Dzao villages. You spend one night at homestay and two nights in camping tent before you conquer the summit of the Indochina.

Important notes when booking a Fansipan climb tour

  • Fansipan climbing tours are not recommended to senior people or children as well as those having high blood pressure!
  • Fansipan trekking tours are designed for customers whose strength and mobile ability above average plus some trekking practice and experience. The trekking trail is tough, steep and slippery at many parts.
  • Fansipan hiking tours can be organized the whole year around. Landscapes is lively beautiful from May to September thanks to rice and corn farming. Unfortunately it is hot and wet in these months especially heavy rain in July and August. Weather is nice in October, November and first half of December. January, February is cold and foggy. It gets better from March to April.
  • When joining a Fansipan climb tour, personal luggage is limited at maximum 6kg per person. Good trekking shoes, rain gear, warm clothes, insect repellents should be brought.
  • Hiking Vietnam may cancel the trip or change tour plan in case of bad weather, fire…at the last minutes for safety of customer.
  • Hiking Vietnam may cancel the tour if customers refuse to follow the hiking rules, safety instruction as well as environment protection.

Additional questions about climbing Fansipan mountain

Do you have any questions about climbing Fansipan mountain that you want to ask us? Is there anything you think I should discuss about hiking mount Fansipan that we left out… that we should include in future updates to this article? Leave a comment below with your questions and we’ll write you back with a response just as soon as we possibly can.