Fansipan, Vietnam – not recommended

World → Asia → Vietnam → Fansipan

No longer one of the best hikes in the world

Fansipan

  •  Vietnamese: Phan Xi Păng

“the Roof of Indochina”

A cable car will open September 2015 or sooner, degrading the hiking experience. The Sapa area is great, but trek elsewhere in the region. This summit will soon be flooded with suitcase tourists. 😦

Below is our old information page, no longer being updated.

Update (this is an exception 🙂) from patriciaoprea March 2017:

I paid about 60 USD the night before (I’m so last minute) for a tour from Sa Pa
It was 2 days,1 night.

The good thing about this? We arrived at the summit at 7:00 in the morning.
The cable car is built, but NOBODY is there at that hour, because it hasn’t opened yet!

I loved this hike, go for it 🙂

 

AT A GLANCE

  • map Fansipan3,143 meters (10,312ft), it’s the highest in Indochina
  • Northwest region of Vietnam, near the Chinese border
  • 9km southwest of Sapa (Sa Pa), a gorgeous hill station developed by the French
  • 1-3 days hiking
  • pine forests, bamboo thickets and jungle
  • best months October through April. Some say April and May are best as it’s warmer. And the flowers are in bloom.
  • avoid the wet season from June to September, with heaviest rainfall occurring in July and August
  • record for scaling Fansipan is one hour and thirty-five minutes, in case you want to better that time. 🙂

Panoramic views of the mountain ranges of northwest Vietnam, if you get any views at all. The summit is famously shrouded in cloud.:-(

Why We Like This Hike

  • about 2,024 floral varieties and 327 fauna species (sadly many of the larger animals have been hunted out)
  • no ropes or technical climbing skills are needed
  • plaque at the peak placed February 2007
  • colourful minority ethnic people, especially on market days
  • ridge walk sections were our favourite

P1310436

Considerations

  • malarial mosquitoes can be a danger some months of the year
  • bring warm clothes. Temperatures below freezing are frequent.
  • snow is possible
  • climb is rough, wet, muddy and cold. Some bring rubber boots.
  • gloves with good grips recommended for ladders and rock scramble
  • scramble ladders and tree roots
  • you may be clutching bamboo at points
  • we’ve seen warnings about poisonous snakes, leeches, rodents, perhaps exaggerated
  • dogs are a worry, both in Sapa and on the trail. Even if you don’t carry a trekking pole, you might want to carry a stick
  • Sapa is a tourist trap. Touts are a pest.

Cost

Guided trips are no longer as inexpensive as they once were. Seems the government got stricter with guide requirements.

We paid $95 for a one day, up-and-down for 1 person October 2014.

A two day trek costs $180 for 1 person October 2014. You can negotiate on price with some agencies.

Shop around. The official government tourist information office quoted $120 for the $95 tour. Assume the difference is commission.

Routes

There are a number of options, including a 1 day guided up-and-down.

It’s possible to do independently. But we wouldn’t recommend it unless you are familiar with the route.

click for larger version

click for larger version

There are three routes to the mountain. One is from Tram Ton, the others from the villages of Sin Chai and Cat Cat.

The first route is a more gradual climb because it has been selected for tourists. The trip can be made in a day.

The route from Sin Chai is shorter but more adventurous, requiring climbers to sometimes use ropes or other special facilities for climbing.

The route from Cat Cat is the longest, but mixes some challenging climbs with great scenery. After one day of climbing, there’s a break at 2,200m above sea level. Climbers can have a meal cooked by a Mong porter and camp, followed by a second camp at 2,700m before reaching the peak on the third day.

Most climbers chose a tour from Sa Pa at a cost of about VND1.5 million excluding train fare from Ha Noi, and tours should be booked a month in advance.

Climb Sipan
  • many hikers arrive by overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, then bus from Lao Cai to Sapa. Those tickets sell out during high season, especially during holidays, as Sapa is super popular with Vietnamese.
  • even better, some feel, is the night sleep bus direct from Hanoi
  • we stayed at the Sapa Unique Hotel for about $35 / night. It gets rave reviews.

Trekking Guides

Logistics

We recommend you hire a guide. Let them do the logistics. You simply enjoy the journey.

  • on the most popular route up from the Ranger Station Camp 1 is located at around 1,500m (4,920ft). Simple accommodation and food are offered.
  • at 2,800m (9,190ft) is Camp 2. Sleeping is communal in a very poorly maintained ‘hut’. Might have rodents. Have your agency bring tents, instead. Camp 2 is trashed and unsanitary.

Local Information

  • none aside from hotels and lodges

Best Trekking Guidebooks

  • none that we know of

Best Travel Guidebooks

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports

Movies

Click PLAY or watch Leonard Boey’s 2013 trip highlights on YouTube.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

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9 thoughts on “Fansipan, Vietnam – not recommended

  1. So sad!
    it is already bad or until september 2015 will be ok? I plan to go there in january…
    Thanks for your reply,
    Laurianne

  2. Hello! So sorry to hear that.. a construction site you say.. well, it seems it i will be better to look for the magnificent sights and challenge elsewhere.. Do you have any favorite climb that would be as well a little challenging but also very sight-wise rewarding? 🙂 no necessarily near SaPa..

  3. Pingback: trapped on a watery hellhole they called fansipan | the last word

  4. Hello!

    I hiked Fansipan on March 2017.
    I paid about 60 USD the night before (I’m so last minute) for a tour from Sa Pa
    It was 2 days,1 night.

    The good thing about this? We arrived at the summit at 7:00 in the morning.
    The cable car is built, but NOBODY is there at that hour, because it hasn’t opened yet!
    I loved this hike, go for it 🙂

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