Mount Fansipan is the highest mountain in Indochina and can be climbed without any special equipment, guides or porters. But you still need to consider a few things before heading out on your own. Take a look at this list of things to think of when hiking mount Fansipan so you can come as prepared as possible.
First of all.. How do I get there?
You need to go to Sapa first if you want to go to Mount Fansipan. There are many ways you can get there via Hanoi for example. There’s buses and trains that depart every day, or why not rent your own motorbike and go there yourself. Once you’re in Sapa, you can take a taxi to the trailhead at the top of the Tram Ton Pass. The journey only lasts about 20 minutes and most taxi drivers will know where you want to go. Ask the driver to take you to the “Love Waterfall” or Thac Tinh Yeu. The entrance to the waterfall should be on your left, if approaching from Sapa. You will see a large billboard with the title “Hoang Lien Son National Park” where you can see a map of the three trails leading to the top of the mountain.
When to go
The weather in the mountains are always unpredictable so it’s difficult to say when’s the best time to go. Even if you go during dry season, you could easily get rain during your hike. The temperatures also fluctuate from hour to hour and even if it’s bright when you start your hike, you could be surrounded by thick clouds once you reach the top. But most people would agree that the best season to hike the mountain is March and April, during spring. September and October, during autumn, are two other great months to climb since the weather is mild.
How to dress
As with every hike you do, you should come fully prepared. If you’re going to high mountains, you should bring clothes for every kind of weather – hot, cold and rainy. It’s also very important to bring the right shoewear. Too often do you see people who hike in regular sneakers and regret it the instance they start hiking. Hiking shoes are a great investment, especially if you’re planning on doing several hikes during your trip. Bring a pair that’s both waterproof and that you’ve walked in. Don’t bring a pair you’ve just bought and never tried on, you’ll guaranteed get blisters then. Also, bring proper socks for your shoes, rain jacket and a raincover for your bag. Don’t forget to pack some warmer clothes too. Even if it’s hot when you start the hike, it can get freezing when you reach the top. Hypothermia is not to be played with.
What to bring
If you’re planning on hiking Mount Fansipan without a guide, you have to remember to bring everything you need for the hike. Don’t underestimate the hike – even if it can be done in one day, it still takes about 6-8 hours to finish. So bring lots and lots of water with you. It’s important to stay hydrated since the climb will be strenuous and you won’t be able to buy water anywhere. You should also bring snacks, although don’t overdo it. Just bring enough so you can get some energy during the hike. Download the app maps.me too before you go and make sure you have the trail mapped out, in case you’d get lost.
Do I need a permission?
If you ask most of the locals, they’ll say you need a permission to climb the mountain. But most travelers will say that it’s not needed. Some of the reasons why locals say you can’t do it independently is because 1) they want you to go with a guide, which can cost you up to 100 USD. 2) if you would get into an accident, it would both be a personal tragedy and give the national park a bad name and bad press. But even though you can climb Mount Fansipan independently and without a permission, there’s no reason for you to not be careful. Have respect for the mountain and don’t be reckless. Climb safely and responsibly, take into account what the weather will be like (if it’s rainy, it can be slippery for example) and always tell someone where you’re going.
Time and distance
From the starting point of the trail to the summit of Mount Fansipan is 11.2 km. It might not sound like a lot, but you need to take into consideration that the trail won’t be just a straight line. The ascent takes about 5-6 hours, depending on your fitness. Take some time when you reach the summit to enjoy the view and to just take it all in. You did climb all the way up after all!
Before you go to Vietnam, remember that you need a visa in order to enter the country (depending on your nationality). You can apply for an online visa or go to the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them. The online visas are the most popular options amongst tourists though because of how easy and affordable it is. You can apply for it from wherever you are in the world! You can either apply for a ‘Visa on Arrival’ or ‘E-Visa’ if you wish to get an online visa.