Fansipan - the rooftop of Vietnam
Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia at a height of more than 3000m above sea level, is located in Sapa. In 2016, a cable car was constructed to connect Sapa town centre to a station near the summit. Since then, the number of visitors has rocketed as the journey that previously took a couple of days and required climbing skills and fitness now takes only 15 mins on the cable car and 600 steps from the station to the top of the mountain.
The view from Mount Fansipan is fantastic. On clear days, you will get to see the magnificent view of the mountain range, the forests and villages from above. On a foggy day, you won't get to see much but being surrounded by the clouds and being able to touch them is quite an experience. I recommend that you get to the Mount Fansipan by noon as the sun is hottest at noon so the sky will be clearest.
How to get there?
If you are interested in climbing, you will need to get a local guide. There are a lot of agencies who offer a tour from Hanoi. Make sure you're well equipped and prepared for the trip because Fansipan is not a joke. Many people died from climbing the Mount.
If you want to take the easy way, then here is all you need to know:
Getting to the cable car station (Sapa station): Take the Muong Hoa train from Sun Plaza station, which is located right in the centre of Sapa or a taxi to Sapa station. I recommend you taking the train because you will get to see the entire Muong Hoa valley from above, which is a stunning and grand view of the peaceful villages, trails and terraces with tribe people working on the hillsides. The train ride cost 50k VNF when I was there in winter 2018.
Taking the cable car: From Sapa station you then take the cable car to Fansipan station, which is near the summit. The ticket cost 700k VND for a round trip and it's valid for one day only. You can buy the tickets at Sapa station or buy a combo tickets (Muong Hoa train + cable car) at Sun Plaza station at a slightly cheaper price. Each cabin can accommodate up to 30 people. The journey is only about 15 mins and you will get to admire the magnificent view of the mountains, forests and villages. Depending on the weather, you may find yourself surrounded by the cloud due to the high altitude and the view may be limited.
Getting to the peak of the mountain: You have either walk about 600 steps to the peak or take Do Quyen train (it's a name of a flower in Vietnam) to the peak, which cost 60k VND for a single trip. 600 steps isn't a lot but due to the altitude, a lot of people, especially the elderly, struggle. If you're generally fit, I think you should be able to do it although remember to take your time and let your body adjust to the altitude. On the way to the peak, you will get to see Sunworld Fansipan Legend with a lot of spiritual and cultural attractions such as buddha, Arahant statues, temples. If you have to take the train up to the peak, I'd recommend you walk down to enjoy the beauty the Fansipan Legend.