Travel Diary : Conquering the roof of Indochina


Mount Fansipan, located in northern Vietnam, is Indochina's highest point at 3,143 metres above sea level. Culminating in the heart of the eponymous national park in the mountainous north-west region, it attracts many hikers in search of adventure: this impressive mountain, also known as the “roof of Indochina”, is a sporting challenge and a fascinating journey through spectacular landscapes and a unique culture. Although a cable car has been running to its summit since 2016, there's no substitute for the thrill of treading its path to conquer its peaks. On the way to the summit, you'll enjoy magnificent views of northern Vietnam and its terraced fields. In this travel diary, I present a two-day/1-night trek to the summit of Fansipan. It's a much-appreciated circuit, with a night's bivouac at around 2800 meters to recharge the batteries before the final, tough push to the summit at dawn. It is of course possible to conquer the crown of Indochina in 3 or 4 days, depending on your availability and physical condition.
Follow me on this demanding but grandiose adventure that will leave a lasting impression on both body and mind!
Note: The expedition actually begins with the journey from Hanoi to the town of Sapa. I recommend that you take an overnight bus or train the day before, as the latter requires you to finish the journey from Lao Cai to Sa Pa by bus.
Learn more about Sa Pa with this Sapa highlights and travel guide



Map of a 2Day trekking to Fansipan's Peak - Source : Mr Linh's adventures


Travel diary

Day 1

The adventure begins at dawn with a transfer by vehicle to the Tram Ton pass - also known as O Quy Ho pass - at 1950 meters altitude. A spectacular journey in its own right, the winding road offers vertiginous views of the mountains.
Note: There is a possible option along the way, to visit the Love Waterfall (Thác Tình Yêu). Ask your driver to take you 15 km west of Sapa, on the QL4D road. The waterfall entrance and parking lot are on your left, just after the top of a pass, which marks the start of the Tram Ton pass.
For my part, from the pass and after the usual formalities (you need a permit to climb the summit of the Indochinese peninsula), it's the start of a 4-hour ascent through a bamboo forest, winding over countless metal ladders in the steepest passages. A physically demanding trail with its long, steep slopes, but what a reward the breathtaking views of rice terraces and ethnic villages! Lunch break on the banks of a small stream.
At around 4pm, we reach the Fansipan camp at 2800 metres to pitch our tents. A bitterly cold wind blows in, but the comfort of a hot meal revives our strength. After dinner, I literally collapse into my sleeping bag for an invigorating night, despite the cold and rocky comfort.

Let's conquer the Roof of Indochina! Personal collection

Day 2

Awakened at 5am, we set off again in the cool darkness after a quick breakfast by headlamp light. The last few metres of ascent are a real test, with many exposed passages to be negotiated carefully in the dusk.
Dawn gradually breaks, revealing a landscape of rock formations emerging from a sea of clouds. Invigorated by these breathtaking views, we draw on our last reserves of strength to finally reach, after 4 hours of intense effort, the mythical summit at 3143 meters!
The immensity of the mountains as far as the eye can see, under an intense blue sky, is awe-inspiring. A feeling of accomplishment multiplied tenfold by the joy of having conquered this legendary mountain by sheer strength of calf! What a joy to share this moment of unity with nature, at the summit of Indochina!
After savouring the breathtaking panorama, it's time for the tricky descent along the same sheer paths (but I know a few who take the cable car back down...). At the end of the day, tired but full of the spirit of this unforgettable adventure, we drive back to Sapa. A grandiose expedition that will leave an indelible mark on our bodies and souls.
Have a look to those Mount Fansipan trekking :

Preparations and equipment for conquering Fan Si Pan

Before setting out to conquer Mount Fansipan, make sure you're both physically and mentally prepared. Regular training and good physical condition are essential for tackling the long distances and steep gradients involved.

As far as equipment is concerned, remember to pack

  • ✓ Sturdy hiking boots
  • ✓ Warm, waterproof clothing
  • ✓ A comfortable backpack
  • ✓ Light tent and sleeping bag
  • ✓ A headlamp
  • ✓ Sufficient food and water
  • ✓ Firstaid kit
  • ✓ Charged cell phone


Ready to take on the Fansipan challenge? Personal collection


Choosing the right period

The best months to undertake this epic trek are from October to April. And for good reason!
First of all, the climate is ideal during this period. Vietnam enjoys a dry season, with sunny weather and pleasant temperatures. This means you can enjoy a safer, more comfortable hike.
Secondly, hiking conditions are optimal. The trail is less muddy and easier to walk, making it easier to reach the summit.
Finally, visibility is generally better during the dry season, allowing you to discover the breathtaking panoramas from the summit of Fansipan in all their splendor.
Bear in mind, however, that weather conditions can be unpredictable in the mountains, even during the dry season. Be sure to check the weather forecast before setting out on your hike to be prepared for any eventuality.

The final word

Ready to take on the Fansipan challenge? This epic climb requires good physical condition and the right equipment, but it will reward you with an unforgettable experience in the heart of North Vietnam's breathtaking scenery.
Fansipan is a legendary peak that tops the list of greatest challenges for adventurous hikers. If you're up for the challenge, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views and memories that will stay with you forever.
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