Vietnam’s highest mountain is Fansipan near Sapa – Lai Chau province.
Northern Vietnam is also the place where you can visit the highest mountain of Vietnam – Fansipan (Vietnamese: Phan Xi Păng). The height of the mountain is 3143m and if you want to go there you have to go to the city of Sapa. Fansipan mountain has recently undergone a transformation of sorts and is now an easily accessible tourist and popular attraction, as you can take a modern cable car (opened in 2016) from Sapa and enjoy fantastic views of the Hoang Lien Son mountain range and other mountain sceneries. Fansipan is definitely one of the top must-see places in Sapa and attracts a large number of tourists – one of the most visited mountain in northern Vietnam.
Mountain train from Sapa town centre to the Muong Hoa station.
But that’s not all. You can go to the Fansipan mountain directly from the centre of Sapa. Since 2018, a mountain train leaves from Sapa town and takes you to the cable car station called Sun World Fansipan Legend (or Muong Hoa Station). From Muong Hoa station you can travel by cable car and take a 6.3 km long route through the Hoang Lien Son national park to Fansipan mountain. And that’s why even the mountain at the top has been upgraded a transformed to tourist site. It now also offers a cafe – restaurant with a fabulous view right next to the modern big rope station at the top. There is also a large seated Buddha, a pagoda / buddhist palace on top and also another small cable car up to the top of the mountain and sometimes a lot of tourists.
You can go to the Fansipan mountain by train + cable car or go with a guide.
So there are 2 ways to get to Fansipan from Sapa. Either you get your own private guide and go on your own or you take a cable car from Fansipan Legend station. The trek certainly has its charms too, but most tourists will still choose to take the train + cable car from Sapa town via Muong Hoa station. The mountain train leaves from the city centre, the station is at the main square in the Sunplaza commercial centre (next door is the BB Hotel Sapa). You can buy your ticket here, it is possible to buy a ticket just to the Fansipan Legend cable car station (Muong Hoa station) or a combo ticket for the train + cable car up the mountain together.
The ride to the cable car station is short, the length of the route is about 2.6 km and the ride time is about 10 minutes. From here you can also see a piece of the Muong Hoa Valley and Hoang Lien Son mountain range near Sapa town. Then you get off at the Fansipan Legend station and just change to the cable car which will take you to Fansipan Mountain (it takes approx. 20 minutes).
At Fansipan Legend station (Muong Hoa station) there is also a restaurant, cafe and even shops, it’s kind of a small commercial centre. The journey from Sapa to Fansipan Mountain by train + cable car will definitely take about 1 hour, unless you get stuck somewhere. Tickets for adults cost about 100,000 VND (4 USD) for the mountain train and about 750,000 VND for the cable car to Fansipan mountain. Please note that prices can vary over time and by season.
What can you see and visit or use on your way to Mount Fansipan?
If you choose to travel to Fansipan mountain by train + cable car, you will firstly enjoy fantastic views of the mountain area. But that’s not all. Sapa has also undergone great changes over the years. The Sunplaza, where the mountain train departs from, is a new commercial centre, quite nicely architecturally done and where there are various shops selling souvenirs, clothes and so on. So if you want to buy shoes, you can try to buy them here 🙂 On the way by train you will have a view of Muong Hoa valley – a very famous place where tourists flock to visit tourist villages and use homestay accommodation with ethnic minorities – Black Hmong.
Fansipan Legend cable car station is also a popular tourist site with restaurant.
Around the Fansipan Legend cable car station, where the cable cars leave from, various tourist photo corners and selfie spots and often rather kitschy imitations of everything possible (e.g. the Eiffel Tower, etc.) have been created. It’s a place where more tourists congregate. There are also restaurants, cafes and even smaller shops near the station. The length of the cable car route to Fansipan is about 6.3 km and from here you can again see the Muong Hoa valley, Hoang Lien National Park and another huge number of mountains and mountain ranges around Sapa town, with good visibility you can see all the way to China or at least the border. It is also possible to see Tram Ton Pass (O Quy Ho), it is located north of Fansipan mountain.
When to go to Fansipan mountain? What is the best time for visit?
Sapa also has, of course, recommended periods for visiting, like other places in Vietnam. However, since it is a high mountain place, and you will go to the mountain, you have to take into account that even outside the recommended periods there can be rapid changes in the weather, e.g. sun in the morning – rain in the afternoon, fog… So it’s important to choose the right day if you want to see something, and watch the weather in advance if you don’t want to see just fog and rain. The recommended periods to visit Sapa and Mount Fansipan are from March to May and from September to October. September and October can be ideal as it is also a good time to see and visit northern Vietnam. Pleasant temperatures, rice harvest time and a fairly dry season.
The most rain falls in the summer months and the most fog and cold weather in the winter months. If you go in autumn, be prepared with warm and waterproof clothing just in case, it can get very, very cold on Mount Fansipan. The average temperature on Mount Fansipan is around 10°C. Mount Fansipan has seen frosts to freezing temperatures and even snow (but no drifts) several times in the fall.
Caution: despite the recommended seasons, there is no guarantee anywhere that it will be clear, beautiful and rain-free on Mount Fansipan, unfortunately this can never be guaranteed. So I recommend to come to Sapa town, for example for 3 days, and observe how the weather in the area will develop and then buy a ticket and go. I would skip the monsoon season in northern Vietnam and focus on autumn. People with cardiovascular or respiratory health problems are not recommended to go to the mountain.
Where to stay in Sapa? You can stay at the town center or stay in the village.
Sapa has grown quite a lot with more hotels and is very wide. So you will find there various hotels, guesthouses, hostels, but in the surrounding villages also homestays with minorities. I would also recommend trying a homestay somewhere in the countryside further away from the city. Accommodation here you can find cheap (homestay and hotels) but also very expensive for example luxury 5-star hotels and resorts even with swimming pool. It’s also good to know how you will move around here, some accommodation, e.g. homestay are even a few kilometers away from the city center, e.g. in the villages of Tavan, Thanh Kim, Ban Ho.
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FAQ + Travel Tips – Train + Cable Car from Sapa to Fansipan:
1️⃣ Where is the highest mountain of Vietnam – Fansipan?
The highest mountain of Vietnam – Fansipan (3143 m) is located near the town of Sapa in the Hoang Lien Son mountain range (it is a part of Lai Chau province).
2️⃣ How to get to Mount Fansipan from Sapa?
The most convenient and popular option is to travel by mountain train from the downtown station (Ga cáp treo Sun World Fansipan Legend) and the cable car via the Fansipan Legend – Muong Hoa station (Cáp treo Fansipan). Another option is to use a guide and take some private trek. Most tourists already use the train + cable car route to the Fansipan mountain via Muong Hoa station. The train + cable car trip takes a total of just over 1 hour with a transfer at Fansipan Legend Station.
3️⃣ How to buy train + cable car tickets to Fansipan Mountain?
You have 2 options: buy tickets on the spot (recommended) or online at the official website of the train and cable car company: Sunworld or you can book them with KLOOK. Tickets to Fansipan Mountain are also offered by various travel agencies or other resellers. The ticket (magnetic card purchased officially on the spot) is valid for the day you bought it, the ticket cannot be used for another day.
4️⃣ What is the price of train + cable car tickets to Fansipan Mountain?
A ticket to Mount Fansipan costs about 750,000 VND for adults and 550,000 VND for children, children up to 1 m high get it for free. It is a round trip ticket, that means, from Fansipan Legend Station (Muong Hoa Station) to Fansipan Mountain and then back.
A train ticket from Sapa town to Fansipan Legend station (Muong Hoa station) costs about 100,000 VND
A ticket from the station on Fansipan Mountain to the top of the mountain costs about 70,000 VND
Visitors coming from Lao Cai province have a lower ticket price
Please note: prices are subject to change, official prices on Sunworld
5️⃣ How long does it take to get to Mount Fansipan by train + cable car?
It takes about 10 minutes by mountain train from Sapa town to the Fanispan Legend Cable Car station. After that, transfer to the cable car and ride up Mount Fansipan – about 20 minutes. If there are no major delays it could take about 1 hour. I would reserve at least half a day for the trip.
6️⃣ How long is the cable car route to Mount Fansipan?
The cable car from Sun World Fansipan Legend Station in Muong Hoa Valley to Fansipan Mountain is 6292.5 m long. It is one of the longest cable cars in the world (listed in the Guinness Book of World Records).
7️⃣ Is it possible to buy food or drink on Mount Fansipan?
Yes, it is possible, there is a restaurant/cafe and even a shop on Fansipan Mountain. I personally tried the food and drink and it wasn’t bad, but expect higher prices. You can also buy food at the Fansipan Legend cable car station, as well as at the commercial center in Sun Plaza.
8️⃣ What is the best time to visit Fansipan mountain?
The best time for visit Fansipan mountain is autumn and spring, September – October or March – May. It is better to avoid the monsoon season (summer months). Be aware that the weather can change quickly on the mountain, it can be very cold and even foggy in winter, so be prepared with warm waterproof clothing. As far as visitors go, yes it is a top tourist spot and lots of tourists come. The most visited days are weekend days.
9️⃣ How to get to the peak of Mount Fansipan?
After you arrive by cable car to Fansipan, you have to climb another 600 steps to the peak of the mountain. You can also use the high altitude small train that takes you there from Do Quyen station (Ga tàu hoả leo núi), a ticket can be bought on the spot.
🔟 What are the opening hours of the train + cable car to Mount Fansipan?
The train from Sapa town to Fansipan Legend Station operates from 8am – 5pm and the cable car to Fansipan Mountain 7.30am – 5.30pm throughout the week. Please note that the times have changed several times in the past and may therefore vary in the future, they may also vary on some public holidays. Just come during the day.
➡️ What will you see on your way to Mount Fansipan?
If you take the train and cable car, you can see the Muong Hoa valley, Hoang Lien National Park, the mountain scenery around Sapa and in good weather you can see all the way to China from the mountain. Around the Fansipan Legend cable car station, a number of photo spots and even kitschy commercial attractions have been built.
➡️ Is it possible to use a guide and walk up Fansipan Mountain?
Yes, it’s possible, it’s another way to reach Fansipan, probably a different experience. You should take some private tour guide from Sapa. There are different length treks to Hoang Lien Park and to Fansipan, e.g. 1-3 days.
➡️ How you can travel to Sapa from Hanoi?
There are various travel options how to reach Sapa from Hanoi. There are sleeper trains to Lao Cai (about 30 km from Sapa town), tourist buses or minivans and also various private cars / taxi. Sapa has no airport, it is not possible to travel by plane. Read this article: How to reach Sapa from Hanoi?