We are a group of 20 experienced hikers from Singapore (been to Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Rinjani). we want to trek Mt. Fansipan, and our air tickets are booked.
We intend to do this:
13 Nov (Sat) - Arrive in Ha Noi, go to Ha Noi railway station, board train to Lao Cai
14 Nov (Sun) - Arrive in Lao Cai, go to Bac Ha Sunday market, look around
After that, proceed to Sa Pa, stay overnight.
15 Nov (Mon) - Start Fansipan Trekking
16 Nov (Tue) - Fansipan Trekking
17 Nov (Wed) - finish trekking, go back to Sa Pa, stay overnight at Sa Pa
18 Nov (Thu) - Hmong village tour, cultural tour of local tribes, etc, cycling? stay overnight at Sa Pa
19 Nov (Fri) - Proceed to Lao Cai, cross border into China, look around,
board train to Ha Noi
20 Nov (Sat) - Ha Noi free and easy
21 Nov (Sun) - half day Ha Noi free and easy, fly back home.
Can anyone advise, is it feasible to do the pre-Fansipan portion ala backpacking/free and easy style without engaging travel agents?
I've been to Vietnam backpacking twice, I just worry about availability of train tickets since I am bringing a large group.
Which agent is recommended for Fansipan trekking?
Is it advisable to look for travel agents in Sapa directly? Would booking the agent through internet be more expensive?
#1 SKYWalkersSG has been a member since 2/9/2010. Posts: 1
Train tickets - Sapa trains get booked up really early. I think this may be because the travel agents buy them up. Anyway, it might be quieter in November but I'd still say that the chances of turning up in Hanoi, buying a ticket and getting on a train that evening are close to Nil. So you will need to book in advance. There are plenty of travel agents that sell tickets but I'm not sure whether they will take an email booking as they will want payment. Have a look around. Your best bet might be to book one of the fancy carriages - a bit more pricey but at least you'd have a ticket. Try www.livitrans.com - $33 each way.
Bac Ha - note that the last bus from Bac Ha back to Lao Cai is at about 1pm.
I looked into Fansipan treks a bit but haven't done one so I'm not sure if it's feasible to do it yourself. I would think it's unlikely. A private tour for just your group will probably cost about $60+ per person.
I'm not sure what you are referring to when you ask about whether travel agents in Sapa will be more expensive. Do you mean for Fansipan or the whole trip?
And China - I don't know if there's a lot to see just over the border. Do you need visas for China / Vietnam (being from Singapore)? If not then I guess it's worth a look! It would be pretty expensive thing to do if you needed visas though.
agree with sarah on most things.
Why don't you try to find an agent that can organize the trek for you AND buy the traintickets?
For a big group with a tight schedule I would certainly pay an extra $10 for the convenience and certainty. Any big reputable agent or operator can sort these things out. Just tell them you don't want a tour, just the tickets and guides for the trek
The two Sapa agencies I've had dealings with are Sapa Travel Mate (contact Jennifer Huyen on email@example.com) and Vietnam Nomad Trails Ltd (Thanh Tan on firstname.lastname@example.org). They are both very helpful and responsive on email so might be worth contacting them to see what they can offer. There's also Handspan but they're a bit pricier www.handspan.com.