Hoang Lien Son mountain range in northwest Vietnam has been named one of the world’s most exciting destinations for 2019 by prestigious American magazine National Geographic.
The Fansipan cable car in Sa Pa, a project of Sun Group, was designed by the Austrian cable manufacturer Doppelmayr Garaventa. The cable car system, built at a height of 3,143 meters above sea level starts from Muong Hoa valley to Fansipan peak. It can carry up to 2,000 passengers per hour, with each cabin accommodating 35 people. The system shortens the travel time to the peak of Fansipan to 15 minutes, instead of two days of climbing. The grandiose mountain range ranks seventh among the world’s 28 best places to travel this year and is the most exciting destination in South East Asia.
“The 28 best voyages and these experiences have inspired and transformed our vision, connecting us with cultures, destinations and ideas that affect the world," said George Stone, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Travel.
“Thanks to a new cable car connection, tourist traffic is on the rise at 10,312-foot Fansipan, Vietnam’s highest peak. Still, much of this northwest mountain region (beyond the busy gateway town Sa Pa) remains rugged, rural, and a world away from hectic Hanoi, about 195 miles to the southeast,” the US-based magazine said.
Visitors can enjoy the pristine and splendid beauty of Hoang Lien Son mountain range by taking the cable car that connects Muong Hoa valley with Fansipan, the so-called roof of Indochina.
The cable car takes visitors through a green valley of natural forests, floating white clouds and terraced rice fields, which symbolize the northwest mountain region.
Visitors will enjoy the peaceful atmosphere on Fansipan in Sapa which boasts a spiritual and cultural area that features Kim Son Bao Thang pagoda and a giant statue of Amitabha Buddha, the largest bronze statue of Buddha in Vietnam. The 21.5m high statue is made of tens of thousands of 5mm bronze flat bars. The sound of a pagoda’s bell gives visitors a feeling of calm.
At the summit of Fansipan where a monument is built to mark the highest point of the roof of Indochina, visitors feel as if they are floating on a sea of white clouds. The Fansipan cable car system has received two Guinness World Records as the world's longest three-rope cable car (6,292.5 meters) and the three-rope cable car system with the world's biggest height gap between its departure and arrival stations (1,410 meters).
Fansipan is not the only attraction in Hoang Lien Son. The unique culture of ethnic groups, including the Mong, Dao, Xa Pho, Tay Giay, Kinh and Hoa, who have lived in Sa Pa for ages, makes the northwest mountain region truly appealing to visitors, especially foreigners.
In Sa Pa, visitors have a chance to watch traditional festivals of ethnic people such as Xuong Dong (going down to the fields); Gau Tao (a festival of the Hmong to pray for happiness and good health); Roong Pooc (a festival of the Giay to pray for a bumper crop); Mua Xoe (a festival of the Tay dedicated to the God of Farming); and Cap Sac (the maturity ceremony of the Dao).
The festivals, which include worship rituals, and community activities such as folk dances and folk games, offer visitors memorable experiences of the original culture of ethnic groups in the northwest.
Sa Pa district now has nearly 160 establishments providing homestay tourism services in Ta Van, Lao Chai, Ban Ho and Ta Phin communes, where visitors can experience the daily life and culture of the locals. The beautiful tourist town also has an ancient rock field in Muong Hoa valley and ethnic villages scattered on beautiful terraced fields.
For adventurous travelers who do not want to take the cable car to reach Fansipan, there is a road going through Hoang Lien Son national park which starts from Tram Ton at a height of 1,900 meters and goes up to a height of 2,900 meters.
Visitors can also reach Fansipan by walking on a road going through Hoang Lien Son national park. The park is recognized as an ASEAN heritage park and is considered the ‘green lung’ of the northwest. It is a biodiversity center which is home to many endemic species named in the world’s red list of endangered species./.
Story: Thong Thien - Photos: VNP & Sun World