Measuring at 10,091.85 feet (3,076 meters), Phu Si Lung, Vietnam’s second tallest mountain, is in the same area as Fansipan, only much more remote. Teetering on Vietnam’s border with China, much of the mountain’s base sits in a foreign land.
Harder to access than Fansipan, Phu Si Lung’s beauty still attracts avid mountaineers.
Once the site of confrontation between Vietnam and China, Phu Si Lung, also referred to as Pu Si Lung, acts as a living wall, protecting the country from invasion. Remote and primitive, this mountain’s landscape has been preserved and untouched, allowing it to grow an abundance of flora.
Unlike Fansipan, Phu Si Lung is not a major tourist attraction, meaning there is no easy access routes or facilities at the top of the peak. Instead, the mountain can only be summited on foot and with a local guide. However, as a part of the same mountain range as Fansipan, the peaks share a similar history.
Emerging from the ground 250-260 million years ago, many consider the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range to be an Eastern extension of the Himalayan Mountain Range.
Due to Phu Si Lung being a remote destination, not much is published about the history or name of the mountain, although, “pu” does mean mountain in the Hmong language.
Located in northwest Vietnam, Phu Si Lung lies within the Lao Cai Province, similar to Fansipan. While the peaks are some distance apart, most trekkers use the town of Sapa, which sits in the Muong Hoa Valley, as a base camp.
Sapa has quite a few quality hotels and restaurant options as well as a museum that teaches visitors the area’s history.
Summiting Phu Si Lung
All travelers who want to summit Phu Si Lung must apply for a permit from the Vietnamese government before departing on their trek. The Lao Cai Military Staff Committee will issue trekkers with a special license and send a bodyguard with them in their journey.
Not currently at war with China, the bodyguard will both ensure the security of the border and act as both your guide while you hike the mountain. Phu Si Lung has earned the reputation of being the most difficult mountain to hike in the Lao Cai Province.
Those who do take on the challenge to summit Phu Si Lung should expect to face a steep and overgrown trail. Parts of the path may be obscured by rhododendrons and bamboo or intersected by mountains streams. Hikers can get lost easily, which is why a local guard or guide is essential.
Even the most experienced hikers will take their time summiting the mountain. The trek cannot be completed in a single day, with most hikers spending about 3 days at minimum traveling to reach Phu Si Lung’s summit.
This means that anyone going on the journey will need to prepare to camp in the dense Vietnamese jungle. From previous ascensions, the guide can lead hikers to the safest areas where a camp can be set up for the night. Local guides can be hired in Sapa and additional help can also be employed to carry gear.
Being in the same province as Fansipan, the weather at Phu Si Lung is similar, however, fog and cloud coverage occurs much more frequently here, appearing denser during the rainy season.
For a safer journey, it is best to hike Phu Si Lung during the dry season, which lasts from January until June. Furthermore, all hikers should be prepared for rain, regardless of the time of year, as short showers can appear randomly.
See the Peak
With a reputation of being difficult, Phu Si Lung is best left to the avid mountaineers and adventurists. Those who have the fitness to make the journey will be rewarded with an intimate view of Vietnam, and with no swarming tourists, Phu Si Lung is nature at its finest.
If reaching this peak seems too tricky, or you simply wish to see more of this stunning country at a higher elevation, check out a few of the other highest mountains in Vietnam!