How to get there:
First, travel to the tourist mountain town named Sapa. There is a good toll road from Hanoi going north, then a more normal (slower) road climb almost 1500 meter (a bit more than an hour) to reach Sapa. There are tons of hotels and shops in Sapa.
Only a few kilometer outside of the center of Sapa is the valley station of a rather impressive gondola lift. A taxi will quickly get you there. The lift ticket was 700.000 VND (2018). The gondola actually starts a bit downhill as it crosses the main valley before climbing high on Fansipan. You exit at about 3000 meter of elevation at the top station.
The route to the top from the gondola top exit is pretty obvious. Expect hundreds of people. There are wide stairs with multiple possibilities. One may ascend directly up in front of the big Budda statue, three sections each having 45 steps, it may also be possible to take a route that ascends up behind the Budda. Either way, there are some flat sections and even a few places were you descend steps in order to have some more uphill later. The final climb, similarly has more steps. Although pretty trivial as a climb, if you come from lower elevation and walk these steps briskly, you are likely to feel the effort.
The summit is a smaller area with several viewing platforms and several summit markers. One summit marker is placed on the highest rock. It is fenced in, but not more than making it possible to actually touch the highest point.
I was driven to the public parking area, location N22.34477, E103.82114, around 1030. This is served with small, free shuttle buses that drive you downhill to the general entrance. The gondola station is a rather large building that you reach after a short walk from here. You buy the tickets on the first floor, then take escalators down to the actual boarding area.
I exited the cable car at 1100 and took an easy stroll with multiple stops to see all the statues and temples that have been built up here. I was on top at 1130, spending more time as I had scheduled the entire trip to last 3 hours. On my way down, I observed a buddist munch that rang one of the big bells multiple times.