I love Vietnam, but traveling is sometimes a pain in the ass in this enormous long country. There is only one train line, the reunification line and it goes from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh alongside the sea. A lot of places are not covered by this train, and it costs way more than the night buses.
Everybody told me to take the busses because they are cheap and comfortable. Well, I made other experiences and I now really hate them. The last route from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh I decided to do by train, and now I regret the decision to not take more night trains instead of night buses.
What is so bad about these busses?
Maybe they are comfortable – but only if you are under 1,75 meters tall. I’m 1,90 meters tall, and I just don’t fit in these “beds.” These are chairs you can lay back entirely with a small cage for your feet at the end. The bus has three rows, and these are always two bed over each other. In between the beds is a small space where you can walk. So, if they place me in an upper bed on the side – there is just simply not enough space for me. If I sit upwards, my legs don’t fit in the cage, and I feel a constant pressure in the feet. If I lie on the bag, it’s the same. If I lie on the side my leg from the foot to the knee is even too long to fit in the small cage, so my knees and feet are under pressure all the time – a state where it is impossible to sleep!
If you are small enough to fit in the “beds” feel lucky, but what do you do about the constant horning of the bus driver. Every 10 – 30 seconds the horn will keep you awake. Ohh and then there are the roads which are curvy, bumpy and the driver often thinks he’s sitting in a formula one car. All of this result often in endless and sleepless nights for me where I’m so annoyed and tired the other day that the whole day consists of sleeping or having a headache. Then I could have taken a day bus too. I cannot even write on my computer because the position is too uncomfortable.
Was that not enough? What about these reasons?
If you think you can sleep everywhere, and you are small, then I have a few more reasons why I hate the busses.
They regularly overfill the busses: I told you that in between the beds is a small space to walk, well these “places” are often sold to locals for a lower price. So, if you have a down bed in the middle, it is very probable that on both sides a local is lying next to you and every time he moves he will touch you because it is so small.
The busses have no toilet: Yes, right you drive up to 18 hours into these busses, and there is no toilet on board. The bus stops on average every 4 or 5 hours for 20 minutes. If you have to pee you have to walk in front and force the driver to stop. But wait, if you are lying in the back you first have to climb over all the locals lying on the floor. The bus then stops in the middle of the roads, and you have to pee on the street without shoes (Because you have to take them off in the bus) – good luck ladies with that.
The people are so unfriendly: There is always a bus driver and someone else, this person gives you your places, collects the money from the people and usually can’t speak one word of English. The only thing he’s doing is to shout at you if you take the wrong seat while boarding the bus. After that, he throws your bag into the dirt and gives you a grimy look.
Why is the train better?
The stuff in the train is super friendly they will help you if you need something and they organize everything pretty well. Your bed in the train is big enough even if you are 2 meters tall. You have a toilet – it is maybe not your luxury toilet from back home, but it is a toilet. They serve you food for free and more can be bought. In addition to that is the train equipped with a hot water supply and you can eat your noodle soup without a problem.
My train ride got interrupted by a massive typhoon, but the railway organization did their best that we would get to our destination and supplied us with food and water. They were friendly and even had English information on the speakers. And after all is the train 100 times safer than these busses.
The train is more expensive but also a lot more comfortable and safe, and I would always choose the train in the future if it is possible.
- Total countries I visited until now: 30
- Distance traveled: 17664 km
- Planes: 4
- Busses: 21
- Trains: 14
- Boats: 4
- Km running: 767