Outside of the many night trains, we also took a few buses in Vietnam. We already discussed our reasons for mainly choosing trains over buses, but we wanted to experience overnight buses at least once. Plus there were times when the train was not an option. The bus rides were as equally unforgettable as the train rides, and in one case in particular, we were really proud of ourselves for taking the bus that locals take.
Hue to Hoi An
This was our first ever bus in Vietnam as there are no railroads to Hoi An. A short 4-hour ride, the bus was not bad at all. It was super affordable at 90,000 Dong (USD 4.20) each, though we had to scout out a few places in Hue to get this price. A small van picked us up from the hotel and soon enough, the van was packed with people, including flip seats in the aisles. We drove through some really narrow alleys not meant for two-way traffic, but had two cars passing anyway. Luckily this was just a transfer pick up van and not the actual bus like I had thought. The actual bus was a sleeper bus usually meant for overnight trips. Two aisles lined the bus that separated three rows of reclined seats along the length of the bus. Within each row, there were two levels of seats that only reclined to a certain extent. This was our first short exposure to these buses that we would eventually take overnight a week later.
Overnight from Nha Trang to HCMC
As we previously mentioned in the night trains post, the Nha Trang to Ho Chi Minh City is the best route out of all overnight bus routes in Vietnam. So we figured we might as well use this one opportunity to experience night buses in Vietnam as well as save some money (only 235,000 Dong per person). We took Futa Bus Lines (Phuong Trang), one of the more dependable and professional companies out there. Tickets, pickup, and boarding the sleeper bus all went without a hitch.
The first uncomfortable incident occurred about an hour or so into the trip, at the first pit stop. My biggest fear about overnight buses was not being able to go to the bathroom as there were none on the bus. I’m not one of those people who can hold their bladder for a long time. The harder I try to hold it, the more I need to go. So I figured I better take every pit stop opportunity I had. There was no bathroom, just the remains of a torn down building… or it could have been the beginnings of a new construction project. All the men just stood in some corner and did their thing. One lady walked into the area a bit more and squatted there. I saw no other option than to follow suit, hoping to pick a spot in the dark where no one could see me and get back to the bus as quickly as I possibly could.
After that, I took a Dramamine and slept for most of the 8-hour bus ride. Since I essentially “missed” the whole trip, I had a somewhat pleasant experience. I’m so glad I did this, because Carlos told me after that there were cockroaches on the curtain to the left of my face at certain points during the night. Thankfully I did not see this or I definitely would not have been able to sleep. It just goes to show that it’s all in your head – what you see or don’t see makes a big difference.
Carlos did not have nearly as nice of a time as I did. There were stops approximately every hour along the way. Each time the bus stopped, the lights turned on and the driver spoke over the speakers, waking him up. During one of these stops when the lights were on, he saw cockroaches on the curtains near me, on his seat, and in the back of the bus. He couldn’t sleep very soundly anymore after that.
Our most memorable bus ride was only an hour, but it was a travel story that we will never forget. Read more about our biggest triumph in our Vietnam travels!