Think Twice! Stay Away from the night buses! These crop up everywhere when you search for night buses in Vietnam.
Yeah well, we felt the exact same before we travelled and had a clear plan not to go near them, that was until we accidentally went on one. Now by that, I didn’t mean we accidentally bought the ticket, walked on the bus and thought “shit, how did this happen?”. After spending a good three or four days finding our feet in this maad city, we went on our next trip up the coast to Da Lat. Keeping in mind all the bad press around night buses, we thought a nice chilled, care free day bus was the answer. By the way If you’re looking for a decent bus service which is both comfortable and cheap, then Futa Bus Line is a good company to use. Costs us around 210,000 VND (£7) which is a fair price for what you get.
It seems the day buses are pretty chilled. From Ho Chi Minh, you get a little mini bus over to the coach drop off, which is around half an hour, from then you board the bus where you’re presented with a number of high raised beds, big enough to fit anyone below 5’5, so you lanky ones have no chance. We set off as normal, the driver no different to any other. The fully air conditioned bus was complimented by the Vietnamese scenery. That old cliche of “everything is going too well” turned out to be exactly what happened.
Around 1 hour in, our bus broke down in a random place where there was a cow and a lady selling weird fruit, perfect set up for a new comedy show. Although we were there for around 3 hours, it was still better being in the countryside on a well air conditioned bus rather than the stuff city centre. We finally got back up and running just as the sun started to set, and thats when it turned from a peaceful day trip to a night from hell.
These night drivers in Vietnam are like that one friend that convinces everyone that he’s ok to drive after a 24hour cocaine binge. Wait can I say that on here? The friendly driver disappears as you can’t even lie down without the feeling you’re gonna die. It’s like they are always in a rush, overtaking other coaches and trucks on a blind corner in the middle of the night. Even if you can stand that, you won’t be able to stand the constant beeping. I’m not talking about one or two now and again, its more like he’s glued his hands to the horn. The locals are used to this, snoring away whilst you can see the fear of fellow travellers, trying to think of happier thoughts. There a few things I would say if you are thinking about using these night buses, which I think you’ll want read.
Drink water, but not too much!
Most buses don’t have toilets, and if they do, they probably don’t work. Our second night bus experience had perfectly working toilets but unfortunately had someone else’s dinner from the night before in ( don’t think they enjoyed the winding roads and crazy driving too much). You get one stop, around 3\4 hours into the journey which usually last around 30minutes.
Wear warmer clothing.
This may sound strange to some, but during the day the air con is a breathe of fresh air (pardon the pun). However night time is like you’re on a one way ticket to the North Pole. Although you might turn the air con off, it somehow still leaks out, meaning those thin blankets don’t begin to keep you warm.
Take snacks with you.
Again I may sound like an annoying mother making sure you have everything sorted but given the lack of stops during this bus, you’ll need to stock up. When you do stop there will be food and drink available from the cafe’s and shops around, but having only 30mins to sit down, decide, order and eat doesn’t leave you with any time. Little top tip, don’t order egg from coach stops, mine looked like it had been sat there for years!
If you’re gonna drink, take it easy.
This is hard one for me, as beer in Vietnam is a cheap as a freddo nowadays, and when you’re on holiday you can’t help it! If your prone to motion sickness but fancy a cheeky few to get you to sleep, then stick to just a couple, as those winding roads will make anyone puke.
We finally made it to Dalat in Vietnam, trying to think of how the hell we made it in one piece. The good thing about using Futa Bus Line services is that if you get to your destination, and like us have no idea where we you are going, then they will offer you a free minibus drop-off to your hostel or hotel.
Although the horror stories we read about the night buses pretty much came true, it still didn’t put us off. When you’re travelling up and down the coast, you look for the cheapest and best options to get form A to B. Just don’t overthink anything, the stories you hear are from people with their own opinions, or Chinese whispers that have got out of hand. The reality is that the bus crashes are pretty rare in most places throughout Vietnam, although you may not believe that once you’re on one!