The dates of my arrival in Vietnam co-incided with the anniversary of my Grandfather’s death and every year, on the anniversary of his death, his son throws a big party to celebrate his life. I had been to my Uncle’s on a previous visit, it was pretty far out there and wasn’t sure if I would want to go, considering I would have to turn around and come right back to Ho Chi Minh City. One guilt trip later, I’m on a sleeper bus to Tay Son. When your aunt tells you the bus ride is 10 hours don’t believe her, it was 14.
The Good things about traveling on a sleeper bus.
The trip to my uncle’s wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. There was wi-fi and I could lay down. My motto has always been, why stand when you can sit? Why sit, when you can lay down? So while not ideal, the sleeper bus was more comfortable than flying 17 hours with no internet.
The pad on the top gets laid on the aisle where overfill and kids sleep. Had to crawl onto Jordan’s seat and get down on the other side due to a sleeping kid at one stop.
I had to walk sideways down these narrow aisles. I couldn’t even comfortably work on my computer because the bed was so narrow.
Getting into the sleeper bed was very awkward. I think I prefer the top bunk because you feel more open but I wasn’t very graceful.
Jordan is 6’3″ and while not the most comfortable, he could still fit. I like the cubby where our feet go because I could put my purse and laptop in there and not worry about someone taking it while I sleep.
Included in the price of the ticket is dinner. We show up and the foot is waiting for us. Of course, we all run to the bathroom first. The food is pretty humble but delicious.
Scooters are amazing for getting around but not for a 14 hour drive. Good thing you can park it in the bus and sleep.
The price for the ticket to Tay Son was only $15 on Hoang Long Bus which included, a bottle of water, dinner, a blanket (they keep the A/C running), pillow and a wet wipe for the end of the trip to wipe down. It’s why a lot of people travel by bus. It’s incredibly economical. Bus travel is also more dangerous than train or flying. My mom says that the roads have been improved and other than some mild queasiness while stop starting all over HCMC, I didn’t really have any issues with the roads. A couple of bumpy spots but very few and far between.
The Bad things about traveling on a sleeper bus.
The buses don’t all have toilets and if they do, it’s usually gross. Neither buses I traveled on had toilets. This is a 14 hour bus trip. I sometimes have to pee twice in an hour. The bathroom situation was pretty miserable for me. On the way there the bus stopped twice, for dinner and for gas. The only time we had bathroom breaks. A word of warning, bring toilet paper (they use water guns or buckets to rinse off) and the toilets are squatty potties. My knees weren’t happy and neither was I.
Squatting over a toilet is preferred to squatting outside. Which I had to on one of our 3 stops on the way back. I walked outside, thinking we were at a gas station and instead saw the backside of all of these men peeing. BTW, it’s pretty common for men to pull over on the side of the road and pee, saw it plenty of times when I was here last time but not so common for me to be peeing on the side of the road. What could I do? I really had to go and if my aunt and mom could do it, so could I. When in Vietnam, do what the Vietnamese do.
Not all buses are created equal. Other than the bathroom situation on the first bus and the fact the trip was 4 hours longer than I expected, the trip to my Uncle’s wasn’t bad. Not the case with the second bus. We road a Hou Chau bus on the way back which was slightly more expensive but definitely a worse experience. Back before regulations were in place, they would make the seats smaller to fit more in. This was one of those busses.
I felt super cramped in this bus.
Can you imagine how poor Jordan felt? He was miserable.
Our driver on the way out also made a bunch of stops before we actually hit the road, picking up people. This is against the law, it didn’t stop him. Cops randomly pull over buses and the drivers have to pay them, the extra people help with the costs.
For a cheap way of traveling thru Vietnam, traveling via sleeper bus is it. If you don’t have to pee a lot and if you’re not tall. If you’re not wide and if you’re not claustrophobic. Honestly, I think I would do it again but only if I knew I was on a great bus, problem is, you don’t know if you’re on a new or old bus until you’re on the bus.