VIETNAM BY BUS – Prices, Companies, Times, and Accidents.

Many travelers I met in Vietnam bought junker motorbikes from someone and were driving themselves through the country.
It sounded fun and was something I wanted to do.
Unfortunately I was near the end of my travels and money, so I didn’t want to spend $200 – $300 on a bike.

Especially since I would be entering northern Vietnam during the rainy season.
Instead I chose to travel Vietnam by bus.

I was on 10 bus rides and spent less than $100.

Traveling by bus also seemed better because the driving I saw in Vietnam was the worst I’d seen since China.
In other words, ATROCIOUS!!

Traveling Vietnam by bus still didn’t mean I’d be safe.
I managed to get a driver that hydroplaned our overnight bus into guard rails.
Not fun.
But we’ll get to that later.

Below is a list of the cities I traveled between.
As well as the companies, prices, times, and every stop made along those journeys.
I booked all my buses through my hostels.
So if you stay at any of the hostels I stayed at your trip might be similar to mine.

HO CHI MINH CITY to MUI NE.

Price: 150,000 Dong($6.46).
Company: Viet Nhat.
Transportation: Sleeper Bus(with WiFi).

Picked Up from: Hideout Hostel.
Pick-up Time: 8 am.
Actual Pick-up Time: 8 am.

9:45 am arrive at Dai Phu rest stop. 84 km from HCMC, 114 km to Mui Ne.
10:08 am depart rest stop.
12:30 pm arrive in Mui Ne.

Dropped Off: down the street from Mui Ne Hills Hostel.
Total Time: 4.5 Hours.

Vietnam by Bus. Inside of a Vietnam sleeper bus.

MUI NE to DALAT.

Price: 120,000 Dong($5.17).
Company: An Phu.
Transportation: Bus.

Picked Up from: down the street from Mui Ne Hills Hostel.
Pick-up Time: 12:00 pm.
Actual Pick-up Time: 12:30 pm.

2:25 pm arrive at rest stop. 91 km from Mui ne, 76 km to Dalat.
3 pm depart rest stop.
5 pm arrive in Dalat.

Dropped off: in the center of town near large roundabout. Overlooking Anh Sang Park.
Total Time: 4.5 Hours.

DALAT to NHA TRANG.

Price: ?
Company: ?
Transportation: Minivan.

Picked Up from: Tiny Tigers Hostel.
Pick-up Time: 7:30 am.
Actual Pick-up Time: 7:28 am.

8:40 am stop at mechanic.
8:53 am depart mechanic.
10:10 am arrive at Kim Phuong rest stop and restaurant(with Wifi). 96 km from Dalat, 42 km to Nha Trang.
10:40 am depart rest stop.
11:40 am arrive in Nha Trang.

Dropped Off: ?
Total Time: 4 hours 10 min.

I don’t know why I can’t remember much about this drive.
Maybe I zoned it out because people told me Nha Trang was nothing special.
Then once I arrived I realized how right they all were.
Nha Trang is basically tall buildings next to the ocean with a lot of Russian tourists.

NHA TRANG to HOI AN.

Price: 200,000 Dong($8.60).
Company: Viet Nhat.
Transportation: Minivan and Sleeper Bus.

Picked Up from: Mojzo Hostel.
Pick-up Time: 7 pm.
Actual Pick-up Time: 7:15 pm.

7:20 pm arrive at bus stop.
7:45 pm Sleeper Bus departs.
8:03 pm arrive at rest stop.
8:13 pm depart.
10:55 pm arrive at rest stop.
11:26 pm depart.
2:39 am arrive at rest stop, 155 km from Hoi An.
2:45 am depart.
6 am arrive in Hoi An.

Dropped Off: at “Viet Nhat Bus from Nha Trang” bus station, near Nguyen Duy Hieu Monument.
Total Time: 11 Hours.

HOI AN to HUE.

Price: 138,000 Dong($5.95).
Company: ONT Travel.
Transportation: Bus.

Picked Up from: Game’s Homestay by motorbike and driven to a small dirt lot where the bus was.
Pick-up Time: 1:30 pm.
Actual Pick-up Time: 1:38 pm.

4:45 pm arrival in Hue.

Dropped Off: in front of Hai Au Hotel. Which is down the road from the ONT Travel Bus Stop.
Total Time: 3 Hours.

Vietnam by Bus. Watching the bus drivers store motorbikes in the luggage area under the bus.

HUE to PHONG NHA.

Price: 200,000 Dong($8.60).
Company: Tan Nhat.
Transportation: Bus.

Picked Up from: Why Not Hostel.
Pick-up Time: 6:45 am.
Actual Pick-up Time: 7:15 am.

Tan Nhat is actually a tourism company.
The bus we were on was mostly full of Chinese tourists that were doing a 2 day trip to Phong Nha to explore caves.
We were only along for the ride to Phong Nha.

Since it was a tourism bus there was a lot of talking through a microphone.
Some of the stuff we passed was cool to hear about(like the Hien Luong Bridge).
But the tour guide talked too much and it was annoying.

8:45 am stop at Our Lady Chapel and rest stop.
9:20 am depart Our Lady Chapel.
11:50 am arrive in Phong Nha.

Dropped Off: right on the main street where most of the hotels and hostels are.
Total Time: 4.5 Hours.

PHONG NHA to NINH BINH.

WORST BUS RIDE IN VIETNAM!!

Price: 300,000 Dong($12.94).
Company: Hung Thanh Travel.
Transportation: Sleeper Bus.

Picked Up from: Shambalaa Hostel.
Pick-up Time: 9 pm.
Actual Pick-up Time: 10 pm.

After being 1 hour late our driver must’ve thought speeding would be a good idea.
And maybe it would have been if it didn’t start pouring down rain.

My seat was on the top right side, 2 seats back from the front.
I had a good view of the driver and out the windshield.
When I drifted off to sleep the rain was light and our driver was still driving decently.

Around 2 am I woke to the sound of a bunch of water splashing onto the windshield.
Right away I noticed it was pouring rain outside, but the sound I heard wasn’t drops hitting the window.
It sounded like a splash.
Then a few seconds later I witnessed it.

Our driver was speeding down the road, going through huge puddles.
They would splash over the windshield completely covering it for a few seconds.
After seeing that I realized he was driving WAY too fast in this horrible weather.
Then he splashed through another puddle.
And then he hit another puddle and I’m pretty sure we hydroplaned.
The next thing I know the whole right side(my side) of the bus slams into something for a quick second.
And then he was back to driving like nothing happened.

I immediately looked at the driver and he had a tight grip on the wheel and was really stiff.
At that moment… he knew he fucked up.
Everyone woke and someone said “Did we just get in an accident?”
I said, “We sure did.”
But the driver kept driving.
MUCH slower than before.

Vietnam by Bus. Moments after the bus slide into guard rails on the freeway.

I don’t know why, but it didn’t occur to me to immediately open my window curtain to see what we hit.
A bus employee who was sitting on the floor started talking to the driver and 5 minutes later he pulled over.

When we pulled over I opened my curtain and saw guard rails along the freeway.
So I’m assuming we side swiped into those.
But another bus pulled over too so I wasn’t sure if we hit them.
But it didn’t sound like we hit another vehicle.
We weren’t honked at and the people from the other bus never looked at their bus.
They only came over to look at ours.

When we finally reached Ninh Binh I looked at the side of the bus and didn’t see a single scratch on it.
So I have no idea what we hit.
I’m assuming it was the guard rail.

2:55 am Bus Accident. 108 km from of Ninh Binh.
3 am pull over to check damages.
3:13 am bus departs.
5:12 am arrival in Tam Coc.
But the driver never announced we were in Tam Coc.
He dropped off a local, went through a roundabout and was out of there in no time.
5:14 am departs Tam Coc.
5:30 am arrive in Ninh Binh.

Dropped Off: in the middle of town, I have no idea where.
Total Time: 7.5 Hours.

Two girls got off the bus too and thought we were in Tam Coc.
When I told them we were already there and the driver didn’t announce it they were pissed.
We decided to get taxis.
They went back to Tam Coc and my driver and I had a hell of a time trying to find my hostel deep in the mountains of Ninh Binh.

Also notice how the bus never stopped at a rest stop either.

NINH BINH to HANOI.

Price: 230,000 Dong($9.90).
Company: Binh Minh Limousine.
Transportation: Minivan.

Picked Up from: Hoalu Ecolodge.
Pick-up Time: 7:30 am.
Actual Pick-up Time: 7:30 am.

7:55 am arrive at their Binh Minh Limousine Office to switch minivans.
8:00 am depart.
9:30 am arrive in Hanoi.

Dropped Off: on the road south of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Total Time: 2 Hours.

HANOI to CAT BA.

Price: 345,000 Dong($14.89).
Company: ?
Transportation: Minivan/Boat/Bus.

Picked Up from: Vietnam Backpackers Downtown Hostel.
Pick-up Time: 8 am.
Actual Pick-up Time: 8 am.

9:10 am arrive at rest stop.
9:30 am depart.
10:30 am arrive at pier.
10:35 am Boat departs.
10:50 am arrive to Cat Ba.
10:54 am Bus departs.
11:25 am arrive at hostel.

Dropped Off: outside of Central Backpackers Hostel.
Total Time: 3.5 hours.

CAT BA to HANOI.

Price: 230,000 Dong($9.90).
Company: Good Morning Cat Ba.
Transportation: Bus/Boat/Bus.

Picked Up from: Central Backpackers Cat Ba.
Pick-up Time: 9 am.
Actual Pick-up Time: 9:05 am.

9:50 am arrive at harbor.
10:22 am Boat departs.
10:32 am arrive to mainland.
10:40 am Bus departs.
11:30 am arrive at rest stop.
11:40 am depart.
1:05 pm arrive in Hanoi.

Dropped Off: near Ethnic Travel – The Sinh Tourist bus stop. North of Hanoi Old Quarter.
Total Time: 4 Hours.

Vietnam by Bus. Crossing a bridge into Hanoi.

VIETNAM BY BUS ISN’T TOO BAD…

As long as you don’t get in any accidents.
The overnight sleeper buses are nice, clean, have AC, and blankets.
If you’re taller than 6 foot they can be a little difficult to get comfortable in.

Most buses were usually on time.
But after traveling through Cambodia I knew not to expect being on time to most places.

Pro-Tip:
Avoid sitting right behind the driver.
There’s a good chance the driver is a smoker and that smoke will be blowing back at you for most of the ride.
Even if he has his window open.

Do you have any good or bad stories about traveling Vietnam by bus?
Let me know in the comments below.

Jeremiah Cooper

Welcome to Live Life Extreme, a travel blog about thrill-seeking travel through some of the largest cities to off the beaten path getaways.

My name is Jeremiah and I'm a photographer from Arizona.
I'm always in search of picturesque landscapes and adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.
Jeremiah Cooper

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