Tips on how to survive the sleeper buses in Vietnam

If you’re planning on traveling around Vietnam, you’re bound to come across the famous sleeper buses (unless you’re flying to every destination). Public transportation in Vietnam works fairly well and it’s one of the easiest country to travel around in. You’ll be sure to find sleeper buses going to every place you want to go – at least the most famous destinations. But if you’ve ever been on a long bus ride, you know what a pain it can be. And the distances in Vietnam shouldn’t be underestimated, going from point A to B might take you a longer time than you think. Traffic plays a big part of it but also the driver. If you’re going to travel in Vietnam and want to go on the sleeper bus, here are some tips on how to survive the long bus rides:

1. First of all, don’t drink a lot of water

It sounds terrible, but I learnt my lesson. Before I went on the sleeper bus, I drank coconut water and went inside the bus, thinking there would be some sort of access to a bathroom in a while. Boy, was I wrong. There are no toilets on board on most buses, which means you’ll have to wait until the driver stops at a place where you can go to the bathroom. If the driver needs to go to the bathroom, he will stop by the road, but otherwise, you have to wait. The stops are usually quite short and there’s no toilet paper, so bring your own paper and hand sanitizer.

2. Bring snacks

The buses usually stop by a place where you can eat, but it usually takes a few hours before you reach your destination. It’s therefore always a good idea to bring snacks with you such as fruits, dried nuts, chips, etc. There’s no guarantee either that they will stop at a place where the food is tasty or even suitable for vegetarians, so make sure that you prepare yourself for the long bus ride so you don’t sit on the bus both thirsty and hungry.

3. Buy motion sickness tablets

Depending on the route you’re taking and how sensitive you are, it’s always good to bring motion sickness tablets. You can get them at the pharmacy. If you’re traveling from Hanoi to Sapa for example, the road is very winding which can cause motion sickness. When you’re feeling sick, the best thing is to look straight outside and stretch your legs in the aisle.

4. Bring earplugs

You’ll hear people honking all night, including your bus driver, so if you’re sensitive to sounds, I advise you to bring a pair of earplugs. Not only will they block out all the noise, you’ll get a good night sleep instead of waking up every five minutes because someone is honking or talking.

5. Bring a few extra layers

The aircon stays on at all times when the bus is moving so it can get quite cold. Sometimes there’s thin blankets onboard, but the best thing is to bring something of your own so you won’t be freezing for the entire night. Pack a pair of extra socks and a warm shirt and you should be fine.

6. Get the seats in the back if you’re tall

The sleeper buses are made for the locals who are often shorter and smaller than the average Westerner. If you happen to be very tall, try to get the seats in the back so you can stretch out your legs. You definitely don’t want to get the top bunk.

7. Pack lightly

As there’s not much space in the sleeper buses, try to pack lightly and only bring the essentials into the bus, such as snacks, your valuables, mobile phone, earplugs and a warmer shirt for example. Otherwise you’ll have to share your seat with your bag as well.

The sleeper buses might not be the ideal way of traveling, but at least you get to lay down and stretch your legs. It can also be a fun experience which you’ll only get when you’re traveling in Vietnam, so don’t miss out on the chance of saving a few bucks while also traveling on the famous sleeper buses in Vietnam. Just remember these tips and you’ll be fine.

You must remember to apply for a Vietnam visa before you enter the country, otherwise the immigration officers will deny you entry to Vietnam. You can either apply for an online visa (Visa on Arrival or E-Visa) or go through the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate and apply with them.

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