Transit Guide: Mui Ne to Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, is Vietnam's largest city. It's a busy city with a lot of history. 

How to get there

We booked a bus from our hostel for 149,000 dong. The are several buses leaving at 12:30 a.m., 1:00 a.m. 8:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. It's a sleeper bus that's quite comfortable. It takes around 5 hours to get there. The ride isn't too scenic since you're mostly going through different towns and cities. 

There's a rest stop along the way for a washroom and food break. The scenery around the rest stop was pretty nice. You'll get dropped off in District 1 on Pham Ngu Lao street which is within walking distance to the backpacker's area. 

Happy Travelling! 

Transit Guide: Da Lat to Mui Ne

Mui Ne is a beach resort town known for its sand dunes, beaches and hot weather. It's a great place to chill out and relax in the sun. 

How to get there

The best way to get there is with a bus. It takes about 4 hours total to get to Mui Ne from Da Lat. It was a scenic ride, with views of the countryside and mountains. There's one rest stop along the way to use the washroom and grab food and snacks.

There's a few tourist companies you can purchase from, including your place of accommodation. We booked with our hotel for 130,000 dong for a bus ticket with An Phu. We regretted this decision because it was such an uncomfortable ride. The buses were run-down, old and lacked suspension. The whole ride was quite bumpy because of it, since the roads are in good condition throughout Vietnam. We got dropped off at the tourist office in Mui Ne, which is in the city centre. 

If you can, it's best to book with the Sinh Tourist. Their buses are much better and more comfortable. 

Happy Travelling!

Train Ride from Da Nang to Nha Trang

With the train station being so close to where we stayed, it's made the most sense to take a train to Nha Trang. It's also the safer, but more expensive option compared to a bus. 

Where to buy a ticket

We heard it's actually cheaper to buy the ticket from the station compared to online. The online prices are inflated. So, head to the station, take a number and wait your turn. There's four options for the ticket: hard seat, soft seat, hard berth, soft berth. The prices will range depending on the comfort of the seat. To save money, we opted for a soft seat at 320,000 dong per person. Remember to bring your passport when you purchase your ticket! 

Window on the left to purchase tickets.

Take a number and join the queue!

Getting on the Train

When your train comes, they'll call out the track number for it. If you don't speak Vietnamese, ask the attendants to see if your train is there. Your ticket will show the cabin and seat number. So, just find the correct cabin number to board. 

Your train should come around 15 minutes before it departs, so head there early! The station has Wi-fi to keep you entertained as you wait. 

The Train Ride

The train ride isn't too bad, but it takes around 10 hours to get to Nha Trang with a few stops along the way. Our cabin wasn't full, so many people ended up switching seats. There's a railing above you to put your luggage. 

The train will sell snacks, drinks and food, but it does come at an inflated price. You can also purchase snacks at the station before you board. 

Otherwise, it wasn't too bad, but we're getting pretty used to the long commutes now. 

Our soft seat cabin.

Happy Travelling

Flying from Hanoi to Da Nang

Okay, so we spoiled ourselves a little by booking a one hour flight instead of taking a 12 hour bus. It turns out, it costs roughly the same price to bus as it is to fly. So, why not? However, we soon realized that the cost of getting to the airport makes it pricier to fly. 

Where did we book from?

We used Vietnam Airlines to find and buy the flight tickets. It ended up costing us around $25 USD after taxes. There's no extra fee for checked-in baggage, but there's a weight allowance of 30 kilograms. For your carry-on, there's a weight allowance of seven kilograms. 

Not too shabby eh?

How to get to the airport?

So this is what messed us up. Due to limited options, we booked the flight leaving at 6 a.m. The only transportation leaving that early is taxi, which makes sense. We ended up booking through our hotel, and they charged us 500,000 dong claiming that taxis double their prices in the middle of the night. Given that we didn't have too many options left, we forked over the money. 

Were we ripped off? Most likely. So, try to be careful of that. 

Other Options:

1) Public Transit

You can take the number 17 bus which connects from the city centre to Noi Bai Airport. It only runs from 7 a.m - 7 p.m. Ask your hostel/hotel to make sure, so you don't get ripped off with pricing. 

2) Mini Bus

There's a shuttle bus that runs from 5 a.m. - 6:30 p.m that costs around 20,000 - 30,000 dong. It departs from the Vietnam Airlines office southwest of the lake.

Good Luck! 

A Busing Nightmare: 28 hours from Vientiane to Hanoi

It's story time!

The bus ride wasn't actually that bad, but it was pretty frustrating. It's advertised as a 24-hour long journey on a sleeper bus, which already sounds like a bad idea. Why would anyone want to stay on a bus for an entire day? Well, it's pretty cheap at $30. Flights (from Laos) are about six times that cost and out of our budget. 

Booking the ticket

We booked the ticket from Soukchaleun guesthouse while wandering the streets in Vientiane. If you're in the city centre, there's tons of guesthouses/agencies to look at with prices ranging from 180,000 kip to 240,000 kip including the tuk tuk ride to the South bus station located outside of the city centre. We're actually not quite sure if the pricier ones are better, since we heard that some agencies may just bank the extra cash and book you on a cheaper bus. Almost every guesthouse/agency will offer the VIP experience, but that does not guarantee a comfortable ride nor do the pictures always indicate the bus you will actually board. So, ask around and choose wisely. 

We went for the cheaper one because we figured it was going to be a horrible journey anyways and we were on a budget. 

The Sleeper Bus

At first glance, it's not too terrible. There's an upper and lower bunk with three rows of seats. The seats are made of leather and it reclines pretty far back. The seats have small railings on the side, so you won't fall out as easily. Although, some seats have broken railings and dysfunctional seat belts. Safety first, right? 

If you're tall, you're going to have a bad time because there isn't too much leg room. It's best to grab a seat at the back where you can stretch your legs in the aisle. At 5'2, there was just enough space for my legs with some room to spare. 

Luckily, our bus wasn't full so there were some seats remaining. It was raining most of the bus ride and my window started leaking. I was pretty happy I had the option of switching seats. 

I also found the bus to be a little chilly, so it might be good to bring a sweater or scarf. Note, we went in January, so it might differ in the summer months. Also, we were not offered any blankets.

Crossing the border

The first part of the journey was fine. There's a rest stop a few hours in where you can grab food and use the washroom. After that, the next stop is the border crossing. The bus will usually make it there in the middle of the night and then park there since the office doesn't open until 7 a.m. Around 6:30 a.m., the bus driver and workers will wake you up to head into the office. Once the office opens, you need to hand your passport to the officer, who will stack it up in a pile to stamp all at once - which we thought was strange. 

Once you get your passport back, head across the gate. You'll have to wait there for your bus to get checked before you can get back on to head to the Vietnam border. This whole process took about two hours for us. 

At the Vietnam border, getting stamped in will cost $1 USD. If you don't have USD, you can pay in kip. This process was much easier and only took about half an hour. The bus was checked once again so our luggage was taken off the bus and then reloaded.

Mechanic Stop

We had to make an unexpected stop at a mechanic shop since our bus wasn't functioning properly. Unfortunately, this took about three hours to fix. The only restaurant in town was run by people who only spoke Vietnamese, so ordering was quite difficult. Thankfully, we speak enough Vietnamese that we were able to order something for our group. 

The rest of the bus ride

Given the unexpected delays, the rest of the bus ride was pretty smooth. We didn't make many stops after this, only short pit stops at the side of the road. We made it to Vinh around 3:30 p.m and finally Hanoi around 10:30 p.m. 

This was not a fun journey, but definitely not as bad as we thought. 

We survived the Sleeper Bus to Hanoi!

Good Luck!