So we finally did the math and it turns out we have spent a total of 66 hours travelling by bus just from Singapore to Chiang Mai. Even more now that we have made it to Vietnam. I know, I know, 66 hours is insane! It’s actually crazy to think about how a 6 hour bus ride seems like a piece of cake to us at this point. We board the bus, crack open some crisps, and enjoy our ride!
In an effort to save money, we decided to take the cheaper, yet often longer, alternative. We decided that when land crossings were possible (travelling by bus), we would take them! When We have actually saved loads of money by choosing to take the bus. We recommend you at least give it a try once when backpacking around Asia.
Buses in South East Asia are extremely accessible and straight forward. With dozens of tourists shops on every corner you will have no problem booking a bus to your next destination. That being said, bus/mini van travel is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes you luck out with a really great bus company. Other times you may be crammed in a small van with no AC with 14 other brave passengers around you. One key piece of advice we have for you is to trust the system. Meaning trust that the company you purchase your ticket from will get you from point A to point B. In Thailand particularly, they work on Thai time. So don’t get bothered, or stressed if people are running late. Go with the flow and you will get there eventually. As long as you are on time, you are in the clear!
Buying Tickets: After you purchase your ticket, you will be given a receipt. Do not lose it! This is your ticket to get onto the bus. We recommend that you book your ticket at least one day prior to departure. Once purchased, the company will tell you what time to be ready with your luggage at reception. For the most part, bus companies in Asia will actually pick you up at your accommodation. If this is not the case, be sure to ask. Otherwise you will be required to grab a cheap tuk tuk to the bus station.
Travelling by Bus
WHAT COMPANY TO CHOOSE?
There are hundreds of companies to choose from when travelling by bus. I wish I could remember all the ones we have taken. But alas, we have taken so many that I actually lost count. However, we do think it is wise to do a little bit of research prior to booking; especially for those long ventures. An easy Google search will typically tell you and show you the bus. So you should be privy to what you are getting yourself into.
Ultimately, we have done it all! Everything from night sleeper buses, early morning van transfers, and arduous 14 journeys via bus. We started in Singapore and rode all the way through Malaysia into the South and finally the North of Thailand. Trust the system, go with the flow, and enjoy the ride. The bus may just become your new preferred method of travel!
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