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Trustworthy Open Tour Bus in Hanoi

  • FonBangkok

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 6

    Does anybody know open tour bus operator in Hanoi? I need bus with adjustable seats because it would be along hour driving. I will leave Hanoi for Hue in the evening of 21 Feb.

    #1 Posted: 8/2/2008 - 10:35

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  • CatBa

    Joined Travelfish
    5th March, 2007
    Posts: 349

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    The words 'trustworthy' and 'opentour bus' are not ones that usually co-appear in many phrases.

    As readers may have guessed, I have very low opinions of OT operators as they are incompetent, unsafe, dishonest, uninsured and worse.

    There are two notable exceptions - MAI LINH and HOANG LONG - who are more like North American or European operators.

    The term 'opentour' refers to the ability to buy a single ticket and be able to break your journey into segments. It is a generic term.

    Mai Linh Express can be contacted at: [Ha Noi - 04-664-8261][Hue - on Hung Vung near Nguyen Tri Phuong-get number from Ha Noi][Hoi An - call Da Nang 0511-376-7399][Nha Trang - 058-590-606][Da Lat - 063-521-111][Phan Thiet/Mui Ne - 062-739-222].

    Hoang Long can be reached through travel agents. DO *NOT* ACCEPT SUBSTITUTE CARRIERS.

    My recommendation to you would be to take a SLEEPER TRAIN between Ha Noi to Hue as well as Da Nang (stop for Hoi An) to Nha Trang.

    The tickets have to be purchased separately for each segment. In Ha Noi YOU should buy the ticket(s) at Ha Noi Railway Station located at 120 La Duan where the multi-lingual foreign travellers gate is open from 07.30H-16.30H. It is well signed but changes counters from time to time. YOU NEED TO ORDER/BUY THESE TICKETS 2-3 DAYS AHEAD OF TRAVEL, in other words BEFORE you go to Ha Long Bay. Buying tickets through your hotel or a 'travel agent' will cost you dearly - money/class.

    Remember, recommendations by 'travel agents' or hotels are usually based on commissions paid! Camel (along with T.M. Brothers are the worst) pay from VND20,000 upwards per passenger based on sales. Buying independently helps eliminate this bias.

    Most OT operators use the worst drivers (which is why sleeper buses are not worth the rough ride), have minimal insurance (not for passengers). Accidents usually are settled by the arrest of the (a) driver and (b) impounding of the bus until (a) a bribe or fine is paid and (b) payment to victims/estates is made of an amount determined by the police. Death is typically USD$25,000 to Vietnamese victims - foreigners need personal travel insurance.

    Sinh is the only other reliable OT operator BUT they use Ha Noi Toserco buses between Ha Noi and Hue - which is a middle level reliable company.

    The worst carriers, in terms of equipment are: Camel / T.M. Brothers (worst), Trekking Travel, Vung Thanh, Hanh Cafe, Vung Thanh. You CANNOT judge a bus' condition by appearance as most are well-painted used Korean buses (exception - sleepers are new) lacking competent/qualified maintenance and cheap/recycled tires.

    A decision you have to make at Nha Trang is whether to go to HCMC via Da Lat (hill station - inland) OR Mui Ne (sand dunes/beach).

    I hope this makes things more clear and have no financial interest in any company mentioned. Hopefully this item will be indexed by Google, et al and many will have similar questions answered.

    #2 Posted: 8/2/2008 - 14:15

  • FonBangkok

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 6

    Thank you very much TTD.

    I am really very appreciated your useful suggestions and clearly explanation.

    I will, on my own, try to get sleeping train. On Feb 17 once checking-in hotel, i will head to the train station. Hope the ticket to Hue on Feb 21 will be still available. If no luck, I will contact Mai Linh for OT bus.

    With information you gave, it's easier for me to make decision. Thanks again.

    #3 Posted: 8/2/2008 - 20:01

  • miaweelow

    Joined Travelfish
    26th October, 2008
    Posts: 4

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I with the bit on Camel travel.

    We bought an open bus ticket from our hotel at Hello Hotel, 5 Thanh Ha lane, Hoan Kiem district in Hanoi , and were supposed to get a ticket from the office in Hanoi. However, the staff working there said that we will only be issued our ticket at the next stop. But the thing is that they did not stop us at the agreed destination -Ninh Binh and made us go all the way to Hue. Then they told us that there would be no refunds even though it was their fault!

    Then when we requested to change our itinerary, we were told to pay more money if we wanted to reshuffle the stops. The staff were rude and nonchalent and preferred talking amongst themselves and lounging in their seats.

    I urge travellers to check the prices of Open bus tickets and if possible to avoid them. And to also avoid Camel bus company because they have bad service throughout Vietnam. From Hanoi to Hue, and Hoi An. It was a really bad experience because we could do nothing once our money was given. U might want to add in Camel Bus Company as inefficient and dishonest tour operators. We bought an open bus ticket from our hotel and was supposed to get a ticket from the office in Hanoi. However, the staff working there said that we will only be issued our ticket at the next stop. But the thing is that they did not stop us at the agreed destination -Ninh Binh and made us go all the way to Hue. Then they told us that there would be no refunds even though it was their fault!

    Then when we requested to change our itinerary, we were told to pay more money if we wanted to reshuffle the stops. The staff were rude and nonchalent and preferred talking amongst themselves and lounging in their seats.

    I urge travellers to check the prices of Open bus tickets and if possible to avoid them. And to also avoid Camel bus company because they have bad service throughout Vietnam. From Hanoi to Hue, and Hoi An. It was a really bad experience because we could do nothing once our money was given.

    #4 Posted: 4/2/2009 - 13:11

  • minaparesh

    Joined Travelfish
    13th May, 2009
    Posts: 1

    Hi there i just wanted to know how the vietnamopentour.com/sinhcafe.com are? are they reliable?

    thanx
    mino

    #5 Posted: 13/5/2009 - 01:10

  • miaweelow

    Joined Travelfish
    26th October, 2008
    Posts: 4

    hi minaparesh. I don't know much about vietnamopentour but Sinhcafe is pretty established in Vietnam, however, with it also comes more costs. However, its really tough to tell you which company is reliable because service quality is different everywhere and QC is not met most of the time.

    What I can say is that avoid 3rd party transactions whenever possible and shop around for the best price and then take the plunge. There's no method to fully take away risk of meeting a bad agent, but what you can do is greatly reduce the impact of that risk.

    Also, try not to buy an Open bus ticket if you're doing a Hanoi-Saigon or vice versa as it greatly limits your plans should you decide to change them. Vietnam is best seen on motorbike.

    That is all. Have a good time! Vietnam is awesome.

    #6 Posted: 13/5/2009 - 09:32

  • Stevee

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd July, 2009
    Posts: 1

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Hi everyone,
    'adventurer' has great advice - please follow it!
    My bad experience with TM Brothers and Camel Bus Company:
    I bought an open bus ticket at a travel agent in HCMC (Saigon) for $34. These included stops at Mui Ne , Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An , Hue` and Hanoi . I specifically asked for a sleeper bus with toilets for each trip. Toilets did not work in any of the buses. We were told in Mui Ne that the manager of TM Brothers had changed and our tickets were no longer valid. After a lot of discussion the guy changed our ticket to be on a sleeper to Hoi An. Although we re-negotiated getting the sleeper bus we paid for! the 12hr bus trip only stopped for the driver to have a smoke and if anyone needed to go to the toilet - your option was in a small bit of bush between 2 houses. From Hoi An to Hue` we had a seated bus. Today, we went to get on a sleeper bus to Hanoi (Now with Camel Bus Company) and was told (extremely rudely - woman shouting at us) that we had a sitting bus ticket. We are back at the hotel and have re-booked for an extra $12 on another bus company tomorrow.
    Apologies for the complaining - thought some people would want to know
    DO NOT BOOK TICKETS WITH T.M. BROTHERS or CAMEL BUS COMPANY!
    Cheers!

    #7 Posted: 3/7/2009 - 19:04

  • lexkssnbrg

    Joined Travelfish
    5th May, 2009
    Posts: 53

    As far as I know, fake ones are blossoming in Vietnam. Make sure that you deal with the real one.

    Good luck

    #8 Posted: 4/7/2009 - 09:59

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6

    Interesting that many on Travelfish have recommended an alternate company for OT, but it's not listed here.

    I used Sinh Cafe (the real one, not the fakes as are everywhere in HaNoi) for most of my bus travel last time I was in Vietnam.

    I found that as long as I booked the ticket with Sinh Cafe, I was looked after, and the travel was good to acceptable. The sleeper bus from Hoi An - Nha Trang was excellent.

    As noted there are fakes. Check out the correct website (for addresses of the shopfronts) at:

    www.sinhcafevn.com

    Cheers

    #9 Posted: 6/7/2009 - 11:11

  • MissJanie

    Joined Travelfish
    10th June, 2009
    Posts: 7

    I took Hung Thanh Travel's bus, soft bed from hanoi to hue for 200 000 dong. It started from 7pm to next day 10am, 3 times stop.

    #10 Posted: 27/7/2009 - 19:26

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  • philippmn

    Joined Travelfish
    13th April, 2015
    Posts: 1

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    I can just agree! Be careful with which Company you Go. We took Hà Linh Open Tour Bus from Hoi An to Nha Trang.....

    Oh my good! At least still alive... Not kidding

    I am really an easy traveller with lots of Asia Basic Backpacker experience, but this was the worst trip ever ever!!!

    We traveled from Hoi An to Nha Trang, OPEN TOUR Sleeping bus, 12h.
    The Bus was old, shabby, no space at all, ice cold... Ok thats normal for Asia basic price range. But stopping midnight in the middle of nowhere on a very busy Vietnamese Street for a Toilette Stopp with 40 tourists...?!?! What the f.... Girls just did it next to the bus in order not to get cought by the trucks.
    What do those 2 drivers? Nothing but smiling...
    Not telling about their "driving"! Better Racing...
    We were by farest the fastest Bus on the road overtaking others like hells angels... Nobody slept.
    And for what? So that those 2 sorry bastards can earn some extra money with stopps in ever second village doing courier jobs...

    In my eyes this Company needs to be closed. Just a matter of Time when somebody will die because of their incompetence!

    Please please please only Book via your Hotel, and never pay less than 17-20$ for this route.

    I am so angry with myself. My (very reasonable) Hotel offered a good Open Tour bus for 23$ but I believed in the Tour Office Lady in Hoi An, showing me pictures of a VIP bus with toilet and .... For 13$... Uff!

    Read this:
    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/vietnam/3288_trustworthy-open-tour-bus-in-hanoi

    #11 Posted: 13/4/2015 - 05:09

  • daawgon

    Joined Travelfish
    17th April, 2007
    Posts: 1029
    Total reviews: 2

    The Horror of bus travel in Vietnam

    #12 Posted: 14/4/2015 - 12:51

  • Vktr

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2015
    Posts: 1

    So many negative comments about Open Bus Tour Companies. Many of them are true. They apply more about facilities and customer standards l. But I believe it's still an option that should remain available to any budget traveller who wants to maximize experience while keeping costs at the lowest possible. Open bus tour is not recommended for those who require a lot of comfort and space.

    For those who have never seen or experienced Open Bus transport (in this case in Vietnam). Here's a short description.
    1)It's a bus for long-haul travel within Vietnam ex. Hanoi-Hue-Hoian and so on and so forth.

    2)You can purchase tickets directly from the bus operators or more conveniently from the ubiquitous bus/travel agencies at the same price range (give or take a few dollars).

    3)The Open Bus is a regular bus, double-decked designed to accommodate sleeping especially long-haul night trips. The seats are configured usually 3 side to side with aisles in between except for the last row which squeezes 4-5passengers shoulder to shoulder.

    4) So instead of standard seats you have double-decked stretched seats with adjustable reclining back. The space is just enough for you to stretch, shift and turn. Those who are on the heavy, fat and tall (ex. 6'2") side may have some comfort issues. The aisles could be very narrow and quite difficult to get on and off especially if you are in the back row. The worse is if you get stuck in the very last row.

    5) Otherwise, if you are travelling reasonably light, if you like long bus rides, want to see and imbibe the local color and sceneries at a very low cost, and willing to overlook the inconveniences mentioned, then Open Bus Tour can be a very cheap and inexpensive option. And it's not that bad. Especially if you get a window seat.

    However getting stuck at the very last back row where the toilet is, with 4 other strangers (fellow backpackers who haven't taken a bath for a week ) would be a deal breaker for me. Unless the one next to you happens to look like Ana Kournikova but still, no deal if she hasn't taken a bath in a forthnight!

    6) My parting tip is do not buy an "open through" ticket ex. One whole ticket for Hanoi-Hue-Danang-Hoian--...HCM..,This is fraught with MISCOMMUNICATION, scheduling problems and possibly unecessary extra costs. BUY TICKETS PER SEGMENT OR POINT TO POINT ONLY!!! Don't worry bus companies/stations and their agents/resellers are always nearby and readily available anywhere in Vietnam particularly in the major destinations I cited above. Take the airplane or train if you want more comfort. Avoid the bus if you require a 3Star hotel standard as a bare minimum. Again, otherwise the open bus trip can be as memorable and fun as any mode of transport can possibly be!

    As for the driving safety, the ones I've read are somewhat exaggerated. Although in my last trip I personally called the attention of the bus driver who was texting every now and then but I've seen this countless times in all my travels including the US (surprise, surprise - more dangerous). Yes the highways are much narrower. But so are the highways you see in Thailand, Japan and surprise... parts of Canada, France and UK. WiFi in the bus is slow and useless.... but so what? Turn the darn thing off for once! The drivers are loud, uncouth, rude, they smoke during stops and don't speak English well... Well. try confronting a bus driver from Iowa. New Jersey or Marseilles - let's see if they speak a 2nd language or 3rd/4th dialect aside from Anglais.

    #13 Posted: 11/5/2015 - 04:07

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