The situation was that I did not buy a ticket ahead of time as do most of tourists. I wanted to see if I could beat the Open Bus price from Mui Ne to Saigon. One of the motorcycle drivers told me I could pay him to take me to the bus station and from there get a bus for 60,000 Dong to Saigon.
What I decided to do was to wait at the blue bus stop sign which are placed every so often on the main road. I was planning to take the local bus to the bus station, but as luck would have it the Local Bus to Saigon came by and picked us up. The collector asked us for 70,000 Dong, but luckily I knew the price to be 60,000 Dong thanks to the motorcycle driver. I told him that I knew the price and luckily I had 60,000 exact change which I gave to him and he took and that was the last of it. So we beat the Open Tour Bus price by 20,000 Dong each. The bus took us to Mien Dong bus station in Saigon. I had been there before and so I knew that I could get a local bus to the backpacker area for 3000Dong, but instead I hired a motor driver to see if I could find a $5 hotel near the bus station as I was tired of the tourist areas and tired of getting ripped off all the time. I wasn’t able to get a $5 room, but I was able to find an adequate 120,000Dong room ($7.50) with bathroom in the room and cable TV. The next day I found a room with the same amenities plus internet. Sure enough, we went out for something to eat and each of us paid 10,000 for our meal. I had rice and tofu and vegetables with a bowl of soup. Richel had fish with vegetables over rice with a bowl of soup. Better prices then in the “backpacker area”.
#1 allen_moretsky has been a member since 14/2/2008. Posts: 13
I wonder how much personal space you had on the 'local' bus. Usually a 'Magicwagon' or people mover designed for 9 passengers can be filled by up to 17 locals.
The local buses incur even more accidents than do the unsafe Open Tour buses (An Phu, Trekking Travel, Camel, T.M. Brothers, etc) and therefore your safety is more at risk. They also stop more often.
Sinh, Mail Linh and Hoang Long has much better safety records - according to the highway police.
Basically you get what you pay for.
The OT buses do at least dump you in the Pham Ngu Lao area whereas you bus station choice is somewhat off the beaten track.
The 'Backpacker' areas are no bargain as the Vietnamese know that foreigners believe this to be the case and therefore they can get away with higher prices.
BTW, I know where you can a bed for the night for USD$3/night (in HCMC) if you really want cheap.
#2 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349
The local bus that I took was a small bus for perhaps 20 people, but I was surprised that it really did not fill up till we got close to the city.
You must be right about the safety, the guy was passing vehicles right and left (literally) and we also passed a number of Open Tour buses.
I am quite happy out here in Mien Dong Bus Station. There is a small market nearby where we get treated so well as regards friendliness and prices. The other day a local engineer that I met on the street when he invited me to join him for spring rolls, invited me to his office the next day. We had a wonderful conversation where he moaned the lack of freedom that Vietnamese people have. He was not talking of politics, but of not being able to speak freely and instead having to go round-about without the directness of the West. The guy had been educated in the Soviet Union and worked with Chinese and Japanese.
I don't think I want to move to a $3 hotel from here. My $7.50 hotel is fine and I'm happy in this area. However, my next time into the city, I will be needing to get a room near the airport for my 1 AM flight. Can you recommend a reasonably priced place in the vecinity of the airport?
#3 allen_moretsky has been a member since 14/2/2008. Posts: 13