Overnight bus in Vietnam : choose the right bed

Vietnam travel tips - How to: Ride an overnight bus in VietnamOn the overnight buses, you can get almost fully reclined bunks that are much more comfortable to sleep in than normal bus seats.

Line up early and choose your own adventure: top or bottom bunk? Front, middle, or back of the bus? Do you want the window, or the middle aisle? Read on to find out how your choice will influence your night.

You choose bottom bunk, go to 1.

You decide on top bunk, proceed to 2.

1. Easier to hop in and out of, you reason. Rookie mistake. The air-con doesn’t reach you down here, and you’re closer to the bus driver’s buddies, who take their shoes off and curl up on the floor in the aisle. Spend a sweaty, smelly night.

2. Once you’ve winched yourself up with your elbows to the top bunk and settled in under the air-con, you congratulate yourself on the right choice. Five minutes later you’re shivering and realising the air-con vent is broken open with no slats to close it off. Stuff the curtain in there if you’re on the window. If there’s no curtain or you’re in the middle aisle, use that extra pair of socks you packed for this purpose. (See packing list below.)

Front of the bus, go to 3.

Back of the bus, read 4.

3. Front means no queuing to get off the bus at the many stops, and you can keep an eye on the driver as he texts and smokes continually. Who knows, maybe if you see an impending crash you could Tarzan leap from your bunk and be close enough to grab the wheel. Or maybe you decide this vantage point is a little disturbing and you’d rather not know what’s coming, but the constant air-horn honking pierces your trusty earplugs and punctuates every almost-dream.

4. In the back, there’s finally a bit of peace and quiet. If you’re travelling with mates, you can take the entire back row, which has five bunks side by side. Good choice, but beware the potholes — the ceiling is startlingly close to your forehead.

Central aisle, go to 5.

5. You choose the middle aisle of bunks because you’re slow and all the windows are taken, or maybe you just like being the centre of attention. You’d better hope it has a functioning seat belt, or that you’ve brought your own rope to tie yourself down.

The roads can be so bumpy there’s a high chance of being flung out of your bunk, and it’s a long fall down onto the Vietnamese man on the floor in the aisle. With the window beds at least you can only fall out of one side.

You choose top bunk, window aisle, in the middle of the bus, but not above the toilet, go to 6.

6. Congratulations! With an eye-mask, ear plugs, warm clothes, and perhaps a sleeping pill, you will be able to sleep.

Note: If you’re tall you’ve got only one choice, and that’s the fully reclined bunk above the toilet. Pity about the smell!

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