If you use a bus to commute or get around a Vietnam destination, then it’s essential to learn how to take a bus in Vietnam for safety and convenience. The following tips for beginners help to ensure that foreign guests can avoid the unexpected troubles and time-consuming transfer when using buses in the interesting S-shaped country.
#1: Get a local bus map in the bookstore or read the map in the bus station
Almost every bookstore in Vietnam sells the city bus maps with the specific bus numbers, departure and arrival points, the route lines, etc. So, buy a map and study it carefully to sort out those of the bus numbers of your needs, the departure and arrival stations, how far the distance is, and more. The overall look of the map gives some ideas of the routes to follow. Keep the paper bus map along with you during the trip and search Google Maps to see the routes!
#2: Get off if facing the heavy traffic jam when using a bus in Vietnam
If facing the serious traffic jam while you’re on the bus in Vietnam, good advice is to debus and then walk to get out of the crowded areas so that you can take another bus. Walking past some stations when they are jammed with lots of motorbikes, cars, etc. until you reach the slightly vacant place to catch the new bus. It’s really time-consuming to stick yourself on the crowded bus in the middle of the full-of-vehicle streets. But if you are not in a hurry, it’s not a bad idea to sit still and watch the traffic conditions.
#3: Use hands to signal to the bus driver that you want to get on
If thinking that the bus must stop at the stopover station, then you’re wrong this time. Particularly in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), the bus only stops at the station when it is called by the passengers. Hence, it’s better to wave to the bus driver from afar so that he/she can notice that you want to catch the bus and stop in line for you. Don’t wait until the bus is quite close and the driver will run past you because they could not brake in time. And when the bus is stopped for you to get on, be nimble-footed to move but watch out to avoid the coming motorbikes. Using the hands to signal to the others so that you can cross the lane and reach the bus. So, remember to wave the hands and keep your balance! This is absolutely applicable to the bus in Saigon.
#4: Keep an eye on your belongings while taking the bus in Vietnam
Money, smartphones, accessories, personal documents, or anything valuable need to be kept safe from the pickpockets. Keep the close watch of your belongings while taking the bus in Vietnam because as you might know, the bus is one of the most complicated environments that frighten the freshmen. In reality, pickpockets are quite common in the local bus, and you have to be responsible for protecting your assets. Try not to display the expensive phones when you just get on or off the bus. This opens the risks for the bad guys to grasp the phones out of your hands. People around would not dare to fight against the robbers who have knives or something like that. Another tip is to wear the backpack in front of your chess or even use a mini lock for the bags. Besides, try not to eat and drink anything that the strangers insist you on consuming.
#5: Study the bus numbers and license plates
The information of bus numbers and license plates is really helpful when you are using the bus in Vietnam. And if possible, also take notice of the running hours and directions of the bus. Write them down on your notebooks. By this way, you can later call the administrative bus center and complaint things if any. Do not waste time by quarreling with the bus staff because it is quite risky and brings no positive effect. The smarter option is to remember the legal information and inform the administrative power.
#6: Prepare small change to buy bus tickets
“Prepare small change” is a common announcement in almost every bus. The price for the bus ticket in Vietnam is quite cheap, and some are based on the distance. It might turn to be the unpleasant experience if you use the money of the big denominations to buy the tickets. The bus staff is likely to grimace, and some might even lecture you before giving the change. The worst case is they would ask you to get off. In most cases, the higher the money denominations to buy the bus tickets are, the more possible that you will be “invited” to get out of the bus, especially when the driver is also the ticket seller. For the Vietnamese passengers who use the bus to commute every day, they have the preparation of the small changes for this public transportation mode.
#7: Do not sleep on the bus
After the long and exhausting journey, you might feel asleep easily and want to take a nap while sitting on the bus, but try not to. This is quite dangerous when you are on the bus but be in the natural state of rest with the closed eyes and inactive body and mind. It means you don’t know who might approach you and grasp your bags, or when it comes to the arrival points. The bus has loudspeaker to announce whenever it arrives at each scheduled station, so if you’re sleeping, there is no way that you can get off in the right place.
As the indispensable public means of transport, the bus in Vietnam provides ideal budget and convenient ways to get around the country. This also brings memorable experiences and valuable time to mingle with the locals. Try how to take the bus in Vietnam like the locals do someday!