After a week in the river port town of Hoi An, we decided to go to the beach town of Nha Trang.
Well, that is not exactly accurate. We wanted to go to Dalat, which is up in the mountains, and there is no direct train to from Hoi An to Dalat. The most affordable way to travel would involve taking a bus to Dalat from Nha Trang.
So we decided to go to Nha Trang via an overnight sleeper bus equipped with bunk beds.
One of our Ha Long Bay friends gave us a scare about the bus and Nha Trang: The bus beds won’t comfortably accommodate anyone over six feet tall, there may not be a bathroom, and Nha Trang can be classified as a beach party town, which is anathema to a couple of people who value shade and quiet.
Kiwi, at almost 2m tall, was understandably concerned about the length of the beds. This isn’t the first time height has been a concern in booking travel.
I was scared about the state of the bus bathroom: Will there be one? And if so, how clean will it be? We took a train from Hanoi to Danang, and the bathroom was as gross as an Amtrak train bathroom after a finishing its seven-hour journey from Boston to Washington.
Our attitude to the overnight bus was one of low-grade trepidation. Our Hoi An hotel receptionist booked what would be the best seat for tall Kiwi and one berth next to him. I still didn’t know the bathroom situation, so I was prepared to fast until we arrived in Nha Trang.
When it was time to depart that evening, a taxi picked us up from our hotel and dropped us off at the bus travel agency. We checked in and I learned there would be no bathroom on the bus. Would you rather have: a bed or a toilet? Tough call.
The bus arrived shortly before 8 p.m. The first thing we noticed was the lights inside the bus: The blue and red lights inside the bus made it look like a Virgin America plane cabin. The interior had bunks, set up three across with two aisles running the length of the bus. The bunks looked like business class seats on a plane, with some ergonomic contouring for an attempt at full-body comfort.
Our reserved spots were in the back, which had five berths across, all next to one another. Kiwi and the other Irish backpacker had two of the three middle berths, so their feet can dangle in the aisle.
Another girl and I took the end berths, in which we deposited our legs into something I can only describe as a half coffin. The truly middle berth was not booked, so it served as a buffer between Kiwi and I and the Irish backpacking couple.
We pulled out of Hoi An at our departed time. We took some selfies in the back of the bus, because we’ve never had an experience like this before. Here we are, laying down on a rave bus to a beach party town.
Eventually, the lights were turned off, making reading impossible. There were lights, but if I turned on the reading light, would it awake anyone? We decided to sleep…
Except you can’t sleep on the bus because you’re woken up either by lights turned on at rest and toilet stops, or insane bus maneuvering over potholes and road construction. The swerving was much more problematic. You can’t really sleep if the bus hits a pothole and your body is thudded awake.
Our bus arrived into Nha Trang at about six in the morning. The sun gently and politely woke us up; the bus driver blasted terrible pop music to make us sit at attention. Imagine listening to this song at the highest volume you could tolerate, then add 20 decibles, and that would be the wake up call we experienced. You’re my girl and you’re 16… Ew.:
When the bus arrived at the bus travel office, we groggily got off the bus and dragged our backpacks to our hotel.
Would we use the overnight travel bus again? Nope. Nope. Nope. But, it was cheap and we didn’t have to pay for lodging for one night.
Not sure if this experience has scarred me from going on Virgin America ever again. At least Virgin America planes have a bathroom on them.
Would you ever take an overnight sleeper bus? Tell me in the comments.
Photos 1 and 3 by Kiwi, photo 2 is a C-grade selfie snapped on my phone.