Monday, July 23 2018


Buses, either love them or hate them

Update: June, 15/2012 - 08:59

Last week, the Viet Nam News asked readers about their experiences in travelling by bus in Viet Nam. Some praised services, others were not so flattering. Here are some of the responses:

Sandeep GS, Indian, Ha Noi


Next week:

Viet Nam is famous for its football mania — and the fans who thrive on it. Euro 2012 has drawn all their attention and passion. They are spending sleepless nights gathering at coffee shops or friends' homes to cheer their favourite teams.

However, the Euro matches are disrupting not only their routines, but also the lives of their families and workplaces.

The games are also causing headaches for authorities trying to keep social orders when hooligans go crazy when their teams lose or win. This can lead them to holding illegal motorbike races or getting involved in illegal gambling.

Are you a crazy football fan? How do you enjoy Euro matches? Could you share your best moments watching these football matches?

What do you usually do to express your feelings when your teams win or loose?

What do you usually do to express your feelings when your teams win or loose?

What do your authorities do to keep hooligans under control?

Please reply by email to:, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, June 21.

I've been living in Ha Noi for a couple of months. My first impression about bus services here is that they are cheap and quite comfortable. I agree with journalist Juliette Elfick that they are a fairly good option for getting around the city.

During my initial days in Ha Noi, I was unaware of the roads and destinations where I was supposed to go. Because of this, I was totally dependent on taxi services. But after getting a city route map and also conversing about various routes, I started commuting by bus and found it very comfortable.

So far, my experience has been good and I have never come across any misbehaving drivers, conductors or fellow passengers.

I agree that there are almost no foreign travellers on city buses. The main reason for this could be ignorance of bus routes and language. I was told that there was an issue of foreign travellers being overcharged, however, fixed-price fares have drastically improved the situation.

If you are a foreigner travelling to the last stop, the journey can be easy. But if you have to change buses, things can get difficult.

There are route maps at every bus stop outlining bus-route numbers and destinations, but they are in Vietnamese. And most Ha Noi city maps don't have bus routes listed.

Another issue that discourages foreign travellers is overcrowding. Short-distance buses, mostly minibuses, depart jam-packed with people and luggage. So for a foreigner who travels with his haversack most of the time, it is difficult to board a crowded vehicle and also find a place for luggage.

Commuting by air-conditioned buses is the ultimate experience. These buses are fast and comfortable.

Nguyen Thanh Loan, Vietnamese, Ha Noi

When I was a student, I travelled by bus almost every day and honestly I quite enjoyed it. Cheap, somewhat convenient, available almost always (for the route I took, there were many buses).

For the environmentally conscious, the bus is a great alternative to taxi. For the elderly and pregnant women, they're always given a seat whenever they get on, which is nice. For the rest of us, the bus was great, especially in summertime and even during rush hour.

Buses do have drawbacks. I don't think I've ever seen a bus arrive on time. Generally I had to wait 20 minutes or more for one to appear, which cause problems for students.

Sometimes, when there were only few passengers waiting, the driver ignored them. It happened to me once and I was furious. Drivers and conductors can be rude and most don't have proper respect for passengers. Some smoke and swear as if they don't care about passengers at all.

Keith Arnold, Ha Noi

I have recently caught bus Number 1 several times along Tran Hung Dao street. The buses were frequent, clean, sometimes crowded and sometimes not depending of course on the time of day.

The payment system is efficient with a ticket and change being given, which is not like some bus systems in other parts of the world. The air-conditioning is excellent and a welcome respite from the heat and humidity.

Drivers are polite, although not particularly friendly, which is quite okay. Occasionally a younger person would offer a seat to me. I am 74.

With that limited experience I thoroughly recommend public transport, but I am disappointed to see few non-Asians taking advantage of the system.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

I vividly recall my first bus ride in Viet Nam five years ago upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport. I ignored the bad rate US dollar exchange counter, the high-priced taxi counter and the aggressive and expensive taxi drivers outside. It took some effort by asking workers in the airport, but I finally found the local bus service.

I was the first one to board and took the "shotgun" seat in front. For some reason we had to wait 20 minutes, we were not at a marked bus stop sign. Finally, locals piled on and we were off. But not before I was charged double rate because of my large backpack. So I put it in the seat behind me and loudly informed every new passenger that they would have to sit in the back.

That first bus had a broken window taped shut, a rattle here and a rumble noise there. I have not been involved in any accidents and I salute the drivers for not falling asleep, or veering off the road.

One time the "sleeping" Asian man beside me bumped me twice on my hidden money belt. When I was getting off, I noticed both zippers were open, but the joke was on him, as it was empty that day.

I have seen a couple of bus drivers texting on their phone! Again, considering how hectic this capital city is, it is amazing that there are not more accidents.

A fellow teacher uses buses all the time. He tells me that if he is the only one at the bus stop, sometimes the bus will not stop.

Many travellers I've talked to, without exaggeration, had a horror story about a bus that broke down or an accident. I have been okay so far, but I know problems are out there. Buses in Thailand also race down highways, and for some strange reason, buses are extremely cold in the Philippines.

I have learnt to just pay the price, keep my complaints to myself and hold on. Service? That is not a word I would use when describing buses in South-East Asia.

Frank Tomlinson, Ha Noi

I am in Ha Noi travelling by bicycle from Bangkok to Almaty in Kazakhstan. I arrived in Viet Nam three weeks ago and now I am continuing towards China.

From day one, I have really disliked the buses and their drivers here. They all seem to be driven by drivers who seem both suicidal and homicidal with no respect for the lives of anyone.

I really don't understand why the police let them continue driving like that. People should boycott bus companies, I can't count the times I was forced into a ditch to avoid being killed by a bus.

I will tell everybody I know that they should never set their feet inside a Vietnamese bus. They are death-traps if you ask me. — VNS

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