2.5 Bus/Coach

I prefer not to use night-buses, unless absolutely necessary. You don't get to see the scenery, the risk of theft and/or having an accident goes up tremendously, and many people don't sleep very well, defeating the purpose of taking the night-bus. I take night-trains only to cover long distances, since they have a lower risk of theft and are relatively safe, plus you can walk around whenever you want, and they have toilets. You also sleep better, since it's a flat, smooth ride.

"Many people overland for most of their trip, only using planes where they have to. Much of a traveller's time is spent on rickety buses used by the locals as a primary means of transport. In particular we experimented with travelling on buses overnight, which meant that we saved money on accommodations, and did not waste a day travelling. The drawbacks to this are that you can miss a lot of great scenery and talking with fellow passengers, and you may find that sleeping on buses is close to impossible -- depending on how many animals are on board, whether you have a seat, etc.." <Chris Finlayson>

"On the other hand, you can fall asleep and miss your stop. I met a couple whose driver had forgotten to wake them, so they ended up several hundred miles away from their destination!" <Larry Cotter>

"There are generally different levels of bus service in every country, with excellent, air-conditioned buses with stewardess service available in some places you might not expect them. Turkey and Thailand both have excellent bus systems, as does Mexico. Of course, the slower, less comfortable buses that travel to remote areas are much more fun. If you object to such things as seating four people on a two-person bench seat, sitting on a stool in the aisle, or the presence of animals in the bus, you had best stick to the fancy buses in the countries that have them. The buses in Vietnam are all excruciatingly uncomfortable." <Larry Lustig>

"Australia is the epitome of bus travel; it has the best bus service that we had ever seen. For example, there are videos on the bus since the times between stops can be very long; the buses tend to be very comfortable as far as buses go; some drivers seem to have fun scaring their passengers by driving like complete mad people, this is especially true on long stretches without any cities or towns along the way. The buses are the cheapest public transit available in Australia, and to mention there is NO comparison to bus travel in the USA -- the Australian buses are extremely luxurious." <Eberhard Brunner>

"It is also important to not confuse Australia's Greyhound with the firm of the same name in the US; all they share is a name and a trademark. The buses are quite comfortable, with long-haul coaches being fitted for video (several features are run on long trips, just like an airline). The places where the bus stops for rest/fuel/food are often not the nicest, but they're not at all bad, and you get to hang out." <Henry Mensch>

There are many tour buses in the Top End of Australia's Northern Territory, however, there are jump-on jump-off bus service for backpackers, bushwalkers, and independent budget travellers, especially to Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Katherine & Nitmiluk Gorge, and Litchfield Park. There's a door-to-door or campground-to-campground service and they visit nearly all the well known stops along the way, and a few others off the beaten track. They can drop you off at trailheads and pick you up again at the other end of the walking trail.

"Iran and Turkey have good and cheap buses. Many parts of Pakistan also have frequent, but maybe not so luxurious buses. Sri Lanka has thousands of small mini-buses crossing the country in all directions. Former Jugoslavia had good bus-connections, but that is different now, I suppose. Algeria is about the same; good buses some years ago -- very dangerous today." <Mats Henricson>

"Some countries have show-up-and-get-a-seat deals, others, you need to book the day before; some are efficient, some are not. For the height of efficiency, I think we rate the Chilean long-distance buses as the best." <Chris Finlayson>

"Sometimes getting tickets in China and India (1996) was an orderly affair, but many times it was difficult and chaotic. I used the transport information in the guidebook, but also received many useful tips from fellow travellers. Sometimes I just went to a bus station and tried my luck since both countries seem to have transport running 24 hours per day, and something going in the right direction fairly soon. Other times, I knew I had better get tickets ahead of time in the busy places and sometimes this meant two or three trips to the station. I wouldn't call it patience, more of a challenge and adventure, an end in itself. I remember thinking I would do what few others accomplish, getting a train ticket out of Kunming on the first try, and I was surprised when I got it on the third day -- it was physically and mentally exhausting so I had to go back to the hotel and sleep for four hours after each attempt. Another time, at the Kunming bus station, it took a few attempts since I was bargaining with the drivers instead of using the ticket counters." <Marc>

Many organized tours, known as overland buses, ply the route from Europe to India, crossing through Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. The borders are opening up between India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand, so it may be possible to continue on to Malaysia and Singapore. The advantages are the freedom from public transport, the ability to go wherever you want when you want, no responsibility for the maintenance, repair, insurance, or border hassles. However, it isn't very flexible time-wise, the travel can be long, and you can get stuck with a group of people you don't find so pleasing. If your nationality prevents you from crossing through some countries, you might be able to go around in a variety of paths, or fly across.

"Greyhound is not luxury, but does get people where they are going in the US, is cheap, and offers the one-month Ameripass. Check out the book 'The Great American Bus Ride' by Irma Kurtz, a description of 3 months traveling by Greyhound." <Miriam Nadel>

"There is also an alternative bus company called Green Tortoise Adventure Travel in the U.S. that is of interest to budget travellers. Their main runs are Seattle - San Francisco - Los Angeles, and San Francisco - Boston. Their price is quite a bit cheaper than Greyhound and I have heard good things from friends who have travelled with them." <Keith Conover>

"Green Tortoise transports mostly younger people across the U.S., and up and down the west coast. They also have trips to Mexico. They use old buses which they have fixed-up with bunks in the back. You sleep while they drive at night, and see places during the day. Everyone cooks communally." <Larry Lustig>


Backpacker-Style, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Networks
The Adventure Bus - US
Backpacker Bus - US
Trek America - US
Moose Travel Network - Canada
Oz Experience - Australia
Flexi-Pass - New Zealand
Flying Kiwi - New Zealand
Kiwi Experience - New Zealand
Magic Travellers Network - New Zealand
Stray Travel - New Zealand
Travel Pass - New Zealand
Radical Travel Network - Britain, Scotland, Ireland
MacBackpackers - Scotland
Bus About - Europe
Fez Travel - Turkey
Baz Bus - South Africa

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