As I boarded my sleeper bus from Hanoi to Hoi An, I was fascinated by what was before me—a bus made up entirely of bunk beds. It looked ridiculous. Unlike those in South America, this “sleeper” bus seemed like it may actually provide just that—sleep. What a concept! The individual seats/beds/berths/whatever you want to call them were positioned either flush with the floor or directly above, and reclined to be Da-Nang near horizontal (see what I did there?). I quickly learned, however, that the ride would not be as smooth as it initially appeared, at least for those any taller than me.
I shimmied my way into my seat and slid my legs underneath the hollow section of the bed in front of me. It reminded me of boarding a carnival ride, and at times during the night as we hit pot holes and lurched from side-to-side, I might as well have been on a midway surrounded by carnies. At least then I could buy some cotton candy and visit a kissing booth. But I digress. With my legs extended in front of me, my toes pushed up against the very back of the available space. I was able to sleep on either my side or my back, but had to adjust my ankle position often as they were cramped against the plastic, much like when your sheets are tucked too tightly on your bed. In the end, I actually slept quite well, but it is safe to say that, at 5’8”, I am at the highest end of those that would be comfortable in the sleeper seats. For once in my life, I’m glad that I didn’t live up to my “6’ potential,” as my pediatrician stated when I was six. That D-I joint volleyball/basketball scholarship sure would have been fun to brag about, however.
WANT TO HAVE A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE? HERE ARE THE IMPORTANT DETAILS:
Bus Company/Ticket: The bus company, Hung Thanh, sells what is known throughout Vietnam as an “open ticket.” While many people will bus through the entire country, I chose to only purchase a ticket for the leg from Hanoi to Hoi An. I booked through the front desk at my hotel and paid about $26. This included transportation from my hotel to the bus and an assigned seat/bed/berth.
Trip Duration: Approximately 22 hours. The bus departed Hanoi at 7:00PM and arrived in Hue at 8:45AM. We then had to wait at Hue Backpackers until 1:30PM for the bus from Hue to Hoi An, and arrived at around 5:00PM. The layover wasn’t terrible, however, as they serve food, coffee, and have free WiFi.
Seat Recommendation: Try to get a seat on the bottom row on the side opposite the driver. That way, you don’t risk mooning the person below you when you get out of your seat and you won’t have to hurdle over someone else in order to access the bathroom.
Over 5’8”?: You can book two seats (make sure that they are in the very back of the bus, and therefore next to each other) and lay on somewhat of a diagonal. I’ve met a few guys that swear by this plan.