To explore the Ninh Binh area, I decided to stay in Tam Coc, a village in the area that is super quiet and beautiful with very nice people too. Time spent here was great, but it’s time to move from Tam Coc to Hue.
When I came to Tam Coc from Cat Ba, the bus was the same as the bus to Ninh Binh, so this probably happens with the bus to Hue. In Tam Coc, I didn’t see any tour operators or whatsoever, so I bought the ticket by bus from Tam Coc to Hue at my guesthouse. It was a sleeper bus so we hopped on it already during the dark and reached Hue the following day at around 7 am.
I have read some stories about this bus from Tam Coc to Hue and how it looked like a scam because of the beginning of the journey. For that reason, I was very apprehensive. I read some bad comments on this bus operator called Queen and asked my hoster not to be this one. I would prefer Futa Bus, also known as Phuong Trang, this is the most reliable bus company in Vietnam and I travel on it every time I can. I have done many bus rides with them and no complaints. I have heard some scary stories of tourists during bus rides in Vietnam. Inclusively, I met a traveler in Myanmar that told me that in Vietnam she had a bus trip that left her behind. She lost everything as she had all her belongings on the bus. They simply left her behind during a break along the journey. As the Futa bus doesn’t have this route, I need to follow the only option available hoping everything is gonna be fine.
The lady from our guesthouse waits for the bus with us. The bus station is 2 minutes’ walk away from the Guesthouse in Tam Coc, but the town is so small that everything is pretty near. When is time to enter the bus, we are the first and only foreigners on board and they told us to do exactly what I have been read about this trip. I now understand why it happens this way and I actually don’t mind. But I didn’t understand back then.
So, as we are departing from Tam Coc, we need to go to another place before hopping on the right bus that connects Ninh Binh to Hue. Tam Coc is about 5km away from Ninh Binh, and I guess we are heading there before changing to the right bus.
When we enter the bus from Tam Coc to Ninh Binh we need to take off our shoes. You can’t enter any sleeper bus in Vietnam with shoes on. I’m used to that already. But what I wasn’t expecting was not to have a seat. Yes, this is how things happen, but don’t worry, it’s not a scam and everything will be normal within 10 minutes.
They tell us to sit on the floor of the bus with all our belongings. Those corridors are very narrow and it’s weird that we are sitting on the floor just next to some Vietnamese laying by our side. My instant reaction is: “wtf is going on and why are we sitting on the floor.” Will we travel 14h like this? No way!!! The problem here is that as they don’t speak English very clearly, they don’t explain that this is step is a must and that we need to do it because there is no other connection to get us, tourists, to Ninh Binh. People that are used to travel in Thailand know that everything is organized for tourists, with minivans picking us up at all the necessary times. Vietnam is not the same. This is not organized that way, so the way they found to move us from Tam Coc to Ninh Binh was to have us sit on the floor for 10 minutes. The problem is that the fact that we don’t know about this makes us suspicious and worried about what is going on.
We sit on the floor and laugh about the situation and how weird it is to be seating on that bus floor. A few minutes ahead some tourists enter the bus and do the same. They also look worried and confused and ask us what is happening. We also have no explanations for them.
About 10 minutes later we change buses. We leave this bus to enter a sleeper bus where we have our seats marked and can comfortably lay on our very cozy bed-like seats. Sleeper buses in Vietnam are pretty comfy. The beds lay down up to 80%, so you can actually sleep the whole night. I’m lucky that I’m not very tall as usually foreigners are taller than locals and might have some problems with space.
So, in Ninh Binh, we change to the bus that will take us from Tam Coc to Hue and don’t stop anymore during those hours. The bus has an inner WC which I found very useful! This way we don’t make any stops and don’t turn this bus ride longer than it already is. Take food supplies with you, otherwise, you will not access food. We had dinner before boarding which was a good option.
At about 7 am we arrived in Hue. The last bus stop is far from the city center and it’s not on a major bus stop. The bus stops somewhere along the way. Therefore there were no motorbikes or many means of transport to take us to our hostel. There were a few taxis. Not many. We tried to call a Grab car but there were no cars available nearby so we had no option but to go by taxi. After some persuading bargain, our taxi driver doesn’t accept our proposal and pretends he is going away without us. (He was our only option) But, we kept our decision and didn’t break down to his bluff. He was the one needing to accept our offer in the end which made us happy.
We were lucky that we were able to check-in so early in the morning. Besides being a comfy bus ride, once we checked in we had some sleep in a much comfier bed.