Bus Travel ins and outs
To be honest, we think the train outperforms bus travel, especially in comfort. But, railway tracks just aren’t as widely spread as roads, so it’s a good thing to have buses to get from one place to another. And there are more advantages. Here, we discuss those, and give directions in finding the right bus for your journey.
Advantages of Bus TravelSince there are roads (almost) everywhere, anyone who owns a vehicle can offer bus services. This leads to a lot of competition, giving you the opportunity to choose. And with more competition, the prices go down, which is good for travelers.
Another advantage are the Widespread services. Almost anywhere in the world, buses will bring you closer to your destination than trains, unless your destination is near a train station.
As we said, we think trains are more comfortable. But, with a lot of competition, you can often choose for a certain degree of comfort, including air conditioning for instance.
Last, but not least, the bus is a great way to meet the locals. Bus travel often involves a lot of waiting in bus stations. And it is there where you can meet local people. And on the bus itself, you can experience how the locals travel. Just think about the Chicken Buses in Guatemala to know what we mean.
Sleeping busesOn long distance, overnight routes, a normal bus ride is most uncomfortable. However, in some parts of the world you can get a bed on a sleeping bus. We tried that once, in China, but it was no success. First of all, there was no possibility to change the bed into a seat, or vice versa. So during the day, we had to sit on the bed, leaning to the posts between the beds. Second, the beds were just too small for us tall European people. And last, but not least, the bus ride (through the mountains) was simply too shaky for a good nights rest. So, double check the seats/beds on the bus and the route before you decide to go on a sleeping bus.
Short/medium distance busesFor short or medium distances, bus companies mostly offer their services from the local bus station. The main bus station, however, is often located just outside the cities. But especially in developing countries, buses also take a tour through the city to pick up passengers before they go. Just ask around locally to find out how to board and buy tickets.
Long distance bus networksFor long distance journeys, covering multiple countries or states, it may be a bit more difficult to find the right company. Here is a list of long distance bus networks to choose from:
Europe - With a network of 32 independent bus companies, Eurolines is the best known long distance bus network in Europe. forming a long distance bus network in Europe. But, it isn’t the only one. Rival networks include the German operations Berlinlinienbus and Gullivers Euro Bus Express, the French network InterCars and the Slovakian operation Eurobus, based out of Kosice in eastern Slovakia. And there is also Busabout, a hop-on, hop-off coach service in Europe.
In America, everybody knows the Greyhound, the largest North American intercity bus company, with 16000 daily bus departures to 3100 destinations.
Japan has the JR Highway Bus Service one of Japan’s largest bus networks, linking Tokyo with a large number of other cities.
In Australia, Greyhound Australia, Firefly, and Premier/Pioneer Motor Service are the best long distance bus companies.
South America doesn’t seem to have a pan American bus company. However, in the different countries are several good long distance bus companies. Check out Andesmar in Argentina, Cruz del Sur in Peru, or Eucatur in Venezuela. Crucero del Norte in Argentina and Pluma Bus in Southeast Brasil also offer bus services between different countries, like Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay. But there are many, many more.
For more information about these, or other companies, search Google:
Do you have a favorite bus company in one of these continents? Please, tell us which, and why, and we’ll list it here.
Bus passesFor cheap bus travel, consider buying bus passes. Although they are not as flexible as railpasses, they enable you to city-hop at a cheaper rate than on the trains, albeit at a slower pace. Unfortunately, these passes are mostly limited to buses from a single company. So, before you buy one, check to see if that company serves all the destinations in your itinerary. Companies in Europe that offer those passes are Eurolines and Busabout.
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