As usual, people have made us think negatively about something in India and they have been completely wrong. We had heard that traveling India by bus was a real pain, but it ended up being a pleasant experience!
We didn’t plan on taking the bus in India, but we had some problems booking the train to Mumbai from Hampi, so we decided to go by bus.
Whenever we mentioned to someone that we were taking the bus, we would always get the same reply…”you are brave” or “wow, that is crazy” or “Oh, poor you”
We got ourselves so worked up before leaving that I actually had a few butterflies in my stomach in the rickshaw on the way to the station.
Bus Travel in India
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We have ridden some of the worst buses in the world during our past travels. In Cambodia, the roads were so bad that we broke something every time we got on a bus. In Laos, we drove on a decrepit bus filled with lobsters and produce.
I don’t think that buses could ever get much worse than some of the stuff we have been on. But for some reason, the hype about buses in India got to us.
Before getting on the bus I worried about everything. I thought to myself, are the drivers crazy? Is the bus filthy? are the roads in such bad condition that I am taking my life in my hands?
These are all legitimate questions. But there are better busses that others in India.
Classes of Buses in India
When booking a bus in India, you will need to know what class you want to travel on.
Are you going to take a local bus or a sleeper bus? If you are traveling for just a couple of hours, go to the bus station and book a local bus. It’s super cheap.
But if you are traveling on a long journey, book a sleeper bus for comfort.
When booking a sleeper bus, there are also several different classes, deluxe, semi-deluxe, or super deluxe. If your budget isn’t too tight, we suggest the super deluxe.
Hot Tip: A great way to save on accommodation in India is to travel on a sleeper overnight bus. They are reasonable and you’ll save on a night’s accommodation.
It is a roll of the dice how luxurious you will get, but from our trip to Mumbai, we had a good looking Volvo semi-sleeper bus in deluxe class.
It was shiny and new. A sweet little guy took our bags and asked us what stop we wanted to get off at in Mumbai.
There are several bus terminals in Cities
We had no idea what stop to get off in at Mumbai. We thought that it only stopped at the main bus terminal.
Nope, it didn’t go there, but it stopped at many other places.
So, the first rule of bus travel in India is to know where you want to get off when going to a large city.
What part of town are you booking your accommodation and what is the closes bus stop to your hotel?
Busses in India
The drive on the bus was much safer than we expected. We had read that drivers are reckless. But we felt safe and comfortable on our ride. (that’s not to say you won’t have a different experience.)
We took other busses during our time in India and we felt that the drivers were safe on them as well.
When we took long overnight trips, most buses two drivers. One relaxed and slept that journey while the other drove.
I am assuming that the other driver will be driving back. They are dressed in crisp white uniforms, they are polite and they had an assistant to help out as well. Very professionally run I must say!
The Semi Sleeper Bus
We sat at the front of the bus. We recommend sitting near the front to avoid too bumpy of a ride.
The seats were very comfortable on our semi sleeper bus in India. Lots of legroom, a cozy blanket, and a clean seat that reclined.
We were very comfortable. Our only worry now was the loud movies playing all night long.
- Note: Pack earplugs or noise-canceling headphones for your sleep on the bus.
The alternate driver kept the volume at a very respectable level and the movie even had English subtitles. We both enjoyed the movie very much.
I only wish that I knew the name to recommend it to people at home. I must say, Bollywood is alive and well and they have great production value and scripts.
What a great flick. I laughed and I cried and I am not joking!
Another bus we took had a sleeper the entire way. The Full Sleeper Bus.
We had an double-wide enclosure to ourselves on the second teir of the bus.
We could pull a curtain for privacy and we could lay down and stretch out the entire trip.
There wasn’t a seat, only a mattress so we were laying down the whole time. It was odd, but it was comfortable and perfect for overnight travel.
When looking up what we had on our overnight buses in India, I assume we paid for Super Deluxe Service each time.
We either had double reclining seats or bed, our busses had air conditioning, and entertainment.
On each of the buses in India, we actually had a pretty decent sleep.
Depending on how long the journey is, we stopped for snacks and toilet breaks.
Different routes had different facilities. Our first trip from Hampi to Mumbai had great toilets and food stalls. But others were less desirable.
Anyone could have gone to the loo, but most chose to go against a wall. Not sure why, the toilet was fine.
My best advice is to not drink too much on your journey. Some of the toilets we stopped at weren’t appealing at all.
If you are willing to pay a little bit extra, you can have a good bus experience. When I say extra, it is still very reasonable.
Getting around India can be confusing at times. Sometimes trains will be ovrerbooked, flights can be expensive and you may find yourself needing to take the bus. Don’t fret about it, it’s not as bad as we expected.
Book the Class you are Comfortable in
Local Bus: These are the cheapest and are considered the local buses. If you are only traveling for short 2-4 hour rides these are the ones to take.
We took these many times. YOu aren’t assigned seats and you just need to show up at the terminal to buy tickets.
Tip: Women have their own queues at train and bus terminals, so if you are female, you can go directly to this line.
These are usually packed and you may end up standing or sharing seats. But they were so cheap we didn’t care and they got us to where we needed to be. A local bus costs about 100 Rs. which is about $1.50USD
We arrived in Mumbai in the morning and couldn’t understand why people put the buses down so much. Why does everyone speak so poorly of India when they travel?
For us, bus travel wasn’t bad at all.
It was cleaner than we expected, friendly, safe, and a pleasant to travel.