TNH - A little help, please. I'm soon to be arriving in Ha Noi on my first trip to VN. A couple weeks later I'll be going from Ha Noi to Ha Giang. I'm having trouble figuring out my best transportation option. Don't want to hire a private driver just for me, that's expensive and piggy. I am concerned that the bus will be cramped (I am very tall), is that true? I've heard about an "executive bus" premium service of some sort, but can't find any real information about it. I've read that the night bus is dangerous, but it's hard to know how much weight to give those stories. Thank you!
If you can afford it pay for the private car.
Buses are cramped, crowded, slow, dangerous and full of Vietnamese people who are prone to travel sickness.
I am not tall - average 5'10" for a Westerner of my age, and the luxury sleeper bus berth was only just long enough for me.
If you have any luggage or at all beyond a small overnight bag that's another reason. The luggage stowage is inadequate on these buses and the anxiety every time it stops that someone will steal your stuff is palpable.
As Skarper says, all very true, although In terms of 'dangerous', I'd say buses are no more than any other form of transport on the roads here. Bikes, buses, lorries, they're all dangerous because everyone's insane (technically-speaking). On buses, as long as you're prepared to keep your bag/s safe by trying to sleep on them, while not actually getting much sleep due to the general discomfort etc., and can manage without trying to use the onboard toilets (don't go there), you'll be fine.
Checking that website again, the best bet seems to be taking the Sapa train to Lao Cai - the final train-stop where everyone disembarks and takes buses up to Sapa - and buses go from there to Ha Giang, saving a fair amount of bus-travel from Hanoi.
Public transport is not exactly of the highest standard in VN, and if you're coming here for the first time, I'd say just accept it. The trains aren't great either, just better than the buses. That 'executive premium bus service' sounds like a promise Donald Trump might make. Maybe one day.
The types of buses that HanoiJoe2 may be referencing are probably something like this running to Ha Long these days:
They do run other routes, but I have my doubts about Ha Giang. This seem mostly for higher end tourism and business people. I've taken them before and they are beyond worth it (if you've been on any of the other various levels of bus here). You might contact that company since they obviously know the kind of bus and also do Ha Giang tours.
I also know there are some of these available as charter rides, so you might be able to find some other Ha Giang visitors on travel boards willing to split the expense with you.
Also, the woman who runs this operation knows Ha Giang very well. I'd contact her for advice:
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