Like Captain Ahab pursuing Moby Dick, Ho Chi Minh City is relentless in her desire to keep us captive. It takes almost two hours before the bus has finally left the city limits and enters more rural landscapes. But finally we break free and he landscape becomes mountainous. Vast views fill the windows as we crest mountains before we dive back into the jungle. The roads are excellent and the bus ride feels safe (contrary to all we had read prior to coming to Vietnam).
We’re on the Kuhmo Sanco Buslines daytime sleeper bus. It departed from Miên Đông (East) bus station at 9.05am this morning, just 5 minutes after the scheduled 9am slot. The bus is clean and fairly modern. Shoes are taken off at the door and placed in small plastic bags near your seat. We are the only foreigners on the bus so Buon Ma Thuot must not be a common tourist destination.
We stop three times along the 8 hour trip. At each stop there’s local foods available at local prices. This is one of the great bonuses of taking off-brand buses: no tourist prices at lunch. We buy pikelets at our first stop and soup at lunch.
Price: 240,000VND (at June 2017)
Hot tip: Take public bus 45 from the centre of HCMC to the bus station. A taxi costs 500,000VND and takes an hour while the bus costs 5,000VND and only takes 20 minutes.