Booked with Sinh Tourist as we had previous experiences with them, couldn’t fault them in the slightest. Amazing service. We even recommended the bus to two friends of ours who were doing the same journey as us.
That being said, our bus from Hue to Phong Nha was another experience entirely. I checked in with the office the previous day, and double checked if the bus was direct to Phong Nha, which she said yes. I also asked if we could book seats at the front as my friend got car sick. The employee said we couldn’t, which is fair enough, so we made sure we arrived at the departure point in enough time to guarantee front seats.
When the bus arrived, we were surprised to see that it was not a Sinh Tourist bus, and was another company. We questioned this with the woman in the office to double check it was our bus, and she said it was. The bus also arrived 20 minutes late.
We then spent the next 30 minutes, at least, driving around Hue picking up other passengers from various hotels and bus offices. This confused us as we were led to believe it was a direct bus service. These passengers also did not have any heavy baggage, which again we thought was odd.
Our two friends, who we recommended the bus to, sat across the aisle from us, so we had the whole front row. At one pick up, one of the employees asked if we could move for a passenger who gets travel sick, to which we replied that we sat in the front because of this too.
After a guided tour of Hue’s hotels and bus offices, we were finally on our way 1 hour after our scheduled departure time (should have been 6:30, we left Hue at 7:30).
Our friend sat across the aisle, who was tired from the early start, decided to recline his seat and get some sleep. The passenger behind him smacked him across the arm, and began to be verbally abusive towards him because his leg room was decreased. My friend sat next to me was shocked with the way this man had behaved, and she suggested that there was no reason to be physically and verbally abusive when all he had to do was ask politely.
At this point, he then started shouting at her, aggressively gesturing in her face and using the most foul language, considering he had a young child sat next to him. My friend was very distressed by his behaviour, and felt extremely intimidated. Granted, the behaviour of this gentleman should not reflect on the review of the bus service, however the bus employees did very little to calm the situation, nor did they reprimand the man for his diabolical behaviour.
The irony is, after this debacle, the gentleman then reclined his seat. Hypocracy at its best.
We then stopped at a church, and it was only then that we discovered that we were on a tour bus, not a direct transport. This was not disclosed by the company or the employees in the Hue office, and partly explains the numerous pick up stops around Hue.
When we arrived in Phong Nha, we were dropped off on the side of a road, not given much information as to where we were and they drove off to continue their day tour.
My friends and I were particularly shaken by the whole experience, and were treated like second class citizens on the bus as we were not part of the tour.
There is no Sinh Tourist office in Phong Nha, so we cannot inform them of what happened, and I know that the situation with the gentleman should not impact my review, but the lack of information regarding the bus and the way were treated was horrendous.
In SE Asia, we have heard horror bus stories, but have not had a bad experience ourselves up until now.