How to get around India: Transportation Tips (II): Buses

If you’ve already read my first tips on transportation, you probably noticed how technology made everything easier and cheaper. And this definitely includes traveling India by bus.

To be honest, my biggest fears regarding traveling in this country were related to this chapter. After reading so many travel guides before leaving, it seemed like getting from one point to another is the biggest survival test.

This was also the case with busses. I thought I will actually travel only by train, but I found this option to be better for various reasons.

In this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know if you plan on traveling in India by bus.

Local Bus or Sleeper Bus?

This decision depends on the length of your journey.

Local buses

Are uncomfortable, crowded and very cheap. We paid for a 5-hour ride from Dharamshala to Amritsar 300 Rs each (3,80€).

Also, in case you go for a shorter ride, you have to know when to go down and stop the bus. But locals are eager to help, and if you tell them your stop, they will make sure you won’t miss it. This was our case when we went from Jaipur to Pushkar and the bus was so crowded that you couldn’t throw a needle. By the time we reached our stop, a big group of Indians started screaming at the driver to stop because we have to get down.

Certainly, is better to have Google Maps active so you can track your ride, but you can also ask locals and they will help.

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How to book a local bus

You have to go to the bus station and buy it as they’re not very updated online. Sometimes you can even get discounted tickets for being a woman.

Sleeper buses

Are my all-time discovery. I absolutely loved riding them. Being two, we had a double bed for ourselves, with a sliding door or sometimes a curtain to give some privacy.

I found them very comfortable and, surprisingly, almost always on time. We even arrived one hour earlier from Pushkar to New Delhi and two hours earlier from Dehradun to McLeodGanj.  

Sleeper buses are certainly more expensive. Another important feature is if you want to have AC or not.

Tip: If you’re traveling North or in places where is not very warm, you can skip the AC bus and save some money.

You can find below the amount we paid for different routes.

Amritsar to Jaipur cost us 1200 Rs each (15,50€) with a Non-AC sleeper bus.

Pushkar to New Delhi cost us 1000 Rs each (12,80€) with a Non-AC sleeper bus.

Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai cost us 1300 Rs each (16,70€) with an AC sleeper bus.

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Tips for traveling on a sleeper bus:

1. Leave you big luggage in the trunk of the bus, I never heard of incidents (sometimes you have to pay a few rupees extra to keep it there).

2. Keep your important items with you.

3. Always take your shoes inside your cabin (an Australian backpacker told me how he woke up in the morning and instead of his expensive sneakers he found a pair of used flip-flops).

4. Try to avoid eating at the restaurant where you stop on the highway (they tried to scam us and the food is bad).

5. Try to book a seat that’s not next to the engine because it can get very hot (normally that’s in the back of the bus)

6. Carry a big scarf to cover the bed because you never know when they cleaned it last time.

How to book a Sleeper Bus

Like in the case of Uber, Ola and GoaMiles, this app saved us big times. Before, it was available only for Indian cardholders, but now it works also with international cards and they add a very small processing fee.

Firstly, this app allows you to check all the buses leaving from one city to another, from all the agencies. You can even find reviews about the trips.

Secondly, sometimes you get discounts for certain routes.

Thirdly, you skip the agency fees.

Another advantage of using the Redbus is that you receive a confirmation via text message and they keep you updated with the location of the bus or other useful information.

Traveling India by bus

After you make a search, your app shows you all the options.

Traveling India by bus

Further, you have to choose your seats. The white ones are the available ones.

Traveling India by bus

Lastly, you make the payment and receive the confirmation message that you have to show at the pick-up point.

Local Agencies

If for some reason you don’t use the app, there are many agencies in all cities. The only difference is that you pay a fee that’s usually bigger than the transaction fee on Redbus.

In conclusion, once again, the myth about being very hard to travel around India was busted. In addition, I even found it easy and manageable. Therefore, grab your backpack and go visit that amazing country. Rather than being scared, have the adventure of your life.

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