Public uses are often cramped, unbearably hot, packed with chain-smokers, and notoriously loud. Air-conditioned open tour buses are a better alternative; Catering to travelers, the "Open Tour" option has comfortable buses that run between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, with stops in most cities along the way. Services are also available to bordering countries Laos and Cambodia. Ticket prices are based on the route and are only slightly more expensive than regular buses; $60 will buy you an open ticket from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City with four stops at destinations in between, and is almost half the price of a train ticket. About a dozen tour operators offer bus service, but the most reputable are Mai Linh, Phuong Trang, Hanh Cafe, and Sinh Cafe who all offer air-conditioned sleeper buses with fixed reclined seating, blankets, and onboard toilets (although these are not often operational) for longer distances. Onward journeys are best booked at least a day in advance (earlier if it happens to be a national holiday) and can easily be arranged by phone or email with the option of a cheap hotel pickup; a good option if you have a lot of luggage.
Tour companies that run bus services accept both dollars and dong. Public buses require dong.
Mai Linh Express. Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3939–3939; www.mailinhexpress.vn.
Phuong Trang. Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/386–0838; www.futabuslines.com.vn.
Sinh Cafe. 66 Hang Than St., Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, Ha Noi. 24/3836–4212; www.sinhcafe.com.