This is a short page on taking public transport from Ninh Binh. We decided to write this page as, along with many others, we chose to cut out the section of coast until Hue. So we went in search of the train station as soon as we arrived in Ninh Dinh. On arrival - our answer wasn't the most convenient...
At the station we were told; to buy two separate tickets, for person and for bike, in two separate ticket booths in the station. Ok, not a problem, but, for the option of taking an overnight train, we wouldn’t be able to have our bikes with us. Ok, problem. Instead them being sent during that day, or the following day. This wasn’t an option for us as we needed our bikes to see Tam Coc, plus we would then need them at the other end to get to the city centre.
400, 000 per person 70, 000 per bicycle
A little more than we had expected...
On leaving the train station we were approached by a man trying to sell us bus tickets. Obviously realising the predicament a lot of people have when realising the price, he undercuts the train fee and offers you a night bus. Knowing it would more reliable to go with an official company at the bus station, we declined his offer and headed on that way.
So we then rode to the bus station. There was the option of taking an overnight bus with our bikes and the cost was ;
200,000 per person and 200,000 per bike
However, it seemed ridiculous to us at the time to pay for a ticket for our bikes, seeing as our previous bus ride from Dien Bien hadn’t charged us a penny for this, neither on the return journey from Cat Ba... The person on the desk had called someone during the time we were there and this was an opportunity to make a few extra Dong. So we only brought two passenger tickets...
Glad this was sorted we then rode to Tam Coc (see journey Nam Dinh to Nim Binh) and returned for our bus at 21.00.
However when we were at the station waiting for our bus, the same man from the train station arrived. Demanding to see our tickets to see if we had paid for the bicycles. Trying to ignore his requests, he became evermore frustrated and aggressive. When the bus arrived, he snatched our tickets leaving us with the one above - he ran onto the bus and exclaimed to driver that we hadn’t paid and not to let us on… We argued for several minutes between the four of us, until the bus rode off leaving us behind.
Frustrated that we were now without our paid transport and without a room for the night, we raced back over to the train station to re consider the options there.
When we came round the corner, we saw the same bus offloading passengers at the hostels by the train station. We begged the driver to let us on as there was now clearly a lot more room. The driver then agreed to let us on with our bikes for an additional 500,000.
Reluctantly we agreed after the prospect of being left behind in this strange city. Bikes forced underneath the bus with the rest of the backpacks, we finally boarded the crampt backpacker bus. Frustrated, but glad to be heading on to a new chapter.
We never fully understood the whole system of the scam. The person who sold us the tickets, sold us to a private company offering the hop on hop off service instead of a public company. There may or may not have been an overnighter public bus service, but we will never know...
Don't do what we did... if you have another experience related leave a comment below. Head back to Vietnam to see our next routes.