To Bus or Not to Bus: A Look at India’s Bus System

When deciding on whether to take an overnight bus in India, here are some things to keep in mind:

– India is HUGE. Bus rides can easily be an 8+ hr journey. In my case it’s 12 glorious hours to get to Hyderabad.

– I hope you like Bollywood, because they play movies and music videos for the first few hours. The drivers must really like it because they always blare it so loud that you feel yourself losing your hearing with every passing dance number.

– Honking is not only accepted here, it’s encouraged. I can’t even guess the average number of times people use their horns on a drive. It’s so normal here that if you aren’t honking, people will just stand in front of you and not care that you’re trying to get by. And, the bigger the vehicle, the louder the horn, so a bus honking every 5 minutes is not conducive to getting some shut eye.

– The disadvantage if you’re a female is that it’s difficult to relieve yourself if nature calls. No decent bathroom on board, and the places they stop at can be extremely dirty. Since peeing in public is rather common, men don’t find this is a problem at all. No fair.

– The advantage if you’re female is that guys don’t feel comfortable sitting next to a girl. Either you’re placed next to another girl, or you get both seats to yourself! Haven’t seen too many females on the night bus – currently I’m the only girl on this one.

– Generally (not always!) Indians don’t use deodorant. Sigh, I hate writing this because I’m putting my own people on blast! But it’s true – my cousin was telling me that there aren’t that many good deodorant brands here, and some even think it can cause skin cancer so they refrain from using it. To each his own, but it makes for a miserable bus ride when the guy in front of you stretches his arms out to sleep. My solution: scarf tied securely around face to act as a filter. Maybe some deodorant company could make it really big with some proper marketing targeted here.

Giant pro of taking the bus over train:
No cockroach/mice sightings!

I’m currently 5 hrs into my bus ride now, so apologies if this is a little biased. The bus is also far cheaper than flying, so its good when you’re on a backpacker’s budget like I am!

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