While incredibly painful at times, the countless hours Iíve spent riding long distance buses in India are some of my most retold travel stories to friends and family back home. A long distance bus is really just that: a bus that travels a long distance. However in India, everything is different and frustratingly fragmented. So donít expect a toilet on the bus or a stop every couple of hours for refreshments. In fact, donít expect anything. The ride is an endurance test of the body and mind. And without proper preparation, a long distance bus ride in India could do more harm to your backpacking spirit than good. So why catch a long distance bus?
There are really only two reasons you would succumb to 16 hours of bumpy, nail-biting, noisy, near death transport:
Reason #1: A first class train seat is unavailable for your intended day of travel. Catching trains is the best way to get around India, period. They have toilets on board, usually run overnight, provide a bed, and cost just a little more than a long distance bus. Food vendors come through the carriage several times throughout your trip with hot chai and samosas. Plus, youíre able to sleep your way through most trips, arriving the next morning at your destination. Plan ahead for trains and you will rarely have to catch a long distance bus. Itís when you WANT TO be somewhere the next day, and a train isnít available, that you decide to catch the bus.
Reason #2: Youíre travelling somewhere inaccessible by train. The Indian rail system is very comprehensive, stopping nearly everywhere. However, if you find yourself going off the beaten path, long distance buses fill in the gaps becoming your only option.
For all those travelers out there looking to beat the road this holiday season here is a one stop solution for all your bus ticketing needs. Just sit back and catalogue your road travel with just a click of the mouse button. From the departure and arrival location to the date of travel, be it a one way travel or return or travel preferences like preferred time of departure and arrival, Volvo, AC, non-AC, seater, sleeper, semi-sleeper, etc oneís search can be classified accordingly and you can book your bus ticket online. The AC variety offers the maximum utility for all economy travellers while the Volvo and the semi-sleepers cater to the business crowd. The sleeper is the pick of the lot while it delivers high quality experience, one totally forgets that it is a bus he or she is travelling in and instead one gets an airline experience.
Through my experience in India, I typically caught buses because I wanted to see too much in too short of a time. Meaning that I would rarely book train seats ahead and Ďneededí to be somewhere the next day (see Reason #1). Travel to places inaccessible by train were rare, but would at most mean a short 4-6 hour bus ride. If youíre planning to catch a bus any longer than 6 hours, be sure to plan ahead.
Travel by Bus:
Most tourists travel in India by bus. Book in advance during the crowded seasons (particularly during the Christmas-New Year rush, for Carnival, or when other Indian regions have school holidays when families travel). Now in the era of internet, you can check and book online bus tickets. Lot of OTAs in India provides cheapest bus fare online. Book your bus ticket in advance to avoid rush. Search for the best bus services and do online bus booking