Some people love them, some people hate them. Personally? I think they are freaking awesome!
What am I talking about? Hop on hop off buses – or as I like to call them ‘HoHo’ buses.
Ever since I took my first HoHo bus in November 2010 in Bath, of all places, I have been hooked. I have been on them in places like London, New York City, Sydney and even the Christchurch Tram is hop on hop off so I’m totally counting that!
I am not saying they are perfect, some of them are bloody expensive (yes I’m talking to you Brisbane), but you can get some really great value tickets too. Here’s some things I’ve learned when dealing with HoHo buses.
To buy or not to buy – online
You might think you’re getting a deal – “Buy now and save money” is not always true. Sometimes its way cheaper to buy directly from the driver. If there are competing companies, see what deal they can give you – this happened to me in London. Online the tickets were about £25 for 24 hours, I rocked up to the buses next to the London Eye and paid £18 instead because there were two companies wanting me on their bus.
Do your research before you go
Not all HoHo buses are created equal. Most companies offer multiple routes – be realistic, unless you don’t want to get off at any of the attractions it is likely that you will not be able to do 3 loops in one day. Pick the loop that is best for what you want to see and do. If you really want to do another loop, you would be better off getting a multi day ticket. One of the best value tickets I got was in NYC. It was 3 days for about USD65 but in reality it gave me about 3.5 – 4 days from the first use. PLUS it had 3 different loops AND a 2 hour Brooklyn tour was included. The HoHo buses was my transport in NYC for the first 4 days I was there!
Sit at the top of the bus
If you are able, then sit up the top! Personally I wouldn’t pay the money to get on the HoHo bus and sit inside, you can get a regular bus for way cheaper (route #15 in London goes along a major tourist route and would be a hell of a lot cheaper!). For me the whole experience of the HoHo bus is to sit upstairs and see everything. I’ve been frozen, sunburned and windblown at the top of these buses, but I’ve also had some pretty amazing views and photo ops.
Perfect if you want to see a city but don’t have much time
If you only have a day or two in a city and you haven’t been there before, unless you’re like me and have everything meticulously planned, then the HoHo bus is perfect. You will see all the major attractions, be driven everywhere, have commentary along the way and get off the bus if you feel so inclined.Theses buses are a great way to get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with a city, with very little effort from you.
Do the full loop
I fully recommend getting on the bus and staying on the bus for a full loop. This way you’ve seen all the sights from the outside, you will know which ones you want to go back to so you can stay on the bus until you get to where you want to go. As I mentioned above, the bus is a great way to get acquainted with a city – you can figure out how far things are from each other. Most loops are 90 minutes so it gives you plenty of time to figure out where to get off if you want.
Best place to sit?
I’ve sat inside, upstairs at the front, upstairs in the middle, but I have to say that I think that upstairs at the back of the bus is the best place to sit (unless it’s pouring with rain of course!). I usually head upstairs and try to get the back seat or as close to the back as possible. For me, I find it is the best place to get really good photos along the way.
- Yes they are touristy
- Yes they are expensive
- Yes there can be too many to choose from and therefore get really, really confusing
But, the HoHo buses really are just a bit of fun and lets face it, if you are visiting a place and seeing the sights then I hate to break it to you… you are a tourist! Embrace your inner tourist and just get on a HoHo bus today.
Do you love the Hop on Hop off bus experience? If so, where is the best place you’ve gotten the bus?
**cover photo taken in Waikiki. The driver is one of the few people ever to ask me where in NZ I am from, not Australia!**
All photos taken by me.