Note: The open-bus ticket is about the same price as booking your tickets (though booking individually may save some money). The bus is cheaper than the train in Vietnam, and most bus companies drop you at their office/cafe, which is generally in the heart of or close to the backpacker district - where anyone my age traveling would likely want to be! I would recommend booking the open-bus ticket with one of the following three companies: 1) Sinh Cafe, 2) Hanh Cafe or 3) Camel Travel. One must beware that there are MANY scams and BS associated with knockoff companies doing these types of open-bus tickets, perhaps even claiming to have the same name as some of the better and aforementioned companies. I heard horror stories of people having to sleep on the floor of buses because the bus was double booked, others being told that the bus had an accident and that it would cost more money to go to day originally planned (after the entire ticket had already been paid). The nice thing about the open-ticket is that you pay at the start so with these good companies, there are NO hidden costs! AND, they pick you up at your hotel usually :) BOOK WITH A RELIABLE SOURCE- if starting from Hanoi, BOOK YOUR TICKET THROUGH CENTRAL BACKPACKERS, THEY ARE FANTASTIC AND RELIABLE IN EVERY WAY!!! If you will do only a few journeys (less than 3 I would say) then perhaps buy tickets individually, but make sure to book with one of the companies I have listed!
I will spend three days in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, also known as Saigon) and then will take a flight to Boracay Island in the Philippines! I am super excited to spend a relaxing 9 nights on the beach before moving on to a WHOLE SEPARTE realm of Asia. Taipei, Taiwan will be the exit to my backpacker journeys, and the entrance to Asia's most modern and sophisticated (and unfortunately expensive) jewels. I will however expect less touts and tricks along the way, seeing as these people will generally be wealthier and will need my money a lot less than the places I have spent the last 10 months in.