2014-06-08

Budget travel in Finland // Part 1 // bus




As some people, who have been here, say, that traveling on budget is not possible in Finland. I am about to prove you wrong. I will cover all means of travel (bus, car, plane and train) and provide some tips that even only a few locals know. How does a 5€ trip (150km)  sound to you?  This is budget travel in Finland by Miss Mureena. 

BUS TRAVEL IN FINLAND

The locals have actually mostly forgotten this travel option. Unless, they are living somewhere away from train tracks or just want to travel short distances. At parts of the country, this is also the only way of transport. 

There are now 3 ways to travel cheap by bus (4 if you count in the public transportation in every city) and purchase tickets online.

There is also now a new web page http://www.pikavuorot.fi/ to compare the prices with all these bus companies as well as train. this service only runs in Finnish, but it is simple to use even if you are not mastering the language. It is though worth checking the mentioned companies separately, since all routes might not be visible. 


1. ONNIBUS http://www.onnibus.fi/en/

Onnibus is the first low cost bus service in Finland, and at the moment they are renewing their services and therefore they routes are not the best. The tickets are cheaper when purchased in advance and they get more expensive the closer you get to the departure day. The payment options in the internet are by card, bank payment (only Finn back account) or phone payment. After payment you´ll receive a code to your phone or email that serves as a ticket. The downside to this company is that the bus departure hubs are located weirdly outside towns ( in Tampere for example) and accessible only by public transportation, which costs. 

2. EXPRESS BUS http://www.matkahuolto.info/lippu/en/

Express bus is the traditional bus service around Finland and they are now putting their level up with some extra cheap tickets. This service is very reliable and they have their own doubledecker buses with free wifi on board. 

You can get a ticket from the bus station, from the bus (cash or card) or online. The online option is the cheapest alternative, but you need to book them one day in advance. If you for example want to travel on Tuesday, you have to book the ticket on Monday by 13.00 Finn time. The online service is easy to use and you can make the payment by card or bank transfer (Finn bank account). When you book, there is a strange note of a PINS card. Do not mind (leave empty), it is a bonus card for some shops and you won´t need it. The ticket will then be sent to your email address. Note, that you will be able to see the cheap price only when you select the "one way" option! Going to return--> you have to make 2 searches. (Going from Tampere to Helsinki and back, first search one way Tampere-Helsinki and then make another one way search Helsinki-Tampere. Of course this info you´ll find only on Finn pages)

The online service will give you the alternatives of the prices, some of them are fixed and they change from time the time. Like summer, winter, school year based etc. For the list of all destinations and the cheap routes with dates (season when the tickets are available) and  times, visit this page (only in Finnish, but you´ll get the idea). 

3. ONNIEXPRESS (http://www.onniexpress.fi/) 

Onniexpress is the newcomer on the cheap bus companies and has now a nice variation of routes around Finland, but no English website! The name of the company is an "umbrella" for other companies that run the routes. The ticket purchasing process done easy, but it will give you firstly the same day suggestions, and then the following. You can choose the ticket delivery to the phone or email. The ticket order form is (of course) only in Finnish, but when you hit "pay" the Paytrail service can then be changed to English and Swedish. You are able to pay with any Fin bank web bank, Fin bank cards and normal credit cards.



The company website tells to contact their office if you make a mistake in purchasing the ticket and you can discuss about the next move or changes. 

FAQ

The bigger suitcases or backpacks are to be placed in the trunk (the driver will open the side door). Now this is the part when Finns quietly stand on a line to wait for luggage to be placed in the trunk, if the driver will do that. After the luggage the driver gets in to his seat and inspects the tickets or sells them. Sometimes there will be another person working on the bags and collecting the money, but this is rare.  There are normally no seat numbers in the tickets, but there is an extra option to book a seat if needed. 

Most likely, the long distance buses between towns are equipped with a toilet and sometimes they even stop for 5-10 min or so for a quick cigarette pause while luggage is taken in and out. Do not go far, they are not going to shout when the bus leaves. 

AND NOTE! If you do not have a FINNISH STUDENT CARD, you WILL NOT get the student discount!!! No matter what you try...


ps. It is possible to leave the bus between the bus stations at stops called "PIKAVUORO".
pps. You can also find MATKAHUOLTO on Facebook where someone is always online Mon-Fri 08-16 Finn time and can answer your questions!
ppp. Don´t forget to check the part 2, plane.


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