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Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

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Wheaton, Illinois
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Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

On my recent trip to Dublin (trip report still coming!) I thought I'd do a little DE 'research'. This was my fourth trip to Ireland and Dublin and I had not yet experienced either of the Hop On Hop Off bus tours. I decided to check one out, while using it for transportation to sites that I already knew I wanted to (re)visit. So I bought a ticket in advance online from the Dublin Bus version (green bus rather than the red bus which is put on by City Sightseeing) for €12.80 rather than the normal €16. So here are my thoughts…

THE GOOD

I don’t think that this has shown up yet on the forums and it's not on their websites either, but about 2 months ago both HOHO tours dropped the 24 hour ticket. They’re now for 2 consecutive days. SO you can get most value for money by starting earlier on the first day of your ticket. Same price as before. I suspect it was just too difficult to manage tickets expiring at all different hours of the day. So easier and better for all.

I rode the tour circuit one time over the course of one day getting off for visits to the National Library, the National Museum of Ireland - Natural History, Royal Hibernian Academy, Marsh's Library, Kilmainham Hospital (Irish Museum of Modern Art), Ryan's Victorian Pub and the Hugh Lane Gallery.

The live commentary buses (2 out of 3 buses) were informative all the way around the circuit. Lots of details, history and helpful tourist info. I did not take a multilingual bus which is accomplished with headsets and prerecorded commentary. Note that all buses are clearly marked so you know which you’re in for. I chose to skip any multilingual bus and wait for the next live commentary one.

Buses are fairly frequent, coming around to each stop approximately every 10 minutes. The multilingual buses are every 30 minutes and the live commentary ones are the remainder. At each bus stop is a sign with the expected times for buses and which type it will be. So it’s helpful when you get off the bus to check the schedule and note approximately when to return and hop back on, especially if wishing to avoid the multilingual buses. (Note that these are approximations, so allow a little time cushion.) BTW I wondered how they maintained the basic on time schedule throughout the day. After completing a circuit (stops 1 through 23), the bus returns to stop 1. Then all riders are asked to get off and reboard on the waiting bus in front of you at stop 1 that will then begin at its appointed time. SO each bus starts its circuit on time.

Overall this was an effective way to get around, epecially for my two places that were further out, Kilmainham Hospital and Ryan's Victorian Pub.

THE NOT SO GOOD NEWS (there's no real bad news)

The HOHO bus CAN be a great way of getting oriented to the city. It can also serve as transportation from site to site. BUT it may not be the best choice. I didn’t learn anything that I had not already learned on my own and on previous trips. The bus commentary, while informative, is fairly dry and matter of fact. Not particularly ‘fun’. The amount of commentary varies by driver. Also, the tour only goes in one direction. It takes 1½ hours to make a complete circuit. If you decide to ride around it once for orientation and then see sites, you’re committing 3 hours more or less to the bus ride and half of that time will be a repeat. Plus, you’ll need to allow time for waiting for the bus. The time investment is less of an issue now that it’s a 2 day ticket, though. Be aware that many of the sites are in easy walking distance of each other and it can actually be far faster to just take the walk. And if you want to go backwards on the tour route, you’ll definitely want to walk. Some sites that are further out, though, benefit from the transportation (although you can do it a lot cheaper and quite easily either on regular Dublin Bus service or the LUAS Tram, depending on your destination).

Personally, I would not take the tour again and could certainly have done without it. (I mainly did it to have an opinion here on TA…how sad is that? LOL)

FINAL THOUGHTS

So who do I recommend the HOHO bus for?

- If you’re looking for an orientation to the city, and aren’t one to read up and do some research on your own, this is as good a way as any.

- If you want/need transportation to some of the farther sites such as Kilmainham Gaol, etc., the HOHO can be a helpful choice (but remember that there are other, far cheaper alternatives).

- If you have limited time in Dublin, this can be a quick, effective way to see the sights.

Regardless of your reason, I would highly suggest at least tentatively planning your stops in advance to make best use of the time (which is what I did), rather than riding around once and then repeating...unless of course, that's what you WANT to do!

I would not particularly recommend this tour if you’re willing to do some reading, planning and research yourself, if you’re comfortable with using local public transport for the farther sights and/or if you’ll be in Dublin for a few days, rather than just a quick 1 or 2 days.

And since I recommend more than just 1 or 2 days in Dublin, the bottom line is that ultimately I suppose I don’t recommend this tour! But it might be just right for you, though! Hope that this helps you decide.

http://www.dublinsightseeing.ie/cityTour.aspx (for the green Dublin Bus HOHO tour, which I took)

www.city-sightseeing.com/index.phtml… (for the red City Sightseeing HOHO stour)

Keith

Ventry, Ireland
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for Dingle Peninsula
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1. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

Good report, Keith. Many thanks. I'm a Dubliner and have often thought about doing the HOHO (so I'm even sadder than you!).

Dublin, Ireland
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2. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

The HoHo can also be useful for people with mobility problems and other disabilities, or for those who just may not be able to walk any distance. But in general in the city centre for most people it's probably much easier to stroll between the many sites which are very close to each other than to make your way around by HoHo.

That's interesting about the 2-day validity period for tickets but it does make sense and gives people using the HoHo much better value for money and more flexibility with their itineraries, even if they are just using it to reach the more outlying sights and attractions.

We've only ever used a HoHo anywhere twice. The last time was in Derry in August when we were visiting the city with an elderly woman who couldn't walk very far. The first time was few years ago in Brussels. We managed to get ourselves impossibly lost on foot in the suburbs for what seemed like hours on a blisteringly hot day and when we finally made it to our destination - the Atomium - we were too late and it was on the point of closing. We had just collapsed in a disappointed and heat exhausted heap when a HoHo pulled up in front of us. It was a no brainer.....! They can be handy but like you, when travelling we prefer to make our own way about if we can, either on foot or by public transport.

Co. Kildare
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for Ireland
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3. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round...

So they do and thanks for pointing out the various points that should be taken into consideration when taking one of these tours.

I still think that the HO-HO presents very good value, particularly for those visitors who are in Dublin just for one or two days and wouldn't have time to walk to all the sites and attractions. It's also good for deciding where you might want to go again after having seen the "attraction" from the bus. And it also means that you don't have to find your way around all those bus stops for "regular" bus lines that are strewn all over the city centre in order to get to a particular place on the tourist trail.

Good report, Keith, it will be of use to other visitors.

Wheaton, Illinois
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4. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

LOL

I just got back on to TA to add to my thoughts...I realized during my errands that the HOHO is also a very good option for those with mobility issues or those just not wanting to walk very much...and you already caught that tapl! WTG.

And Clauds I would absolutely agree. For those wanting to discover in the moment and with limited time, the HOHO is very good value (and with the shift to 2 days, even more so).

I mainly posted all this so that people wouldn't automatically think it's a must do. There are other options. The HOHO might be the best choice and for many I'm sure it is. For me (and my hyper planning style) it was not. I have no regrets, though!

Keith

Whitney, Texas
Destination Expert
for Ireland
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5. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

thanks for your thoughts...i disagree greatly but that is what makes TA special...

most of us aren't blessed with being able to spend days and days in one place in ireland as we have to work for a living and trips to ireland have limited time and are very special to us...

there is nothing i could see that would be unpleasant for any visitor and i think you kind of gave the impression hop on/off should be a last resort ...

:-)

Edited: 20 October 2010, 20:39
Wheaton, Illinois
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6. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

Glad you mentioned this, oma14. I certainly don't think the HOHO should be a LAST resort and hope that no one takes that away from my thoughts. I guess that I'm just trying to suggest that it shouldn't be an automatic FIRST choice. It doesn't fit for everyone.

For some people, it will be the perfect option (short time in Dublin, don't enjoy doing the planning for DIY, don't want to use public transport, have mobility concerns). These people should use the HOHO with confidence and will get good value.

But for others, like myself, it's not a good option (longer period in Dublin, enjoys the planning and research process, comfortable with public transport, enjoys the option of walking).

Each will have to decide for themselves as to the best fit. The HOHO is definitely not unpleasant. (You'll notice I mentioned the good news and the not so good...saying that there's no real bad news.) But it is an investment in time and money. For some? Perfect. For others? Not so much.

And I too have to work for a living. I travel solo as a single man and so may have less expenses than a couple or family. But I still have to save and sacrifice other things to make possible my own special trips to Ireland.

I've chosen to be 'slow' with my Ireland explorations. I'm not in a hurry to get to every place, preferring instead to really get to know a place like I have done with Dublin and County Wicklow. After four trips I still haven't been to the Southwest, West or Northwest (apart from 2 days in Cork by train and 2 days in Galway by train as well). It's just a different philosophy of travel. I also understand the desire to see a lot of different places, rather than really pressing into one or two. And for those people? Buy an HOHO ticket! You'll be glad you did. :-)

Hopefully clarified!

Keith

Whitney, Texas
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for Ireland
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7. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

:-)

MA
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8. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

I am obsessive about reading and planning months in advance but I still think HOHO tours are helpful. When you are jet-lagged, they are a great orientation to a city without a lot of physical exertion when you're wiped out from the travel. You can look at maps and photos and read til you're cross-eyed, but being there is a different matter and they usually do give you a good sense of place.

I've enjoyed HOHO tours in London and Rome--did that one twice--but skipped it in Florence where it really doesn't show you the historic center. Looking forward to doing one our first day in Dublin.

Huntsville, Alabama
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9. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

Keith,

I completely agree with you about the HOHO. Our first trip (and only so far) to Ireland we spent 5 nights in Dublin. Originally we had thought to do the HOHO bus, but after really looking at what we wanted to see/do and studying a map we realized that strolling around the city was perfect for us (I LOVE to research trips and plan - but of course not too much for our Ireland vacations!). Granted, we did not have any mobility issues, had plenty of time to spend, weather doesn't bother us (we were there in March and had rainy, drizzly, cold weather but we were prepared clothing wise) and love to walk....so off we went. Yes, we did get lost a bit one day around the canals but a lovely soul saw us with our map and pointed us in the right direction after a nice chat.

So, while the HOHO isn't for everyone, it is a very nice option for quite a few. Can't wait to return in less than a year!

10. Re: Thoughts on the HOHO Bus

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