London Bus Tours

Old Jul 26th, 2001, 05:21 AM
  #1  
jay
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London Bus Tours

Haven't seen any comments lately about the double decker bus tours of London.
Are there two different companies?
Any favorites out there?
Thanks
Jay
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 05:53 AM
  #2  
John
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We used Evan Evans while in London. Excellent guides and new motor coaches.
Were well pleased.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 08:26 AM
  #3  
janis
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There are 2 different hop-on-hop-off tour companies -- The Original London Bus and the "Big Red" (I don't think that is their actual name but that's what everyone calls them) There may be more now since it is a very lucrative business. There is really no difference between them - Both use live comentary on some buses and recorded on some, and both pick up and drop off at the same places.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 08:51 AM
  #4  
wes fowler
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Rather than attempting to orient yourself to London by taking a commercial tour bus with a bunch of other tourists from Idaho, Hong Kong and Sydney, first pick up a copy of the A-Z Visitors’ London Atlas and Guide. It’s about the size of a postcard and less than half an inch thick, but it lists every major attraction in London, opening and closing hours and nearest underground station. It also has a superbly detailed set of maps that identify every street, attraction on it, underground stations and bus routes identified by street. It’s available at bookstores, tourist information offices and most newstands. Now, purchase a London transport ticket for Zone 1 and 2 (where almost all of the attractions are located). Costs will range from 4 pounds for a daily pass to 6 pounds for a week end pass. The passes allow you to hop on or off buses as you see fit. With A-Z Guide in hand, you have a couple of inexpensive sightseeing options. At Victoria Station, board one of the red enclosed double decker London Transport buses marked “11 Liverpool Street Station”. Sit up top up front. You’ll drive past Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, up Whitehall past 10 Downing Street, Horse Guards and Banqueting Hall to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, then onto the Strand past the Courtauld Institute, to Fleet Street and the Royal Courts of Justice, and on to St. Paul’s Cathedral. As an alternate, at Paddington Station or Marble Arch, board the city bus marked “15 Canningtown” and ride down Oxford Street past Selfridge’s department store to Oxford Circus then down Regent Street past Liberty’s and Josiah Wedgewood to Piccadilly Circus and on to Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s and the Tower of London. Get on and off as frequently as you please, your ticket (which may cost less than 10% of the one for the commercial tour bus) is good all day. By combining both bus rides you will end up seeing every one of London’s major attractions except Buckingham Palace and Harrod’s. The advantages? You set the pace. You save considerable money. You can get on and off wherever you choose (for lunch, to explore, to shop) rather than just where the tour bus stops. You may have the opportunity to interact with a native Londoner (“Excuse me, ma’am, is that the British Museum to our left?) rather than a fellow tourist or tour guide. Disadvantages? You don’t have the benefit of a guide’s narrative, a small price to pay.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 09:31 AM
  #5  
jjj
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Thanks for the suggestion, Wes. I probably wouldn't have thought of it. We'll be going to London next year and buying the London Transport ticket does sound a lot better than the tour bus. Having been on buses for day tours, I often have a wierd feeling of being proded on within the bovine tourist herd.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 11:37 AM
  #6  
Linda
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Wes, usually your advice is spot on, but this time I have to disagree with you. I have found the bus tours to be a wonderful way to orient yourself. Plus, you get the tourguide "patter". This has helped me put things in perspective. You won't get this using the normal bus system. I've been to London many times, and always take newcomers on this tour. The one thing the bus tour does is to allow you to see many sights that you would only see from the outside anyway and cross them off your list, and you'll recognize what you are seeing, something that may not happen without the announcements. I'm specifically thinking about Big Ben, and other things. I've ridden right in front of Big Ben many times and didn't realize it was that close. Of course, you can see it from other viewpoints, but when you are in the street in front of it, you don't realize it's there. Then, when you have a lay of the land, you can concentrate on the rest of the sights on your list, the ones you want to enter. That's where your A-Z Visitors Guide and London Transport Ticket come in handy. They are both excellent tools for optimizing your stay in London. I highly recommend taking the bus tour the first day you are there--not exhausting and keeps you awake. You'll already have some things crossed off your list and can start your second day refreshed and ready to tackle the "big stuff".

And, Jay, you aren't "herded" off and on the bus. In this respect, it runs much like a normal bus. You get on when you want, and get off when you want. People will be entering and exiting at all the stops. If you don't want to get off you just stay on. Have a great time in London, a great town.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 11:53 AM
  #7  
janis
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I agree with Linda (sorry Wes) - I ride local buses every time I am in London - BUT -- for a first (or 2nd or 3rd) time visitor or for someone with limited time the normal L T buses are NOT the way to see London. The routes can be confusing. Since everything is on the "wrong side of the street", travelers can easily become quite disoriented and catch buses going the wrong direction and not know it since they aren't familiar with the districts.

The great thing about the tour buses (and they are not at all regimented) is that they take a circular route - you can't go the wrong way - and they pass every tourist attraction of note. They are a good way to orient oneself - THEN you can venture out on the regular buses.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 12:38 PM
  #8  
John
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To: Janis and Linda:
You ladies are quite right. My wife and I have found in our travels that the guided tour bus with a reputable line is the way to go. At least for the first trip. Subsequent trips to the same city can be undertaken on ones own but we find that the initial visit is best done under the expert guided tour.
Works for us.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 02:55 PM
  #9  
Vi cki
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I'm from Idaho and I took the bus tour my first day in London so bite me! I thought it was great! The rest of the time we took the tube everywhere cause we had seen the outside of everything and it is so much faster.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 04:08 PM
  #10  
Candace
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I also think it's a great way to see London to begin with we took the Original Bus Tour last year and found the gold route with a tour guide to be well worth the money. The rest of the week we just used the tube. Wes's advice is good for everyday beyond the first one or two days. I'm a little confused at Vicki's need to disagree crudely.
 
Old Jul 26th, 2001, 08:01 PM
  #11  
Sue
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After an 11 hour flight from LAX to LHR we got to the hotel at 2:30pm. After taking showers, we decided to see the sights of London and try to stay awake till after dinner. I must say that the open top tour bus was a great way to start our visit of London. We got a great overview of all the well known sights, and the wind on our faces from our seats up top helped keep us awake.
 
Old Dec 23rd, 2001, 01:39 PM
  #12  
jjj
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wes's answer still akes a lot of sense to me. I'm a first time visitor with one week in London, but I can read a map and guide information. I am planning on buying for $27.31 the 7 day 1-zone London transport pass which covers the costs of tube and buses. Certainly the regular double-decker bus is a lot cheaper - for two pwople the hop on hop off would be $40.00 US. I was surprised no one agreed with him. Anyone see his wisdom or is this hop-on hop-off the ticket?
 
Old Dec 23rd, 2001, 03:26 PM
  #13  
c
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I will agree with wes We did just about exactly what he suggests.Our first year in London, we stayed at the St James Court on Buckingham Gate,the No.11 bus stopped at the corner, we had gotten our 7 day pass for zones 1 & 2 and walked to the corner, and took off! Sitting on top-we saw the Queens Guard riding their horses to the stables (I think-they were riding them somewhere)-Big Ben,Parliament, everything you want to see immediately! and then we started getting on and off...when we wanted to get somewhere quickly or if the weather was too brisk, we took the Tube, but the buses were the best!C
 
Old Dec 23rd, 2001, 09:09 PM
  #14  
gary
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It depends on how familiar you are with London. If this is your first trip to London, then I defintely recommend you take the bus tour. It really helps to get all the sights into perspective, how close they really are to each other, what the surrounding neighborhoods are, etc. My first day in London there was a tube strike so I had to alter my plans and decided to take the bus tour instead. I am glad I did, got all the commentary that you would not get on city bus or tube, and had the option of getting on and off all day long wherever I felt like.
 
Old Dec 25th, 2001, 08:51 AM
  #15  
j
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We did the bus per Wes and it worked well. Happened by the London Eye on the bus, hopped off found no lines rode the Eye and then continued on . This was June of 2001. We have taken the Tours in other cities and found them helpful to decide what places we will certainly visit. Happy Holidays To All. Joyce
 
Old Dec 25th, 2001, 06:18 PM
  #16  
Patrick
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The first two times I went to London, I did the pass thing and found the underground and bus systems a breeze to follow. As suggested, I had done my homework and knew where I wanted to go. Besides I usually shun anything that seems too "touristy" or planned. The third trip to London there were a number of us, mostly on their first trip to London, so we took the hop on hop off bus. We loved it. For the first time I got a real perspective of the city as the bus loops around all the major central attractions and I was utterly amazed how close some of the things were that I had taken the underground to before. I also learned quite a bit as the "patter" was not only entertaining, but very enlightened as well. Our bus -- don't know which line it was -- had a live guide. In retrospect, I really think my first trip to London would have been made even better by starting with that hop on hop off bus trip. Yes it is a little more money, but makes a great intro to that great city. It also seems that most people don't really take advantage of the ability to be able to get off, visit an attraction, then take the next bus, but rather ride it all the way around.
 
Old Dec 25th, 2001, 06:53 PM
  #17  
Leslie
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The hop on-hop off tour bus tickets are good for 2 days. There are many different routes, although both companies have the same routes. I have found them very handy to use along with the buses and metro. However, there are 2 additional benefits to the hop on-hop off -- most of the hotels have discount coupons for these bus companies, so the cost is about $12 - $15 USD per person for 2 days. Also, these tickets provide further discounts for entrance fees at other venues of about 20%.

Either choice is good, but if you want to get your bearings and you're a first time visitor to London, I'd start with the double decker bus tour for the first 2 days.
 

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