5 double-decker buses Malaysians can ride around the world


Double-decker buses offer travellers a unique and convenient way to explore a new city. — ALFRED DERKS/Pixabay

What's better than visiting a beautiful or exciting destination? For us, it’s touring the place on the cheap.

One of the best ways to do this is, of course, by taking the public transport. However, for an elevated sightseeing experience (literally!), you could always opt to ride on double-decker buses, if there are any at the destination you’re visiting.

Over the years, double-deckers have offered tourists an affordable and interesting way to explore cities. Although typically used for daily commute, double-deckers also come in open-top models that serve as sightseeing or touring buses.

In fact, some tour companies operate “hop-on, hop-off” services (where passengers can board and alight at any time during the tour) along popular tourist routes using open-top double-decker buses.

When it comes to popular double-deckers, though, nothing is more iconic than London’s red buses, the Routemaster.

Entrepreneur Nur Najiha Azman was only 19 years old when she first rode a double-decker bus during a family holiday in London. Her family had specifically planned for the experience during their trip to the city.

“Riding the Routemaster seemed like the most popular thing for tourists to do in London back then, and the trip would’ve been a waste if I hadn’t experienced it,” says Nur Najiha, 24.

(Last year, Transport for London retired its iconic fleet of Routemaster buses on the number 15 route, the capital’s last running heritage service. However, visitors can still ride the New Routemaster.)

Hopping on the iconic red double-decker bus was one of the most memorable moments during Nur Najiha’s visit in London. — NUR NAJIHA AZMANHopping on the iconic red double-decker bus was one of the most memorable moments during Nur Najiha’s visit in London. — NUR NAJIHA AZMAN

Nur Najiha said the double-decker bus is a good option to explore London’s landmarks. With only a standard ticket in hand, she was whisked through many scenic sights.

“I got to see the famous Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, the Big Ben and many more. To see these places in real life was a wonderful experience for me,” she says, adding that prior to the trip, she had only ever seen the tourist attractions in movies and travel brochures.Nur Najiha enjoyed sitting on the open-top upper deck as she got to see more of London, and enjoyed the cool breeze. In fact, the weather played a major role in making her journey even more satisfying.

“The chilly weather in London made everything so much better because we weren’t feeling hot,” Nur Najiha explained.

The upper deck also offered an unobstructed view of London.

“Sitting on the upper deck made it easier to see things. The view of the city and people from above is so beautiful,” Nur Najiha shared.

During the tour, she also got to learn about the history of London’s iconic landmarks. This is because the bus was equipped with GPS-programmed earphones.

“All I had to do was plug the earphones into the earphone jack on the bus and a narration about each location’s history will play when the bus passes by it.

“It’s a very creative way to learn about a city, and I think more tour buses should use this type of technology,” she said.

Nur Najiha believes that double-decker buses will continue to play an essential role in enhancing the overall travel experience for tourists today, especially since many people prefer to travel on a budget, and buses are able to take them to multiple attractions at a reasonable price.

As the tourism industry slowly recovers from the impact of Covid-19, many tour buses have begun operating as usual. If you’re planning for a trip overseas soon, and are looking for a good and affordable city sightseeing experience, check out our list of double-decker tours from around the world.

New Routemaster’s Route 11

Nothing says “London” more than the iconic New Routemaster double-decker bus that circles the city.

This bright red bus is perhaps the most widely used mode of transport by locals and tourists alike in London. — Wikimedia CommonsThis bright red bus is perhaps the most widely used mode of transport by locals and tourists alike in London. — Wikimedia Commons

This bright red bus is perhaps the most widely used mode of transport by locals and tourists alike. Its two decks can seat over 80 people, so it can fit a good number of passengers.

Route 11 is among the oldest bus routes in London, starting at the bustling Fulham Broadway Station and ending at Liverpool Street Station.

This route is perfect for first-timer visitors of London as it passes through a series of tourist hotspots such as the Westminster Cathedral, Big Ben, Bank of England and Trafalgar Square.

Travellers should also look out for the Aldwych tube station in Central London. Although no longer in use today, the station was once used as the set for various blockbuster films and TV series including Fast & Furious 6, Sherlock and Darkest Hour, so it has become quite a popular tourist destination.

Waikiki Trolley’s Pink Line Tour Bus

Aloha! If you planning to holiday in Hawaii and are looking for an affordable way to tour the city of Honolulu in Oahu, then try the Waikiki Trolley service.

There’s no better way to explore Hawaii than hopping on the popular Pink Line bus. — Wikimedia CommonsThere’s no better way to explore Hawaii than hopping on the popular Pink Line bus. — Wikimedia Commons

The company offers three lines – the Pink Line, Blue Line and Green Line – and you can choose to ride either the double decker bus, or the trolley bus, which is kind of like a tram. All lines have a hop-on, hop-off service, and includes stops at many different hotels and shopping centres, making it a convenient way to travel around Honolulu for tourists.

Some of the top attractions that are serviced by the buses include the Diamond Head (a popular beach and park), Honolulu Zoo, Sea Life Park, Ala Moana Shopping Centre and Waikiki Shopping Plaza.

At the Kuhio Beach stop, tourists will be greeted by the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue which was erected to commemorate Hawaii’s greatest surfer, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku. Among the figures who have taken a photo with this statue are RM and J-Hope from the K-pop supergroup BTS.

Top tip: The buses pass through many scenic routes, so do try to catch the double decker and get a seat on the top deck for good photo opportunities.

Willer’s Tokyo Restaurant Bus

Savour a full-course meal as you ride past iconic attractions around Japan’s capital city. Covered in pastel pop art featuring some of Tokyo’s most iconic sights, this double-decker bus can easily be identified from a mile away.

Offering an innovative travel experience, Willer’s Tokyo Restaurant Bus is guaranteed to leave tourists with lifelong memories. — Wikimedia CommonsOffering an innovative travel experience, Willer’s Tokyo Restaurant Bus is guaranteed to leave tourists with lifelong memories. — Wikimedia Commons

Its lower deck is fitted with a kitchen where chefs will prepare mouth-watering cuisines, whereas the upper deck is lined with sleek dining tables and chairs.

Since the bus is furnished with a retractable roof, tourists can enjoy the fresh breeze as they take in sights of the Tokyo metropolis. If it gets too cold, just ask the driver to close the top.

The daytime route allows travellers to see, among others, the historical Imperial Palace, magnificent Tokyo Skytree, and the premium shopping district of Ginza.

In contrast, the night route is designed to make the most of the brilliant illuminations that light up Tokyo. It passes through the iconic Diet Building, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge and Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginza before returning to Tokyo Station.

City Tour Jakarta

Want to tour the city of Jakarta for free? Well, you can do just that with the City Tour Jakarta double-decker buses, which operate daily.

Travellers looking to tour Jakarta for free can always hop on the City Tour Jakarta double-decker. — Wikimedia CommonsTravellers looking to tour Jakarta for free can always hop on the City Tour Jakarta double-decker. — Wikimedia Commons

On top of that, you can also get on the History of Jakarta Tour bus, which operate every Sunday. Travellers can get an insight on Jakarta’s history as they pass through historical sites around the city such as the Monumen Nasional and Museum Nasional.

A GPS system installed in these buses will also trigger a narration about each destination as they pass through it.

Foodies on the hunt for delicious snacks and goodies can take part in the Culinary and Art buses that operate every Saturday from evening until late at night. These buses drive through many popular culinary spots in the city.

Aside from tasty meals, tourists can also treat themselves to sights of Jakarta’s vibrant nightlife.

The Shopping Tour buses, meanwhile, operate daily and will carry tourists to Jakarta’s most popular shopping complexes. It is the perfect tour for those on the hunt for premium goods, as well as some Indonesian souvenirs.

KL Hop-On, Hop-Off City Tour

Double the fun on your trip around the lively city of Kuala Lumpur with the KL Hop-On, Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus. It is the only open-top double-decker in KL connecting over 60 tourist landmarks around the city.

Exploring Malaysia’s capital city is more fun when you’re riding the double decker bus. — KL HOHOExploring Malaysia’s capital city is more fun when you’re riding the double decker bus. — KL HOHO

Visitors can explore Malaysia’s marvellous capital with a panoramic view and hop off at any of its 22 stops. This includes the magnificent KL Tower, the luxurious National Palace, KLCC, the National Museum and Little India.

The tour comes in two packages: The day tour and night tour, and offers two routes. The day tour is perfect for tourists who wish to bask in the ambiance of natural light as they see KL’s best sights.

On the other hand, the night tour is best for travellers who enjoy the beautiful bright lights of the city.

From enormous skyscrapers to historical palaces and scenic greeneries, this tour will allow you to explore KL like never before.

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