So you’re backpacking around South India, and you’re going from…
How to get from Pondicherry to Madurai by taking an overnight bus
The quick list:
- Buy your bus ticket
- Arrive at bus departure point in Pondicherry
- Get on the bus
- Enjoy the bus ride! (And SLEEP!)
- Get off the bus at Madurai drop-off point
- Find a rickshaw to take you to your hotel!
- Visit Madurai!
Buy your bus ticket
Leave for bus departure point in Pondicherry in evening
Get on the bus
Enjoy the bus ride! (And SLEEP!)
Get off the bus at Madurai drop-off point in morning
Find a rickshaw to take you to your hotel!
How long does the bus ride take?
So just to give an idea, these were the bus timings when I took this bus:
- 10:15pm – Depart from near Pondicherry bus station
- 1:30am – Stop for break at road-side rest area (10-15 minutes)
- 3:05am – Stop for break at Trichy bus station (25-30 minutes)
- 6:05am – Arrive near Madurai Periyar bus stand
So to get from Pondicherry to Madurai, it was about an 8 hour bus ride.
The timings listed on the bus ticket:
- 10:00pm – Depart Pondicherry
- 5:00am – Arrive Madurai
How much does the overnight sleeper bus cost?
I paid just under 900 rupees (US$13) for my Pondicherry to Madurai bus ticket.
When you’re headed to Madurai from Pondicherry…
So you have a few options to get from Pondicherry to Madurai.
Which option you’ll want to go for will depend on your travel preferences and how comfortable you want to be during your overnight trip.
For me, I wanted:
- AC bus
- single space
AC vs non-AC on overnight bus
I generally don’t mind traveling on a non-AC bus during the day.
Even if it’s hot outside, open windows on non-AC buses means that it’s a mostly manageable temperature during the bus ride.
But at night, since I would like to increase my chances of being able to sleep, I prefer to have closed windows so I won’t be bothered as much by outside noises.
Traveling with closed windows also means you’re exposed to minimal dust and pollution during the bus ride.
If you’re not bothered by these things, then you might further consider a non-AC bus for your overnight trip to Madurai, and there will generally be more buses available too.
Another ideal “requirement” for me when traveling overnight by bus is to be able to lay down.
Once again, there are more options (and it’ll be cheaper) if you don’t mind being in a (nearly) upright position all night.
There are regular seats on overnight buses that do have the ability to recline somewhat.
But I’d still prefer to be completely flat!
Single vs double
Some buses allow you to book a double sleeper seat or a single sleeper seat.
If you’re traveling with a partner, then you’ll probably prefer to book the double.
But since I was traveling alone, I didn’t want to be sleeping directly next to a complete stranger, so I prefer to book a single.
Single sleeper seat
Double sleeper seat
How to buy bus tickets to go from Pondicherry to Madurai
So once you’ve decided how comfortable you want to be during your overnight trip, you can then see if there’s your preferred seat available for your travel date!
I used redbus to book my overnight bus ticket to Madurai.
It’s also possible to buy bus tickets through a travel agency when you’re in Pondicherry.
Booking redbus tickets
So once you put in your departure and arrival points, you’ll get a list of bus options.
This may include both government bus options, as well as private bus companies.
You can take a look at what your government bus options are (TNSTC), as this will likely be the cheapest option.
TNSTC = Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation. Keep your expectations low for “ultra deluxe” government buses!
You can click on each of the options, and it’ll show you the type of seats so you can check.
For Pondicherry to Madurai buses, these will be regular seats you’ll get on a government bus.
Since I was going for a sleeper seat, government bus wasn’t an option for this bus journey for me, so I was looking at the private bus options.
I generally don’t pay attention to a specific bus company or the reviews, and I’ll mostly just go for the seat type as a determining factor. (Many of the bad reviews seem to be “bus was late.”)
So you can click on each option to see what seats are available here too.
This is where you’ll also select your seat.
You can choose between lower berth and upper berth.
I try to go for lower and towards the front as much as possible, as I feel the bus ride will be less bumpy this way.
But for the bus ride to Madurai, only upper berth was available for single for the date I was looking at, so I went with upper. It was fine!
Once you select your seat, you’ll be prompted to choose a boarding point in Pondicherry.
The best way to know which location is closest to you is really just to use Google Maps to try to figure it out.
In the case of this bus from Pondicherry, it could also be easiest to board the bus at the starting location, even if another pick-up location is closer to you.
I boarded at the first point.
This was near the main Pondicherry bus station.
Then you’ll be prompted to choose a drop-off location in Madurai.
Once again, it could be best to just use Google Maps to determine which stop you want to get off at.
Although, I really don’t think it’ll be too big of a deal if you later decide to change the spot you want to get off at.
I got off at the last stop, near the Madurai Periyar bus stand.
And then, you’ll fill out your info!
I was able to put in my US number (although they didn’t send any notifications to it).
I was also able to pay using my US credit card.
When I used redbus to book another ticket a few weeks prior, it did require a second attempt, as the first attempt was declined by my credit card company as potentially suspicious behavior.
So if your foreign credit card doesn’t work, check your text messages and email to see if this is the case.
Then, once the booking went through, I received 2 emails.
One was from redbus…
And then another one seemed to be specifically for the bus company I booked with. (Lucky Kitta Travels)
All you’ll need is these emails on your phone to board the bus. You don’t need a printout.
I took a screenshot of both emails for easy access later on.
Arrive at bus departure point in Pondicherry in evening
Lucky Kitta Travels booking office
So the bus company I went through was Lucky Kitta Travels.
They have an office in Pondicherry, and that’s where my boarding point was.
This was near the Pondicherry bus station.
I took a rickshaw to get there, and the driver seemed to immediately know the location of “Lucky.”
You can put the address listed in the email (No.190, Maraimalai Adigal Salai) to follow along on Google Maps with your GPS just to make sure.
So once I got there, I went into the office to confirm that it was the correct spot by showing the guy the emails.
There is a little waiting area if you want to sit inside, but it might get a little hot.
There are no toilets on the bus, so I wanted to go to the bathroom before I boarded the bus.
There are pay-to-use toilets at the Pondicherry bus station that’s just a few minutes walk away, so I headed that way.
The bathroom here is actually pretty clean, which you can’t always expect with public toilets in India!
Is Pondicherry safe at night?
At the time I was leaving, around 9pm to 10pm, and in the area I was, it was very lively.
So for traveling at this time in the evening, I really don’t think there’s much of a concern in terms of night safety.
Getting on the bus to Madurai!
Once it’s around 10-15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, you might want to go back into the office to see if it’s time to get on the bus yet.
In my case, the bus wasn’t visible from just in front of the office.
So once it’s time…
Get on the bus!
You can find your seat number on the bus ticket, and then look for the corresponding seat number on the bus.
I put my suitcase under the seat.
I was also traveling with a backpack, which came up top with me to my seat. (Always keep your valuables nearby!)
On this bus, you could control whether the air blows on you, in case you get a bit cold or hot.
Outlet for charger
Sleeper buses also generally have an outlet for you to charge your phone or other devices.
I didn’t test this outlet to see if it works, but I’ve used it successfully on other buses.
And then once the bus has departed Pondicherry…
Try to SLEEP!
The bus stopped twice during this bus ride.
During these rest times, you can buy some water and small snacks, and you can also use the bathroom.
The first stop was at a little road-side area, at around 1:30am.
This was about a 10-15 minute stop.
The toilet was okay.
The second time was in the major city of Trichy (aka Tiruchirappalli), and it was at the Trichy bus station.
This was about a 30 minute stop.
I had to hold my breath when using the toilet. (It was very smelly.)
Arrival in Madurai!!
There are several stops in Madurai.
You can follow along on Google Maps with your GPS to know if you’re approaching your stop.
Announcements in the local language of Tamil also came on over the loudspeakers on the bus with each major stop in Madurai.
Or if you will be getting off at the last stop, that will be pretty easy to figure out too!
Around Periyar bus stand, where I got off, there were plenty of rickshaws around.
As a foreigner, I was approached right away.
It took the help of a few locals (they looked at the map I showed them) and a call to my hostel to make sure the rickshaw driver knew where to go.
HAPPY PONDICHERRY TO MADURAI OVERNIGHT BUS RIDE!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
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Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!