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The sleeper bus: Experiencing Victory Liner’s new Royal Class coach

Is this business class on wheels?

The Royal Class bus was unveiled on Victory Liner's 78th anniversary. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

As part of its 78th-anniversary celebration, Victory Liner has launched its Royal Class bus to provide passengers with a premium travel experience. The maiden voyage was bound for Baguio, and we were invited for an overnight stay.

The last time I went to the City of Pines was for a “bikepacking” event. And the most grueling part wasn’t biking up Kennon Road, but the seemingly countless hours of driving. That’s why I was excited to return in the comfort of a sleeper bus.

There was enough room below for a bicycle. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
It feels more like a capsule hotel than business class. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
The aisles are too narrow. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
There's no need to worry about bathroom breaks with the in-bus toilet. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

For bus enthusiasts out there, the model in question is a Volvo B8R powered by an 8.0-liter turbo diesel engine with 330hp and 1,200Nm. It comes with safety features such as electronic stability control, hill-start assist, and a driver-behavior monitoring system.

While the vehicle was built in Sweden, the body was made in Vietnam by Thaco. It can accommodate up to 28 passengers with a 10-10-8 arrangement for the double-deck, reclining seats.

The bus departed from Pasay past 7pm and arrived in Baguio after midnight. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
Victory Liner's Baguio terminal is conveniently located in the middle of the city. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Each seat has curtains on both sides for privacy, as well as adjustable air-conditioning vents and a reading light. There are two charging ports: one for USB-A and another for USB-C with Power Delivery for laptops and tablets. The bus also has Wi-Fi and a bathroom at the back, so you can go to the toilet anytime during the trip.

Like with an aircraft, a steward is present to assist with the needs of the passengers. If you are hoping to travel with your fur babies, you’ll have to take the regular bus based on the pet-friendly schedule. But if you plan on bike-touring, there’s space below for a full-size bicycle.

The author woke up early to catch the sunrise. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
Starting the day with strawberry-flavored taho. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

The Royal Class bus may look nice in photos, but the interior isn’t exactly accessible. The aisles are narrow due to the seats in the middle. If you choose to stay on the upper bunk, you’ll have to do a bit of parkour to go up. And this isn’t particularly good for those who are handicapped or disabled.

The seats are comfortable when lying down, but the lack of headroom will prevent you from sitting upright. That isn’t too bad, though, since lying down for several hours is still better than sitting for that long. There isn’t any overhead compartment like on a plane, so your only storage space within the cabin is whatever you can fit in the space by the footrest.

The Wi-Fi was fast enough that I was able to get this video uploaded, but it wasn’t as reliable on the return trip for some reason. Drinks and snacks are provided in the form of bottled water and an empanada from Banapple. However, don’t expect something like in-flight meals, and the bus isn’t going to stop to allow passengers to get food. So, don’t hop on with an empty stomach.

The chauffeur drove smoothly. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
Passengers were served empanadas from Banapple. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
You actually get to appreciate the view while on the road. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT
The charging ports and the Wi-Fi make the ride much more convenient. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

Despite the shortcomings, riding the Royal Class bus is still far more enjoyable than driving. Rather than getting mentally drained from being behind the wheel, you get to spend the time more productively—such as by resting or sleeping.

And since you can relax, you won’t notice how fast the time flies. The fare is relatively affordable, too, at P1,500 for a one-way trip between Cubao and Baguio. This makes it a viable transport alternative for foreigners and Filipinos who want to take a break from being in Metro Manila.

Victory Liner's Royal Class bus is good for bike-touring. PHOTO BY LEANDRO MANGUBAT

In addition to Baguio, the Royal Class bus will also be traveling to Cagayan. So, if you’re itching to go on some “revenge travel” after the pandemic, you can book your tickets at Victory Liner’s site.

Starting on October 23, the Royal Class bus will serve the following routes:

  • Cubao-Baguio: P1,500
  • Kamias-Tuguegarao: P2,300
  • Kamias-Tabuk (via Roxas-San Mateo): P2,200

Expect the list of routes to grow as time goes by. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.