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M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

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Harrogate, United...
posts: 26
M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

Heading to NYC next week for 1st time. Family of 6 with kids b/w 9 & 15 yo. We are staying Upper West Side.

Looking at the bus map the M5 seems to pass near us and goes right to tip of Manhatten - is that a decent way is seeing several sights, and how long is it likely to take from around W 79th down to Battery Park on a weekend morning (I expect we will be up early)

I read about Metrocards that for 6 of us we load up a couple as can swipe for up to 4 people. Does that work for buses as well as Metro?

If M5 bus is not a good plan, do any tour buses go by 9am from Upper West Side?

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for New York City
posts: 81,406
reviews: 2
11. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

If you or someone in your family are prepared to do some homework to figure out what you're seeing as you pass, you can obviously save a lot of money vs. a tour bus. Since youll need metrocards anyway, try it. If you feel you didn't get enough from the experience, you can always then do a tour.

Freetoursbyfoot.com

Just asks you to tip teh guide.

Toronto, Canada
posts: 360
12. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

I personally would not recommend the M5 bus in lieu of a tour. There is no narrative, you will not know what you are driving by most of the time, and by the time the "guide" in your group figures it out, and explains it to everyone else, you will be way past the "sight". In addition, the bus may be crowded and you will not be able to get seats near each other. Those who stand, because of a lack of seats, will be unable to get a "good view" without bending to look out the window; those who have a seat will not be able to see the sights on the other side of the street because of everyone who is standing in the way...

The M5 bus is definitely worth taking as an experience on its own and, because it travels down such an iconic route, it is an enjoyable ride. However, it is merely a way to "drive by" not "see" the sights, IMO.

New York NY
Destination Expert
for New York City
posts: 10,588
reviews: 96
13. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

I'm not sure how much narrative you need as you pass Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and the Empire State Bldg.

I hate the double decker buses. As a local, I don't mind them being here. I just think they're a terrible idea for tourists because so many visitors tend to use them as a crutch - as a way to get around / avoid public transport. You miss so much using the Hop on Hop Off buses as transportation. Terrible. Plus, the real thing about NYC is the energy. You have to experience the locals and the hustle and bustle of the City. You don't get that experience on a tour bus - then you go back to your hotel and stay there at night because you haven't really figured out how to get around.

The M.5 bus is great.

There is no downside to riding the M.5 and then if you feel you missed out by not doing the Hop On Hop Off (for reasons unknown to me) - it'll still be there later in the afternoon and the next day. They aren't going anywhere.

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Heidelberg
posts: 6,363
reviews: 30
14. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

The M5 is fun because you will be with real NYers, not other tourists and you can eavesdrop or even get into conversations and experience a special slice of NYC life.

NE Victoria...
posts: 2,593
reviews: 18
15. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

The only downside about the M5 bus is that it seems to have a mind of its own as to whether or not it will turn up at your stop within ten minutes or so of its appointed time. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't - like buses in most places, I suppose (Sydney, I'm thinking of you). I used the M5 a lot because it was convenient for me, and its erratic appearances didn't worry me particularly - I was on holiday after all! And it gave me more time to stare at the local architecture whilst waiting (sometimes quite a lot of time...).

It's a fantastic route, well worth doing from top to bottom whether or not you do a HOHO tour as well. We usually get a good bus map and catch local buses around to a city to get our bearings, it works for us. NYC buses are easy. And I lost count of the number of times people struck up a conversation with us on them once they heard our accents - it was great!

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 25,695
reviews: 18
16. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

There is nothing wrong with tourists--acting like tourists! As already said, the M5 will NOT give you a narrative or an explanation of what you are seeing.It can be crowded and you may miss things. Personally, I think one loop--NOT getting on and off, just to get your "bearings". Then you are ready to use your metro cards on subways ( not metro) and buses to really get out and interact with NYC.

Harrogate, United...
posts: 26
17. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

Wow, really thanks for all the replies. We are only in NY for 3 full days, plus an evening when we first arrive.

M5 bus sounds great. Not too bothered about tour guide but it will be a gamble about getting deaths by windows although we will be on so long we should manage it after a while at least.

One more thing, how can I find which are the express buses and stops. I have looked but just can't work it out? I have downloaded the route schedule and map and am still confused!!!

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for New York City
posts: 6,529
reviews: 11
18. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

"Not too bothered about tour guide but it will be a gamble about getting deaths by windows ....."

I'm not sure what you mean by this, or do you mean "seats" (was it a smartphone word change) ha ha, they are a killer. :-) From what I have seen of the buses, people get on and off all the time so if you don't get a seat straight away there is bound to be one sooner or later.

Harrogate, United...
posts: 26
19. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

Yeah, sorry - autocorrect!! deaths = seats! Can't seem to edit post

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 25,695
reviews: 18
20. Re: M5 Bus or a Bus Tour to get bearings?

Posts can be edited within 5 minutes of posting, provided no one has posted after you! If you are really unhappy with something you posted you have the option of going to "report inappropriate content" and clicking "remove my post" --THat is NOT necessary in this case!