With so many unique adventures in the pipeline, a trip to Asia is often a sensory overload. One such desirable experience is riding cute and creatively-designed modes of transport that are visible on streets in many popular and tourist-friendly countries of Asia.
To ensure that you hop on to these popular means of travel as soon as you spot them on roads, here are our top five picks for the most unusual modes of transport you can take in Asia:
A covered pick-up truck with two rows of seats in the back, Songthaews make travelling around Laos cheaper as well as more convenient and fun. Used for transportation in urban areas of the country as well as around popular tourist beaches, Songthaews operate independently much in the fashion of private taxis, but unlike taxis these run only on specific routes and have fixed fares. The colour of a Songthaew indicates its route but most people rely on the signboards placed in front of the vehicle.
Long-Tail Boat, Thailand
Did you know that long-tail boats were originally used to move around through the yesteryear canals of Thailand? The long and slim shape of these boats was ideal for canal cruising in the past; today these boats have come to represent Thailand’s history and heritage. Ubiquitous on Thailand’s beaches and coasts, sailing aboard a long-tail boat is a quintessential experience, one that features on every wish list to the country.
When the World War 2 ended, the American troops began distributing hundreds of surplus jeeps they had amongst Filipinos as gifts, who then repainted them in bright colours and made minor altercations to the design of these jeeps before putting them to use. The Jeepneys are being used as the most popular means of commuting in the country ever since. Tourists love them for their vibrant colours, spacious interiors and for being a part of the country’s culture and past. The cherry on the cake is that it is very cheap to commute by a jeepney.
Bamboo Train, Cambodia
One of the most unusual trains that you’ll ever ride in your life, the bamboo train makes good use of misaligned rail tracks and whirling bridges in Battambong. The train is comprised of a 3-meter long wooden frame covered with bamboos, a gasoline engine and runs at the maximum speed of 40km/h on a bumpy track. The train takes its passengers through lush fields, forests and villages, offering them panoramic vistas of Cambodia’s countryside. One of the most amusing things about these trains is that if two trains find themselves running toward each other on a track, the train with lesser passengers is moved down from the track after dismantling, and put back on the track after the other train has passed.
Tangas, India or Pakistan
If time is not a constraint and you fancy a royal ride, you should take a tanga while travelling in India or Pakistan. A carriage of wooden wheels pulled by two horses; tanga was commonly used in these countries for transportation before the advent and popularity of automobiles. Though, the rural belts of both countries still see tangas being used for the purpose of local travel, in urban areas they have become a symbol of these countries’ history and heritage. Their use in the urban cities of India and Pakistan is restricted to tourism or weddings, where among other rituals; the groom rides a chariot (a well-decorated tanga) to reach his wedding venue.