Cool, unusual or just scary? - Local transport around the world

Wednesday, 21 September 2011 4:39 PM

When you go travelling or backpacking it is inevitable that you will have to try out some new, exciting and quite often scary local methods of transport. Here at mapthegap.co.uk we have listed some of our favourite and most iconic local transportation vehicles, some which you will almost certainly be travelling on.

Cyclos – Vietnam
Cyclos are unique to Vietnam and a local ride that every traveller must experience. They are a bit like rickshaws using peddle power, except that you sit in a seat in front, while you’re driver sits behind you. This can be particularly fun or scary, whichever way you want to look at it, because it feels like you’re just moving down the road on your own with no driver in front. However, you are also nearer to other traffic and rides can be a bit hair-raising in big cities like Hanoi, where you will inevitably get too close to the vehicle in front. Ask the driver if you can have a go at peddling, it’s a lot harder than it looks.

Tuk tuks – Thailand
You won’t get very far in Thailand without riding on a tuk tuk – a covered motorbike with seats behind the driver. These are quite small but people generally try to cram in as people as possible. Drivers in Bangkok go super fast when not stuck in traffic and rides can get quite scary especially when they start having races with other tuk tuk drivers. Tuk Tuk rides are generally fine though and will become and iconic part of travel around Thailand.

Motodups – Cambodia
Motodups have to be one of the most romantic looking local transport vehicles in Asia. They are similar to tuk tuks in Thailand, but the motorbike is separate from the elegant roofed carriage. OK so some of them are still falling apart, but they will still provide you with the calmest ride where you will be able to enjoy your surroundings without having to worry so much.

Jeepneys – Philippines
Jeepneys have to be one of the coolest local methods of transport around. These mini-bus type vehicles were originally made from the old US military jeeps left over from the Second World War. They have been decorated in garish colours, flashing lights and icons, sometimes with a religious connection and glitzy flamboyant designs. Every jeepney is unique and they have become a renowned symbol of the Philippines. Apart from taxis these are really the only way to get around the cities and locals use them almost every day. Sometimes they can get so crowded that you will see people hanging out of doorways or top of roofs.

Boda Bodas – Uganda
A boda boda is literally just a motor bike and they are used as taxis all over East Africa, particularly in Uganda. You sit on the bike behind the driver but hold onto the back of the bike not the driver. Women are expected to ride side saddle, but you can ride one leg either side if you wish. While they might be good for very short distances I wouldn’t recommend them for any longer as they can be quite dangerous and helmets are not worn.

Rickshaws – Bangladesh
Rickshaws are the traditional method of transport used in Bangladesh and are really the only method of transport for many locals who can’t afford anything else. There are different types of rickshaws, but the ones here are peddle bikes with attached carriage at the back. The rickshaw drivers in Bangladesh are some of the poorest and hard working people in the world, and completely rely on their customers for their survival. Riding a rickshaw in Bangladesh is an excellent way to learn a bit of Bengali as most drivers don’t speak any English and you will have to direct them as they won’t know where you want to go either.
 

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