InTrans / Jun 28, 2016

Exploring Asia: Unique transportation

Go! Magazine

Asiaposted on June 28, 2016

Did you know that transportation can be more than just cars, trains, and buses?

The world can be a completely different place if you’re halfway around the globe. As different regions of the world vary in culture, climate, terrain, and resources, the transportation can vary accordingly too.

In Southeast Asia, which we’ll explore in this article, it stays warm all year round! This warmer climate can accommodate for different year-round modes of transportation that wouldn’t necessarily work in other parts of the world. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Take me to the Philippines

First stop: the Philippines.

The Philippines is an island country in Southeast Asia, located in the western Pacific Ocean. This island country is home to more than 100 million people.

So, how do they get from Point A to Point B? How could we expect to travel in the Philippines? Since the Philippines lie among scattered islands and in a mountainous terrain, transportation is relatively “underdeveloped.”

“Jeepneys,” or simply “jeeps,” are the most popular mode of public transportation in the Philippines and were originally made from leftover U.S. military jeeps from World War II. Most jeepneys are used for public transport, flagged down much like a taxi cab, and are known for their “kitsch” decor and cramped seating.

Or, is a motorcycle more your style? In the Philippines, they have motorcycle taxis!

Taking a habal-habal ride
Taking a habal-habal ride. Photo from Dumaguete News, original photo from Erwin Mascarinas,

These motorcycle taxis are sometimes equipped with a T-shaped crossbeam that allow the seats to extend sideways. This two-wheeled mode of transportation, known as a “habal-habal” or “skylab,” is one of many motorcycle taxi designs in the Philippines. A habal-habal can accommodate as many as 9 passengers and the driver!

Take me to Thailand

Next up, we’re exploring Thailand.

Thailand is a country located in Mainland Southeast Asia. Thailand is home to over 66 million people, with over 6 million people living in the capital city of Bangkok. So, how do they get around?

Transportation in Thailand is described as “chaotic,” and there is no dominant way of getting from place to place. One widely used form of urban transport in Thailand is the auto rickshaw, which is an improved version of the traditional pulled or cycle rickshaws.

The auto rickshaw is called a “tuk-tuk” in Thailand, which is an onomatopoeia for the sound the small engine makes (like “putt-putt” in English). The tuk-tuk is a popular means of transport in Bangkok and other Thai cities; Bangkok alone is said to have over 9,000 tuk-tuks.1

Tuk tuk in Bangkok
Tuk tuk in Bangkok. Photo from Flickr user Colin Tsoi.

Most auto rickshaws have three wheels and are a common means of public transportation. They may also be used to transport fresh produce and other goods in the absence of passengers. Auto rickshaws are notably used in countries with tropical or subtropical climates, including many developing countries.

Take me to Vietnam

Lastly, let’s take a quick stop in Vietnam. Vietnam is another country in Southeast Asia, home to more than 90 million people.

In Vietnam, we’ll find a different kind of three-wheeled rickshaw called a “cyclo,” which uses human-powered pedaling as opposed to the auto rickshaws we saw in Thailand. Cycle rickshaws are used around the world but are most commonly found in cities in South, Southeast, and East Asia.

Tourists on cyclo in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Tourists on cyclo in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo from Flickr user CamelKW.

This tricycle taxi is ultimately a popular attraction for tourists, and it doubles as a great way to see the sites with ease! Cyclo rides are a popular attraction in big cities like Ho Chi Minh City, commonly known as Saigon, and Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.

The cyclo balances on three wheels, using the front two wheels for support. The bike peddler steers the taxi from behind, near the back wheel, while the passengers ride in a seat up front. A ride on a cyclo would be a nice, relaxing break compared to a bumpy habal-habal or tuk-tuk ride!

Take me to the Americas

Did you enjoy our trip to Southeast Asia? Isn’t it amazing how different the world can be? Make sure to check out the videos under “related links” to get the full experience!

To conclude our journey around the world, we’ll take a look at some unique modes of transportation in North, South, and Central America.

Related links





By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer

Go! Magazine Article Index