1.The Jeepney (Philippines)
For a mere 8 peso (approximately 25 cents) you can cruise the wild streets of Manila on the iconic Jeepney. One of the things that solidifies the Philippines as such a fascinating country to backpack through is the fact that there are so many islands making up the archipelago to draw comparisons between. I haven’t been to all of the 7000-plus islands, but I have seen enough of them to know that different islands have slightly different variations of the Jeepney. My personal favourite is the meticulously decorated stainless steel version found in the bustling capital. As you explore the outlying islands you tend to see less stainless steel and more paintwork.
2. The Electric Bemo (Nepal)
Three-wheeled and electric, the bemo in Nepal comes across as an odd sight for first timers to the beautiful Himalayan country. Due to their affordable fares, bemo’s tend to be very popular in Kathmandu. As I walked from the Thamel tourist district to Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, I quickly noticed that they travel at a pretty slow speed. Definitely not the quickest way to get around, but nonetheless I recommend taking a few loops around the kaleidoscopic capital city.
3. The Tricycle (Philippines)
The tricycle is a more personalized means of transport in the Philippines in comparison to the Jeepney. Slightly more expensive than the typical jeepney fare, but cheaper than a taxi, the tricycle is the intermediate transport option for locals and tourists in the Philippines. Even though tricycle drivers have mandated fares that they should follow, many prefer to barter with tourists to increase their profit margin. Even though tricycles are really just an adapted motorcycle with a welded component attached – they can transport an unbelievable amount of passengers. During my travel in Bohol, I witnessed 12 people on one tricycle.
4.The Motorcycle (All over South East Asia)
Pretty much every country in the South East Asian region has motorcycles (or motos for short). Each country varies drastically, however, in terms of the sheer number of motos on the road and of course in terms of the way they are driven. More often than not you will see helmet-less drivers weaving throughout cars and transport trailers in order to shave a few seconds from their journey. A common observation that I have seen is adults wearing helmets while their young and unprotected passengers enjoy to breezy ride. I assume this is due to a local law requiring the driver (but not the passengers) to wear a helmet. By far, my favourite country to catch motorcycle mania is Vietnam.
5. The Tuk-Tuk (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia)
The tuk-tuk is another three-wheeler cabin cycle that is used as public transport in countries like Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. A tuk-tuk would have a slightly different design compared to a Philippine tricycle, with the motorcycle positioned in front of the cabin frame, which holds the passengers. In Laos and Cambodia, people choose to ride tuk-tuks for shorter distances and cheaper fares. However, in Thailand, especially in Bangkok, riding a tuk-tuk has become some sort of a tourist attraction. As a result, some tuk-tuk drivers tend to overcharge tourists for the experience. Bangkok tuk-tuk drivers are not afraid to go really fast on highways and main roads. In some cases, they match the speed of cars and bigger vehicles. Thus, riding a tuk-tuk can be quite a thrilling ride, but make sure to negotiate the price before getting on.