For seasoned travelers, planes, trains, and cars might be a bit boring. Travelers who venture to far-flung corners of the world might want to try some of the weirder forms of transport that exist across the world.
Whether by water, land or air, there are unique methods of transport to delight the senses and those with a sense of adventure. Some of the wackier transport options are not for the faint-hearted, as safety doesn’t seem to be a prime concern, and speeds can be high.
People can be enormously resourceful when it comes to revamping old methods of transport. Vans and buses that are obsolete can be turned into vehicles to meet the needs of the local population. Resourceful locals in Peru have made their own transportation out of reeds.
When weather conditions are precarious, human beings manage to find modes of transport to skim over ice and glaciers, but when all else fails, animal power can be relied on. The old ways are often the best and often the most fun. At the other end of the spectrum, the advanced technology of the modern world has allowed for super speed travel that defies belief.
25 Bamboo Train, Cambodia
Locally, the bamboo train is known as a Nori. It is not for the faint-hearted, as this method of transport is exactly what it sounds like!
Passengers perch on a bamboo platform and zoom along the bumpy railway tracks at speeds up to 40 kilometers per hour!
They are a popular form of transport for locals, but for a tourist, it is more for the experience and the adrenalin rush! The train might speed along at a pace but bear in mind that it is only powered by an old tractor engine!
24 Chicken Bus, Central America
Those who have ridden the Chicken Bus, say that no trip to Central America is complete without a ride on one. The Chicken Bus is so-called because they are routinely used to transport livestock as well as people. However, there is not a great abundance of poultry on board these days, but once upon a time, they were apparently quite common.
The buses are converted yellow school buses imported from the USA and Canada, and they are widely seen across Central America with the exception of Costa Rica.
23 Monte Toboggan, Madeira
This most certainly is an adrenaline-fuelled experience. The slope from Monte to Funchal can be reached by toboggan, but be prepared for speeds of nearly fifty kilometers an hour!
They have been used since the nineteenth century as a mode of transport, but they are not used by locals anymore, but rather by intrepid visitors who want a once in a lifetime experience.
‘Drivers’ are dressed in traditional Madeiran white outfits and will steer the toboggan down the narrow, winding streets at breakneck speed.
22 Jeepney, Philippines
This monster is known locally as the ‘king of the road’, and king it is. The Jeepneys are remnants from World War II, left behind as gifts from American troops to the Philippine people. This is how the Jeepneys came about and they are now used as public transport.
They have been heavily customized by the Filipinos, with canopies and bright colored paint and decoration. Take one for the experience, they are hugely popular and great fun.
21 Longtail Boat, Thailand
Many a picture postcard has depicted a traditional Thai Longtail boat, and they are an icon of the Thai landscape. Not just for pretty pictures, these boats used to transport locals around the canals of Bangkok.
They get their name from the long rod at the back of the boat and are a popular form of public transport, their motors meaning they can pick up some speed.
They are not only a good tourist pull, but they are used as fishing boats and ferries as well.
20 Songthaew, Laos
Don’t expect anything glamorous from the Songthaew, it is a popular converted pickup truck, also known as a baht bus. The name means ‘two rows’ and refers to the two planks of wood that serve as seats in the back of the truck.
If you sit near the back, be sure to hold on tight as there is no gate to stop you from falling out. However, Laos seems to have a relaxed attitude to health and safety as these taxis/buses are a hugely popular form of transport.
19 Camel Bus, Cuba
These ancient relics are not the most attractive form of transport. Indeed, they are formed from a tractor-trailer that pulls two bus carriages behind it in the form of a motorized patchwork quilt!
The eighteen wheeled vehicles have become an icon of Cuban culture, packed, as they can be, with up to three hundred passengers.
They may be packed, but they are popular, and it is not uncommon to be waiting in a line of a hundred people waiting to become the next sardine in the can on a Camel Bus.
18 Dog Sled, Alaska
It’s the stuff of dreams to be ferried across crisp, white snow in a sled pulled by huskies. We imagine Santa Claus will jump out from behind a pine tree at any minute. While not a comfortable or quiet ride thanks to the barking of the dogs, this is an experience that is hard to say no to.
Locals won’t be taking dog sleds to do their grocery shopping, but if you are in Alaska, it is one experience that should be taken advantage of.
17 Barco de Totora, Peru
On Lake Titicaca in Peru are a group of people known as the Uros. They make their homes and their transport out of the Totora reed that grows in abundance in the lake. If you happen to be visiting the lake, take a Barco de Totora and marvel at the ingenuity of the people who fashion the boats out of the natural resources, and transport you safely across to the other side.
These amazing constructions are brightly colored with curled ends like Aladdin’s slipper. They are a unique and unforgettable way to get around, so don’t miss the chance to try one if you are in the area.
16 Maglev Train, Shanghai
These trains are like something from a science fiction film, they are in fact magnetic levitation trains, hence the name. the Shanghai version cost $1.2 billion to build and transports passengers from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road Station.
The trains can zoom along at a top speed of 430 kilometers per hour and takes around eight minutes for a journey that takes 45 minutes by road.
It has been billed as the world’s fastest train and is a testament to modern technology.
15 Duck Tour, London
These Duck or DUKH buses are a remnant of WWII when they were used by troops to transport equipment over water and land. Nowadays, visitors to London can take a ‘Duck’ tour around the city, transitioning from land to the River Thames with ease.
You can take an open-topped bus to see the landmarks of London, but if you want to get a better look at the river, there is no other form of transport that allows you to see the river at such close hands.
14 Suspension Railway, Germany
The Wuppertal Suspension Railway is an electric elevated railway and is the oldest system of its kind in the world. It operates around twelve meters above the River Wupper over a ten-kilometer stretch. It also runs over a valley road and a motorway at one point.
It is over a hundred years old and has been modernized in recent years to update the carriages and tracks.
It can seem a little bizarre to be suspended in the air on a single track, but the system is very popular, carrying over 80,000 passengers each day.
13 Reindeer Sled, Lapland
There was a time when the reindeer was the most popular form of transport in Lapland and until the introduction of the snowmobile, there were little other choices to cross the icy landscape.
However, for visitors, a reindeer sled ride is like something from a movie. It is a once in a lifetime experience and those who are more adventurous can direct the reindeer themselves, or the more relaxed among us can let the reindeer handler take the reins. What better way to see the landscape than in this traditional form of transport?
12 Terra Bus, Canada
This monster mode of transportation can take over fifty passengers across any terrain in any weather conditions, which is vital for the glacial lands of Canada. They are popular with tourists and have extra-large windows for added viewing capacity. However, in times of extreme weather, these behemoths are a vital lifeline for people who live in exposed areas.
For a true glacier experience, the Terra bus is the best way to explore these natural phenomena at close hand. It is not every day you can say that you took a trip across a real glacier after all.
11 Coco Taxi, Cuba
There is nothing quite like a Coco taxi and Cuba would be poorer without them. These bubble shaped taxis are not the most luxurious form of travel, but surely one of the most fun.
Passengers squeeze into the back of the three-wheeled device, and the driver negotiates the road from the front.
It is essentially a scooter with a fiberglass shell welded onto the top of it to increase its capacity. They can travel at speeds up to 30-miles an hour, and you will be offered a yellow version if you are a tourist, blue taxis are for locals!
10 Ice Angel, Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Ice Road only exists for a few months a year, so grab the chance to travel by Ice Angel when you can. At times, the Ice Angel is the only safe form of transport to traverse the icy surfaces. Police and rescue teams use them to respond to emergencies, so they are Angels in name and deed.
They can carry people and small cargo and can be a lifeline to people trapped in snowy conditions. The Ice Angel is actually a wind sled and has two huge fans at the back that power the monster machine across the snow.
9 Hydrogen Powered Trolley, Dubai
The Dubai trolley might look like something from a Victorian novel, but it is the first hydrogen-powered trolley bus in the world. It is used to transport people around Dubai and travels across the seven kilometers of the Downtown District.
It is particularly useful for tourists as you can jump on and off the bus at leisure. There are two decks to the trolley and the top deck affords a great view of the locality. They are also unmissable, they are bright red with gold trim.
8 Habal Habal, Philippines
This is surely one of the weirdest forms of transport and is not one of the safest looking vehicles. It is essentially a motorcycle but has two planks of wood, one either side of the cycle, held on by metal rods that cross the saddle.
It is very popular in the south Philippines and is handy to traverse rough terrain and can carry a number of people at one time, often six or more.
Sometimes it can take ten people with livestock and luggage and how it doesn’t fall over is anyone’s guess.
7 Shotover Jet, New Zealand
This adrenaline-fuelled journey is a true jet boat experience. One of the things that make the Shotover Jet so amazing is the scenery that the jet boat speeds through. Passengers zoom through narrow canyons.
Take an hour of your life to experience a truly thrilling ride, but make sure to wrap up warm as the speeds the jet boat travels at mean that the chill factor is increased. The boat performs 360-degree turns as part of the trip, so it is not for those of a nervous disposition.
6 Matatu, Kenya
Travel through Kenya appears to be rather ad hoc. The Matutu is a privately-owned minibus, although any form of transport seems to work to take paying customers where they want to go.
The buses are often highly decorated and are quite a local attraction around the Kenyan landscape. Payment is to the driver who blasts loud music from his makeshift stereo during the journey. If you give the driver a note you might not get your change straight away, but he will remember how much you are owed and pass it down the bus when it’s available.
5 Canal Taxi, Bangkok
A great way to see the sights of Bangkok is by using a Canal Taxi. You can get on and off when you like, as long as it corresponds with one of the numerous piers along the way. Watch your step as you get on and off the boat as they have a tendency to rock, and passengers are safer on board than in the water!
Try and avoid the back of the boat as well as spray and water from the canal may be mixed with diesel fumes. No one wants to arrive at their destination covered in fuel.
4 Traghetto, Venice
The word Traghetto means ferry in Italian and refers to the gondola ‘buses’ that cross the Grand Canal at a fraction of the price of the traditional gondola. There are plenty of operators who steer their vessels across the Grand Canal for a couple of euros. It is advised to sit down if you are not used to bobbing water, but most hardy Italians will stand.
There are plenty of yellow signs around the docks by the side of the Canal that will alert you to Traghetto stops.
Bear in mind there is no timetable and they only operate in daylight hours and have a lunch break!
3 Cyclo, Vietnam
The Cyclo is a three-wheeled bicycle taxi that ferries people across the streets of Vietnam. After a failed attempt at introducing rickshaws, the Cyclos was brought in as an alternative method of transport. Bear in mind that they don’t just transport people. It is not uncommon to see pigs, scaffolding or furniture riding in the passenger seats of these speedy cycling machines.
If you take a Cyclo round Vietnam, you will have a prime view of the road. The passenger sits at the front with the driver powering the vehicle from behind.
2 Tengah, Pakistan
If you need to get around Pakistan, you have the choice of rickshaws or taxis. The more adventurous might take a Tengah. They might not be speedy or comfortable, but a Tangah ride is never forgotten.
Most people take them for fun and for the spectacle, rather than to get from A to B. The vehicle is like something out of a history book, comprising two large wheels and a cart that is pulled by a horse. The driver sits at the front and the only real luxury afforded to the passenger is a canopy over the back.
1 Underground Funicular, Turkey
This mode of transport is a bizarre underground system that runs regularly and is good value for money. It has been running since the nineteenth century and is one of the oldest subway transportation systems in the world. It has only got two stops, running from Karakoy to Beyoglu in Istanbul.
Also known as the Tunnel, it was designed to transport diplomats and businessmen between home and office. There are more modern forms of underground transport in Istanbul these days, but for sheer experience, the Tunnel takes the biscuit.