hide map

Means of transport in Asia

Whether you are in a crowded metropolis or in a peaceful rural area, there are many ways to get from A to B. Here is a list of transportation modes we found throughout Asia.
Tuk-Tuk drivers having a snooze in Vientiane, Laos

Two-Wheel Tractor (Iron Ox)

Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand
Sometimes also referred to as ‘walking tractor’ or ‘iron ox’, these two-wheel tractors have replaced traditional ox-carts. They are also used for the transportation of either people or goods.

Two-Wheel Tractor

Two-Wheel Tractor in Cambodia, photo by: subcomandanta




Bamboo Train

Since the single track between Battambang and Poipet was used so little, locals figured out their own type of train to transport harvests of rice, cattle and theirselves. The unique bamboo train consists of 2 sets of wheels and a bamboo platform with an engine on top of it. Cruising at a maximum speed of about 40km/h makes you feel like sitting on a flying carpet.

Bamboo Train

photo by: Kirk Siang





Cambodia, India, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand
Tuk tuks are both popular and notorious for their speed and size. They are convenient in congested cities to meander through the jammed streets. Tuk tuks, sometimes also referred to as auto rickshaw, three-wheeler, bajaj, bemo or tricycle, are a popular type of transport throughout many Asian countries. The name tuk tuk comes from the noise the engine makes.


Tuk-Tuk in Laos





Thailand and Laos
These pickup trucks with bench seats in the back can be found within cities and towns but also on longer routes between villages. Flag down a songthaew in the street and ask the driver where he’s going. Although there’s usually a flat charge, sometimes it’s better to negotiate the fare to your destination.


Songthaew in Thailand, photo by:BRivey





The highspeed trains of Japan Railways are not called bullet trains for no reason, they can  speed up to 300km/h. It is expected that new trains in the future can almost double this speed. The first shinkansen were introduced in 1964, right before the Olympics in Tokyo.


500-series Shinkansen train at Hiroshima Station, photo by:kamoda

Water Bus

Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand
The water bus is a commuter passenger boat operating on a schedule cruising down a river or lake. Sometimes they even provide a faster connection than transportation by road due to the lack of traffic jams on the water.

Water Taxi in Singapore

Water Taxi in Singapore, photo by: slack12





Hong Kong
The Central-Mid-Levels escalator is the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world. The series of escalators cover a total of 800 meters in distance with an vertical climb of 135 meters. In the morning the escalator runs downhill and from 10.30am to midnight the escalator goes back up the slopes of Hong Kong Island.

Escalator in Hong Kong

photo by:countries in colors





Thailand and Singapore
Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain systems is a network of 2 lines servicing 23 stations. The lines interchange at the centrally located Siam Station. A similar skytrain is available for passengers at Singapore Changi Airport connecting the 3 terminals.

BTS Skytrain in Bangkok

BTS Skytrain in Bangkok, photo by:UweBKK





Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
KL's Monorail (opened in 2003) connects destinations within the downtown area and offers great views over the city.

Monorail, Kuala Lumpur

photo by:rodliam




Rickshaw / Cyclo / Becak

China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam
Rickshaws come in many shapes and different kinds, but they are always human powered and designed to carry 1 or 2 passengers. Some countries have outlawed rickshaws due to concerns for the welfare of rickshaw workers. The rickshaw can still be found in some countries, sometimes only as a tourist attraction.

Becak in Indonesia

Becak in Indonesia, photo by:chekabuje





Jeepneys are converted jeeps left behind in the Philippines by the American army after WWII. Locals stripped the army jeeps down, extended the body to accommodate about 20 tot 30 passengers and metal roofs were added to provide shade. Jeepneys have become the primary mean of transportation in the Philippines and come in all colors of the rainbow with lots of decorations.

Jeepney, Philippines

photo by:Trishhhh





Private motorcycle owners are earning a side income in their free hours as motorcycle taxi drivers. In rural Cambodia this might be the only transportation available. Just hop on the back and hold on tight.

Motodop, Cambodia

photo by:Jean-Sien Kin

we'd love to hear your feedback about Backpacking Asia and what you think we can do better. suggestions to add something new? something not working for you? drop us a line!