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5 Best Methods of Transportation in East Asia

Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash


Several parts of the world have almost become a cliché for some travelers…


Areas that offer plenty to do with a plethora of affordable options attract tourists of all kinds from all areas.


Sometimes, certain areas become most well-known for a specific type of travel:


For example, you probably don’t fancy spending a week in Destin, Florida if you don’t have a knack for the beach.


However, there are some areas that offer you a relaxing and intriguing vacation no matter what your interest are, such as areas like Southeast Asia.


Whether you are looking for just a budget friendly destination or a backpacker-friendly location to mark off your trekking must-see list, East Asia has something to offer you.


From its fascinating foods to its vivid culture, all enjoyed with its cheap prices, it might just be one of the ultimate cliché destinations.


But, one thing to consider when traveling to East Asia, or just about anywhere where you will not be driving your own vehicle, is means of transportation…


How will you get to and from the airport?


How will you get from one excursion to the next? Or even just to dinner?


While a taxi is probably the first method of transportation in Asia that comes to mind, here are a few of the best methods of transportation which are specific to East Asia:


  1. Bamboo train

    Locals in areas of Asia such as Cambodia need a method to travel often to transport harvests of rice, cattle, and to also carry themselves.

    To address this need, they devised a unique bamboo train which consists of a bamboo platform and 2 sets of wheels with an engine located on top.

    Sit on the bamboo platform as the locals take you for a ride on the bamboo train, making you feel like you are taking a trip on a flying carpet.

  2. Songthaew

    This uniquely-named form of transportation literally translates into “two rows,” and appropriately so.

    These pickup trucks are lined with benches down either side of the truck bed and can be found within cities and towns, but are also common along longer routes between villages.

    Simply flag one down, ask the driver where he is going, and determine a fare – typically it is a flat charge, but you can also try to negotiate a better fare.

  3. Tuk-Tuk

    Known for both their notorious size and speed, a tuk-tuk is a convenient method of transportation for maneuvering through a congested city. They often look similar to a very small van.

    This specific mode of transportation is also commonly referred to as a three-wheeler, Bemo or tricycle, Bajaj, or auto rickshaw. The popular name, tuk-tuk, actually comes from the noise the engine makes when in use.

  4. Shinkansen

    In bigger parts of East Asia, such as the large cities of Japan, the high-speed trains known as a Shinkansen offer a quick way to get to your next destination.

    Commonly referred to as bullet trains, Shinkansens can reach a speed of up to 300km/h. However, it is expected that new trains will eventually reach up to almost double that speed – sometime in the future, of course.

    This speedy mode of transportation was first introduced in 1964 and continues to be a common way to get around in Japan.

  5. Water Bus

    A water bus is a commuter passenger boat that operates on a schedule, simply cruising down a lake or river.

    Thanks to the lack of traffic jams on the water, a water bus can typically provide a faster connection that transportation via the road. These are commonly found in areas such as Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and the Philippines.


Whether you find yourself in a crowded, big city in the middle of Japan or in a small, but a crowded town full of locals in the Philippines, you will likely need some easy-to-access form of transportation.

From a Shinkansen to a tuk-tuk, there is always some means of transportation that will be close, convenient, and popular in the area in which are you staying.


Next time you are in East Asia, keep an eye out for one of these common methods of transportation – you will sound like quite the experienced traveler when you know exactly what they are!

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