One of the vital parts of preparing for a holiday is considering how you’ll get around your chosen destination. In many parts of the world, car hire on holiday is by far the easiest option and offers the best value for money to boot.
However, you might just end up in a place where the locals have come up with a decidedly less orthodox way of getting from A to B. In that case, we say hop on! Here’s our rundown of the most unusual ways to get around on holiday.
Tuk-tuk – Worldwide
Though definitely somewhat unusual by UK standards, the tuk-tuk is a common sight in a number of countries worldwide. It’s a modern take on the traditional pulled rickshaw, with a motor rather than a tired man propelling you forward. They’re particularly popular in cities where traffic congestion is an issue, like Bangkok and Jakarta, thanks to their nimbleness and compact size. Colours, designs and names vary from country to country – in Indonesia you’d flag down a bajaj, while in Peru it’s known as a mototaxi, but the name tuk-tuk is common throughout south-east Asia. Wherever you are, it makes for a fun way to travel.
Bus – Pakistan
The roads of Pakistan are a sight to be seen. Thanks to the tradition of ‘truck art’, they’re a riot of colour and tinkly noises from the many flamboyant buses whizzing by. They’re liberally decorated in every colour of the rainbow, with depictions of Hindu gods, film stars and everything in between with more than a little playful one-upmanship going on. Owners spend thousands of pounds on titivating their buses in the hope of attracting the most customers. Fares are similar to the regular, distinctly less colourful bus service, so given the choice, we know which one we’d plump for.
Junk – Hong Kong
These ancient Chinese boats were once used to carry treasure across the Pacific Ocean. Nowadays, they carry passengers around Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour against a backdrop of skyscrapers. The last authentic Hong Kong junk, the Duk Ling (best name ever), was restored in the 1980s and now operates regular harbour cruises. There are plenty of themed voyages on offer too, from romantic Valentine’s day outings to booze cruises. Junk boat trips are also popular in north Vietnam, where you can sail around the thousands of islands in Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jeepney – Philippines
© Willem Tims
Originally made from US military jeeps from WWII, the jeepney is a unique icon of Filipino culture. They’re pretty hard to miss, with ornaments stuck all over the bonnet and vibrant decorations depicting anything from the Philippines’ natural beauty to Disney characters and the US flag. Jeepneys provide one of the cheapest ways to get around and will stop anywhere, unlike regular buses. It’s definitely handy to be able to flag them down like a taxi, but beware; their kamikaze-like weaving through traffic and frequent stop-starting make exploring on foot particularly dicey.
Golf Cart – Southern USA and the Caribbean
© BlueOrange Studio
What’s so unusual about a golf cart? True, it’s no brightly coloured jeepney covered in paintings of Elvis, but it gains a certain wackiness when you see one hurtling along a sandy beach rather than the golf course. In tropical paradises like the Florida Keys and the Caribbean, tourists often much prefer golf carts over cars when it comes to getting around. They’re hardy and versatile, easily whizzing over different terrain. And their natural air conditioning makes them a winner in our books. Next time we make it to Belize or Barbados (we can but dream), we know what we’ll be be hiring.
Elephant – Thailand and India
It doesn’t have to have wheels to be a vehicle, y’know. You can experience this most traditional means of transport in exotic locations the world over. Nellie definitely isn’t going to cut it in the speed stakes, but the chance to ride through stunning countryside atop a majestic elephant is something you just can’t pass up. To take an elephant ride in Thailand, head to the protected green landscapes of Khao Yai National Park or the Mae Sa Valley near Chiang Mai. In India, visit Kerala and Bandhavgarh National Park, and you can also explore Nepal, Indonesia and Botswana this way. Be sure to go only with ethical operators who care for the elephants properly.
Cyclo – Vietnam and Cambodia
Vietnam and Cambodia tried introducing the rickshaw to their roads, but it never really caught on. Enter the cyclo, a modified tricycle with a two-seater bench at the front and a driver at the back, who will expertly weave in and out of traffic and take you wherever you please. The experience is spine-tingling in the extreme, with swarms of mopeds hurtling within a hair’s breadth of you, and you’ll also certainly get a faceful of fumes. Nevertheless, cyclos remain popular among tourists, though there are of course cheaper ways of getting around. Always negotiate the fare in advance and don’t be afraid to haggle hard; drivers will often quote Westerners an exorbitant sum at first.
Dog-sled – Alaska and Norway
© Tyler Olson
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Dog-sledding is a time-honoured way of getting around the icy terrain of Alaska and Norway, and while snowmobiles and the like have risen in number, canine travel is still going strong. It will be bumpy and more than a little noisy, but it’s undoubtedly a very special way of traversing the snow and ice. You can find plenty of Alaskan dog-sled tour operators in Anchorage and Juneau, while in northern Norway, trips are popular in Svartisen and Jotunheimen National Parks. Some trips can include an overnight stay in a wooden lodge to continue your authentic wilderness experience, where you and your huskies* can enjoy a well-deserved rest.
*We don’t suggest you invite the huskies inside.
What’s been the wackiest way you’ve travelled on holiday? Let us know in the comment box below!