Your Taxi Options - East Asia Style

by Jason -- March 29, 2010

One of the more interesting things I’ve observed during our time on the road has been the differences between what constitutes a taxi in a particular country.

Here in South Korea it’s unfortunately just a boring Hyundai 4-door sedan. Sure, the driver drives like a maniac, but that’s no different than the US. It’s not nearly as fun and exciting as Vietnam — weaving in and out of traffic going the wrong way on the back of a motorbike. Or Thailand — going offroading sitting in the back of a truck bed with 8 other tourists. The following is primarily a picture blog showing the different taxi’s we’ve encountered by country.

One quick definiton: A tuk-tuk is the name most commonly given to these modes of transportation for hire and what I use to call a few of the following “Taxis”.

Southern China

The tuk-tuks in southern China make you feel like Robin from the old “Batman and Robin” TV show. “Holy Bill of Rights, Batman!”

Northern China – Beijing

The tuk-tuks in Beijing were slightly different. They were enclosed rather than open-air (most likely due to the cold weather). Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to ride in one, but I’d imagine there’s no chance they’re actually warm inside.

Vietnam #1

The most ubiquitious form of “taxi” is the motorbike. While walking down the street the most common thing to hear is, “moto?”. Most of the time I believe these “taxis” are simply people with motorbikes looking to make a few extra bucks.

Vietnam #2

Also in Vietnam, particularly Saigon, are the bicycle rickshaws. These are great because they drive into the traffic as if they’re indestructible tanks. But the motorbike’s actually do stop for them, it’s rather impressive.


Cambodia gets the most versatile award for their tuk-tuks. They’ve taken a standard motorbike, added a little hardware on the back and then simply tow a very comfortable 4 to 5 seater compartment behind them. What’s great is that the compartments seem easy to remove and then you’ve got your regular motorbike back again.


Thailand’s interesting form of a share taxi is called a “songthaew” – I’m still not certain I know how to pronounce this correctly. Thankfully they’re also referred to as a “baht bus”. They’re simply a pickup truck with two rows of seats.

If you have any other interesting Taxi transportation methods, leave a comment, I always enjoy learning about new ways to get around town!

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4 Responses to “Your Taxi Options - East Asia Style”

  1. Thats really interesting and a good observation!!! When I was in Korea the taxi drivers that that handle on the steering wheel and would drive crazier than an angry sharon. THEN then would drive on the sidewalk honking at the pedstrians to move… I guess I can be thankful they at least honked.

  2. Is it possible to donate you guys? I like your website a lot - give me memories of my home, and hearing opinions from western people about us, is just interesting.

  3. Sure! What a nice thought, thank you! We’ll happily accept money via Paypal, to [email protected].


  4. […] of the more interesting things I discovered as we traveled around Asia was how different many of the countries public bus and taxi options were. Cambodia had their motorcycle pulled Tuk-tuk, Thailand had their songthaew and Indonesia has […]

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