30 Cool Forms Of Transportation In Different Parts Of The World
From windy desert dunes to perilous sub-zero climates, the world is a unique mishmash of different surfaces. Some even require special and unique forms of transportation to help get passengers to their destinations.
Here we chronicle 30 of the world's most novel and unusual forms of transportation from around the world.
1. Ice Angel, USA
There are around 21 small islands off the coast of mainland Wisconsin and only a few of those are inhabited.
Usually, getting between the islands is as simple as hopping on the ferry or, in the winter, a two-mile ice highway freezes over and is thick enough to drive on but during the in-between times, when the ice is thin, Ice Angels are employed to skate over the surface using air fans to propel them either over or through the ice.
2. Tuk-tuks, Thailand
Motorized rickshaws, tuk-tuks are open-air taxis named for the sound that their two-cycle engines make.
Found predominantly in tourist locations, they are essentially extended scooters with seating and a roof and can be expensive if you aren't prepared to haggle.
3. Gondola, Italy
The city of Venice is built in amongst a complex network of canals that sees the buildings on stilts in order to keep out of the water (sadly, a system that is failing).
But by taking one of these gondolas with its own dedicated gondolier who will punt you through the city, you can drift by the many beautiful sights.
4. Hydrofoils, Greece
The quickest and most stylish way to hop between the Greek islands of Crete and Corfu is, without a doubt, the flashy looking hydrofoils. Boats that are fitted with shaped vanes that bend and flex to the pressure of the wind, as they pick up speed, they are lifted out of the water and glide along its surface so as to reduce drag and make them faster and more efficient than other water transport.
They are however expensive and complicated to maintain.
5. Coco Taxi, Cuba
The streets of Havana, Cuba's capital, are used to seeing all sorts of odd vehicles. Still teeming with immaculately kept American cars from the 1950s and until recently they were home to the camel bus, which was part truck, part bus, the Coco taxis are shaped like hollowed out coconuts or NFL players helmets and whizz around the city looking for fares.
With yellow ones designated for tourists and black ones for the locals, these small but nippy vehicles are a common site on the Carribean island.
6. Wicker Toboggan, Portugal
On the Portuguese island of Madeira, residents of the capital, Funchal, have been using these wicker and wooden toboggans to hurtle down Monte Mountain since the 1850s.
Now they are used more as a tourist attraction as two people pilot it from the rear whilst you sit in the basket. It can be quite the experience since they have been known to hit speeds of 48kph.
7. Ojek, Indonesia
The roads are so congested in parts of Bali, Indonesia that motorbikes are often preferred in order to weave in and out of the traffic. This is no different for the taxi system with scooters patrolling the streets and almost anyone who owns one being allowed to take a fare for a ride.
This has its pros and cons but it certainly does add something unique to Bali.
8. Bullet Train, Japan
This super modern, super-fast train has become something of an icon of Japan showing off its ruthless efficiency and comfort at speeds of up to 320kph.
Barely noticeable unless you are seated by a window, it pulls away tremendously quickly and hurtles through the Japanese countryside in a smooth and peaceful manner putting many other train networks across the globe to shame.
9. Khlong Boats, Thailand
The water taxis of Bangkok transport commuters, tourists and produce through the canals of the city in these deceptively rapid riverboats.
In such a densely populated and hectic city, they offer a vital service that allows people to get away from the congested roads and still navigate the city.
10. Pulled Rickshaws, Japan
Once the most prominent mode of transport around Japan, pulled rickshaws have all but been outlawed both there and in many other countries due to the concerns of the welfare of the rickshaw drivers.
However, in the region of Asakusa, Tokyo they are allowed as a tourist attraction and keep part of the country's tradition and history alive.
11. House Boat, India
Say houseboat to most Europeans or Americans and images of a long, narrow and impractical barge appear in their minds but the ones that drift about the waters of Kerala are grand and luxurious creations that have separate rooms and balconies.
Made almost entirely from reeds they don't need a single nail to keep them together and can effectively be used as floating hotels.
12. Longtail Boats, Thailand
The long tail boats of Southeast Asia are wooden canoes with a small inboard motor that are a huge part of the culture and way of life in places like Thailand.
Unlike their canal going cousins the Khlong, these boats are used for coastal transportation but are in danger of disappearing soon due to logging restrictions brought in by the government in 1989 making the timber used to make them harder and harder to come by and imported timber making construction significantly more expensive.
13. Mid-Level Escalators, Hong Kong
In a city so tightly packed as Hong Kong, space is at a premium and so someone came up with the bright idea of the mid-level escalators. Much like the travelators you see at airports, these escalators go along horizontally at a level high above the streets below which has, in essence, created a city within a city as shops and businesses have started to pop up in this sky level as well.
With a three-tiered system of the ground, the escalators and the high-rises, the city has become increasingly more complex (and arguably hierarchical, certainly when it comes to transport) but it is an almost sci-fi approach to population problems and overcrowding.
14. Funicular, Hungary
A vertical railway that runs through the Budapest, the capital of Hungary, the funicular allows commuters to get to the castle district high up on the hill in a cheap and easy fashion.
During the second world war it was bombed beyond use and it wasn't restored to its full glory until the 1980s but now operates a regular service.
15. Songthaew, Thailand
The songthaew is part-bus, part-pick-up truck that offers seating inside the vehicle or a small platform to cling onto out of the back of it.
Integral to many Thai public transport systems they are a cheap and easy to use transportation but often even the locals aren't quite sure where the drivers are headed, such is the nature of their erratic timetables, so it is best to check just before you jump on board.
16. Reindeer Sled, Finland
Think of Finland and one thing that probably comes to mind above all else is Lapland. There you can release your inner-child by being awe-inspired by the pristine white snow and so-cute-you-could-squish-them reindeer.
But reindeer sledging isn't only the preserve of Lapland employees. It is a form of transportation practised across most of the Nordic country and is, in fact, one of the oldest forms of transport in the north due to its long-lasting history with Sami culture.
17. Trams, France
Trams are certainly not unique but they are making something of a comeback in certain parts of France.
In the French cities Nantes and Marseille, city planners are building high-tech streetcar lines to aid urban development.
18. Suspension railway, Germany
For those with a degree in civil engineering, you probably don't need us to tell you that this impressive suspension railway is officially called “Electric Elevated Railway (Suspension Railway) Installation, Eugen Langen System”
Or in German: Anlage einer elektrischen Hochbahn (Schwebebahn), System Eugen Langen). Yes, this electric elevated railway is a compelling feat of engineering.
19. Trolley Bus, Russia
A throwback to the Soviet Era, these basic but effective trolley buses may not look like much, by they get you from A to B cheaply and efficiently. Running mostly in the Russian cultural capital of St Petersburg, they are a cheaper alternative to taxis.
However, they are extremely slow, so if time is of the essence, you might want to call an Uber.
20. Aerial Tramway, Switzerland
This form of cable transportation sees cabins pulled above ground to serve as a form of aerial lift. Another one of these systems- as we also explored earlier in Germany- is employed in the Swiss mountainous territory of Klein Matterhorn.
As the roads are often unsteady and littered with gravel, these transportation links are becoming increasingly common in more mountainous regions.
21. Underground Funicular Turkey
From a railroad funicular in Budapest to an underground one in Istanbul, this retro-looking train runs on a small underground line called The Tünel.
The line combines the quarters of Karakoy and Beyoglu.
22. Hovercraft, UK
If you step outside the touristic London bubble and head a little south to the docks of Portsmouth, you'll be able to board the last working hovercraft in the world. Yes, the Isle of Wight Hovercraft is the last remaining commercial hovercraft service.
The journey takes passengers to and from the humble dwellings of Ryde and Southsea in Portsmouth.
23. Terra Bus, Canada
The Terra Bus is a remarkable and rare snow coach that operates in the icy Canadian region of Athabasca Glacier. The all-wheel-drive, three axle, off-road bus is designed with Arctic climates in mind and is one of the few modes of public transportation in the area.
The Canadian manufacturer Foremost designs it.
24. Zipline, Costa Rica
The tropical paradise that is Costa Rica is home to some of the most unique and diverse wildlife on Earth, so it's only right they offer intrepid thrill-seekers the chance to see their country through one of their many zip-lines.
Offering panoramic views across much of the island the majority of Costa Rica’s national parks offer canopy tours, the best of which are located in Monteverde, Arenal and Manuel Antonio.
25. Barco De Totora, Peru
If you ever happen to be in the beautiful Peruvian area of Lake Titicaca, a ride on one of the local Barco de Totoras is a must. This novel and soothing mode of transportation will allow you to sit back in the knowledge you are in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Just be sure to tip the rider!
26. Bamboo Train, Cambodia
Yes, you read that right: A bamboo train. Whilst it is makeshift and would appear to crack at any moment, the excellent mode of transportation is powered by an electric generator engine which is placed next to the railway tracks.
Best of all? It can reach speeds of 40km/h. Impressive.
27. Maglev, China
China's rip-roaring capital, Shanghai is home to many amazing feats of engineering, and that includes the maglev train. A supersonic invention that proved it is capable of reaching speeds of 500kph in its testing phase, it's now officially in operation.
The 19-mile journey now gets passengers to Pudong airport in just 7 minutes!
28. Dubai Trolley, Dubai
An exotic assortment of colors decorates the Dubai Trolly, a casual mode of transport that serves a 7 km radius. Mostly used by tourists, it connects many of the city's attractions in Downtown Dubai such as the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall.
Despite its limited use compared to others on this list, its cool exterior makes its inclusion a must.
29. Tangah, Pakistan
Visitors often use local taxis in Pakistan but if you want to truly blend in with the locals and experience an authentic Pakistani journey, riding a tangah is a must.
One horse often leads the cart, but two are sometimes used. As the wheels are wooden, the journey will be anything but smooth, but that's part of the fun.
30. Habal Habal, Philippines
Habal-Habal, or Skylab as some people call them, are certainly different modes of transport to your average metro, but in the Philippines, they are the norm. Up to ten people can travel on these two-wheeled motorcycles.
While that might appear dangerous, locals are more than used to getting up close and personal with fellow riders.