I wanted to ask about all possible means of transportation, but buses and trains are too obvious, so this question is about those specific only to few cultural regions or a certain place. I am interested in public and share transport, and not in vehicles used for recreation. It would be also nice to have the capacity of a single vehicle and average prices included, and naturally to see the photos.

So for example a balloon can be mentioned with a corresponding region, if it is one of the main options there for a scheduled/hired transport of people (e.g. because of a difficult terrain).

Or a rickshaw can be added, if it is extraordinary, which means that this type of rickshaw exists only in that specific place.



13 Answers 13


The Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, Germany is a suspension railway first opened in 1901 and still in operation as a regular mass transit system.

Each train can carry around 120 passengers, and a one-way ticket is 2.40 EUR. During rush hours there is one train every 3-4 minutes.

There are a handful other (much newer) suspension railway lines in operation in other places, e.g. Memphis and Tokyo.

Wuppertal Schwebebahn


In southern Saudi Arabia in an area (Asir region) on the top of few mountains which has a very unique and complicated terrain, people need a unique way of traveling between villages of that area. This is how (Fifa'a) looks like:

enter image description here

And this is how they travel from one village to another, or from one mountain to another:

cable car 1

cable car 2

cable car 3

These are locally-made cable cars. I have no idea how they make it... but they do. I wouldn't dare to be inside one of those.

BTW, until around 100 years ago or so this area was totally isolated due to its nature. People lived there without going to the outside world for hundred of years. That's why this is the only area in Saudi Arabia which has its own language and not Arabic.

  • 1
    I need a visa for Saudi Arabia! Dec 2, 2013 at 10:24
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    @hippietrail you can also enjoy the same thrills in China while crossing the Nujiang River as many school children cross the river on a zipline. Dec 17, 2015 at 5:32
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    Very similar setups are very common in Ecuador to cross over rivers that cris-cross the rain forest on the west side of the country. Within an hour drive west of Banos, you will find numerous such carts. There are some that are required to access certain waterfalls and are maintained for tourists and charge a small fee.
    – Itai
    Apr 19 at 13:56

The Cambodian "bamboo train" is a nifty solution to a once-extensive railway that fell into disrepair during the country's lengthy civil wars. Take two pairs of wheels, plop them on a bamboo frame, tack on a dinky little engine and voila:

enter image description here (courtesy Noud W on flickr, CC by-nd)

So what do you do when two of them meet? Dismantle the one carrying less cargo, carry it past the other, set it up again and off you go!

Here's a 2006 BBC article on them. There are probably less of these than there used to be now that Cambodia's actually started refurbishing the network though.


I'm not sure whether you are looking for amusing unusual or just plain unusual. But here it goes anyway.

This is the SkyLab. (Yes, we really call it skylab and you will see why.)

Basically a motorcycle with a plank of wood balanced across. Evel Knievel my ass!

This is basically a motorcycle with a plank of wood balanced across. And if you are wondering why on earth would someone do such a thing outside of X-Games, the answer is poverty tends to make people creative but couple that with a very lowered sense of personal safety and you get the SkyLab™. You will find these at some rural places in the Philippines. There are also some videos in YouTube for this.

P.S. It is called skylab because it looks like the space station from behind. Just picture the horizontal plank as the solar panels of the SkyLab. Here's an image from flickr of the skylab from behind. Note the improvements made on passenger comfort :) http://www.flickr.com/photos/24265223@N04/2743621223/

  • I'm sorry I don't see why it is called SkyLab?
    – Stuart
    Jun 22, 2012 at 13:35
  • 2
    Oh sorry, forgot that part, let me edit my answer.
    – Hyangelo
    Jun 22, 2012 at 13:41
  • It brings new meaning to the phrase "skylab is falling."
    – phoog
    Sep 7, 2018 at 20:23

Not the class of answer you probably expected, but it seems to meet your criteria, more or less*.

  • Maglev, only in Shanghai in China, possibly fastest commercially operating in world.

In Shanghai, China, you can catch a "train" from Pudong International Airport.
It's the only one of its sort in China and not too common worldwide. Was and may still be the fastest commercial train service in the world.
Peak speed is 430 kph, making it the fastest I've ever travelled on land.
It's a Maglev train - no wheels, no ground contact, feels like flying, looks like flying (IS flying). German 'Transrapid' design. They hoped to sell them to China for use elsewhere but this was the first and the last - China instead adopted the convention "D Train" which runs at closer to 200 kph.)


enter image description here

Above photo is cropped from image on above Wikipedia page.

Over some of the route the Maglev runs alongside a motorway with a max speed limit for cars of 100 kph. At around 400 kph the train passes cars as if they are standing still.
There are two trains on the track. They pass halfway along the route on a double parallel section. At an effective approach speed of around 800 kph the passing is impressive.
Bang, blurred impression of motion outside windows, chucketa chucketa chucketa , ... gone. A few seconds. 100 metres of train. 0.5 seconds. Awesome.

5 minute video here (not mine) - passing happens at about 3m-06s. Takes around 1 second for 2 x 100m trains. [800 kph ~= 220 m/s so for your window to traverse whole 100m of other trains takes about 0.5 seconds. From first crossing to ends passing takes about 1 second.

Fare is not cheap compared to bus or train to town, but is reasonable given the uniqueness and experience. Without looking it up, maybe $US10. It's fast BUT stops on the edge of the city - near an Expo centre that it served when first opened. You can catch bus or taxi from there to city centre but it adds inconvenience. There is also a nearby subway which is quite a good way to get to and from it.


Besides tourist-focused gondolas, Venice offers canal crossing using public Traghetto.

enter image description here (Picture from Wikipedia)


In Santorini, Greece there are mules or donkeys and cable cars to cope with the steepness of the volcano shaped island.


In Bandar Seri Begawan - the only town/city of any size, a significant proportion of the people live in the 'Kampong Ayer" = Water Village - a widespread collection of homes on stilts and platforms spread along both sides of an inlet / river. Some of the buildings are very 'flash', and while some are far more modest, it is not anywhere a slum as might be seen in other countries. A useful amount of the country's oil wealth manages to 'trickle down' to the lower levels of society so that there are essentially no 'desperately poor' people.

To provide access to & from Kampong Ayer, long thin motorboats with large outboard motors are used to transport all and sundry, usually at breakneck speed, to and from the village at all times of the day or night.

Patrons can be veiled women shrouded in Islamic dress, children, shoppers or businessmen.

Many images here

Kampong Ayer

enter image description here

  • one view of many many many ...

Source: Wikipedia

"Taxi !!!..." Source: http://shelf3d.com/i/Bandar%20Seri%20Begawan

enter image description here


In the Netherlands, on the same base as hitch hiking, hop on the back of a bicycle.
Do wait to be invited, but if you try the 'hitch a ride thumb' next to a busy cycle track you might be surprised by several offers in a very short time.

A man, woman and child on a single bike Hitching a ride on a bike, the Dutch way. By João Pimentel Ferreira See the attributions here.

This youtube video shows you how to do it, been around for a few years now and rather popular. In short, run a few steps next to the bike to pick up speed, grab the rider and hop on, a little hop to adjust your seat and cross your ankles.

I met two girls while in France, one had been in the Netherlands, the other going there. The tip was, accept a ride on a bike once. Once is enough though.


The cable cars in Chiatura, Georgia were built in the 1950's to transport mineworkers between the city and the mines in a fast way.
Now they're still in use, not sure about the price and capacity of these cars though. Here's a photo report of the cable cars in Chiatura.


How about a tanga (tonga) - which is a shared ride on a horse drawn carriage, indigenous to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh:

enter image description here (image credit: wikipedia)

Note this is not like the ornate horse drawn carriage rides in parks and similar; this is a daily means of transport for thousands of people - I have taken it many times to go to the market for groceries, etc.


The wicker toboggans/"carros de cesto do Monte" on Madeira might be an edge case? It seems that nowadays they're more of a tourist attraction, but they have their origin in public transport, having been used by locals to quickly get downhill from Monte to Funchal. They're definitely unique both for the region and generally - they're wicker sleds, pushed down public roads by "carreiros" who steer them and brake using their shoes. (Here's a video of one in action.)

  • How does one go about getting back up the hill to Monte?
    – FreeMan
    Apr 18 at 16:40
  • @FreeMan - according to the video, by taxi or cable car. (The toboggans are apparently transported back up in a pickup truck or suchlike.) Apr 19 at 4:50

The Tateyama Tunnel Trolley Bus in Toyama, Japan, is not such an unusual vehicle; however the route, which is 3.7km long and located completely underground, may qualify it for inclusion here.

On the other side of the valley, the Kanden Tunnel Trolley Bus goes for 6.1km, but surfaces into fresh air slightly before its terminus. Together, these are the only two trolley buses in Japan.

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