Terrifying Taxi Rides

There’s a lot of talk about safety and the solo traveller out there—but few people consider the fact that just getting on the road is one of the most dangerous things you’ll ever do when you travel, whether you’re a man or a woman, on your own or in a group. And sometimes the safest thing to do on any road is to go with the flow—even if the flow makes your head spin!

Black and Yellow Cab in Delhi, India

Lonely Planet recommends travellers seek out the pre-paid Black and Yellows when they arrive at the Delhi airport—much cheaper than the modern luxury taxis. The age and condition of a Black and Yellow is a crapshoot, as is the sanity of the driver. It’s very likely he’ll drive the beat-up taxicab like it’s a rickshaw, through several lanes of highway traffic at highway speeds. It just may be the most frightening experience of your life—especially after a long flight!

Moto Fun in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Hoping on the back of a motorcycle taxi is the cheapest way around Phnom Penh, where private tuk-tuks can get pricey for the single traveller. Speeding and weaving through traffic, in shorts and sandals, without a helmet, and with a driver who has a different attitude toward the circle of life, will certainly get your heart racing. Always get off on the left side of the moto—unless you want to go home with an exhaust-pipe-shaped tattoo on your inner right calf.

Jam-Packed Autorickshaw in Jaipur, India

There’s a kind of autorickshaw in Jaipur that is slightly larger than the typical green and yellow round-top Indian affair. Locals pack into them tightly, and even tourists can pack in five adults—three or four on the seat facing forward, and one or two facing backward on a tiny bench behind the driver. Everyone must hold on tight along the pot-holed roads of the Amber City—to keep from falling out the side, knocking knees, or banging their heads on the ceiling.

Songthaews in Southern Thailand

Missed the minibus or the coach? With enough baht (and maybe some other passengers to share the cost) you can hire a songthaew—the tuk-tuk’s larger cousin—to take you where you want to go. The little covered pickup truck with benches along the sides makes for a great way to get around town. But after a long-distance trip on the highway, on benches, with a roof that isn’t quite high enough, and you may regret missing that bus.

Himalayan Switchbacks in Darjeeling, India

Since a landslide closed off the bottom of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the only way up to the towns in the foothills of the great mountain range is by private taxi or shared jeep. The trip up is fine; the Hill Cart Road and its alternative road have been upgraded, so at times it’s even a smooth ride. But eventually you have to get back down the mountain—down the steepest, sharpest, “how did I miss these on the way up” one-lane switchbacks you’ve ever experienced. For two hours. Keep your eyes on the scenery rising up around you if you want to keep your wits about you, and trust that your driver knows the turns like the back of his hand.

Chancey ’57 Chevys in Cuba

Taking a ride in one of the famous Cuban-restored classic American cars is on every traveller’s checklist. And when you arrive in Cuba for the first time, you can’t help but be awed by the charm of the movie-set worthy traffic. Until you get in one. Most of the state-owned vintage cars look great, with fresh paintjobs and polished chrome . . . but look closely and these emblems of ingenuity seem to be held together with elastic bands and chewing gum. The ride is that much more exciting when you can see through the floor boards!

This post originally appeared on Travel + Escape.