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Halong Bay , Vietnam.  photo: John C. Foster.

Top Alternative Transportation
cks in Southeast Asia


Take the "Reunification Express" from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. This 36-44 hour train journey goes through both cities and rural countryside, hitting most Vietnamese tourist highlights. From $50-$120. Reserve three days or more in advance from a travel agent or train station in Vietnam.

Pelni ships connect the islands of Indonesia with each other and with the Philippines. Local ferries link many islands, but Pelni ships travel to remote areas such as Sulawesi and Irian Jaya. There are four classes of travel, fitting most budgets.

For some real culture shock, take the "Ekonomi" train on Java. Seat assignments are ignored. Grab any available space, open the window to let the tobacco smoke escape, and sit back to watch the show. Peddlers race up and down the aisles, selling all kinds of strange and normal things. Wandering musicians provide entertainment.

Go from Phnom Penh to Angkor Wat on a fast boat. Tourists zip down Cambodia's Tonle Sap river on a modern speedboat. Boats leave at 7 a.m. from both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The trip takes 4-7 hours. Passage is $25 and should be purchased a day in advance. For more information

Float down the Mekong on a boat. Catch a fifty-cent ferry across the Mekong from Chiang Khong, Thailand to Huay Xai, Laos. Get your passport stamped and then head down the river in a $15 slow boat to the charming French colonial city of Luang Prabang. The trip takes two leisurely days, with an overnight stop in the river village of Pak Beng.
Take the Skytrain across Bangkok. The new air-conditioned Skytrain was built to alleviate Bangkok’s notorious traffic problems. A good way to get across the city quickly and easily! Website


For more alternative transportations in Southeast Asia, see TRANSPORT PICKS


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