Asia’s a big ol’ place. Figuring out their transport systems and how to get around can be pretty daunting for a first time traveller. Trying to haul a taxi is a unique experience in Southeast Asia, there seems to be an abundance of taxi drivers compared to their clientele so be prepared for a swarm of Asian men shouting ‘TAXI, TAXI’ at you until you’re at least a mile away from them. Good luck. Make your life easier by booking transport on apps to avoid repeating ‘No, thank you’ 3947 times a day.

 

1. GRAB

You’re probably familiar with the concept of Uber, so think of Grab as the Asian version of Uber. Grab is a Singapore based company that is only available in its Southeast Asian neighbours; Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. Download the app for free on Android or IOS and take these four simple steps to get from your point A to B:

1.       Choose your destination. Set a pick up and drop off point and book the taxi. The app will calculate a fixed price for your journey (cheap as chips).

2.       Get a driver. The app will find the nearest available driver.

3.       Track your driver. Once your driver accepts your booking, the app will show the drivers location, estimated time or arrival, type of car and registration plate.

4.       Jump in and enjoy the cheap ride!

Grab is far cheaper than the local taxi’s prices around Asia, their service is so efficient and every driver that we had was so friendly and talkative.

Screenshot from the Grab app.

I had no self-inflicted catastrophes while travelling Southeast Asia until I got to Bali. 2 days before my flight home I managed to leave my bag behind in the back of a Grab taxi which contained my passport (stupid, I know). I thought I had two options. 1- Book a new flight home (£800) once I’d sorted an emergency passport. Or 2- Stay in Bali forever and get a job as a Grab driver. Fortunately (or unfortunately) neither of those options transpired, because one extremely helpful Grab driver managed to track down the exact taxi that had my bag in it and returned me my bag a day before my flight, shout-out to Agga, what a life saviour. Shame I’d already cancelled my passport and had to travel miles at midnight to get to the British Embassy in time, but that’s beside the point.

2. SKYSCANNER

If you want a break from the 14 hour bus journeys and feel like splashing out a bit more for a flight to your next stop, download Skyscanner for free on Android or IOS. The app allows you to search for flights, hotels, car hire and trains comparing prices from over 1,200 travel partners to get you the cheapest deal. Following these steps will get you your desired flight for the cheapest possible price:

1.       Choose Return, One Way or Multi-city. This option is right at the top, don’t skip it or you could end up paying for a return flight when you don’t need one!

2.       Select your departure and destination. You can search your current location or Skyscanner has all airports logged on their system so it’s easy to search.

3.       Select your dates. Choose when you want to depart and when you want to arrive at your destination.

4.       Choose your desired flight! Scroll down and pick the flight that fits your desires.

Screenshot from the Skyscanner app.

The app works anywhere in Asia and includes filters so users can change the results according to their desires, you can choose your preferred airline, preferred departure and arrival time and whether you have no stops or multiple stops.

3. ROME2RIO

Whether you’re a new first-time traveller or are an experienced traveller, this app will be extremely useful to you. Download free on IOS and Android! In a nut shell, this app provides you with various travel guides, tickets, hotels, cars and more! The BEST feature about this app is it’s ‘Transport’ tab, this section informs you how to get to the places you want to go! It will save you a lot of time and money if you check this app before booking any buses, flights, boats etc.

Follow these easy steps to get the cheapest travel itinerary that suits you:

1.        Enter your departure location and your destination location.

2.       Click ‘Find Transport’.

3.       Scroll down to view what this app has recommended as your most practical, cheap and quickest travel itinerary.

Screenshot from the Rome2Rio app.

This app lets you visually see the exact route that you can take on a map. It give you options to take a bus, plane, train, taxi or a combination of these transportation’s. It also calculates how much the journey would take, roughly, which is beneficial for travellers who need to budget!

 

The Digital Impact of Transport Apps:

Having transport apps is mostly beneficial to travellers as it helps them get from A to B with little stress and worry. It is also beneficial for travel agencies and companies as these apps can help promote their company and put them on the map! However, these apps aren’t beneficial to everyone… while I was travelling around Bali, the company ‘Grab’ (previously mentioned in this blog post) opposed various political issues, resulting in Grab cars becoming illegal in certain areas of Bali. This is due to the outcry from local taxi drivers, claiming that Grab was taking all their local business as tourists continue to use Grab as it’s cheaper than local taxis.

Currently, Grab has a staggering 36 million passengers with an average of 4 million daily rides in the 7 Asian countries listed above. It’s no lie that Bali isn’t a wealthy country, which is why the effects of the Grab app are even more detrimental as many local taxi drivers rely on tourists as it’s their only means of income in order to support their families. Grab is cheaper for travellers but harsh on them, it’s a tough concept!

 

 

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