The minivan (or minibus) in Thailand

"Regular" minivan

“Regular” minivan

The minivans have a major share of the vehicle proportion in Thailand, a bit less in Laos and a bit lesser in Cambodia. They are all over the place and you will soon see them in the traffic landscape.

It is easy to recognize them : they are white and they are most of the time Toyota HiAce.

They can be used to link two cities as well as giving the tourists a day-trip ride.

Some interesting facts

A minivan can fit 12 to 15 people, plus the driver.

There are gasoline and diesel versions.

The minivan is not necessarily more expensive than the regular bus.

The minivans are among the fastest vehicles on the road. Not because they’re powerful, but because ALL of the minivan drivers think of them as Ayrton Senna, and if more if they are driving the gasoline version, because it revs higher and make more noise. That is an unexplained phenomena but it’s a fact.

Customs minivans are quiet common. Their owners are very proud of their tourist meat carrying machine. Among the most customized parts, there are rims, blue leds, stickers or even fiber-carbon like hood.

Standard setup of the interior of a minivan

Standard setup of the interior of a minivan

Pass or die

Every single time I would take a minivan, the driver was always trying to pass anything ahead of him : bicycle, motorbike, bus, car, tuk tuk, no difference. Anything that blocks they minivan’s way become a prey to take down.
The minibus’ driver drives fast and doesn’t hide. The vehicle that precedes him is generally no further than 3 of 4 feet from his bumper, and the pressure inflicted by the overuse of the horn will eventually make the poor innocent soul let the minivan through

And it gets worse on the mountain roads. The succession of chicanes turns up the excitement of the driver, which becomes a crazy driver. The tires screech in the turns, and passengers hang tight to what they can, and sometimes, they even ask the driver to stop so they can puke outside, or slow down (but often in vain). True story.

Pareillement dans les routes de montagne, la succession de chicanes suscite une forte excitation du chauffeur, qui se transforme ainsi en chauffard. Les pneus crissent dans les virages, les passagers s’accrochent à ce qu’ils peuvent, et parfois même, demandent au conducteur de s’arrêter pour vomir, ou bien de ralentir (parfois en vain). True story.

Custom minivan in front of a temple, Luang Prabang, Laos

Custom minivan in front of a temple, Luang Prabang, Laos

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