A Kuqa Motorcycle Taxi: Picture of the Week

May 7 | 10 Comments

A family rides a motorcycle taxi in Kuqa, Xinjiang

A Three-wheeled Motorcycle Taxi in Kuqa by Wee Ling

Although it is becoming less and less common in Xinjiang, three-wheeled motorcycles are a popular taxi service for Uyghurs.  In certain parts of Urumqi you can still take one but you’re more likely to find them in smaller, Uyghur-dominated cities like Kuqa (库车) on the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert.

Wee Ling, who took this photograph, describes the scene:

It was taken one evening at the entrance of a neighborhood market in front of Kuqa’s long distance bus station…There was a sort of drop-off/pick-up point for three-wheeled motorcycle pickups and I was intrigued that this seems to be the favorite, and most likely cheapest, mode of public transport in Kuqa. There were no signages on the vehicles to indicate where they are heading to or if drop-offs are arbitrary. Most definite though, strangers and families are sharing the ride.

These taxis run a set path through the city and usually cost about 1 RMB per rider.  You can flag one down like you would a regular taxi and then let the driver know where you’ll be getting off.  It’s really a great way to see a city!  Just hop on one, see where it takes you and then find your way back.

About Josh Summers

Josh is the author of Xinjiang | A Traveler's Guide to Far West China, the most highly-reviewed and comprehensive travel guide on China's western region of Xinjiang. He lived, studied and run a business in Xinjiang, China for more than 10 years, earning recognition for his work from CCTV, BBC, Lonely Planet and many others.

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  1. I remember it’s been almost one year since i sat on that Kuqa in Hotan. :-)
    Was kinda dangerous but i had no option as there wasn’t anythere else i could have used to get back to my Hotel from where I ate my lunch.
    But it was surely fun. :-P


  2. I used to take such tricycle taxis all the time between home and work in Ürümqi. I was lucky that one of them ‘routes’ took me a long way along the way.

    That said, they stopped operating as the winter of 2006-2007 approached, and never returned the following year. Purportedly they’d been banned from the Ürümqi streets.

    Tell me, where in Ürümqi can I still take one of these taxis?


    Josh on May 7th, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    As far as I know they haven’t been banned. I took one in Urumqi last July, only a week after the riots. It started a little northeast of the International Bazaar and headed east through the Uyghur neighborhoods.


  3. I can’t think of any vehicle more versatile and hearty than the three wheeled motorcycle (三轮车).


  4. Sorry for my irrelevant post…

    But I just heard that Internet connection is “ok” now in Xinjiang. I would very much like to confirm from trusted sources….

    Again, I apologies for my irrelevant post to thread.



    Josh on May 14th, 2010 at 7:45 am

    No worries. I’m looking into such rumors right now and will report to you once I find out.


    BeatUpPride on May 14th, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Thank you Josh!

  5. it is really great to become a motorcycle lover, i collect different moyorcycles from different countries.,;~