South Asia’s Road Fundamentals
South Asia is linked up with a well-established series of roads, and the network continues to grow. September 2018 saw the introduction of the ambitious 160 km Myanmar Friendship Highway, designed to link the subcontinent to ASEAN, and the huge AH1 road keeps getting longer. As a result, there are few better ways to travel around this part of the world than via road. That being said, there are important considerations to make before getting behind the wheel and on to your next adventure.
Is your vehicle appropriate?
Road quality and the safety standards of driving vary wildly from country to country. For example, Pakistan road quality is rated at 3.4 out of 7, according to economic indicators website, Global Economy. That means you can expect low to average quality roads. Bangladesh, conversely, is rated at 2.5. Therefore, you need a vehicle to tackle any environment, even if that means renting or purchasing a new vehicle for the trip. Trucks may be too unwieldy for tight roads, whereas motorbikes and mopeds can be dangerous. Research your route carefully, and respond accordingly. There are benefits to picking the right vehicle, too. If you can do well with a small car or two-wheel vehicle, you’ll be able to get around urban centers far more easily if that’s your sort of gig. Alternatively, an offroad vehicle will give you the opportunity to experience the great outdoors in all its glory, and there’s plenty of it – especially in Pakistan.
Wariness over dangerous drivers
Unfortunately, the quality of other drivers can be low on South Asian roads. To take the example of India, over 400 traffic related deaths a day mean that motoring can be a risky business. Put yourself in a secure position by paying attention to the road, looking ahead of time to try to avoid high-traffic situations. Distracted driving is a significant modern threat to drivers – make sure you don’t contribute to the problem. Stay off your mobile device and pull over to text or make phone calls. It can be tempting to take videos and snap the entirety of your journey, especially as you move through scenic areas – try stopping for photos, or mounting a dashcam/GoPro, and taking continuous video footage without having to bring your hands from the wheel.
Enjoying the trip
With your vehicle in order and your safety tips in place, it’s simply a matter of getting on the road and enjoying it. One of the best routes is the Karakoram Highway, Pakistan, which drives through the stunning Khunjerab Pass. You can also try out the Leh-Manali highway, India, which gives you an opportunity to drink in Himalayan Buddhist culture alongside the stunning scenery the mountains have to offer. Aside from that, simply driving to all of the major monuments of the subcontinent will give you the chance to experience all of South Asia’s countries in their glory.
Driving is a great way to get around South Asia, but you need to stay safe. Prepare properly, and keep a close eye on drivers around you. With that preparation in place, you can enjoy the vast and diverse scenery the area has to offer.