Guides when traveling by tuk-tuk


Tuk-tuk is a special symbol and a part of the life in Thailand. Nowadays, Thai people use mostly cars but tuk-tuk is still remained and is a pride of them. Traveling around streets by tuk-tuk is an interesting experience when coming to Thailand.

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In other places in Asia, tuk-tuk is called in other names such as pulling tractor, cyclo or motor taxi. These cars can replace the human-powered tractor and become a feature that attracts tourists. In Cambodia, tuk-tuk is a tractor with a cabin for passengers. In India, it is a tractor covered with black and yellow meanwhile tuk-tuk in Thailand has the space for feet and more spacious seats.

Unique features of tuk-tuk

Tuk-tuk runs by an engine and makes funny sound “tuk-tuk”. That’s why they call it tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuk is used popularly in Thailand because it can easily run even in the traffic jam and it can carry four passengers. Tuk-tuk is often used for short journeys in towns and cities. Some drivers decorate their car to attract more passengers by adding flickering neon lights and loudspeakers. The maximum speed of tuk-tuk is about 30 miles per hour but sometimes, the drivers can drive much faster than that.

There are two popular types of tuk-tuk in Thailand: one of which runs on oil and another runs on gas. With the government subsidizing gas prices, tuk-tuk rates are cheaper than taxi fares. In particular, tuk-tuk in Ko Chuk Island is larger and more powerful, using a six-cylinder engine to overcome the sloping hills.

Tuk-tuk in Thailand (via southeastasiabackpacker)

In fact, tuk-tuk is not really safe. Like a four-wheel vehicle, people sit in the car leaning against a chair and sticking to a car and only having a relatively low barrier between them and other vehicles outside. Tuk-tuk is also not ideal if you want to avoid pollution or wind and rain. However, a surprising fact is that the rate of traffic accidents caused by tuk-tuk in Thailand is much lower than in other vehicles.

Taking a tuk-tuk

Tuk-tuk is a vehicle serving tourism, so even you travel to Bangkok for the first time, it’s not difficult to find a tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuk drivers are very famous for finding passengers. When they see a visitors, they will sound their horn loudly or scream “hello” to catch the attention of the tourists. They often wait for passengers outside the popular tourist attractions but it’s hard to take a tuk-tuk in the peak hours.

When traveling by tuk-tuk, you should be aware of the invitation of the drivers. In some cases, they will tell lie that the place you want to go is closed and take you to another one. Therefore, just require them to take you to your destination.

Bangkok is the city where traffic jam often occurs.  You should avoid traveling by tuk-tuk in the peak hours ( 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm) because you have to wait for a long time and you can also suffer dust from other vehicles.

In addition, you should travel by tuk-tuk for the short journey because it’s quite dangerous if you travel for a long journey.

Tuk-tuk (via wikimedia)

Most tuk-tuk drivers in Bangkok can speak English but some don’t. If they can speak English, they will be your enthusiastic guide. They can also refuse you during the rush hours or the long journey that you bargain very low price.

The tuk-tuk cost

Tuk-tuk doesn’t have the metered machine so you need to negotiate the cost before you get in the car. You should be aware of the trick. The drivers may entice you to the gem shop or tailor shop where you will be forced to buy something. The driver will receive the commission from the owner as a thank for bringing you there.  Therefore, you should negotiate where you want to go first.

The average price for the short journeys ranges from 50 bahts to 100 bahts and from 150 bahts to 200 bahts for further journeys. The travel cost from city centre to Dong Mueang airport is from 300 bahts to 400 bahts.

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