Tuk-Tuk’en – Thailand’s Colorful Taxi
Most people can remember their first ride in a tuk-tuk, the little colorful Thai combination of motorcycle and taxi. With a top speed of 100 km per hour and often fearless drivers that swings in and out between cars, feels a tuk-tuk ride a bit like riding a rollercoaster.
There is little disagreement about where the name tuk-tuk tribes. One theory is that it means cheap-cheap, after the Thai word tuk, while another is that it is the sound a tuk-tuk doing.
Tuk-tuk’en is now mostly a tourist attraction and although it is a fun experience, it is actually quite impractical. Canvas-roof blocks the view and the only thing you can actually enjoy to the full the car and bus exhaust. In addition to that, one can also expect to be shaken well and it is the outermost must have arm muscles in order to make sure that he / she does not drop out of a turn.
A AmEx ad from 2004 shows clearly shaken Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, which rises out after a dramatic tuk-tuk ride, so you have been warned. In addition to the absence of windows and air con not more than likely cause you’ve got the heat when you reach your destination.
A ride in a tuk-tuk will usually take as long or slightly longer in a taxi as they barely are a little too large to evade the cars, but you may be lucky that the driver knows a shortcut, as a taxi not take.
One can usually sit 3 people in a tuk-tuk (or 10 Thai school children) but then you should not have too much luggage. There are, however, held various competitions where you have stopped an incredible number of people into a tuk-tuk, but then you sit not very comfortable, to say the least.
Advice before tuk-tuk ride
The most important rule in a tuk-tuk ride is that you negotiate the price in advance and if you are good at negotiating and can be a little Thai, one can usually get the price down to a reasonable level, although they are generally a little more expensive than taxi ‘s.
The initial price is usually ludicrously over and over again, remember to agree on the price before you get in, otherwise it might end up with a nasty experience end of the trip.
Like most taxi drivers, most tuk-tuk drivers from the poor northeastern part of Thailand, Esaan and usually have no special driving experience (many will most most likely wont even have passed a driving test) so do not expect them to navigate the various alleys.
You may be lucky enough to run into a tuk-tuk driver who knows Bangkok and out, but there must, however, be wary of various types of scams. One of the most common scams is the tuk-tuk driver offers to drive you around cheaply if you turn visiting various jewelry stores and the like and you risk never being driven to the desired destination, if we do not buy the poor in all sorts of junk.
On many islands, for example. Phuket, the tuk-tuk drivers for a fixed price and you can easily get up to 500 baht (100 kr) for a trip of a few miles, as they know that tourists often have no idea what a ride should cost, so it’s a good idea to ask for before you jump on board.
Another thing you should remember is that you must not sit feet up from the driver’s seat, as it is considered an insult. Thais have strict rules when it comes to the position of the feet, which is considered an impure part of the body. For example. is a Thai temple, do your feet do not point directly to the Buddha or monks, but should preferably be folded under you.
What makes tuk-tuk’en so popular
But what is it that makes that especially foreigners are so wild tuk-tuk’en?
First of all, the colorful design made it small means of transport to a national icon and is being sold thousands of key chains, t-shirts, bottle openers and small wooden and plastic models of tuk-tuk’er. There is simply something sweet over the design and especially in Bangkok where it all may seem a little gray sometimes, it can be hard not to smile when you see the pink / blue / yellow mini-cars.
Many foreigners have fallen in love with tuk-tuk’en and are held tuk-tuk rallies and various competitions in many parts of Thailand. A Danish couple have even driven all the way from Thailand to Aarhus in a tuk-tuk, a trip of more than 18.000 km!
Tuk-tuk’en are increasingly being imported to other countries and also copied in many places. Vienna has, inter alia, imported a large number of tuk-tuk’er, however, more environmentally friendly than the Thai version, and since then, bicycle rickshaws suddenly become fashionable in many cities, including Copenhagen, which well could be due tuk-tuk’ens influence.
Thais use mainly tuk-tuk’en after a trip to the local market as aluminum floor easily cleanable and therefore can transport vegetables and meat without being worried about being left with a bill for taxi’s.
Besides this, Thais are generally not keen on the little colorful honk and in theory it is not legal to buy new tuk-tuk’er, a rule, however, as many other rules in Thailand are not adhered so closely .
So far, it will be at least tolerated and will probably remain as long as the tourists are fond of it. And yes, a tuk-tuk ride is fun, even if it is not the safest or most comfortable way of getting around, it’s an experience you should try, as long as they still exist.