The tuk-tuk is a quirky form of public transportation that you can find in Thailand. Tuk-tuks are the Southeast Asian version of a vehicle also known as an auto rickshaw or cabin cycle. It is widely used in urban areas like Bangkok and other Thai cities as they can maneuver on crowded streets and zig-zag around cars. Other major Southeast Asian and South Asian cities also have variations of tuk-tuks on their roads.
Tuk-tuks resemble a three-wheeled motorcycle or tricycle. Tuk-tuks are named from the sound that their two-stroke engines make when they idle. They have handlebar controls like a motorcycle instead of a steering wheel. They usually have a sheet metal body or open frame with a canvas roof. Many times they have ornate hammerings or carvings for decoration. The roof can be either metal or water-proofed canvas. The driver is seated in the small cabin at the front, while the passengers sit on a bench over the two rear wheels.
Tuk-tuks do not have meters and you must bargain with the driver and settle on the price before getting in. Foreigners must bargain harder with tuk-tuk drivers and be careful of drivers that take you to stores for you to shop at. Many times, the drivers get a kickback from the stores when you make a purchase.
Tuk-tuks can be found in Bangkok around the Grand Palace, Hua Lampong and Khao San Road. In Chiang Mai, they are also found around the Night Bazaar. In the south, different versions of tuk-tuks are found in different towns. In Hat Yai, you’ll find a tuk-tuk that is a four-wheeled vehicle that resembles a small truck with two rows of benches in the back. It is essentially a “song thew,” but locals call it a tuk-tuk. Travellers to Thailand to make sure and take a ride in one of these special vehicles. Three passengers can fit in a tuk-tuk comfortably, although I have seen as many as six people squeezed into one tuk-tuk. I guarantee that a ride in a tuk-tuk will be a thrilling experience in your Thailand adventures.