Tuk Tuk

Survival Guide: Riding in Tuk Tuks

The Southeast Asian experience wouldn’t be complete without a ride in a tuk-tuk. Here are some pointers for surviving your first tuk-tuk ride:

What is a Tuk Tuk?

Tuk Tuks come in a variety of sizes and styles depending on the country, they even go by different names. Tuk Tuk, moto, rickshaw – all suggest the same type of transport, a small, exposed motor vehicle to get you from point A to B, cheaper than a car-style taxi.

Some of the more popular styles of tuk-tuks are motorcycles pulling a separate trailer with open sides, often able to transport 2 or 4 people. Other varieties have plastic siding to offer some “protection” from the elements or hard-sided compartments.

It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

When getting into a tuk-tuk for the first time, chances are you will tell the driver where you want to go, they will say “no problem” and whisk you on your way. The reality is that you may not reach your destination without some persistence.

Tuk Tuk drivers often have deals worked out with local shops to receive gas coupons, money and other rewards for bringing tourists in. Expect in some cities (such as Bangkok) to be driven to numerous tailors and jewelry shops before you reach your destination.

The best way to battle this is to firmly tell the driver before getting in that you must go directly to your destination without stopping anywhere first. If you happen to be dropped off at a shop on route, try to be polite with your irritation.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Drivers don’t typically need any formal training (drivers test or otherwise)
  • Passengers have little or no protection from the elements or safety equipment like seatbelts
  • There is little or no protection offered by insurance in case of an accident
  • Populated areas have can have pollution problems that you are completely exposed to

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