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What is a Tuk Tuk

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Tuk Tuks are very popular in East Asian countries, and as a tourist, you should give them a try.

Tuk Tuks are three-wheeled open vehicles and are very popular in East Asian countries. A Tuk Tuk is something you’d see very often wherever you are, especially in Cambodian, Indian, and Thai cities, etc. They are an enjoyable way to travel short distances as they provide an authentic travel experience. If you are curious to learn more about Tuk Tuk, make sure you keep reading this article.

What is a Tuk Tuk

As you might already know, Tuk Tuks are the amazing three-wheeled cars you see in almost every Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia), Bangkok, or New Delhi scene. They are also quite common in other parts of the world like Africa and even France! It’s true that Tuk Tuks are mostly found in the capital cities of South and East Asian countries, and they’re also found and heavily used in small cities, villages, and even islands. A Tuk Tuk facilitates transportation. Brightly colored, lavishly adorned, and jazzed up by their driver, these cabs are a “must-do” for everyone traveling East Asian countries. They are also fast vehicles and will save you tons of time that could go to waste while being stuck in traffic. 

Although it looks very similar to a Rickshaw, there are various noticeable differences. It’s quite average. For instance, Cambodia and Thailand refer to three-wheeled motorized vehicles as “Tuk Tuks.” Although Tuk Tuks come in a variety of styles around the nation, from the rocket nose cone design to the more motorcycle and sidecar setup. They are all generally larger, quicker, more stable, and more comfortable vehicles. On the other hand, if you go to Pakistan or India, you’re more likely to hear people refer to these three-wheelers as “autos” or “rickshaws” rather than “Tuk Tuks.”

Fun fact, Tuk Tuks are also very common in other parts of the world like North Africa, but not for tourist or people transportation purposes. Usually, people who own Tuk Tuks tend to use them to transport heavy deliveries to people in need, and the payment is really good too!

Benefits of using Tuk Tuk

There are many benefits to using a Tuk Tuk in Asian cities. Whether you are in a hurry, need to see the city via a vehicle, or are just in the mood to tick the Tuk Tuk experience off your bucket list, riding a Tuk Tuk is a must.

Affordable vehicle

Compared to a taxi or a private car, Tuk Tuks are very affordable for someone on a budget. You won’t have to spend more than $3 (at best) on a single ride. Just make sure you negotiate the price with the driver beforehand and do not lean on Tuk Tuks during rush hour. Riding a Tuk Tuk in a busy city increases both the price and the scale of your discomfort.

Easy and available

Another trait that Tuk Tuks share is that they are available anywhere, anytime. People tend to make a living out of driving Tuk Tuks and dealing with tourists, so there are Tuks Tuks literally everywhere. You wouldn’t have to miraculously wait for a taxi, call a private car, or take long walks because you can easily find a Tuk Tuk. 

The passenger experience

This is probably the reason most people are keen to give Tuk Tuks a try. Some tourists don’t mind experiencing the hustle vibe of busy cities no matter how uncomfortable it gets. It makes them feel part of the culture they’re in. A Tuk Tuk can hold two to three people at the same time and it gets really fun when the ride is outside of the city, or in less busy areas. That way you get to see everything clearer and enjoy the views. 

How much does a Tuk Tuk cost?

No matter what country you travel to, make sure you learn about its currency beforehand in order to avoid being scammed. Normally, a Tuk Tuk ride should cost you $2. That is the average price. However, it could cost more in tourist places or during rush hours. It is normal for the price to go up under such conditions, as long as it is reasonable. If the driver asks you to pay more than average, then you’re definitely being scammed and you should put an end to it. 

Tips to consider

Being a tourist in a foreign city, or sometimes even a local on your own, Tuk Tuks can facilitate your daily life, however, there are some tips to keep in mind in order to remain safe and have a flawless travel experience.

Watch out for scammers

Tourists often report Tuk Tuk scams especially in Bangkok, Thailand. It can happen anywhere and anytime. The same old scamming tricks still happen today and some people fall for them, so you should watch out and act smart. Also, don’t fall for the “free ride” trick because it is not entirely free. There are many other scams that you’ll probably come across so be careful. 

Avoid old vehicles

Old Tuk Tuks usually tend to have so many damages, and it will spoil your trip. You can know whether a Tuk Tuk is right to ride or not from its appearance and the sound it makes. If it sounds very noisy, then such a Tuk Tuk won’t really be your best vehicle. Old Tuk Tuks won’t provide you with the safety you need especially during windy days, rush hours, and humid days. Make sure you check the roof of your chosen Tuk Tuk before agreeing to take the tour. It should look new-ish, clean, and definitely with handles above the doors.

Avoid night rides

One common issue with Tuk Tuks is the lack of safety compared to a taxi or a car. Although very fun, Tuk Tuks are very open and it is considered uncomfortable to certain people. It can also be dangerous especially if you’re one of the people that like touring the city at night but believe it or not, the city tends to get unsafe at night. 

Check the weather

It is never advised to take a Tuk Tuk ride when the weather is bad. If you aren’t traveling in the summertime, then you should expect it to rain very often. Riding a Tuk Tuk in rainy weather should be avoided at all costs. It is considered risky especially if you’re headed to villages. The infrastructure of some cities is really poor and that can totally affect your trip, so it is better if you know about the place you’re visiting and consider its safety. Usually, the bad weather ruins the roads and you wouldn’t want to deal with that. Water stagnation and potholes make it much harder for the Tuk Tuk driver to drive steadily and guarantee comfort for his passengers. This is something you should keep in mind: a Tuk Tuk ride in the rain isn’t the best idea. It’s always better to prioritize your safety and take cabs when it’s rainy or even windy. 

Conclusion

Wherever you travel, you will most likely want to try the Tuk Tuk experience and feel you are part of the community. Tuk-Tuks are reasonably priced vehicles that assist you in touring the city and getting involved in the locals’ daily hustle. Make sure you think and act smart and prioritize your safety, that way, it’s guaranteed that you’ll have a fun Tuk Tuk ride.