They are colorful 3 wheeled vehicles that are commonly used for transporting people and goods all over Bangkok. They are also called ‘Sam lor’ in the local dialect. For a very long time they were the most favored means of getting around Bangkok. The MRT and BST have since taken over as the mode of transport of choice amongst Thais. A Tuk- Tuk is generally a tricycle and is named after the sound the two stroke engine produces when it is idling. They are popular amongst tourists and visitors in the Big Mango. Some smart travel tips for tuk-tuks in Bangkok include;
Negotiate your fare
They don’t have a constant figure or running meters to charge you from. The cost of the journey is dependent on the distance that you intend to travel, the amount of traffic on the road and the general mood of the driver. They will charge anything from 30 to 200 baht. Don’t accept the first price he comes up with. In most instances the price will be inflated. A good starting point is to negotiate at least 15-20 baht less than what the driver stated initially. They are usually a patient lot and the haggling can take a few minutes.
Watch out for those special offers
Tuk- tuk drivers are usually very savvy businessmen. Noticing that you are a tourist or visitor, some of them will offer you special and unsolicited offers to take you to shopping malls or tourist hotels at a fee. Some will even show you some brochures regarding some sightseeing tours. Such offers are usually scams. It is important not to entertain them by showing interest or asking questions on the same. A polite but firm ‘no thank you ‘will suffice and will save you a lot of problems. Most drivers are quite polite though, and will take your no as being a no and will desist from any further interaction with you on the same matter. If you get a driver who is impolite; just move to the next tuk- tuk and he will leave you alone.
Avoid Using Tuk – Tuks during Peak Hours
The peak hours in Bangkok are between 7 and 9 in the morning and 4 and 7 in the evening. Traffic within Bangkok is crazy. Because the tuk -tuk is usually just covered at the top and the sides are open; sitting in a traffic jam for hours will expose you to a lot of pollution in terms of exhaust fumes from other vehicles. Other vagaries of nature like the sun and rain can also wreck havoc on your journey. Use the tuk- tuk when the roads are clear; you will enjoy the ride more.
Use them for short trips and distances
They lack speed and the purring twin engine noise is not melodious either. Know the distance you are covering and decide accordingly. The prices between a normal cab and a tuk tuk do not vary a lot; in fact it may be more expensive to use a tuk -tuk in certain instances. The general rule of thumb is that if you are not sure about the distance; get a cab instead. Solely relying on the tuk- tuk driver to advice you on the distance may not be a very wise idea; carry a map or ask someone else and get the correct distance.
Use the tuk – tuk for sightseeing and leisurely purposes.
Don’t use a tuk -tuk if you are headed to the airport of dashing somewhere for an appointment. Ride them when you are not in a hurry; they are good for sightseeing purposes. They at times can pass through routes that cabs would otherwise not use. Because they are open and move slowly; they are also very ideal for taking pictures. It will give you an opportunity to see Bangkok in ways you had not experienced before.
Board a tuk-tuk as a group
A tuk – tuk can comfortably carry three medium sized adults. They are a good option if you are a group of visitors seeking to get a feel of Bangkok. You will be able to split the cost and still enjoy the beautiful ride that it offers. Most tuk-tuk drivers will try to double the fare once they realize you are a group; the fare need not change because you are two or three clients.