What would Bangkok be without any crazy tuk-tuk drivers that pass red lights and zigzag through the busy streets?
A tuk-tuk, also known as sam-lor in Thai, is the famous three-wheeled, open-air taxi of Bangkok, which can be seen cruising through the city all day and night, making that famous ‘tuktuk’ sound; hence its name.
Popular among tourists and Thais for traveling short distances, tuk-tuks offer a big load capacity for transporting up to 6 people or items that don’t fit in a regular taxi – very useful after a big shopping day with your family or friends.
The only disadvantages are the exposure to Bangkok’s heat and pollution, and the bit less comfortable ride.
No visit to Bangkok should be completed without at least one crazy Tuk Tuk ride. It is an absolute must!
The tuk tuk and the fare
Just as regular taxis drivers, most tuk-tuk drivers come from the Isaan region, the northeastern part of Thailand. In general, they are very friendly and honest to tourists and foreigners, but the temptation of making twice as much cash for one ride is high.
Make sure you negotiate the price before hopping on a tuk-tuk as they may charge you way over the odds.
The fare for most rides is usually more or less the same as for regular taxis. Tipping the driver is not necessary.
Beware of the scam scheme
Charging more than the actual fee is a small subject compared to this one. Many drivers, especially the ones waiting around tourist areas are involved in a so-called gem and jewelry scams.
To avoid being yet another victim, please read and remember the following:
- Never take a Tuk Tuk that is waiting around. Take one that is in motion
- Never take a Tuk Tuk that offers you a cheap or free ride
- Never agree to let a driver take you to places he suggests, especially gem shops
- Always negotiate the price and destination beforehand
Note: After lots of complaints regarding the gem and jewelry scandal got reported to the police and media, the authorities have made tremendous efforts to control and eliminate this scandal. As of 2013, the number of complaints has dropped tremendously.