Thailand's ubiquitous tuk-tuks, named after the sound of their engines, are rickshaws with motors. They’re noisy, polluting and driven by would-be Michael Schumachers. Because they are open-ended, they offer no protection to passengers and expose them to the waves of oily exhaust fumes. They’re no cheaper than taxis, the drivers have had no training and often haven’t the faintest idea of where they’re going. They weave in and out of the streams of traffic and have been banned by the city authorities because they’re major contributors to the chaos of Bangkok’s transport system.
So why do they continue to tear around the streets with apparent impunity?Because the tourists love them, that’s why. They’ve gained iconic status on a par with par with Paris taxi drivers. The latter are renowned for their rudeness, whereas tuk-tuc driver stories speak of insane driving and ferocious bargaining techniques.
Apart from making sure your medical insurance is up to date, there’s only one golden rule when hailing a tuk-tuk – always agree the price in advance. It involves a long bargaining session, but it’s infinitely better than the histrionic public brouhaha that occurs when you refuse to pay an outrageously inflated fare upon arrival.
On the other hand, it’s a truly authentic Bangkok experience to add to your traveller’s tales!