Love them or hate them, Tuk Tuks are, or seem to be, here to stay. Tuk Tuks are three wheeled, 2 stroke engined, taxis which zip in and out of traffic around Bangkok and other towns around Thailand.
Tuk Tuks are not metered and so go grab a ride, you'll need to have some idea of where you are going and how much it might cost because if a Tuk Tuk driver senses you don't know, you'll be charged a lot more and you could end up going via some gems stores or massage parlours.
Bangkok Tuk Tuks spend much of their time loitering for business and usually in places where they can best foul up the flow of traffic. This is usually on street corners or outside department stores, markets and opposite hotels.
Walk near any Tuk Tuk and the driver will almost certainly say "Tuk Tuk" and perhaps the essential "Hey you!".
A typical Bangkok Tuk Tuk
Tuk Tuks come in various colours
As mentioned above, there is no meter in a Tuk Tuk and so you'll have to bargain the price. We'd like to be able to say something easy like "halve the original quote" but this depends upon distance.
One example of how they might operate is the time we came out of Pantip Plaza (there are a lot of Tuk Tuks outside Pantip Plaza) and because it's not always easy to grab a taxi, we tried a Tuk Tuk who quoted us 200 Baht even though a taxi ride would have cost roughly 60 Baht. Even when we just laughed at them, they only came down to 150 Baht based on the fact that we looked like we were tourists. You never know what mood they are in or how much to ask. If they don't need the money, they'll quote high and not budge much if you bargain. If they need the money, they start low and accept a reasonable rate if you bargain.
The driver who asked for 200 Baht, probably knew we'd bargain the price and by starting at 200, if a tourist had gone to 100 Baht, he'd have agreed but still made a very nice profit whilst leaving the tourist thinking they'd bargained well. In fact, if the journey was 60 Baht in a taxi, the Tuk Tuk should have been around 50 Baht because they are less comfortable and no air-conditioning.
Tuk Tuks can turn where taxis can't
Tuk Tuks loitering and causing traffic jams
Tuk Tuks are just as likely to find you as you are to find them. There are no lights on them to show that they are empty or not and so you'll have to try to see if they are empty when they drive up and past you.
Alternatively, and the most common way, is to find one parked on the side of the road and approach the driver who is usually standing next to it smoking.
Tuk Tuk drivers make commission by taking people to gem stores, tailors and masage parlors. Do not be conned by these tricks and do not agree to go where they suggest because you'll face a hard sell and even if you want some gems or a suit, where these Tuk Tuk drivers will take you is not where you want to shop, so say NO and DO NOT pay more than the agreed amount, even if the traffic is bad.
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