Tuk-tuks (auto rickshaws) are commonly associated with Thailand. Tuk-tuks are three-wheeled motorized vehicles that typically serve as taxis. They are occasionally given a bad rep for being “touristy,” unsafe, or a hotbed for scams. But we decided to give tuk-tuks a shot and they ended up being our favorite mode of transportation in Bangkok!
Why would we take a tuk-tuk in the first place?
Riding in a tuk-tuk can be a fun experience that provides a unique way to see Bangkok while getting from one destination to another. It is also a cheap way to travel around Bangkok and can even be cheaper than using a cab/Uber if you follow the tips below.
Tips for riding tuk-tuks in Bangkok:
- Always agree on a price before getting in! How do you know what price to offer? Recognize that the driver will always offer you an inflated price as a tourist because they are expecting you to barter (or seeing what they can get away with). We recommend to look and see what Uber is charging to the same location as a guide. Give your driver the price, they might look at you like you’re crazy (because they might start out charging double or triple).
- Barter – Start low, barter back and forth. Know beforehand what the maximum you are willing to pay is. Start out lower than your maximum, see if they will meet you at your first offer or if you can settle on your maximum. Short rides are usually around 40 baht ($1.29 USD). Tell/show your driver what Uber is charging and leverage that as bargaining power.
- If the tuk-tuk won’t meet your price, walk away. Fairly often, once you walk away the driver will shout out another lower price (maybe it was even your original price). If the price is in your range, get in. If it’s not, simply ask another tuk-tuk (or wait for another one). Unless you are in an obscure area, there should be several that are parked or pass by (especially around temples, markets, malls, and other touristy or high traffic areas).
- Carry cash, Thai baht (small bills are better) – If you don’t have small bills, make sure you ask if your driver has change (they should!). Tuk-tuks will not take credit cards or other types of currency.
- Follow the route on an offline maps app (we use Maps.me) to make sure you’re headed the right way. If it doesn’t look like you’re going anywhere near your destination, speak up. Knowing (at least vaguely) where you’re going can prevent you from being scammed and taken somewhere you weren’t expecting.
- Keep your hands on your valuables (camera, bag, phone, wallet) – People on motorbikes can whiz by and snatch your personal belongings if they are hanging loosely from you and if you are not paying attention. Be mindful of your valuables (as you should always be when in a big city).
- Enjoy the ride! Tuk-tuk rides are fun so enjoy this unique way to view the city. We personally found riding in a tuk-tuk to be even more exhilarating at night. Many tuk-tuks are decorated with neon lights adding to the allure of nighttime rides.
Don’t get scammed by tuk-tuk or cab drivers in Bangkok! Read about common scams in Bangkok and tips to avoid them here.
Make sure to read our guide to discover the 3 temples you can’t miss in Bangkok!