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Unusual transport from Asia: the tuk tuk

16/07/2020 313 Views

Asia: its landscapes, its culture, its people, its rice fields, its rivers, its cities and its tuk tuk! A great classic of a trip to Asia, the tuk tuk will be an integral part of your trip to Southeast Asia. But where does the name “tuk-tuk” come from? It seems that they are named so because of their little horn noise that they use very frequently on journeys! Let’s explore this unusual transport…


Tuk-tuk: what is this mode of transport?

The tuk-tuk, pronounced "touk-touk", is a small car on three wheels, like a tricycle, fitted out from a motorcycle with a bench in the back under a metal awning, often colorful and customized. The driver shifts gears and brakes as with a scooter by heading with the handlebars. Its small scooter engine allows it to sneak all over the city but is less fast on major roads… You also find them in the countryside and in the mountains: the tuk-tuks are afraid of nothing! 

You can board two or even three people on these vehicles, which makes them a good alternative to taxis and public transport. Without windows or windows, this will allow you to admire the landscapes and feel totally immersed, however, the air can quickly be invaded by the smell of exhaust gas during the journey.


Colorful Tuk-tuk in Thailand


History of the tuk-tuk

Before the arrival of the tuk-tuks, it was the shooters that were used. Their difference? The sprouts were pulled or pushed by men. It is in the 20th century that it will be dethroned by the rickshaw, driven by a pedal bike this time, which will develop from the 1950s with an engine and thus will be born… the tuk-tuk!


Even if it is today everywhere in Asia, it is in Thailand that it circulates the most because it is from there that is the origin of this transport. Phnom Phen alone has nearly 10,000 tuk-tuks! But you will also find it during your trips to Laos, India, Vietnam or Sri Lanka. In Cambodia, it is the most used mode of transport and is called “reumok”, which can make think of “trailer” in French.


Pusher pulled with man’s arm/ Cyclo pusher pulled with pedal


The tuk-tuk: practical but not only..

Despite its small size that allows it to sneak everywhere, it is not very enduring! Perfect for small trips, it is not recommended for longer trips, especially with luggage. You can then opt for the bus or motorcycle.

Also, the prices being negotiable you will be able to make good deals or… get scammed! That is why we must be vigilant and negotiate the price before the race.

Other unusual transport in Asia

Asia is also full of many other types of transport to accompany you on your trip.

One finds the songthaews which are minibuses collective rearranged from pickups where the rear consists of two wooden boards to sit and whose stop is signalled by a bell. Even if we are crowded and it is not very comfortable, the trip is not expensive. This is the characteristic means of locomotion in the Chiang Mai region in Thailand as well as in Laos.

An essential transport that you may have the opportunity to test in Thailand is the long tail boat (long tail boats), which are flat-bottomed wooden boats. Motorized, they are equipped with an engine that is attached to the top of a pole. Its maneuvering mode reminds us of a gondolier. You will notice that they wear a colorful ribbon on their bow, symbol that brings happiness. 

Finally, don’t miss to test a ride or a ride by motorcycle-taxi! As an alternative to a car-taxi, this two-wheeled taxi easily and quickly slips around cities and during heavy traffic. Beware of journeys that can be dangerous! You will find this offer especially in Vietnam, and will be surprised to discover that motorcycles taxi not only carry travelers but also objects and even animals!

Songthaews with passengers/ Long Tail Boat in Thailand / Moto Taxi waiting for passengers

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