Bangkok tuk-tuk · Tuk-tuk in Bangkok
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Tuk-tuk in Bangkok
Tuk-tuk in Bangkok
Finally, what would Bangkok be without the much-loathed, much-loved tuk-tuks? You'll know them when you hear them, and you'll hate them when you smell them — these three-wheeled contraptions blaze around Bangkok leaving a black cloud of smog in their wake. For anything more than a 5-10 min jaunt or just the experience, they really are not worth the price — and, if you let them get away with it, the price will usually be 4 or 5 times what it should be anyway (which, for Thais, is around 30% less than the equivalent metered taxi fare).
On the other hand, you can sometimes ride for free if you agree to visit touristy clothing or jewellery shops (which give the tuk-tuk driver fuel coupons and commissions for bringing customers). The shops' salesmen are pushy, and try to scam you with bad quality suits or "gems" that in fact are worthless pieces of cut glass. But usually you are free to leave after 5-10 min of browsing. Visitors should beware though, sometimes one stop can turn in to three, and your tuk-tuk driver may not be interested in taking you where you need to go once he has his fuel coupons. Also, with Bangkok's densely congested traffic it is sure to waste hours of your time, if not the whole day.
If you still want to try the tuk-tuk, always hail a moving tuk-tuk from the main road. At tourist spots, these tuk-tuk drivers lie in waiting to disrupt your travels plans. Always agree on a price before entering the tuk-tuk. Also be crystal clear about your intended destination. If they claim that your intended destination is closed for the day, and offer to take you to other nearby tourist spots, insist on your destination or get out. If you're an all-male party, tuk-tuk drivers sometimes will just ignore your destination completely and start driving you to some brothel ("beautiful girls"). Insist continually and forcefully on going only to your destination; or take a metered taxi instead.
A songthaew is a less-heralded, less-colourful and less-touristy version of the tuk-tuk that usually serves the back sois in residential neighbourhoods. They usually have four wheels instead of three, two benches instead of one, run on petrol instead of LPG and resemble a tiny truck. The maids and locals tend to use them to return home from the market with loads of groceries, or for quick trips if they're available. Negotiate before you get in, but don't expect to go much beyond the edge of that particular neighbourhood.
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Bangkok Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.