Is travelling by Tuk Tuk actually comfortable?

IThe Tuk Tuk. Thailand’s most iconic vehicle, famous for plying the streets of Bangkok (and some other cities) and being a ‘must do’ on any trip to the country but also unfortunately famous for dodgy drivers claiming places are closed or intent on taking you to buy a suit you didn’t know you wanted or needed!

But has anyone every used the words ‘comfortable’ and Tuk Tuk in the same sentence? Highly unlikely we think………Fun, for sure, comfortable, erm…

Big enough for a Yorkshire Terrier but ……

So why on earth would you explore the mountains of Northern Thailand by Tuk Tuk, are you crazy?

Bangkok, and indeed all, city Tuk Tuks tend to be small and cramped. Leg room for lanky foreigners not being a priority and head room slightly less than what anyone would think as ‘comfortable’. Fun, yes, comfort…no!

But, The Tuk Tuk Club Tuk Tuks are not ordinary Tuk Tuks! They share the same DNA and in a photo look just like a Bangkok Tuk Tuk (that’s the idea!) but they are specially built for travel adventures and intentionally far more comfortable than an inner city three wheeler used for short trips.

So how are they different?

Firstly, The Tuk Tuk Club’s vehicles are all slightly longer than a regular Tuk Tuk – around 20cm longer. This might not sound like much but it’s the difference that allows you to stretch your legs out and relax comfortable. If you’re 6 foot 8 then perhaps they’re still a squash but for most people the leg room is ‘business-class’ rather than ‘low cost airline’.

Plenty of room in the back…

Next up it’s the seats themselves. Extra padding gives not only more bounce but more comfort. The rear seats aren’t quite luxury sofa’s but a nice enough mix of soft so your bum doesn’t go to sleep (although the driver seats aren’t quite as soft…) but firm so you have some support!

To help the ride the suspension on all the Tuk Tuk’s is also specially designed. Now we won’t claim that this means you glide smoothly along rural mountain back roads – and do expect a few bumps along the way – but they are smoother than a city Tuk Tuk and about as smooth as it’s going to get without actually being in a car, and that’s not really the point is it!

Onto head room. There’s no point in exploring by Tuk Tuk if you can’t see anything and for those of you who’ve travelled around Bangkok by Tuk Tuk you’ll remember that you spend half your time ducking down to see anything other than the wheels of the car next to you. So our Tuk Tuks again come to the rescue. The roofs are about 20 cm higher than a normal Tuk Tuk meaning that you can relax in the back and actually see the world your travelling through. And to top it off all of the Tuk Tuks also have a ‘sunroof’ you can roll back giving the feeling of more space and almost as if you’re in the open air. (NOTE – roll back the sunroof but don’t forget your sunscreen or a hat!)

Big, but still not big enough for an elephant

So the structure of the Tuk Tuks is a cut above what you see prowling the streets of Bangkok but what else is there to make your adventure more comfortable?

Cool boxes in each vehicle are filled with ice every morning (and throughout the day where possible) and stocked with water and, if you wish, a cheeky afternoon cold beer. Small blue tooth speakers – loud enough for you to hear but not so loud as to annoy everyone else – are in place ready for your ultimate mountain road trip playlist and there are even walkie talkies for you meaning that not only can you guide let you know what’s coming up but also so that you can let them know when you need a ‘comfort break’! And of course you can chat away to others in the Tuk Tuk convoy – nothing to do with comfort but great fun.

But what about the heat we hear you ask? Every other vehicle you see has it’s windows closed and the air-conditioning blasting to cope with the 30C+ temperatures. Aha, this is where Tuk Tuks come into their own and take advantage of natures air-conditioning! The rear seats get fantastic breezes when you’re motoring along meaning that you’re cool, but not air-conditioning cold, but still get the scents of the area you pass through. The only downside of being in the open air is during our winter months – roughly November to February – when it can be surprisingly cool up in the mountains in the mornings and late afternoons and of course cooler still with the back seat breezes but that’s why we have warm blankets to wrap up in.

Even the roof is a great place to hang out

So are Tuk Tuks comfortable? Well they’re not fancy Mercedes minivan comfortable for sure but who wants to fall asleep and miss everything you travelled so far to see. But they are much more comfortable that you’d think and the bonus of taking part in a real adventure, being right in the thick of everywhere you pass through and being fully immersed in the country more than make up for the lack of a reclining chair…

And back to the driver seat…numb bum syndrome is the curse of Tuk Tuk drivers everywhere and something you do eventually get used to, usually just when you’re adventure is coming to an end. But fear not, we have recently bought new extra padded drivers seats for those of us with more tender backsides – still not as comfortable as the backseats but a damn site more comfortable than before!

Looking to get right into the heart of Northern Thailand on your next adventure? Then join The Tuk Tuk Club for a real Thailand travel experience deep in the mountains and culture of this wonderful part of the world.

Find out more at www.thetuktukclub.com