Tuk Tuks and Thailand are synonymous. Has anyone ever travelled to Thailand and not wanted to have a go in a Tuk Tuk? Well of course there will be but there’s always someone who’s a little awkward isn’t there.
Look at any adverts featuring Bangkok and you’re bound to see a little Tuk Tuk somewhere. Google ‘Thailand Travel’ and it won’t take you long to see a photo of one of these brilliant little three wheelers set in busy Bangkok streets. And so intertwined are Tuk Tuks and Thailand that in 2015 the Thai Miss Universe entrant won the ‘best costume’ award by dressing up as a Tuk Tuk!
However, not all Tuk Tuks are equal and as you travel around Thailand you’ll notice subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences in the Tuk Tuks hanging around towns. The classic is the Bangkok Tuk Tuk and to our mind this is the king of all Tuk Tuks. Squat, powerful (ish), noisy (ish) but super cool and usually driven by Lewis Hamilton wannabe’s (although we reckon they are probably even better drivers than Lewis is) who know the city inside out even if they occasionally pretend they have no idea where you want to go and are convinced you’re in the market for some gems (seriously – although stories abound about Tuk Tuk drivers in Bangkok our experience is that 99.9% of them – a pretty good percentage if you think about it – are fantastic people working hard to support their families, full of jokes, fun and great information about what’s going on in the area they work in).
A little way North of Bangkok is Ayutthya, a previous capital of Thailand, the site of a super historical park (well worth a visit) and also home of the ‘rocket’ Tuk Tuk. Similar in size to Bangkok Tuk Tuks but with a curved cone ‘nose’ that we like to think makes them look like a rocket, although others may say they look more like a frog! Not as cool as Bangkok Tuk Tuks but they’re still Tuk Tuks so definitely worth a ride.
Right down in the South in Trang province (somewhere else definitely worth a visit with some stunning islands) again the Tuk Tuks look a little different. They make us think of 1960’s Citroen’s – sort of ugly but also incredibly beautiful.
Head out to the North East (Isaan) and you’ll start to see Isaan Tuk Tuks. More of a motorbike made into a trike with bench seats at the back. At a stretch they are still Tuk Tuks and they do look pretty cool but we’re not sure we’d head around the mountains of Northern Thailand in one
And then on Koh Si Chang (of the coast of Sri Racha, East of Bangkok) there are different Tuk Tuks again. This time far more ‘motorbikey’ with some resmebly Harley Davidson’s with seats then built onto the back. Very very cool and the drivers don’t half know it.
So you can see that the humble Tuk Tuk is very much part of the fabric of life all over Thailand. As things modernise some may turn up their nose at the fact there’s no air-conditioning or blacked out windows to make you feel like a superstar but for everyone else, they really are superb little things. Whether you’re using one for a quick taxi ride home, are with a group of friends seeing how many people can fit in a Tuk Tuk (and you’ll see Thai students breaking this record on a daily basis) or even on a Northern Thailand adventure through the mountains of Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son with The Tuk Tuk Club, you can’t take the Tuk Tuk away from Thailand, or Thailand away from the Tuk Tuk.