The tuk-tuk (µØê¡µØê¡ or µØê¡æ in Thai) is
the Southeast Asian version of a vehicle known elsewhere as
an auto rickshaw or cabin cycle. It is a widely used form of
urban transport in Bangkok and other Thai cities, as well as
other major Southeast Asian and South Asian cities. It is particularly
popular where traffic congestion is a major problem, such as
in Bangkok. Tuk-tuks were first introduced in Brighton, England,
on 10th July 2006, where a fleet of twelve (spelt TucTuc) operate
using compressed natural gas, as the first motorized rickshaw
service in Europe, between Brighton Marina and Hove, via Brighton
tuk-tuk may have a sheet metal body (painted mild steel)
or open frame with canvas roof and drop-down sides. Some have
ornate tin ornamental hammerings or carvings for decoration.
The roof may be either mild steel or a water proofed canvas,
riveted to round tubing. Water proof removable sides can be
added in the rainy season. Resting on three small wheels (one
in front, two on the rear), there is a small cabin for the driver
in the front and seating for three in relative comfort in the
rear. They are very maneuverable and can turn around in one
lane of traffic with room to spare.
are generally fitted with a water cooled two-stroke engine.
They have handlebar controls instead of a steering wheel, making
them a tricycle. The tuk-tuk is named after the sound its two-stroke
engine makes when it is idling. It may have been derived from
a similar Japanese non-motorized automobile in the 1950s, although
tuk-tuks of the type used in Brighton, England evolved from
the Vespa scooter, (later Bajaj of India), using old Piaggio
Vespa pattern tooling and a Piaggio-derived 175cc engine. These
were the front half of a Vespa, with an axle created for the
rear, badged (in Vespa-style) as the Ape. These were used with
truck bodies, pick-up bodies and eventually taxi bodies. Later
the leg shields were extended all the way up and over to create
a roof. They generally are low geared, to allow the small engine
to move comparatively large loads. Given the low gearing, Tuk-tuks
have a high torque to weight ratio and can accelerate quite
quickly making them nimble, especially in heavy traffic. The
lack of high speed capability is irrelevant in heavy urban traffic.
drivers may have migrated from the provinces and have a reputation
for not knowing the city in which they work very well, therefore
getting people lost. Tuk-tuks do not have meters and users generally
bargain with the driver for a price to take them to a specified
destination. In Bangkok, there is now a maximum fee which drivers
may not exceed. This has tended to become the default fee for
foreigners. As with all un-metered transport, not agreeing to
a fee before departure can risk unethical practice by the driver.
also earn money by having advertising posters and placards on
their tuk-tuks. In early 2005 many of them were covered in advertising
for the 6 February election. Tuk-tuk drivers can earn fuel vouchers
or other commissions by diverting passengers to certain businesses
that cater to tourists, possibly against the passenger's expressed
wishes. Most drivers also decorate their tuk-tuks with religious
charms and small Buddha images.
tuk-tuk is featured in The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
A chase scene involving multiple tuk-tuks can be seen in Ong
Bak starring Tony Jaa. Tuk-tuks also make an appearance in the
console games Stuntman and Burnout 3, and by entering cheat
codes in Crazy Taxi. During the live telecast final of Miss
Universe 2005 in Bangkok, Access Hollywood's Nancy O'Dell arrived
onstage on a tuk-tuk. A Visa credit card advertisement features
Pierce Brosnan (James Bond) riding on a tuk-tuk. Also, in Season
7 of Amazing Race, one of the contestants had his foot run over
by a tuk-tuk (after it had already been injured by an elephant).