This post is about your humble tuk-tuk, the three-wheeler that you see on the streets of many Asian countries. The Furious Panda’s Redzuan Rahmat has been to several other countries where variants of the tuk-tuk exist, and have sat in many of them. The universal (or at least the most recognisable) name for them is the tuk-tuk, but other countries call them by very interesting names as well.
In India, tuk-tuks are known as autos (short for auto-rickshaw) – and they are everywhere. Best for short distances and, in some cities, best for people who are smog- and noise-resilient.
The tuk-tuks I’ve seen in China are more like mini three-wheeled lorries, which they call san lun (which translates to three wheels). I’ve also ridden on a more traditional motorcycle-like tuk-tuk in Guangdong’s countryside.
I see lots of them roaming the streets of Jakarta. The tuk-tuks are locally called the bajaj, after the manufacturer brand. These look very similar to the Indian model.
There is also another variant that I have seen in Sumatra. This one, called the becak, is a motorcycle attached to a sidecar, resembling a motorised cycle-rickshaw.
In Cambodia, they are also called tuk-tuks, but they look very different from the rest. They are motorcycles but with an attached carriage at the rear.
Also known as tuk-tuks, the models in Sri Lanka are similar to the ones you find in India, albeit slightly modified. They come in all sorts of colours.
All the tuk-tuks I have seen in Dhaka are green in colour. They are known as CNGs, named after their fuel source. In fact, the reason why they are green is because they use the cleaner CNG fuel.
Oddly enough, despite being probably the first place I’ve seen a tuk-tuk, I don’t have any photos in my archive!
The variant of the tuk-tuk you find in Pakistan is unique. It’s more angular than the Indian/Sri Lankan/Indonesian models. They call them rikshaws, probably short for auto-rickshaws.
Here is another kind of the tuk-tuk that I’ve seen in Pakistan. It is a motorcycle attached to a covered carriage that seats two facing the front, and two facing the rear.
Ethiopia also has tuk-tuks, and they are called bajajs (the same as in Indonesia). They are all uniformly blue in colour, with a white canvas top.
The model of the tuk-tuk I found in Sudan is very much similar to the common ones listed. Known locally as rakshas, they come in various colours, not just the black yellow variant below.
In my opinion, the tuk-tuk is the best way for a solo traveller to get around. More versatile than buses but cheaper than cabs, the tuk-tuk can take one passenger and one backpack comfortably. Most can take up to two or three passengers, though I’ve been squeezed in with five before. The tuk-tuk has a top speed of around 100 km/hr, though most are content to chug along at 60 km/hr. The biggest advantage of a tuk-tuk over a cab is that it is able to slip in and out of little side roads and bypass heavy traffic jams. They are also surprisingly able to cut through rough terrain. It’s perhaps not the best form of transport if you are sensitive to dust and fumes, since most tuk-tuk models are exposed to the outside environment. Also, they don’t do steep inclines very well.
This post was originally published in Redzuan’s travel blog, The Furious Panda.
Redzuan Rahmat is a travel fanatic who yearns to see everything and experience everything. Red loves visiting unusual destinations and is equally comfortable getting lost in museums, mountains, and malls. He spends his spare time obsessing about his next trip, usually to some remote corner of the world. He blogs about his adventures & misadventures on The Furious Panda.
28 Oct 2016