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Travel Guide > Asia > Thailand > Getting around

Getting Around Thailand By Songthaew, Tuk-tuk or Taxi

  
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Songthaew

A songthaew is a smallish truck with a pair of bench seats in the back, one on either side — hence the name, which means "two rows" in Thai. In English tourist literature, they're occasionally but misleadingly called "minibuses." Most have roofs and open sides; you'll get a bit wet in rainy weather, and obviously there's no air-conditioning. Songthaews function as local buses in places like Kanchanaburi, and also cover longer distances such as Thong Pha Phum to Sangklaburi. They're often the most economical way to travel shorter distances, but can get very crowded indeed. During peak hours you may have to stand at the back and hang on tightly!

If asking a songthaew to take you to someplace when's there's nobody in the back, check the price before boarding, as the driver might charge you the taxi rate. Generally, for short hops, you shouldn't pay more than 10 baht per person one-way. Often (but not always) children pay half fare.

Tuk-tuk

The name tuk-tuk is used to describe a wide variety of small/lightweight vehicles. The vast majority have three wheels; some are entirely purpose-built, while others are based on motorcycle components (same type of engine, steering, front suspension, fuel tank, and driver's seat). A relatively recent development is the four wheeled tuk-tuk (basically a microvan-songthaew) as found in Phuket.

Taxi

Metered taxis are ubiquitous in Bangkok and starting to become more popular in Chiang Mai, but rare elsewhere in the country. When available, they are an excellent means of transport. Insist on the meter being used; in Bangkok, almost every driver will do this as a matter of course, unless you're going on a long run, for instance to the airport. Beware of taxis which idle around touristy areas; they're looking for tourists who'll take their taxi without using a meter.

Motorcycle taxi

Motorcycle taxis are exactly what their name suggests: Motorcycles (usually around 150cc) which you can hire to take you to a destination of your choice. Obviously they can't take more than two people (or one person and some baggage) at a time. Because they're not metered, bargaining is sometimes required. In Bangkok and other major cities, motorycles taxis charge set amounts for popular runs (for example to the nearest BTS station). These standard charges are prominently posted in Thai at the street corners where motorcycle taxis wait for passengers. Short runs of 1km or so shouldn't cost more than about 20 baht.

Type of company: Tip
Location: Thailand







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