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20 Interesting Fun Facts About Tuk Tuks You May Not Know!

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Tuk-tuk is one of those modes of transportation that many tourists love when they see tourist sites in areas with tuk-tuks available for hire. Whenever we go to Cambodia, we will hire a Tuk-tuk for the day to take us around town and even drive us to the airport.

Some of the 20 interesting, fun facts about the Tuk-tuks are that they are not the first three-wheeled vehicle, but they were designed as motorized rickshaws, so in many places, they were called auto-rickshaws. Even today Tuk-tuks around the world not only transport people around but also transport goods or are used as service vehicles. Many of the newer models are not E-Tuks or electric Tuk-tuks.

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Tuk-tuk Cambodia
A smaller version of the Tuk-tuk on the streets of Cambodia.

20 Interesting Tuk-Tuk Facts:

Fact 1 – The Tuk-tuk is not the first three-wheeled vehicle.

The Tuk-tuk is not the first three-wheeled vehicle. In 1934 Japan started to export three-wheeled vehicles to Thailand. This was not a Tuk-tuk as you know it today, but more like a three-wheeled truck.

In 1947 Corradino D’Ascanio, an aircraft designer at Piaggio and the inventor of the Vespa, came up with a new invention to build a light three-wheeled commercial vehicle. He built this with Italy’s post-World War II reconstruction in mind, so there was an easy and economical way to carry goods around cheaper than a larger vehicle.

Fact 2 – Another name for the Tuk-tuk is the Auto Rickshaw.

Another name for the tuk-tuk was the Asian rickshaw because the tuk-tuk as a vehicle to carry passengers and goods was inspired by an actual Asian Rickshaw. It used to be a person who would pull another person in a rickshaw, but then a motor was put on the back of the rickshaw to allow a driver to pull the passengers in a wagon. This was the start of the Tuk-tuk for passengers to travel in.

Fact 3 – Tuk Tuks or Auto Rickshaws are found around the world.

Tuk-tuks can be found around the world. No doubt Thailand and now Cambodia is also famous for having Tuk-tuks. Thailand has become a significant exporter of Tuk-tuks around the world. But there are still many versions of the three-wheeled vehicle around the world.

Here is a list of places with a three-wheeled light vehicle or a tuk-tuk: Egypt, Gaza, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Cambodia. China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, France, Italy, United Kingdom, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, and Iraq, to name a few.

Fact 4 – The US at one time had a vehicle similar to a tuk-tuk

In the 1950s and 1960s, the United States Postal Service used a three-wheel vehicle called the Westcoaster Mailster to deliver mail. This small vehicle could haul up to 500 pounds of mail.

In 1966, about 17,700 Westcoaster Mailsters were operating around the United States. There were also other smaller vehicles for parking enforcement and other applications. Though not the same as the tuk-tuk, it is quite similar in that it has three wheels.

Fact 5 – The name comes from the sound the Tuk-tuk makes.

The name Tuk-tuk comes from the sound that the Tuk-tuk makes. If you have ever been in a tuk-tuk, you can easily realize that the Tuk-tuk can make some popping or other sounds when it starts up or at other times. So this is where the name tuk-tuk came from. In Egypt, the tuk-tuks are called to toks.

Grab Tuk-tuk Cambodia
In Cambodia, Grab – a service like Uber or Lyft, also has Tuk-tuks

Fact 6- Newer versions are constantly emerging.

Newer versions of the Tuk-tuk are constantly emerging. On a recent trip to Cambodia, we saw many newer versions of the Tuk-tuks on the streets. Our driver, still in an older version of the Tuk-tuk, told us that the new Tuk-tuk cost was about 4,000 USD, which was a lot of money for many present-day Cambodian Tuk-tuk drivers.

Fact 7 – Drivers can use their carts as also a way to take a nap or sleep

Many Tuk-tuk drivers in poorer areas can use their Tuk-tuks to nap or sleep. I have seen drivers hang hammocks on their Tuk-tuk to take afternoon naps.

Fact 8 – You can fit 2 American adults and two bicycles in a larger tuk-tuk.

Many may think that tuk-tuks are too small to carry much, but we have fit two American adults and two bicycles in a larger Tuk-tuk in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We were on our way to the Cambodia Bike4Kids Race, and we used a Tuk-tuk to help transport us and our bikes.

If you want to learn more about the Cambodia Bike4Kids Ride or cycling around Angkor Wat, you can read Why Every Cyclist Should Ride Around Angkor Wat? by clicking here.

Fact 9 – Tuk Tuks are a great way to transport goods around

The original tuk-tuks were all about being able to transport goods around town using a three-wheeled lightweight vehicle. Today, in many parts of the world, this is still very true as tuk-tuks are used for passenger travel, transporting other goods, and providing other services. Some of them are even turned into food trucks to sell food.

Fact 10 – You need to know the local prices, or you may get overcharged.

Tuk-tuk drivers, especially those in mainly tourist areas with no meters on the Tuk-tuk, are notorious for overcharging foreigners who do not know or understand their transport’s fair price. To ensure you do not get overcharged, it is best to understand the fair price you pay for your Tuk-tuk ride.

Fact 11- Tuk Tuks have become a kind of protest vehicle in Bagdad.

In a CNN segment, they spoke of how the Tuk-tuk has been used in the frontline protest again the government in Bagdad, Iraq. You can watch the CNN segment on How the three-wheeled carts have become protest symbols by clicking here,

Fact 12 – Lisbon, Portugal, is the self-proclaimed E-Tuk Capital of Europe.

Lisbon, Portugal, has self-proclaimed itself the E-Tuk Capital of the world as their tuk-tuks are now electric and pollution-free. They have E-Tuk tours that you can take around Lisbon. To find out more about these E-Tuk tours, click here.

Fact 13 – Many newer models in Cambodia are using LPG fuels.

Though many of the Tuk-tuks in Cambodia are not electric, most are burning a cleaner gas known as an LPG gas. When driving around the city, you can see LPG stickers on the back of many of the Tuk-tuks to show they are using LPG gas.

Fact 14 – Driving a Tuk-Tuk is a way for many to earn their livelihood.

When driving around in a Tuk-tuk, many of us may forget that this is the only way for many drivers to earn an income. Having spoken to many Tuk-tuk drivers in Cambodia, I know they may have come from low-income families, so they had no chance to attend high school and much less college. For them to own and operate their small business of having a Tuk-tuk helps them and their families.

Fact 15 – A Tuk-tuk is a great way to see a city.

Tuk-tuks offer a great way to see a city up close and personal. It is much more interesting to be in an open car and to be able to see the sights, sounds and even smells of a city than to be in a closed vehicle. I realize that many prefer a closed vehicle, but to see a city, it is best to always see it up close and personal, like in a Tuk-tuk.

Advertising on Tuk-tuks,. Cambodia
Many Tuk-tuks have advertising on them in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Fact 16- You can buy a Tuk-tuk in America.

E-Tuk now has dealers in America that are selling E-Tuks across the USA. These E-Tuks are 100% electric and can charge in as little as 3 hours. They are made in America and have a zero-carbon footprint.

The E-Tuks are now in 32 states and 86 cities but are not yet in every state and city. Since Tuk-tuks are open and not closed vehicles, they are usually better suited for warmer instead of colder climates or used mainly in the summertime in some areas of the United States.

Fact 17 – Tuk-tuks are now street-legal in the USA

As of 2015, E-Tuks is now legal in the streets in the United States. The E-Tuks made by E-Tuks in Colorado could pass all the USA standards to allow them on the streets.

Also, since they are 100% Electric vehicles, they can be used in indoor spaces.

Fact 18 – Tuk-tuks can go very fast.

Matt Everard from England has recently set a new world record for how fast a Tuk-tuk can go. His Tuk-tuk was timed on a track at the Elvington Airfield near York, England. His Tuk-tuk was able to go 74.306mph (119.583 kph). As part of the requirement, he had to have a passenger in the back, so his cousin, Russell Shearman, volunteered to be his passenger.

Matt Everard says he purchased the 1971 Bangkok-modeled Tuk-tuk one night after being drunk as he was so impressed with a recent Tuk-tuk ride he had in Bangkok, Thailand. Since then, he has spent countless hours working on the vehicle and getting it ready to go at higher speeds than originally made for.

Matt Everard is now in the Guinness World Record books, having had the fastest Tuk-tuk in the world. You can read the article by the BBC entitled Tuk-tuk world land speed record holder ‘over the moon by clicking here.

Fact 19 – Riding in a Tuk-tuk is just plain fun.

Most people who have ridden around in a Tuk-tuk will tell you that riding in a Tuk-tuk is just plain fun. Part of it is that it is a great way to see a city, and part is that Tuk-tuks are a bit like riding a motorcycle, but you are the passenger in the back.

Fact 20 – Some Tuk-tuks can flip over.

Many may ask how safe a Tuk-tuk is and if it can flip over. In most Asia cities, I have ridden tuk-tuks. Tuk-tuks generally do not go very fast, so they are relatively safe. But I was also in a Tuk-tuk in Bangkok, Thailand, that did flip over. I was not hurt, and the driver was not hurt, but it was scary to be in an open vehicle that flipped over.

But taking this into account, I have also been in cars that have flipped and motorbikes that I have fallen off. The truth is that sometimes, we need to live our lives and not live them in fear. Despite my experience flipping in the Tuk-tuk, I still ride Tuk-tuks today.

Riding in a Tuk-tuk, Cambodia
When riding in a Tuk-tuk, it is safest to hold securely on to your belongs, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Tuk-tuks are an enjoyable way to go around town. They are a great way to see the sites and an excellent way to take in some of the local cultures of the places you visit. So when you are out there riding in your Tuk-tuk, it is always fun to know just a bit more about this three-wheeled mode of transportation that can also be called the auto-rickshaw.

Additional Interest Facts About Tuk-Tuks

What are some tips for riding in a Tuk-tuk?

When riding in a Tuk-tuk in most places in the world, here are a few tips to make your ride more enjoyable and safe:

  1. Be prepared to haggle for the price – You will need to haggle in most places in the world and for most Tuk-tuk rides. Depending on what we are doing with the Tuk-tuk, we may not haggle as hard as other times if I know the driver. But know the fair price you should be paying for the ride.
  2. Beware of scams – Many Tuk-tuk drivers may have a deal for cash payments or commission for certain shops or restaurants. Be aware of this, especially in a touristy area. I usually refuse what they suggest unless I know it is a good suggestion.
  3. Avoid rush hour – If you are in a highly polluted city, which is like a lot of the cities around the world, especially in Asia, you may want to try to avoid a Tuk-tuk in rush hour as all you may do is sit in traffic with car exhaust being blown in your face and getting into your hair and eyes.
  4. Keep your belongings safe – In many parts of the world, a motorcycle driver may approach your Tuk-tuk, grab your bag, and then drive off. It is almost impossible to catch up and find them at that point. Sometimes, your Tuk-tuk driver may be working with these thieves. So when we travel in a Tuk-tuk, we hold onto our bags and usually wear our backpacks on our front side to ensure they are secure and safe. As you are in an open vehicle, you must be aware of this and keep your eyes out for these robbers.

What is the difference between an E-Tuk and a Tuk-tuk?

An E-Tuk is a term that is now used for an electric Tuk-tuk. These E-Tuks are all-electric 3-wheeled vehicles that have a zero-emissions footprint. A Tuk-tuk is similar to an E-Tuk in that it is also a three-wheeled vehicle, but Tuk-tuks are usually run on gas or LPG gas and are not all-electric vehicles like the E-Tuk.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the term “Tuk-tuk”?

The term “Tuk-tuk” is derived from the sound that these vehicles make, resembling the popping noise produced when starting or during operation. In Egypt, they are referred to as “to toks.”

Are Tuk-tuks only found in Asia?

No, Tuk-tuks can be found worldwide. Countries like Thailand, Cambodia, India, China, and others are well-known for their Tuk-tuk usage, but they are also present in places like South Africa, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

What is the connection between Tuk-tuks and auto-rickshaws?

Tuk-tuks are essentially motorized rickshaws and are commonly known as auto-rickshaws in many places. The concept was inspired by traditional Asian rickshaws, which were initially pulled by a person and later motorized for greater efficiency.

Can you buy a Tuk-tuk in the USA?

Yes, E-Tuks, which are electric Tuk-tuks, are now available for purchase in the USA. These vehicles are street-legal and have gained popularity in various states and cities.

What is the significance of Tuk-tuks in protests?

Tuk-tuks have been used as symbolic vehicles in protests, such as in Baghdad, Iraq. They have become a unique form of expression and a means of resistance against the government.

How fast can a Tuk-tuk go?

The world record for the fastest Tuk-tuk speed is 74.306mph (119.583 kph), set by Matt Everard in England. This demonstrates that Tuk-tuks are capable of reaching surprisingly high speeds.

Are Tuk-tuks safe?

Generally, Tuk-tuks are considered safe due to their moderate speeds. However, there have been instances of Tuk-tuks flipping over, emphasizing the importance of cautious driving. It’s advisable to secure belongings during the ride.

How are Tuk-tuks used for livelihood?

For many drivers, operating a Tuk-tuk is their primary source of income. In places like Cambodia, where drivers may come from low-income backgrounds, owning and operating a Tuk-tuk becomes a vital means of supporting themselves and their families.

What are some tips for riding in a Tuk-tuk?

Be prepared to haggle for the price, be cautious of scams, avoid rush hour for a more enjoyable ride, and keep your belongings safe, as open vehicles may be susceptible to theft.

What is the difference between a Tuk-tuk and an E-Tuk?

An E-Tuk refers to an electric Tuk-tuk. While Tuk-tuks can run on gas or LPG, E-Tuks are all-electric vehicles with zero emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability.

What Is Having a Social Conscience?

Having a social conscience is about being concerned about society’s problems or injustices or simply caring about those less fortunate. Many worldwide suffer from extreme poverty by living on less than 1.9 USD daily.

This is why we all must seek ways to have a social conscience and help those less fortunate. The gender that suffers the most in the world is women and girls. This is why at Mondoro, we seek to find ways to work with small women-based enterprises for our manufacturing needs.

You can discover more by reading Having a Social Conscience, What Everyone Should Know by clicking here.

How Does Poverty Affect Children’s Education?

Children struggling with poverty usually have a more challenging time with education. This lack of education can lead to lifelong struggles and poverty, so education for children is essential.

There are many ways that education can help a child, such as with their nutritional needs, health, disease control, gender equality, and helping the children eventually break out of the poverty cycle.

You can learn more by reading How Does Poverty Affect Children’s Education? Helping Students in Vietnam by clicking here.

Anita Hummel
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