Posted by: Heather | February 25, 2008

Tuk Tuk or Songethaw?

Ao Nang, Thailand

Moving around in Thailand is not as simple as jumping in a car (a moving motorcycle crusher) or walking to the nearest beach. Here are your options:

Motos (Motorcycles): There is limited parking for cars- motorcycles dominate the street traffic. For $3.00 a day, you can risk your life and limbs and navigate side-to-side disregarding all traffic rules by renting your own.


Driving on the left is prominent, but if you choose to go the opposite direction or cross two lanes of traffic, it’s OK. Instead of waiting bumper-to-bumper in traffic, you get a “get out of jail free card” and can move to the front of the line by weaving between cars. When the light turns green, you are the first to go.

Motorbikes don’t limit you to what you can carry. The average is 2-3 people on one motorbike…we often see four and have seen five a couple of times. Regardless of your age, you can drive.


A 2-year-old standing on the seat “holding on” to daddy is not uncommon, nor is strapping 4 mattresses behind you on the seat. This was the most clever thing we saw for a baby. Normally, they are balanced on the handle bars.



If you don’t have a motorbike or don’t have the renegade spirit, you can jump on the back of someone else’s and negotiate a fare. Everyone wants to make a little extra money. There are no credentials required. The locals love a blond on the back of their bikes and rates tend to be cheaper than when your husband joins you.

Moto Tuk-Tuks: Welcome to the “I’m a tourist” mode of transportation. A covered sidecar attached to a motorcycle is delicately balanced as it moves through traffic. If more than two people get in at once, they must be strategically placed to “balance” it.


Rates are generally double that of motorbikes, but a much “cooler” looking ride. The fancy tuk-tuks may be bright red or they may be bright pink.


Regardless, you do stand out when you are riding through traffic as if you are screaming, “I’m a tourist. They pimped my ride.”

Songathews: This is a more budget form of transportation. The question is “Are you going in our direction?” If you are, hop onto our truck with a covered roof and two benches.


Bang on the window or the side of the truck when you want to stop. There are still “local” versions of these trucks. The words on the side painted in Thai keep the clueless tourists away since they are looking for the trucks with words painted in English. Jump on a local version and don’t ask the rate, otherwise you may find it triple the price. Jump on and off without a word and feel like you are a part of society. The wooden benches can be quite rough on the bum, but you will get to where you want to go cheaply and eventually as long as time is not a factor.

The Really Local Truck: One, you must be a local. Two, you never know where the truck is going. Generally locals pile-in and take these to and from work (that is if they don’t live on site- a common practice).


By foot: You generally can walk just about anywhere in a matter of time if you have two liters of water and are prepared to sweat in the 95 degree heat in the middle of the day. You do risk being accosted by moto and tuk-tuk drivers every 30 steps. “Taxi?” “Taxi?”

By Water: Do you want a ride to the uninhabited island across the way? You need a boat? Jump in our wooden slat, ready to tip over water vehicle by climbing over the side and our noisy motor on a pole will get you there.



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