Did you ever wonder how and where the iconic Tuk Tuks of Bangkok were made? You see them everywhere and even if everyone thinks they overcharge and drive like mad, riding one is often on a traveller's 'List to Do in Bangkok'. Zipping through the streets with the wind in your hair is a good laugh, sometimes a nervous one, and the high pitch sound reminds of a mean little race car. To be fair, tuk tuks are great if you have to reach your destination in a rush as they navigate Bangkok like nothing else and manage to squeeze themselves through the traffic like a bike.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
You probably guessed that the name 'tuk tuk' comes from the sound of the spluttering engine first imported from Japan about 50 years ago. While today's engines still buzz around with this characteristic sound, they are a lot quieter, more efficient, and can run on LPG or even on electric power - but these are very rare.
They can be found everywhere and it's estimated that there are 35,000 of them cruising around the streets of Thailand, but in certain areas it seems like there are a lot more, always with lots of fun colourful lights and often blasting sound systems. So every visitor to Bangkok has seen a tuk tuk, but have you ever seen where they are built? We went out of our way to visit Khun Chett's small factory near Bangkok and see how it's done.
The workshop is not very large and would be really hard to find if it wasn't for the car park full of machines. Everywhere, just as you would expect, are tuk tuks at different stages of construction or decrepitude. The making is actually rather basic and old fashioned, primarily with lots of welding as chassis and steel bodies are made in the factory. Of course, it involves mechanics with 500 and 650 cc water cooled engines mostly with manual transmission but also with automatic transmission on request. The rest is extremely spartan and so resistant, it is said that in a case of collision with a car, a tuk tuk would barely get some scratches while your car would be wrecked. As much as we like to research everything first hand here at Bangkok.com, we'll have to take their word for that one.
If you have been around Thailand, you'll know there is more than one tuk tuk model in the country, depending on the region… the Bangkok version, called SPG3, is the best known, originally built from the Japanese Daihatsu Midget Model DA5 from 1957. The Phuket Tuk Tuk, often red, is a small Daihatsu converted truck. The cutest one is the Trang Tuk Tuk, originally a Midget MP4 also from Japan. It was first built in 1959 and is very art deco, reminding us a lot of a toaster from the sixties.
So can you buy one? You certainly can, and it would cost you 5,660 USD for a tuk tuk taxi and 6,350 USD for a hotel tuk tuk, but a special license is required which costs as much as the vehicle itself! (about 5,000 USD). Surprisingly it only takes seven days to build a standard vehicle… unless you want to customise it with an automatic transmission, safety belt, doors or even a sport version! Can you drive it around? Unfortunately, Thai government will not register any new tuk tuks for private use, but you can ask Khun Chett to ship your tuk tuk to your country in a container and if your country allows (some do) zoom around in the coolest vehicle in town.
Tuk Tuk Factory
- Address: Khun Chett Taikratoke, 183/118 Moo.8 Sukhapiban 1, Bangkae, Bangkok, Thailand 10160
- Tel: 08-1173-5992, 02-803-4209