A Comprehensive Guide to Tuk Tuk in Cambodia for TravellersTravelling in and around the important cities of Cambodia is best done in a tuk tuk. If you don’t know what a tuk tuk is, then let’s begin with a small introduction about this vehicle, which plies in almost all South-East Asian countries. The tuk tuk in Cambodia is a three-wheeled vehicle that essentially runs on a two-stroke engine. It’s not a very powerful vehicle, as its maximum speed is generally around 50 or 60 km per hour (30-37 mph). Tuk tuk in Cambodia is mostly used as a form of public transport, hired mostly by people to travel short distances within the cities.
For travellers in Cambodia who have never had the opportunity to experience what it feels like riding around in a tuk tuk, it’s a great way to get to know the country, its culture and its people. Over the course of this article, we will focus on what you have to do to have a great tuk tuk experience in Cambodia.
Negotiating with the Tuk Tuk DriverIf you are in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city, you would find tuk tuks lined up on every other street corner. Getting a tuk tuk in Cambodia is very easy. However, negotiating with the drivers is also an important aspect that many travellers and tourists forget about. Remember, whenever the tuk-tuk drivers see tourists, they begin to get a whiff of money.
It’s obvious that you will not get rates as reasonable as locals do. However, if you are sensible in your negotiations, you can still get a decent bargain on the first price, which usually is exorbitant, even for short distances. It’s important that you finish off all negotiations and decide on a price before the ride begins. It’s difficult to bargain after a ride is done and dusted.
If the driver does not budge from his asking price for tuk tuk in Cambodia, just walk away. If the price you offer is actually fair, the sensible ones will call you back and take you to your destination without any fuss and bother.
Points to Remember• Negotiate before every ride
• Walk away and find another tuk tuk if the driver refuses to negotiate
Get Familiar with the Pagodas and MarketsThe Pagodas and markets in Cambodian cities are not just culturally significant. They also serve as important landmarks. In Cambodia, the geographical knowhow of the tuk tuk drivers is a stark contrast to that of drivers in western countries. If you ask them to take you to a specific address on some street, you may just get a blank stare in return.
The best thing to do is to use your smart devices and their GPS facilities to figure out where all the pagodas and marketplaces are. In this way, you can simply tell the name of the pagoda or market nearest to your destination to the tuk tuk driver.
Points to Remember• Don’t mention specific destination names
• Get familiar with nearest pagodas and marketplaces
• Tell tuk tuk drivers the name of the pagoda or marketplace nearest to your destination
Learn Basic Commands and Expressions in KhmerEven if you visit Cambodia for a short vacation, you should put in some effort to learn the Khmer language. Well, you don’t have to learn all of it. Just basic commands and expressions should be enough to communicate with the drivers. While the drivers would still know that you are a tourist, they seem to be a bit generous towards outsiders trying to speak their language.
If you use Khmer, you can get a much better deal for a tuk tuk in Cambodia than if you use any other language. Khmer is not just important for deals; it also helps if you need to give directions to drivers. If the driver is not familiar with your destination, you can simply see the directions on your smartphone and instruct the driver on where to go.
Read More: 5 Best Cambodia Markets for Shopaholics
Points to Remember• Learn basic commands, expressions and phrases in Khmer for better tuk tuk deals
• Use those expressions to give instructions to drivers
Book a Tuk Tuk through an AppInternationally, brands like Uber have made headlines for revolutionizing taxi bookings. Now, you can book tuk tuk in Cambodia in the same way. All you need to do is download an app. Pass App Cambodia is the most widely used app in this regard and this locally-developed app is a boon for tourists.
If you book a tuk tuk in Cambodia through this app, the app itself will figure out the prices depending on the distance to be covered and also the demand. This eliminates the need for haggling with drivers and also giving them instructions with regards to directions as the drivers are provided locations on their app sponsored smart devices.
While not as popular as Uber yet, this form of tuk tuk booking is becoming more and more popular in prominent Cambodian cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Points to Remember• Use apps such as Pass App Cambodia to book tuk tuks through your smartphone
• Booking through such apps saves you time and energy that you would otherwise spend negotiating
Safety of Tuk Tuk Travel in CambodiaRiding around in a tuk tuk in Cambodia is not very unsafe, as most tuk tuk drivers are very careful about speeding, especially in congested areas. However, over the years, robbery has been an issue faced by tourists. As tuk tuks leave you exposed, it’s very easy for thieves to snatch away belongings. So it’s best to be careful and keep an eye out for your belongings.
Tuk tuk travel in and around Cambodia can be really fun. Here’s hoping that you too enjoy one of Cambodia’s most favourite modes of transport.