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India Travel Tips: Getting a Rickshaw (“Tuk-tuk”)

An auto-rickshaw (sometimes referred to just as “auto”) is a kind of three wheeled taxi with no doors. It’s the cheapest form of transport for tourists (and locals) in India. Here are some tips for when you need a rickshaw:

  1. Ask your guest house/hotel receptionist what a fair price is for the journey you are about to take, before going to negotiate with a driver.
  2. Always agree the price of a  rickshaw at the start of a journey. Hopefully you won’t get into an “Honest Con” situation.
  3. Avoid going on the “meter”. They can take a long route without you knowing and charge you double what the journey should have cost.
  4. If there is a change of plans/direction during the journey, agree the new price before starting the detour. The last thing you want is a stand off.
  5. If you think someone is quoting too high, just look for another rickshaw nearby. Quite often they will call you back and cut the price to prevent the risk of losing you to another driver. It’s a very competitive game.
  6. Always haggle. As I mentioned in “Haggling tips for India“, try going in at 50% of the asking price as a starting point.
  7. Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. These rickshaws get pretty close to other road users… not to mention wandering street cows, camels and so on.
  8. Hold on tight! They certainly don’t like to take things slow.
  9. Have your camera at the ready (ideally have it strapped to your wrist though!). Some of the best snapping opportunities are when riding a rickshaw.
  10. Chat to your driver. It’s a good way to find yourself a local tour guide. If you like him (yes, it will always be a him), take his number and use him for day trips and city tours. It will be much cheaper than using a “proper” taxi.
  11. Don’t use a rickshaw for a “long” journey (i.e. more than 30 minutes). It might save money, but it will cost you time and a give you a sore bum.

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