India Auto Rickshaw Experience

Anyone who decides to travel to India has to ride in the country’s beloved auto rickshaw…at least once. Popularly known as a tuk tuk in Thailand, these 3 wheelers have been a part of India’s transportation system for decades.

As the 2nd-most populous country in the world, space is a luxury. And I will never forget the first time I saw at least 10 little children wearing their school uniforms sitting in, sitting on, hanging on, and layered inside 1 auto rickshaw, happily making their morning commute to school.

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PC: Getty Images

In all my trips to India I have had crazy auto rickshaw drivers, the ones that try to negotiate the fare even though there’s a meter, the nice ones, the quiet drivers and the curious drivers – when they realize we are from videsh (from the outside), and ask a lot of questions about the US and living abroad.

{Auto Rickshaw Etiquette}

  • Remember how Carrie Bradshaw used to yell “Taxi” on Sex and the City? Well, in India you yell, “Auto!”.
  • Don’t get into an auto whose meter isn’t working. Most of the time those drivers are trying to make more money than they would otherwise. But if you have the time and are intrigued, negotiate with the driver.
  • Autos charge based on distance traveled, so foreigners and travelers, especially people who don’t know the language nor routes – expect to be taken on the “scenic” route to your destination.
  • By law no more than 3 people are supposed to be seated in an individual rickshaw and if caught by the police you could be fined.
  • Tipping is not a thing.
  • Carry loose change (paisa) and notes (rupees). like taxi drivers in the US many either don’t or claim they don’t have change.

Have you ridden in an auto rickshaw in India? Tell us about it in the comments!

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