Imagine taking to the open road behind the wheels of your very own Tuk-Tuk, carefully navigating the hills as you veer between rural landscapes, through bustling villages, from one attraction to the next. Nothing between you and the smells and sights of your surrounds, every bend revealing a new side of the countryside, all senses heightened, your hands tight on the handlebars, the wind in your hair. That is exactly the exhilarating experience the team at The Tuk Tuk Club is now offering.
Speaking to one of the owners Graham Weston, he says The Tuk Tuk Club was the result of much thinking and dreaming, as well as long chats between travel-loving friends with years of experience in the industry. They thought ‘surely it is possible to drive a Tuk Tuk around the mountains of Thailand’, and a few months later their custom-designed brightly coloured and rather luxurious Tuk-Tuks were ready for adventure and The Tuk Tuk Club was born. As was a new way to see the Thai countryside with a team that has a strong focus on giving back to the rather remote and very special areas that they visit on their itineraries.
Starting and finishing in the beautiful Mae Wang valley outside Chiangmai, The Tuk Tuk Club takes you on a journey through some of South East Asia’s most spectacular scenery, staying in small hotels each night and bringing you in touch with local communities. Ever rocked up to a market in your own Tuk Tuk? If not, you’ll love the reaction it will have when you do. Highlights include winding mountain roads, towering forests, elephants, waterfalls, fascinating villages, all topped off with a super comfy bed and great food every evening. While you do the driving.
A Day Out with The Tuk Tuk Club
Join them for a day out, which starts with a lesson in how to drive their adorable custom made tuk-tuks, before heading into the quiet roads of the Maewang countryside outside Chiangmai for a visit to the local temples for a blessing, before driving to the Maewang Elephant House to meet partner and friend Noom and learn more about his inspiring story.
Home to 5 elephants and brand new baby, Noom is from a family that has kept elephants for generations, working them initially in the surrounding jungles and then in the tourism industry, offering elephant back safaris. That was up until 18 months ago when he decided that he had to make a change for their sake, and took a giant leap of faith in the spirit of doing the right thing and stopped all those activities to retire his elephants to a life of relaxed play and special care as family and friends.
It is a pleasure to hear the impact this has had on him personally, as well as how much happier the elephants are now. After an introduction and lunch you will walk down to the river together and watched them at play in the water. After a swim with the elephants, you’ll jump on your bamboo raft and float gently down the river enjoying a different perspective and cooling off in the water, before driving yourself back to Base Camp. An incredible day that will leave you with a happy adventure-filled heart.
This trip runs nearly every day of the year and is for everybody, if you don’t want to drive you can share a Tuk-Tuk with somebody who does. Take a bathing suit if you’d like to swim with the elephants and something to change into afterwards.
The 11-Day Overland Adventure
Should you wish to have a more immersive experience, the 11 day adventure starts at the same base camp where you’ll learn how to drive your Tuk Tuk, have a Temple blessing for the journey ahead and spend some time with Noom’s elephants. From there the journey will take you into Northern Thailand as you head off the beaten track on your drive South towards Bangkok.
The average stay on this routing is Chiang Mai for 3 nights, Bangkok for 3 nights and then 5 nights on an island, taking your Tuk Tuk with you. Highlights include mountains and forests, culture, food, rafting, rice paddies, meeting local farmers and the opportunity to see a more authentic Thailand with time in Mae Wang, the Doi Inthanon National Park, Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son and Pai.
This is perfect for any traveller who wants to see Thailand from a different perspective and take part in this sort of overland travel in. Accommodation is in good quality guesthouses, the team guides you throughout and most meals and activities are included. There is also a support van for luggage and extras.
Do connect with The Tuk Tuk Club as they plan on launching a five-day tour too, which may suit those with less time in Thailand. Learn more on their incredibly comprehensive website https://www.thetuktukclub.com/ and follow them on Facebook and Instagram for further inspiration. A unique, ingenious way to enjoy the surrounds and the most fun you will have on three wheels.
* This is part of my StayHomeTravelLater – KeepDreamingAboutTravel collective, posted as the world tackles the COVID-19 pandemic. Read my other posts on Thailand.