Wee Wheels: auto rickshaws now cruise Hungary’s capital
Photo : Budapest TukTuk Tumblr
16/7/2014, 8:49 AM●4-minute article
All over the world, auto rickshaws are popular (and often essential) modes of transport around big cities, but here in Budapest they’ve been a rare sight – until now. Thanks to Budapest TukTuk, passengers can climb aboard these tiny “canvas-covered motorcycles” for personalized and thematic tours, providing romantic, fast-paced, or cultural excursions as a more exciting alternative to ordinary sightseeing excursions. We tried and loved TukTuk.
Until now we did not have many chances to ride in these small vehicles in this part of the planet, and hailing one of the classic three-wheeled models made by Italy’s Piaggio was an even more infrequent occurrence, as the company is very protective of its unique product and did not want to spread it on the world market. However, this all changed beginning in March, when a few Hungarian friends visited a motorcycle exhibition – there they first laid eyes on Ape Calessino 200 TukTuk cruisers, and immediately started brainstorming: how could they bring these three-wheeled covered bikes to Budapest, and how could they make use of them? After long nights of thinking and planning, the first concept was born, and even though it’s been refined considerably since then, the young team used all of their free time to make Budapest TukTuk a reality.
At first the proprietors thought about making TukTuk a nighttime carriage service, because driving in the city with it can be a lot more exciting than riding in a taxi. However, they soon changed their mind: they wanted something offering additional services that could provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences in addition to the fun ride. They now show visitors around the city and give them a complete set of themed excursions, including wine tasting, sightseeing, dining, and lots of smiles.
Every TukTuk has its own driver and can carry up to two people at once – but we can also arrange for a TukTuk caravan, so there is no need to hesitate if we want to cruise with more than one of our friends. After setting up a partnership with a service called PocketGuide thatprovides great software for touring, Budapest TukTuk might soon be complemented by electronic sightseeing features through a tablet placed behind the driver’s seat.
Budapest TukTuk’s own application is still under development, but we can still book a tour through their website or by phone. There is a wide variety of tours, since they do not want to limit their passengers when it comes to possibilities. In addition to thematic programs including 90-150 minutes of cruising, food and drinks, they also offer more basic tours taking passengers from point A to point B, with pricing prorated by the minute. These latter excursions are called Breezy tours, where you can travel from one exciting location to another, or just from Buda to Pest; you name it. They are unbelievably speedy and cozy, so when we tried their services for a short ride, we wanted to hop back on immediately. These cruises are best on a sunny day or at sunset. Believe us, there are not many things cooler than to cross the Chain Bridge on a TukTuk, while looking like Audrey Hepburn with a headscarf and retro-style sunglasses.
Among their special tours, we can find ones that go through the most frequented areas of the city, while their “full-service” tours offer fine wines and foods alongside with popular party places and gastro points. The “Fresh air and scenic view” tour with Divino includes some wine tasting and a cheese platter (13,900 HUF), the Akvárium tour presents 150 minutes of sightseeing (21,900 HUF) with two bottles of wine from Aqua Bistro. The 360 Bar, Kolor, and Piknik Pavilon are all TukTuk points, and soon they will have a new tour with Telep, called Downtown Tour Only Street, which will start from Telep every two weeks and will let us discover the city’s most prominent street art points, workshops, and creative centers.
Moreover, the result of the cooperation between Ustream and Budapest TukTuk is the blue-and-white UTuk. The vehicle is connected to a Ustream channel, so we can broadcast wherever we go, and even share our experiences on Facebook or Twitter afterwards. The built-in camera is controlled by the passengers.
The tours in these red-and-while vehicles are available in 12 languages, and the drivers offer friendly service to every passenger. The company is looking forward to great success, as even the Hungarian tourism officials and Budapest’s city government support the Ape scooters. Their future plans include collaboration with the 2015 Spring Festival, supporting the Night of the Museums, and tours including contemporary art and culture spots.