Tips for hiring an auto-rickshaw in India

To explore any city in India one must be aware of the various modes of commutation that are available at hand. In most cities in India you would find the local state transport buses and hired cabs or taxis. In addition to these, larger cities such as Mumbai, there is the option for “local trains” and Kolkata has the “trams” while Delhi has the “metro“.

India for kids

However, the one mode of transport that is vital across most of India is the auto rickshaw. In fact, in cities and towns across the country, the black-yellow or the green-yellow rickshaws are the backbone of city transport. They are called “autos” by the locals. The seating capacity of a normal auto is 4, including the driver. There are also six-seater rickshaws in certain towns and cities. Normally their fare rates of these autos controlled by the government.

For a tourist, there are a few points to remember and bear in mind with regards to these widely used modes of conveyance. There are two kinds of auto rickshawspre-paid and post-paid. The pre-paid auto booths can usually be found outside railway stations, shopping complexes or popular destinations frequented by local and international tourists. In fact there are proposals of opening such booths in airports too along with pre-paid taxis.

Auto Rickshaw in India
Auto Rickshaw in India

The charges to destinations are fixed and you do not end up paying more due to faulty meters or shrewd drivers. However, the post-paid as opposed to pre-paid autos are more in number. They run on meters, so before boarding one you need to make sure it is down to zero. So if there are both pre-paid and post-paid autos available at a certain destination, the tip is always to go for the former.

Though more often than not, the rickshaw drivers are helpful, but there are always chances of some waiting just to take the tourists on a ride. So as always the golden rule is to appear confident and sure of oneself while hailing one.

In some cities, the auto rickshaws run on shared basis which has its own pros and cons. In case of shared auto rickshaws, the fares are cheaper though you would find these autos crammed full as opposed to the individually hailed ones.

Don’t be afraid to get one of these autos, they are great fun and is a lot cheaper than hiring a taxi. In Delhi, the charges are fixed by the operators of the auto-rickshaws of the Capital Territory of Delhi. The charges are supposed to be at Rupees 25/- for the first 2 kilometre and then Rupees 8/- for every kilometre thereafter. So make sure you ask the hotel reception about the distance of your desired destination.

If you can hire a pre-paid auto-rickshaw well and good if not then the golden rule is too check the metre is at zero, if not than get the fair fixed before taking the ride.

An auto rickshaw ride in Bangalore, India

[rectanglebox id=1]

20 thoughts on “Tips for hiring an auto-rickshaw in India”

  1. Hi Shalu,

    Pretty quiet here today, and I guess I am the first one to leave a comment on this one 🙂

    Yes, I wonder how our country would survive without autos, and even though there are buses, but they don’t reach to every corner of the city. Auto rickshaws are coming up in a great way, especially if they are the CNG ones, though not all places have it yet. The prepaid or postpaid ones are good options, though I feel both ways they make money from the passengers, so one’s to be careful.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend 🙂

  2. You are so right, auto ride is the most efficient and economical way to travel in cities in India. But negotiations can be a problem as most meters are faulty. One should try to get a prepaid wherever possible. Also for short distances if you do not have luggage shared autos are also worth trying as the rate is fixed though the journey is not very comfortable.

  3. Hi Shalu,

    You mentioned some good points about auto rickshaw in India, but would like to add one more point and I think its really essential one.

    There are very clever auto rickshaw drivers as well, if you don’t know the way of your destination they will take longer route so that they can charge you more.

    So I guess in today’s advanced world one should first check the roadmap via smartphone so that you can find if drive is going through shorter route or not.

    • You are right about some very clever auto drivers. In fact, something like this happens all the time and its worth checking the distance on you mobile or with the hotel. Thanks for your comment Pankaj.

  4. lot of good information.
    Pankaj as to the clever autorickshaw drivers, we all know clever people are every where and we have to guard against being cheated.
    There are many incidences where autorickshaw drivers have returned valuables and cash, have gone out of the way to help others.
    Shalu it would be good to mention that in 2 tier cities prices are not fixed such as being pre-paid.
    Good luck

    • You are right, there are lots of good auto drivers and not all of them are crooks. Smaller cities will not have fixed rated hence you will have to check at the hotel for prices. Thanks for your comment Shahinder.

  5. Nowadays There are traffic police available on many important places and you can also ask them to hire a auto at right fare. I used this trick at Mumbai airport recently and paid Rs 50 instead of Rs 200 which auto drivers were asking for a very short distance.

  6. In my opinion India is excellent coutry for travelling!
    Travel, accommodations, and food are rather cheap compared to other backpacking destinations in the world. There are many backpacking hostels, which are located in the most cities and which are a perfect place to meet other backpackers and make new friends. When traveling in India, you will not be able to enjoy air conditioning or hot showers at times, but the culture, authentic food and numerous tourist attractions make it worth it

  7. Nowadays There are traffic police available on many important places and you can also ask them to hire a auto at right fare. I used this trick at Mumbai airport recently and paid Rs 50 instead of Rs 200 which auto drivers were asking for a very short distance.


Leave a Comment

Holiday and Travel Guide to India