A taxicab, taxi or cab is, in most cases, a comfortable method for door-to-door transport. While taxi often is an expensive way of getting around, in low-income countries with bad public transport, hiring a taxi for a whole day of sightseeing can be a practical option, even for daytrips around a region.
If you speak the local language, a conversation with the driver can give inside information of the neighbourhood, not provided by guidebook.
Hints for riding a taxi
- Get information for local taxi regulation: Each country and city has different regulation for taxi travel.
- Have the destination address written down in local language: Drivers might not be fluent in your language.
- Follow local customs for tipping: While tipping is expected in some places (most low-income countries as well as the USA), it can be refused in other parts of the world (such as Japan).
- Be aware of traffic conditions: During rush hour and special events, taxi travel might be a worse choice than urban rail.
- Be aware of taxi scams:
- If possible have a rough idea of where you are going and what is the fastest way to get there. Dishonest taxi drivers sometimes make unnecessary detours in order to charge higher prices.
- If there is no meter in your taxi or meters aren't used in your destination-country agree on a fare before entering the cab, as once you are in the cab your bargaining power is severely limited if not gone entirely
- In places where haggling is common and taxis don't use meters expect to bargain for a fare.
- "Pirate taxis" are usually a bad idea as the small amounts of money they might save you are not worth the (sometimes significant) risk of theft, abduction, or worse. If a taxi-driver doesn't have a license, they can't lose it as a punishment for criminal behavior, thereby a taxi-license discourages criminal activity somewhat.
- If you are staying in a place with good public transit using it might often work out to be not only cheaper but faster as well.
- Many city-centers are entirely walkable and if you aren't mobility impaired a two or three kilometer stroll is entirely doable in a day. Also walking is a great way to get to know a place and you can simply enter any interesting shops, restaurants or museum you might pass without the driver having to look for (often scarce) inner-city parking space.
- In more and more places, cycling is the best way to go short to medium distances and several cities around the world have implemented bike-sharing programs that are a great alternative for visitors as well as locals
- Taxis are most frequently used for getting to/from airports. Look around, if there really is no public connection / shuttle service of any kind, you may ask whether your hotel offers pick up / drop off service. This is sometimes free to encourage you to stay at their hotel and more often than not cheaper than a taxi. In Europe and increasingly East Asia an airport without a rail or urban rail connection is a rare sight indeed. Even notorious no frills airports like Hahn nowadays at least have a bus connection, that is sometimes even bookable through the airline website (usually not the cheapest way)
- If you are staying in a place for a longer time or plan to go on a road-trip anyway consider renting a car.