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Are Cuenca Taxis Safe … for a Single Foreign Woman?

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Ecuador Travel, Living in Ecuador

We recently had a reader ask:

Is it safe to take a taxi from the airport into town in Cuenca.  We will be two women traveling alone.

Yes, taxis are safe. My wife travels by herself and with our little girl. I’ve never heard anything (ever) about taxi problems. There are taxis that the locals call pirates. This means they don’t have a taxi license – not that they are unsafe.

We have used the “pirates” without having to walk the plank… But if you want to be extra safe, just get in a licensed taxi. You won’t have any trouble.

As a family, we took taxis in Cuenca all the time (up until we bought our own car). At first we were concerned both about safety and just getting to where we wanted to go. Not speaking Spanish certainly presents some challenging situations.

We got over the first concern months before the second. In fact, my young, beautiful wife took taxis alone, and with our young daughter frequently and after the first couple of times she was completely relaxed.


How We Avoid Feeling Unsafe in a Taxi

We used the same company. In our case, the company was called Imbabura who had their stand near our home (at the intersection of Via Baños and Avenida de las Americas).

We had their number programmed into our cell phones – and they had our cell numbers programmed into their computer system so they knew just where we lived. It saved time and made us feel very comfortable.

We’ve used taxis hundreds of times in Cuenca and never had a problem  – aside from the occasional overcharging…

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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Travel.

6 comments… add one
  • Beth Gray Jul 25, 2013, 11:14 am

    I have been in Ecuador since June 23rd. First in Quito then in Cuenca. I have
    been drinking the tap water and walking all over Cuenca. I took a bus trip to
    Manta and got sick there, but I have had not problem since. It is wonderful to
    me how many Ecuadorans and expats greet me while walking. I smile at most of the
    people who are looking at me and they smile back, and sometimes we talk awile.
    A nice man and I had quite a chat while walking along one of the rivers he spoke
    some English and I spoke some Spanish. It was fun.

  • Jan Hunsinger Nov 29, 2011, 12:07 pm

    I am a single foreign woman….California, age 64. Yes, Cuenca taxis are safe. The worst that has happened is someone tries to overcharge a dollar or so. I even got home at 3 a.m. from a bus ride from Quito and had a safe ride home.

  • Mark Nov 29, 2011, 12:01 pm

    I wouldn’t use the un-licensed taxis. My wife lived in Cuenca for 20 years and her and her sister have always used the same strategy you wrote about in your article. They always called the same taxi service, just to be safe but also so that they could get a quote on the price of the trip beforehand. Even when she has to take a taxi without calling, it’s always licensed and she always negotiates the price.

    Cuenca taxi drivers and all commercial drivers in Cuenca have a long training program at the Taxi School, which is located on Solano across from the Banco Pinchincha. Somebody told me they take classes for over 6 months. That being said the licensed taxi drivers in my experience are very professional in Cuenca

  • Dena Haines Nov 29, 2011, 10:23 am

    Good points Jim. Something else that helped us at first, was carrying around a little map of where our apartment was located in relation to main streets and landmarks. It was a lot easier for the driver to find where we needed to get back to when he could just look at the map, instead of trying to understand our ugly Spanish 🙂

  • Jim Nov 29, 2011, 8:54 am

    We have certainly found Cuenca taxis safe. Sometimes you have to tell the driver to slow down which if you can’t speak Spanish well can be done with some hand gestures. It helps to learn left, right and straight in Spanish and it really helps if you know where you are going, street names, land marks etc.

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