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Are Taxis Overcharging Gringos in Cuenca?

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

It seems that some expats in Cuenca are spreading some unusual Cuenca taxi rates online. Such as: the fixed $2 rate.

I hate to disappoint, but it doesn’t exist. There has never been, and never will be a fixed rate for a whole city.

Its bizarre even to think about it. Have you ever heard of that in any city, anywhere?


Now, officially, the taxis are supposed to have meters, and that’s a different story. The rates are usually determined by a standard rate.

For example, a taxi from Baños to the Cuenca Airport – on the other side of the city is usually $4. The return ride usually costs us $5 (sometimes $6 at night). Not a big deal.

Five years ago, a similar taxi ride in Toronto (airport to downtown) was running from $50-55 (sometimes metered, sometimes fixed rates. The white gloved limo drivers were often less at the fixed rate of $50 than the trashed compact taxi on the meter). So we pay it. We’ve taken it at least 50 times, so we know what the rate should be and that’s what we pay.

In the center, we’ve paid $1.50 and $2.00 a number of times, but these are pretty short rides. On a side note, my most expensive taxi ride in Ecuador was $10. I had bad directions and we got really lost in Quito. After almost an hour the driver asked for $10 (no meter).

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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.

12 comments… add one
  • suan Sep 28, 2015, 7:54 pm

    How much for a taxi from Quito airport to Marriott?

  • Dennis A Dec 29, 2013, 9:38 am

    I can see a lot of folks here have never lived in New York City (or travelled a lot) and not knowing how to deal with drivers. But first it’s good to be armed with the correct change. $1.50 day and $2.50 night for moi. On the long cross towns or extended trips (15 minutes) $2.00. Just hand it over and pop out. Just like NYC, they’re not getting out of their running taxi to chase you down. You’re paying a taxi driver folks, not negotiating a million dollar mortgage. This is not a big deal. DA

  • Jim May 29, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Just another update on taxi’s. We get info from Ecuadorians on taxi rates. From Monay area to Centro is $2 to $2.50. Some are trying to charge $3.50 but there is alway a few that have no problem with $2.50.

  • Brian May 29, 2012, 8:44 am

    Yes, I have heard of a fixed rate. We have a fixed rate here in the small town (25,000-ish people) of Frankfort, Kentucky! A Taxi will take you anywhere for $10, soon going to $12, they say.

    • Bryan Haines May 29, 2012, 9:12 am

      Nice! Thanks Brian, so I guess it does exist somewhere. Now that I think of it, the limos at the Toronto airport had a fixed rate of $50 to the downtown. But it was for a set departure and destination. Its a little harder to set fixed rate for large cities…

      I appreciate the comment.


  • Jim Apr 11, 2012, 12:45 pm

    So I just discovered an interesting little trick that some taxi drivers try to use. When you ask how much, they put of the number fingers, in my case today, he put up 4 fingers. When we got to my stop he said it was $5. Monay to Banos is a $3.50 fare. I agreed to $4. I did get my change, but not before he got nasty and tried to intimidate me. That was kind of funny to look back on it.

    So, just an FYI. Get them to tell you the amount in Spanish and they won’t be able to trip you up on miscounting fingers.

  • jason Apr 3, 2012, 1:10 am

    in tena, ecuador the fixed rate is $1 within the city (typically a 5-10 minute drive). the taxis in most smaller cities in ecuador charge $1.

  • Amanda Jan 15, 2012, 8:03 pm

    Can anyone tell me if there is a charge for additional people? Or, if it is a straight fee. Also, are there taxi vans for larger groups?

    • Bryan Haines Jan 15, 2012, 8:49 pm

      No charge for extra people – from 1 to 7 (or as many as you can cram in) costs the same. There are tourism vans, but cost more. They operate on an hourly or daily fee and need to be arranged in advance. You can hire a truck taxi and fill the back with people. Not very safe, but works great for moving lots of people.

  • Rose Jan 13, 2012, 10:16 pm

    In the Philippines it is illegal to have fixed rate if its with in the city limit. It makes the impression that taxi drivers are cheaters in Cuenca. Do we want to have a impression like that? Maybe the local tourism authorities can check on this! Tourism suffers and all that are benefiting from tourism for a few people who take advantage of tourist and expats.

  • Jim Jan 12, 2012, 12:11 pm

    I’ve been getting a few taxi’s charging me $2.50 to Centro. Most are charging $3.00 which I believe is high by Ecuadorian standards but I consider it fair. One recently charged me $4 to go across town, but it was night time, rainy and America’s was blocked off for construction. As for a $2 rate, yes, in Loja maybe but not Cuenca. Unless you’re just going from one side of Centro to the other side. I paid $1 and $1.50 in Loja for a short 2-3 km taxi trip.

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