If you are just learning Spanish, what is the best way to handle taxis in Cuenca?
There have been some claims that taxi drivers overcharge Gringos – and in some cases that might be the case. But generally, we haven’t found that to be true. It seems that more often than not, people just don’t know what the real rate is.
How to Pay the Local Taxi Rate in Cuenca
Given that Cuenca taxis don’t use meters you are limited as to the ways to know what the local rate is.
Really, there are just two options:
- You can learn by trial and error. After taking a few hundred taxis you’ll learn what the rates should be. Sometimes you’ll overpay, other times you may be given a deal (don’t laugh – it has happened to us a number of times) but the majority of the time you’ll pay the real rate. We have had great success with the taxistas (taxi drivers) here in Cuenca. Sometimes, they’ll even get in their car, realize the ride should have been just $2.50 and they’ll get out to give me back my $0.50.
- You can ask first. Before you get in, ask the driver how much to your location. Or ask a reliable (and experienced) friend what the rate should be. If its close, pay it. If you think it should be $2 and they ask for $2.50 pay it. We’ve heard crazy stories of non-spanish speaking gringos throwing fits and slamming doors on taxis (not taken lightly – many have signs requesting that you close slowly / carefully) because the driver asked for $0.50 more than this inexperienced foreigner thought it should be.
Would we do that back home? $0.50??? Really? Its little wonder why some of the taxi drivers try to get a little more from foreigners after being treated like that. On a side note: in this case, the taxi ride was actually a $2.50 ride. We’ve paid that many times.
Now I’m not advocating overpaying, or paying the famed gringo tax, but don’t be a cheapskate and actually rip them off either. I know how we would all feel if anyone refused to pay our business the standard rate – and then told us off on top of it.
It’s true that there are some cheap holiday deals to be found when traveling to South America. And taxis are no exceptions. But it’s good to know what the real rates are – keeps us from embarrassing ourselves.