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The Best (and Worst) Countries for Cheap Taxi Rides

With rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft taking over, you might be wondering where in the world it’s still possible to take a cheap taxi. Cabs aren’t dead, yet: These countries still heavily rely on them.

And keep in mind that where there are cheap taxis, there’s often a comparable competing rideshare. A look at the cheapest countries for taxis could also have some insight into where you can and should be using a rideshare service—and the most expensive places for a taxi are where you should consider relying only on public transit.

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Top 10 Countries for Cheap Taxi Rides

A three-mile taxi ride in Egypt, the top country for a cheap taxi, costs under one U.S. dollar. That’s according to a report by Taxi2Airport.com, which analyzed 2019 data from Taxi-Calculator.com. The  top 10 countries for cheap taxi fare are:

  • Egypt
  • India
  • Thailand
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Turkey
  • China
  • Argentina
  • Vietnam

expensive and cheap taxi fares worldwide.

Countries with the Most Expensive Taxis

At the other end of the scale, the most expensive rate by far is in Switzerland, where a three-mile trip costs an astonishing $25. Other expensive countries have rates ranging from $11 to $17.50, with the next most expensive countries being Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, and Sweden.

Basically, that means most Western European countries plus Japan are not home to cheap taxis. While the tabulation did not include U.S. data, similar reports on taxi prices have come to about the same conclusion about taxi pricing across the globe in recent years.

The Takeaway

I’ve always been wary of country-by-country cost comparisons, but relative taxi costs are a bit different: They may not influence your choice of destination, but they do influence your choice about how to get around in a destination you visit. I experienced this effect a few years ago in China, where I found that taxi fares are so low you can pretty much forget about public transit. While public transit is good in China, the hassles of coping with crowds made taxis an easy choice. On the other hand, in Western Europe and in Japan it’s a good idea to stick to trams, metros, and any suburban rail services.

And although taxis are nominally very cheap in many countries, drivers can and do take advantage of tourists. Just about everybody recommends negotiating a price—or at least reliance on a functioning meter—before you get into a cab. And even then you have to watch out for circuitous routes, or, as some call it, “taking you for a ride.” That practice is not limited to developing countries, either: New York cabs are notorious for adding a couple of miles to a LaGuardia trip by taking the Triborough Bridge rather than a more direct tunnel, and Las Vegas taxis routinely take a long way out of the airport to the Strip.

The report does not include other non-taxi options ranging from Uber to pre-booked independent car services to shuttle vans, but it’s worth checking which cities have an equally cheap rideshare competitor that might be easier to pay for and track via smartphone. For example, the top country for a cheap taxi, Egypt, hosts cheap rideshare services Uber and Careem. And the ride search system RideGuru includes pricing estimates for both Uber and independent car services, along with conventional taxis.

The take-away from these results is that before leaving home, it’s a good idea to check out local travel costs wherever you want to visit. That includes checking taxi fares and Uber rates along with local transit costs and ticket options.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon also contributed to this story.

By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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