I learnt to avoid taxis that wait for you out of hotels restaurants or tourist sites, they never use the meter and charge you also 3 or 4 times the normal rate.
Ask someone to write for you the place where you want to go in Arabic and then stop the taxi on the street, I was surprised to see as most of them turned on the meter without any pressure from me as it was just normal, this is really a werid habit for taxi drivers anywhere in the world.
From the airport to the hotel I got to pay 90 egyptian pounds and a local friend said it was a good price.
As has been pointed out already there are the black and whites, and the plain white taxis. The whites being the better of the two with meters and air conditioning.
A lot of people advise taking the white taxis because of condtion and they have meters, but there is a down side to this as well. If you are a stranger to Cairo, there is no way for you to know that the driver is taking the shortest route, they can add miles to the drive and you'll never know the difference but it will cost you more. Also you may get caught in traffic, actually this is more likely than not, and the meter continues to run even when you're not moving.
If it's a short trip, negotiate a price with a black and white taxi driver, you know how much you're going to spend before you get in. And he'll take the fastest route to get you there to save expenses for himself. You don't need to tip, but please do, these guys aren'r getting rich driving a cab. If you negotiated 15 pounds, give him twenty, remember an Egyptian pound is only about 20 cents.
By now, you must have learned that White Cabs are the best bet to avoid the 'perfume shop' scam, a characteristic tourist trap, in Cairo!
This is mostly true. White Cabs are usually run on 'meter' so one has a chance to strike a fair deal without being ripped off.
However, don't take that for granted. There are indeed some exceptions:
Short Distances: For short distances, e.g. from the downtown to the Khan El-Khalili bazaar, we found white cabs reluctant to lift us. So we had to negotiate. EGP 5 proved to be good enough and smart enough for a couple of kilometers, or slightly more.
There are many one-way roads in the downtown, so standing in the wrong direction would increase the kilometers and thus reduce your chances of getting a better deal. I used googlemaps.com so that we can follow the correct flow of the traffic even if we had to walk a bit.
Go Color Blind: Going back to the downtown was almost always a problem for us. On our first day, none of the white cabs were ready to go on 'meter' from Mosque Ibne Tulun (Islamic Cairo) to the cramped up labyrinth of the busy city center, where we had been staying.
In the morning, we had been happily transported in the reverse direction with a metered bill of EGP 10. So after sensing the odds, I finally managed to negotiate with a yellow one to take us back for EGP 15. The trick here was not to stick with the first taxi you hail but to check at-least 3 to 4.
The 'Metered' Scam: It is not a scam actually but a situation that arises inevitably due to the traffic mess in the rush hours. While heading to the Mukattam Hills from the downtown we got stuck up in the notorious traffic. The taxi did not move for about half an hour but the meter did, and did that continuously!
Finally we had to abort the journey! The driver charged EGP 20 against the metered EGP 16. No bad feelings as we ditched him right in the middle of the road!
So these were some of the exceptions we observed. Now the most important tip to make it less intimidating:
Know Your Numbers: On top of everything, knowing numbers and places in Arabic not only helped us to communicate effectively but also reduced the deep-pocketed tourist impression. In addition to our luck, this was most probably the reason why we did not encounter even a single 'perfume shop' driver during our entire one week stay!
Keeping in view the brouhaha on the internet travel forums about Cairo taxi scams, that was quite an achievement.
Fact Sheet: Below is what we paid during our stay:
EGP 10 Downtown (Emad El Din) to the Cairo Citadel, metered, morning
EGP 15 Back to downtown from Mosque Ibne Tulun (Islamic Cairo), without meter, afternoon
EGP 5 Downtown to Turgoman (Bus Station for Ismailia/Suez), metered, early morning
EGP 10 Ismailia Bus Station to Suez Crossing, without meter, morning
EGP 10 Back to the Ismailia Bus Station (شرق دولہ), without meter, afternoon
EGP 7 Novatel Hotel to Emad El Din, metered, past midnight
EGP 5 Downtown to Al-Azhar, without meter, around sunset
EGP 5 Tahrir (Nile Corniche) to Four Seasons (Nile Corniche), without meter, late afternoon
EGP 20 Four Seasons to Mukattam (journey aborted midway), metered, past sunset
EGP 5 Downtown to Al-Hussain, without meter, afternoon
EGP 35 Downtown to the airport, metered, early morning
1 USD = 6 EGP
1 EGP = 15 PKR
Just to mention, almost all the time we had been carrying the baby stroller and no taxi driver objected on loading that.
In September-2011 went to Cairo and needed move around for a few visits.
Tarik, taxi driver in Cairo, was recommended to me and, after contacting him, we made a deal of having him driving me around town for the price of 35 Egyptian Pounds per hour for the whole day.
Despite the fact that moving around in the Cairo roads is a "little" stressing for nobody in town knows how to drive slowly , this gentleman provided a good service and I was quite happy with his assistance on finding the locations I was location for in Cairo.
In summary, I'm happy to recommend Tarik for Taxi services in Cairo :)
- Mario, October 2011 -
Taxis in Cairo comes in different colors in fact not only in Cairo but also in Luxor and Aswan -- AC and non-AC, there's the ancient black ones, the black&whites, and the yellow ones with aircon. I have tried all of them. Either you agree on a price or ask to flag down the meter.
There are 3 types of taxi drivers -- one, someone who cons on tourists, two, who cons on people but won't cuz he feels you're well informed (act like one), three, honest ones.
On my first day I took the Metro (EGP1) to Giza station, then a taxi from Giza metro station to the Pyramids entrance metered at a price of EGP20 incl. tip (they usually ask for that or you might feel generous not getting the small change). Coming back from the pyramids to Giza station at metered too a little less at 17.
From Tahrir Square (downtown) to the Citadel, I paid EGP20 on a meter. Coming back from the pyramid to Khan ElKhalili at EGP15. Then, from Khan El Khalili to Tahrir Square at EGP10, there was a time that it cost only 7 and once 5 (short distance).
But going to the airport I made the stupid decision to take the metro and got off at a very unpleasant area called New Marg and found it hard to find a taxi from there to the airport that I almost missed my flight. The ancient black taxi I took somehow I felt like he took so many roads to make the meter collect more fares, so I ended up paying 30 inclusive of tip.
Most taxi drivers do not speak English so be prepared. Don’t sit infront if you’re not prepared to have a conversation. I normally sit in front as I got used my place and other countries, but I’m armed with basic Arabic. Also, if you sit infront, buckle-up, they drive really like crazy - I got several, what do you call those stinging feeling on your crotch everytime the car swerve fast on a hairline distance to another car? But don't start an argument, that driving is a norm. Sit there, relax...and pray?
Always...always...agree on a price before getting into a taxi or ask the driver for the meter. A short distance would only cost you EGP5 (normal local fare), but it depends on you – the more they feel that you’re uninitiated, the more they feel that they could con on you.
Taxi's are out of control in Cairo, they are everywhere, and believe me they come alive when they see a foreigner coming. Suddenly they all speak English, French, German, whatever language you think. Just like in Far East ask your hotel to write the name of your hotel in Arabic, but no sooner that you approach a taxi 10 of them come out of nowhere. They don't mean any danger, they just want to make some money. Have an idea of the fare you are expected to pay and don't be afraid to haggle for the price. We jumped in taxi's at all times and not once we felt taken advantage of or any danger. At your hotel they try to send you in a hotel taxi that will charge you almost double of what your gonna pay with a regular taxi. The only time we did this was on a Saturday night when we were nicely dressed and need a taxi with a working AC otherwise a regular taxi is OK....if going to the airport (see my other transportation tip)
Cairo has just been given a new taxi system. Instead of the old rackety black and white taxis, there is a new fleet of City cabs, pale yellow in colour or  white with a chequered black and white trim. The new cabs are airconditioned, comfortable and with electronic metres, so no need to bargain over the fare. The basic charge is 3.50 EP, then 1EP per kilometre. The drivers tend be more respectful, rarely smoke or make chit chat, and don't turn on the radio .
Taxis tend to be the preferred mode of transportation for foreign visitors. Hotel taxis are more expensive than the black and white cabs that are hailed on the street. Some taxis have meters, but don't expect them to work. Set a price before you get in, and don't pay until you arrive at your destination. However, don't haggle, or you'll never get to where you're going. If you don't like the price, take the next taxi. Fares are paid only in cash and in Egyptian pounds, and it's not unusual to ask the driver to meet you at an appointed hour and place for the return trip. Tipping is not customary. Ask your hotel concierge or tour guide about average prices. Also, it is common practice for taxis to pick up extra passengers traveling in the same direction, so don't be alarmed if your group grows.
I love taking taxis. It's so crazy! The way they drive in Cairo could give the faint at heart fits. But I was determined to figure out this insanity by watching the traffic and the taxi driver's. The driver's don't seem to ever get their feathers ruffled. The cacophony of music from the horn's being blown, the weaving in and out of traffic, turning 2 lanes into 3, 3 into 4. It just amazed me.
Taxis are a very convenient mean of transportation in and around Cairo. They are practically everywhere, just walk out on the street for a few minutes and you can be sure to find one. There are several types, the most common one is the old black and white taxi. Those usually don't have a meter, so be sure to haggle about the price before you get in! The newer ones are either white or yellow. Those have an operating meter, so just get in and enjoy the ride :).
If you are new to Cairo, don't speak Arabic and don't know about Taxi prices, please consider this:
If you get into a taxi in front of a hotel or tourist attraction you will be overcharged. So make sure you always walk a couple of minutes!
From my experience I can say that you should NEVER pay more than 60 EGP to go anywhere in Greater Cairo. No matter how much the driver complains that the place you are going is very far, just walk away if he is trying to overcharge!
This amount is also valid for the taxis with the meter! Some drivers mess with them, so they'll run faster, keep this in mind!
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