We never experienced getting ripped off by a taxi driver simply because my husband speaks Arabic. Most of the drivers are all corteous adn never demand for a tip.
Just be aware that taxi's in Cairo are really very old and no airconditioning at all. The colors of the taxi's are usually black anfd white.
You may also check with the hotel/hostel. They can give you some recommendations and these drivers, with such "connection" with the hotel/hostel won't be too bad. The price we took in Jan 2009 for a whole day trip, from Cairo to Saqqara/Dahshur/Giza and then back to Cairo was 200LE.
Taxis are the best and most reliable was to get around the city of Cairo and while the appearance of most taxis aren't exactly encouraging from a safety perspective I'm living proof that you can live through a taxi cab ride through Cairo. Most of the taxis are as ancient as the Pyramids themselves and the seat belts and other important safety features have long since stopped working. But the safety is in the fact the streets of Cairo are so crowded the taxi can't go very fast...its mostly stop and go. The most important aspect of taking a taxi is making sure to negotiate the price BEFORE you get into the cab. Pretty much every cab driver will overcharge foreigners so its important to have idea of how much you should pay. From downtown Cairo a taxi cab to the airport should not be more than 70 to 80 LE.....a cab to the Pyramids from downtown should be exactly 50 LE...otherwise plan about 20 LE for most other destinations.
Seems to me that taxis in Cairo have different colours but Black&White looks like very plenty in the Giza City. If you are travelling to the Khan el-Khalili or any museum which is close or near your hotel, I can recommend the Black & White taxi.
Most taxi drivers are good and friendly. I guess some are not. I used a private car with a driver during my stay in Cairo but I made use of the B/W taxi quite a few times for short distances and to the airport.
Black & White taxi is cheap.
We scheduled a trip with cairotaxi.com and they never showed to pick us up. I would avoid using their service.
There are lots of taxis at the airport, just make sure you pay the driver not the "broker" who will show you to the cab.
Hail a black and white cab anywhere around Cairo as fares are very cheap! Try and get an idea of what your journey will cost through your hotel as fares for locals and visitors vary quite a lot!! Most people will say that you must establish the fare with the driver before you get in, whereas many experienced taxi takers will never agree on a price, but just pay the driver at the end of the trip, no questions asked! I, as an inexperienced taxi taker in Cairo agreed on the fare before getting in and soon got to know what to pay more or less. If drivers want to rip you off badly, just tell them "no" and hail another cab - they will either relent and say "ok" or will just drive off.
From our hotel on the Giza side of the Nile, we started off by paying 20-25LE to the centre (Khan al Khalili), but soon realised the fare was more realistic at 10LE (probably 5LE to locals) - our journey time was approx. 15 mins according to traffic. Most people say to pay 10LE to most downtown destinations and I think we paid 25LE to the Citadel which was quite far from our hotel.
To hire a cab for the day, you can pay as a tourist anything from 120LE - 300LE or more if you have a guide. We organised a cab to Saqqara, Memphis and Dashur through the hotel for 170LE which is not bad and 70LE to the Giza Sound and Light Show (3 hrs in total as driver waited for us while we watched the show, plus travelling time).
You first experience in a Cariene taxi will likely be a bit hair raising. It's a little like growing accustomed to riding a rollercoaster in that you have to relax and trust in your safety, which is surprisingly secure.
We spent a year riding taxis throughout the city and learned, through trial and error, some mandatory survival skills:
1. You're not married to any particular taxi: if you are less than impressed with either the look of the driver or the apparent comfort of the cab, wave him on and catch another. Some cars won't have handles for rolling down the woindows in the back seat (this is to ensure the driver maintains control of the ventilation and is usually a very hot and choking (from the truck exhaust) ride. Most drivers are capable and friendly but some are noticeably irritable - it's hard to tell but if you get that feeling, listen to it.
2. Don't negotiate before the ride: if the driver wants to do this it is so he can determine if your fare is worth his time (whethter or not he is getting a high price from you). If he insists on setting the fare beforehand, just tell him to drive and he will likley get the hint. Settle up once you exit the vehicle and be prepared for a displeased driver. If you start with a fair offer and place it on the seat with a salutaion in Arabic it stands a better chance of being appreciated. If he tries to squeeze more out of you it is ok to concede a couple more pounds and finish the transaction with a "halloss" - enough! The general rule of thumb when we lived in Cairo in 2004-5 was one LE per minute spent in the car, whether you were moving or not. If you are obviously a foreigner, as I was, you will be expected to pay a slight deal more than what is fair - a little Arabic in greeting will take the edge off of this "custom".
3. Where to sit: a man by himself can sit in front or back - it is fine to sit up front as you can give directions more easily. A woman should always sit in back - especially if you are alone. A solitary female will be suspected of immoral intentions if she sits in front. Women: if the driver bothers you at all or stops to pick up another passenger before you have been delivered to your destination, simply get out (don't bother paying as he knows he crossed the line and you are now shaming him.) It is unlikely that you will encounter any problems but it is best to be prepared so you can react quickly.
4. No one will stop: if you are unable to get a taxi to stop for you (if you are going somewhere far from the city center at night they are not eager to take you there and risk returning without another fare) simply flag down a policeman, preferably a tourist policeman, and ask him for help. You will quickly have a car and a fair price without any hassle.
5. Enjoy the ride: it will be a real experience and you are actually very safe. We were in a couple of very slight fender benders but nothing that was of any danger to anyone.
Upon arrival at the airport, if you use trolley, chances are someone will grab it and insist to help you get the taxi, which is normally his or his friend's. You can avoid this by carrying your luggage yourself. We had this experience. Fortunately I asked someone at the money changer on the estimated cost to get to Cairo. It should be around LE50. The taxi driver initially wanted LE80. So we told him that we knew the estimated cost. Depending on where you're staying the trip should take around 30-45 minutes.
As we can speak very very little arabic, taxi was our main option for long distance. Certain places are just too far away and it was hot in May. Taxi is easy to get. Typically they are black/white in color. Generally it costs LE10 to move around within say 3 km, although I think the local pay slightly cheaper. Ask first and agree with the price before you get in. It's 50:50, some are real honest, but quite a number of times we met drivers who, after we're already in the car, wanted to restart the negotiation. Their common excuse can be, "I'm sorry, where actually do you want to go..." In such a situation, we insisted that the driver stop so that we can find other taxi or just walk.
If we were to come again, definitely we'll pre-arrange a travel agent to transport us to various places.
The taxi options in Cairo are numerous.
Flag one down, haggle the price. They are very cheap and will often offer to wait for you (E.G at the pyramids).
You can hire by the day if you wish to visit things such as the other pyramids.
The cars are usually very old, and often have only half a dash board, a 2nd world war meter, no seatbelts etc.
How these cars still work is a credit to the driver/mechanics.
Egytian cab drivers are far more crazy than New York finest cab drivers. They are like speed racers and they can cut lanes in all angels and any style that they like, & trust me, they are pros.
One interesting factor about their taxi services is the meter is for decoration purpose only. Please negotiate your price with driver before you board. Often they ask you for more as heard but it did not happen to me.
They often will ask where you plan to go & offer to be your private taxi driver for the day.
One thing I said they are good because they often offer to pick you up where they drop you at an arranged time & they often asked you to pay them later in that trip...I guess they trust tourist more than we trust them. Our taxi driver showed up at the time promised (we declines a lot of taxi drivers solicitation for cheaper price) and honored the arranged price (which I know we were paying 10 el more than locals but what the heck).
Be very careful with the taxis, and if you have a weak heart, stay away!! A 8 year old child could drive as good or better than my taxi driver. Our taxi driver hit a pedestrian that started demanding that I give her money because it was my taxi that hit her!!
Beware of taxis. They are a great, affordable way to get around... but you must negotiate your price before you get in, there's no set price/meter. I've seen them try to charge foreigners about 6x the correct price, so be sure to ask a local what the correct price should be until you get a sense of it on your own. Also, make sure they understand exactly where you want to go before getting in, otherwise (as I've learned from experience) they may give you the impression they know what you are talking about, tell you to get in, and start driving as they try to get directions from you. I ended up getting out 10 min later to find another cab.
Please read other post also, most of them are from people born in Cairo or living there for quite a while. I am new, and I am writing only for my area:
I've been told to have always 5pound bills on me. You wave and they will stop. Or they horn and stop by themselfs as they realize I am a stranger. I clearly state the destination (in my case El Korba) and make sure they understand. As I don't speak English, I tell them is 5 pounds and they complain, especially because I am next to City Stars (and I need to walk a lot to move away).
My advice: move away from spots that are associated with foreigners/tourists.
It also helps a lot if you are with someone who speaks at least a couple of words in their language.
On Thu night I could find anybody to take me, so I had to agree to 10 pounds, and I got a lot of complaints at the end. Again, the advice is to habd over the money (exact amount, do not expect change), AFTER you are out of the car.
When we go from our apartment to the offices, my colleague (who stays here for sometime) doesn't negotiate anything. At the end we just hand over a 5pound bill, and very rarely we get complaints.
When coming to the apartment first time (from the offices with my big luggage), the driver asked for more because of the luggave handling (was very heavy) and I submitted to his request, only to be told later 'never do that, they will ask for more and more'.
I use this approach when I think their request is not reasonable, and it works.
Don't know about other standard prices for taxi, so maybe you can comment on how much I will have to pay to get downtown from my area?
Taxi's are everywhere. Before getting in, do confirm the price for the trip. Also be sure that you and the driver speaks of the same currency, eg EPounds and not Euro or Dollar. A trip from Nile Hilton to Khan el Khalili varied from EPound 15 to 25. In other words you have to bargain, to get the best fare.