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.
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:
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.
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.
More from SmarterTravel:
- The Best Uber Alternatives Around the World
- 10 Important Rideshare Safety Tips for Travelers
- Where to Find Premium Airfare Deals on First Class
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.