hail a cab in london on a dark, moody street with vintage looking taxis

Nothing says tourist faster than a defeated traveler passed up by a cabbie. We’ve all been there; there’s no shame. But if you want to hail a taxi like a seasoned traveler, let us teach you the hows of doing so while visiting the world’s top travel destinations: Bangkok, Paris, London, Dubai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, New York City, Istanbul, Tokyo, and Antalya.

Bangkok

In Bangkok, bright, colorful taxis are bountiful. Finding a ride shouldn’t be a problem, but there are a few tips that local travelers swear by.

  1. Flag down moving taxis and avoid those that are parked, including those parked in front of hotels.
  2. A red, glowing vacant sign means the taxi is available for pickups.
  3. Make sure the driver uses the meter. If they don’t turn it on after the ride has started, politely remind them to do so.
  4. If a driver tries to negotiate a set fee with you, wave them off and find another ride as this is typically a “red flag” behavior.
  5. You do not have to tip your driver, but according to Hotels.com, it is customary to round your fare up.

Paris

If you try to hail a cab in Paris, don’t be surprised if the cabbie drives right on by. Drivers in Paris don’t typically pick up roadside. Instead, they use “taxi stands.” To keep the joie flowing while visiting Paris, try these tips:

  1. Remember, taxis in Paris generally pick up at taxi stands only.
  2. Taxi stands in Paris have blue square signs that say “taxi.”
  3. Taxis with a green light are available.
  4. If the light is red, the taxi is busy.
  5. Leaving a small tip (€1-2) for your driver in Paris is acceptable but not necessary.

London

In London, it’s all about the iconic black cab. Riding in one of London’s hackney carriages with their high ceilings and curved design is an experience unto itself. To help your ride run smoother, here are our London taxi tips:

  1. It is illegal to hail a minicab from the street in London, so make sure to look for and hail one of the city’s black cabs.
  2. A bright, yellow light on a black cab indicates that the cab is available.
  3. Stand curbside and extend your arm outward. There’s no need to say anything, simply standing with your arm in the air is enough to hail a taxi in London.
  4. If you are at a busy location, you may have to wait in line with everyone else.
  5. If you want to tip your driver, 10% is customary.

Dubai

In Dubai, taxis are generally one color: cream. However, the city has designed a unique system for women traveling alone. While women can use the cream cabs, they can also use one of the city’s pink-roofed, female-friendly alternatives. Regardless of if you are male or female, if you want to experience a cab ride in the City of Gold, here’s our best advice:

  1. Dubai’s official taxis are cream-colored. The different roof colors simply represent different taxi companies. Pink-colored taxis are for female travelers.
  2. To hail a cab, you can flag one down on the street or find one at a taxi rank (just look for lots of parked taxis in busier areas like shopping centers).
  3. In Dubai, it is customary to provide your driver with a landmark versus a specific address.
  4. According to VisitDubai.com, tipping a driver is an acceptable practice. “Usually a small tip of AED5-10 is given, but generally passengers will just round the fare up to the nearest note and allow the driver to keep the change.”

Singapore

The beautiful city of Singapore is home to many taxis. You will have no problem finding one to drive you around and experience everything Singapore has to offer. That said, we still have a few tips to offer you.

  1. To find a cab, look for the nearest taxi stand. If there isn’t one nearby, it is okay to hail a cab by raising your arm and waiting curbside.
  2. Drivers cannot pick up riders in the yellow bus lanes. If you are standing near a bus lane, don’t be surprised if you keep getting passed by.
  3. In Singapore, vacant cabs have green lights.
  4. It’s harder and more expensive to hail a taxi during peak hours. If you can, plan your trip accordingly.
  5. Taxi drivers in Singapore do not expect tips. If you feel like this final point conflicts with point three, I agree. Maybe they don’t expect tips, but it seems to me that they want them.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur taxis come in two flavors: red/white and yellow/blue. The red and white taxis are budget-friendly, while the yellow and blue taxis are considered “executive” and generally fit more people than the smaller red taxis.

  1. In Malaysia, it is recommended that you hail a cab using a taxi app like Grab or Easy Taxi by Cabify.
  2. Make sure that your driver turns on their meter.
  3. Carry small bills with you as many taxi drivers will claim that they can’t make change.
  4. While tipping is not customary in Kuala Lumpur, you can round your fare up as a gesture of appreciation.

New York City

In NYC, the famous yellow cab reigns supreme, and while most people are familiar with the ways of flagging down a yellow cab, there are a few tips we’ve picked up along the way.

  1. The most economical way to hail a NYC cab is to walk to a street where traffic is headed in the direction you want to go.
  2. If the center light on the taxi’s roof is lit, the cab is available. If the entire panel is lit or if all lights are off, the cab is not available.
  3. Step to the edge of the sidewalk and stretch your hand in the air when you see an available taxi.
  4. It is customary to provide cross streets versus an address. For example, you might say, please take me to 1st and 68th.
  5. In NYC, you can pay with cash or a card, and tipping is appreciated. Typically, 15% is standard.

Istanbul

You can hail a taxi in Istanbul, wait for one at a taxi stand, or use an app. The app, iTaksi, was developed by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Drivers on the app are official and rated, making the app the safest way to go.

  1. iTaksi is the official app used for taxi services in Istanbul.
  2. If you have to hail a cab, official taxis are bright yellow with a “taksi” sign on the roof.
  3. Like many places around the world, taxis in Istanbul are cash only. Make sure to bring small bills as many drivers conveniently don’t carry change.
  4. Once again, there is no need to tip, but you can round your fare up.

Tokyo

In Tokyo, official cabs are designated by green license plates and signs that tell you if the cab is available or occupied.

  1. In Tokyo, a red sign placed in the window that says “空車” means available. The light on the top of the car will also be off.
  2. To hail a taxi, step to the edge of the sidewalk, raise your hand, and give a slight wave.
  3. In Japan, the taxi door will automatically open and close for you. Pretty cool, right?
  4. You can provide the driver with the telephone number of your destination as their GPS system can look up directions based on phone number.
  5. In Japan, it is rude to tip.

Antalya

Taxi cabs in Antalya are NYC yellow and are designated by the “Taksi” sign.

  1. In Antalya, you can hail a taxi from the street or find a taxi station.
  2. When you find a taxi station, press the button, and a taxi will be called to your location.
  3. Bring cash as most cabs in Antalya do not accept cards.
  4. While tips are uncommon, you can round up to show your appreciation.

Hail a Taxi With Insurance

While we can’t speak to taxi insurance requirements throughout the world, we do know that in the “Good Ole U.S. of A.,” passengers are protected if cabbies and their companies, follow the laws of the state they operate in which usually includes insurance that protects drivers, vehicles, and passengers. If you are a taxi driver in need of insurance, give us a call.

Photo By Mario Cuadros

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