Helpful Tips For Taxis in Istanbul
Avoiding Istanbul Taxi Scams
Istanbul is one of the world’s mega-cities and it is estimated that there are more than 20,000 taxis within its borders. Unfortunately, Istanbul’s taxi drivers have received a bad reputation over the years from travelers. Tourists have complained about being scammed by unscrupulous taxi drivers.
While there are people who have had bad experiences with Istanbul taxis, it is not the norm and using taxis in the city is often a safe way to get from point A to point B. Istanbul taxis are cheap, convenient, and comfortable ways to travel around the large city.
Still, there are stories travelers tell on the Internet about being scammed out of money by drivers. There are ways to avoid Istanbul taxi scams. These tips will prevent you from overpaying when taking a taxi in Istanbul.
Get an official taxi
Perhaps the best way to avoid an Istanbul taxi scam is to take an official taxi. Official Istanbul taxis are yellow and a sign is located on the top of the car with the word “taksi” printed on it. The taxi company’s logo should be clearly marked on the side of the car. In addition, the taxi plate number should also be visible.
Make sure the meter is on
All Istanbul taxis have a digital meter, so do not accept a ride in a taxi if there isn’t one. You should insist that the driver turns on the meter when the journey begins. Some taxi drivers may claim that the meter is broken or offer to drive you for an agreed upon fee. The fee is oftentimes more than the journey would cost according to the meter. You should never accept a ride based on a flat fee nor should you continue on your journey if the meter isn’t running. Get out of the taxi if the meter isn’t running.
Let the hotel book the taxi
One of the best ways to avoid a taxi scam is to have your hotel book the car. You should enquire to the hotel about the price of the fare and what it should cost. If you have a bad experience with the taxi driver or journey, then you may be able to complain to the hotel staff. They may be able to contact the taxi company or someone else that can help you.
Take a picture of the taxi’s license number
Most people carry a smartphone with them these days, yet many don’t think it is necessary to take a photo of their transport in a foreign city. A camera can come in very handy if you are scammed by a local Istanbul taxi. Prior to getting in the car, snap a photo of the license number at the front and rear. Also, get photos of the number on the side of the car and the sign on the roof. This is evidence and it could be used later if you are scammed. If you don’t have a smartphone camera, write down the license number and details on a piece of paper. Photo evidence may work better.
Rates for day and night
A taxi journey will begin with a flat fee appearing on the meter. The price will increase every 400 meters. If the taxi isn’t moving, the price should roughly remain the same. It is important to remember that there are different rates for daytime travel and nighttime travel. The word “gündüz” will appear on the meter screen during the day. At nighttime, the word “gece” will appear on the meter’s screen. The nighttime rate runs between midnight and 6:00 a.m. The nighttime fare rate is 50% more than the daytime fare rate. Some taxi drivers scam travelers by applying the nighttime rate during the day.
Bridge and toll fees
A toll must be paid to cross the Bosphorus bridges and the TEM Highway. The price will be no more than 4TL. The taxi driver will pay the toll fee, but you must pay the fee on top of the total taxi fare at the end of the journey. The taxi driver will add the toll fee onto the journey fare. However, some drivers will rip off travelers by adding too much. You should be aware of the toll fee to prevent being overcharged.
Name and address
Before getting into an Istanbul taxi, you should have the name and address of your destination written on a piece of paper. Business cards for hotels and businesses also work. This prevents the driver from getting lost or trying to take you on a longer ride to increase the journey fare. Most Istanbul taxi drivers do not speak English. It is unlikely that you are fluent in Turkish, so communication can be very difficult.
Use a taxi fare calculator
A taxi fare calculator may enable you to prevent a scam. By using a taxi fare calculator, you can prevent a driver from driving you around on an unnecessary route. Many taxi drivers around the globe use this ploy to increase the fare amount. Drivers will take unnecessary detours. Since you are not from Istanbul, you may not know any better. Therefore, by using the taxi fare calculator, you can determine the actual price the trip should cost.
Tipping isn’t necessary
In many countries, people often tip their taxi driver even if they do not help with luggage. In Istanbul, you do not need to tip taxi drivers unless they go out of their way to help you with your bags. Istanbul taxi drivers do not expect tips. Some taxi drivers will attempt to get every last lira out of you, however. They may claim to be out of small lira and cannot give you change. Stand your ground and tell him to change the money at a shop.
Per person fare
One scam that Istanbul taxi drivers may try is to charge each person in the car the fare on the meter. If more than one person is in the car, the driver will claim that everyone owes the fare. However, the fare is for the entire car and not per person. Make sure the meter is on and that you have your taxi fare calculator handy if this scam is tried.