How to Avoid Taxi Scams in the Philippines

Taxi Scams in the Philippines

The Philippines is a beautiful country with a lot of natural treasures, which include breathtaking sites and a rich historical culture. Visiting the country as a tourist is a great idea, but you should always do your research beforehand to ensure you’re prepared for possible unpleasant experiences. The Philippines, like other countries, have a lot of greatness, but there is also room for occasional crime and some danger lurking around. Taking safety precautions is therefore of utmost importance, especially when you’re using it to move around. Filipino taxi drivers have been known to take advantage of foreigners by overcharging them.

The drivers will either use the longest routes to your destination to inflate your fare, or they will not turn on the meter and charge you any amount they want. Some of them also claim not to have changed when you get to your destination and will take all the money you give them with claims that the extra amount is a tip. Although there are rules that prohibit soliciting at the airports, the rate of scams is still considerably high, but you can avoid that by using the following tips on how to avoid taxi scams in the Philippines.

Best Ways to Avoid Taxi Scams in the Philippines


When preparing for your trip to the Philippines, you should consider your traveling routes as well instead of just your accommodations and activities. The research should be extended to include all the different routes from the airport to your accommodation area and the fares. You can use online resources like TaxiFareFinder to calculate the fare in the local currency. When looking into the possible routes, remember to include the traffic flow and the peak traffic times. Find out all the rules as well, and don’t forget the waiting charges to factor in the costs you’ll incur if you get stuck in traffic. This information will give you an upper hand and help you figure out whether you’re being ripped off

Bring Tracking Tools

Tracking tools include a pen and paper, a camera, and a map. These will help you track your route just to ensure you’re going in the right direction, and you can use the camera to record your experiences. This way, if the driver tries anything illegal, you can always have irrefutable proof. By having these tools, you’ll also be making it impossible for the driver to scam you because they’ll know keeping records. Remember to ask the driver for their name and their license number. If they are unwilling to give you that information, you can take pictures instead. It’s a good idea to go with a camera, but if you don’t have one, you can use your phone. I like enabling locations on my smart phone and just use Google Maps to monitor the route. If it looks like the driver is going off route, mention it too him. This lets them know you are paying attention, and he will be less likely to add unnecessary miles.

Educate Yourself

Information is always important when you travel to any part of the world. Find out all you can about the payment methods used in the Philippines and the licenses used by taxis. The licensing aspect is essential because it helps you avoid unlicensed taxis. Look for information regarding all the possible scam tactics that can be used by taxi drivers like the ones mentioned above. There have also been very few extreme cases where the drivers use knockout gas in the cab to rob their passengers. Be alert for anything that doesn’t look normal.

Always Have Change

Most taxi drivers in the Philippines prefer to use local currency. As such, you should always have some loose change in your pockets before you board a taxi. Have large denominations will make it easier for them to scam you with claims that they don’t have change while using credit cards could also lead to extra charges. You can get the change by buying items at the local gas stations or stores.

Trust Your Instincts

Try to agree with the driver before you start the journey, make sure the meter is working and make it clear that you won’t pay more than what’s on the meter. If you feel uneasy with the driver, then look for another cab. Do the same if the driver starts to complain about traffic on the route to your destination. Chances are, he will take the most jam-packed route to charge your extra. Confirm that they have turned on the meter and, if not, remind them to. Some will claim to have forgotten to turn on the meter just to get more money from you. If they refuse to, leave. Keep all your receipts and don’t pay for any charges you don’t understand.

Safety Tips When Hiring A Taxi In Manila

Even though there are a few bad taxi drivers in Manila, most of them are good and honest people who take their jobs seriously and serve customers with zeal. Your chances of finding the bad drivers are minimal, but you still have to be very careful, especially if you’re in Manila. These safety tips when hiring a taxi in Manila should help you identify and avoid the scammers.

Select Carefully

If you need a taxi from the airport, then you should not agree to go with any driver who approaches you. It is illegal for taxi drivers to do that in the Philippines, which means that anyone who does is a scam artist. If you need a taxi from your hotel, then be careful with anyone who approaches you to help you. Some drivers work in pairs to dupe unsuspecting individuals. If you need help, then ask the hotel staff to call you a cab.

If you need a taxi from a public transport terminal, then pay attention to the friendly locals who act as porters. Most of the time, they will grab your luggage and rush you to a waiting cab even without your consent. In such a scenario, you should hold your ground and draw attention to yourself if you must. It’s also advisable that you pay attention to the condition of the cab and avoid the too old ones. If a cab pulls up near you, ask them to turn on the meter before stepping into the cab. If they refuse, move on to the next one. Watch out for those who promise to turn it on after you get in. Most of the time, they claim to forget and give you higher rates.

Write Down Your Address

Although learning some of the commonly used terms in the local dialect is advisable. You should still write down your exact address on a piece of paper to eliminate the chances of the taxi driver claiming not to understand you and driving around with you to get more money. Try to make the address as detailed as possible by including cross streets or other significant monuments along the way. As you move, use your phone to keep track of the locations through your GPS.

Confirm The Price With The Locals

The majority of the Philippines are known as very friendly. And accommodative people who love their locals as well as foreigners. Ask the locals about the taxi fare ranges to prepare yourself in case you encounter emergencies. There may be times when you need to get a taxi in a hurry, and the cab driver will claim to forget to turn the meter. You can then pay them the estimation you got from the locals. Alternatively, you can try to prepare early for every trip to leave enough time to select your cab properly.

Sit With Your Luggage

Never put your luggage in the trunk of the cab unless you’re using a reputable company’s taxi or you’re traveling in a group. Taxis owned by companies are easier to track and will make retrieving your luggage easier. If you are going in a group, then one of you has to remain in the cab until you take out all the luggage. There have been cases where the cab driver takes off before the passenger removes all the luggage from the trunk. Alternatively, leave the door open until you get all your luggage if you are alone to make it harder for them to drive off with your property.

There have also been cases where the drivers work together to rob passengers and change license plate numbers. You should, therefore, stop the driver from using their phones while they drive. Not only is the use of cellphones while driving illegal in the Philippines, but the driver could also be talking to their crime partners to rob you. If the driver starts to complain about the cab having problems inform someone about your exact location and the cab driver’s details. Some of them claim to have a breakdown to stop then switch places with someone else and change plates. They then drive you to a remote location and rob you of everything. If possible, get out of the car and draw attention to yourself as soon as the cab stops. Don’t forget to take pictures of the driver. Other safety measures include:

  1. Not using a cab that has someone else other than the driver.
  2. Making sure that inside handles are functional.
  3. Avoiding cabs with tampered meter seals or metes that only show the price and not the distance.
  4. Avoiding cabs without an operator contact number, cab name, and plate number.
  5. Staying awake inside the cab and not giving the driver too much information about yourself

How Do I Hire A Taxi If I Need One?

There are several taxi options available in the Philippines for you to choose from. You should research their reputation to ensure you get the best services. One of the best ones with professional drivers is currently Grab. Initially, there was Uber, but after problems with the local authorities, Uber sold out to Grab, which has gone on to dominate the taxi industry in the country. The company has an online presence with a platform that you can use to book and even confirm prices. Most tourists who visit the Philippines have praised this cab service provider for their excellent performance. Another taxi option is the yellow cab, but there have been a lot of complaints against them. Their drivers are notorious for being rude and overcharging their customers.

Another good option you would consider is to know how to hire a taxi from a hiring tour guide company. These companies will pick their clients from the airports to the accommodation areas and to other places they want to visit. If you can’t book a taxi in advance, you can choose one depending on the color. companies have specific colors on their taxis. For instance, you can choose a white cab instead of a yellow one. When researching on the cab’s reputations, remember to involve the locals. You can use online forums, which include Philippine communities, to ask about some of the best cab service providers. Consider both the positive and negative comments, and don’t forget to look into the other important qualities such as reliability, transparency, and affordability of the cab companies.

Remember never to board a cab that comes to you. You can use the tips above when choosing the right cab to hire, and you can also ask the airport security to help you choose one the best option remains prior booking of reputable cab companies.

You may want to consider an alternative to using a taxi.  Visit our post Is Uber in the Philippines to learn more.

What Is The Difference Between a Taxi And a Jeepney?

Jeepney in Manila

If you have been wondering what the difference between a taxi and a jeepney is, then this section will help you understand those differences. The concept of a jeepney came from the idea of military trucks, and they are more suitable for those who are seeking adventurous rides. They usually have open doors, which makes them less safe than taxis and can be shared by more people, which is a disadvantage if you like to travel in private. Both jeepneys and taxis are very common in the Philippines, and they both have their advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage of jeepneys is that they are more affordable.

Jeepneys are mostly considered a piece of art because of the different designs on the sides. Some of those designs are usually ads, while others are representations of different beliefs, but either way, they attract a lot of passengers, especially the locals. Jeepneys are also easily available as they pick up passengers on all designated stops. However, if you’re are a tourist, you may end up feeling more confused and uncomfortable riding them. another advantage is that they are very cheap, with most of the charging approximately $0.20 on most routes. This price could be higher if the route is longer, but still, their rates are a fraction of what the cabs charge. On the downside, jeepneys attract large crowds, which means they can be overcrowded. This also makes it a great transportation option if you want to interact with the locals.

When it comes to taxis, there have been a lot of negative experiences reported by foreigners. However, there are also a lot of positive reviews, such as good cab drivers returning valuable items left their cars. Taxis come from various companies and are more convenient if you manage to find a good driver. They are also more comfortable and come with amenities like air conditioning and enough room for you to stretch your legs. Taxis are also better because they protect you from natural elements like rain. Another differentiating factor between jeepneys and taxis is safety. Taxis have seatbelts and enough room for your luggage. The chances of losing your property are also minimal. Also, choose the right cab company.

How Should I Pay For My Taxi In The Philippines?

Philippine taxi drivers mostly accept cash, but some of them, especially those hired by companies, likely will accept credit card payments. With companies, you have the option of paying online using your credit card, but with individual taxi owners, you will have to pay cash. Other cab drivers also insist on cash, especially when they know they have overcharged you. This is why foreigners are advised to pay attention to the meter. To ensure it’s running through the entire journey. Some drivers tamper with them along the way only to give you exaggerated prices when you get to your destination. Because of this, you should always convert some of the foreign currency to the local currency. And get some loose change at the airport or from the hotel lobby before getting into a taxi. The local currency is Philippine peso, so you should have a lot of 20 and 50 pesos for easy transit. There are also small denominations of 1,5,10 and 100. You can have a few of these and some coins when you hire a taxi.

Being attentive, having small bills, and choosing the taxi carefully will help you reduce the chances of having the worst experience with taxi services in Manila. Being cautious, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself. You can work with some of the local tour guide companies or accommodation service providers to make your transit from one place to another easier. For instance, you can look for a company renting out apartments and condos and ask them to facilitate your movements for the duration you’ll be in the Philippines. There are several such companies as well as tour guide companies that will extend their packages to include taxi services.

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