My Top 10 of do’s and don’ts when using taxi’s in Istanbul. Based on my own experiences and those of many tourists I have met.
I have met a lot of nice, helpful and friendly taxi drivers in Istanbul. But there are also cabbies in this city who want to make some extra money of the ‘rich’ “yabancılar ‘(foreigners) in an unfair way. Beware!
1. Agree in advance on a fixed price.
2. All taxi’s have meters. The meter starts standard at 2.70 Turkish Lira (TL). Watch the meter, because some drivers try to manipulate the meter.
3. There is no night rate.
4. Always pay in Turkish Lira’s. Those who pay in euro’s or U.S. dollars always pay at an unfair exchange rate.
5. Almost all cabbies in the city think that they are Michael Schumacher in a Formula One car on a racetrack. They drive like crazy, but cause seldom accidents, as most other Turks drive in the same style. Always put your seat belt on, even if the driver looks at you as if he’s insulted with a macho look of ‘don’t you think I can drive? ”
6. Always have enough coins, banknotes of 5, 10 and 20 Turkish Lira in your pocket. If you pay with 50 or 100 TL taxi drivers often try their infamous exchange trick. They act as if you gave them 10 or 20 Lira instead of 50 or 100 TL.
7. Never open your wallet sitting in the front seat. It often happens that cabbies grab into your wallet to ‘help’ you getting out your foreign bank notes.
8. Step out of the car if the driver is rude and write down his taxi number. Give that to the desk of the hotel. Istanbul earns a lot of money from tourism so it is in the interest of the city authorities to preserve Istanbul’s image as a tourist friendly, welcoming place. So complaints will eventually have an effect.
9. Prepare yourself well. Take a serious look at the city map and find out where your hotel and most important places are located, so you have a general idea of the direction a cabbie should take going from A to B. Take always a business card of the hotel you are staying, so you can show the address to the driver, and he may – if he really doesn’t know the address – make a phone call to the hotel. Use the Google Map GPS function on your smart phone to see in which direction your cabbie is driving.,
10. Use official yellow cabs only. Don’t trust friendly strangers who say they will find you a cab.