Ready for the taxis in Turkey? Read this first
Taking a taxi Turkey can be an overwhelming experience for a tourist, if you happen to meet a driver who is there to make some extra money quickly. I hope this post answers some of your questions on the correct fares, tips and safety.
What you should know about taxis in Turkey
- All of the yellow cabs have meters, which start at a standard rate 3.20 Turkish Lira (TL) and the charge is 2 TL per kilometer
- There are no more night rates, as it was an easy way to scam tourists in the past. The price is the same, no matter what time of day it is
- Meters are required by law, but they are still not always used. Insist the driver to switch it on by saying “taksimetreh”
- Make sure that the meter is running and don’t accept the “broken meter” excuse from the driver
- Sometimes the meter is hidden behind the gears. You may need to lean forward to keep checking the meter or even use the reflection on the front door window to check it’s still running
- You should pay in Turkish Lira’s. If you pay in other currencies, your exchange rate will be high
- Try to always pay with the smallest possible change. If you hand over a big note, make sure you mention it to the driver so they don’t try to say you paid with a smaller note and keep the change
- As the taxis are on a meter, it may be in the driver’s interest to give you a longer ride than necessary. It’s a good idea to have a map out. Also keep your hotel phone number with you. If the driver gets lost, he will be able to call the reception for directions
- It’s handy to have Google Maps open on your smart phone, so you can see where the driver is heading to and tell him if you think he’s going the wrong way
Is there a taxi app I can use in Istanbul?
Sure there is, and it may help you a lot!
Cabs in Turkey and especially in Istanbul
You should only use official, yellow taxis in destinations like Istanbul. Of course the transfers arranged by your hotel are another matter. Someone may just walk up to you and offer to get you a taxi. Don’t take their offer! No matter how friendly these strangers are, you should still only take a yellow cab, as you are about to get scammed. Unfortunately, even the yellow taxis may not always have seat belts. I was reminded of this when I had to sit on the back seat pulling and tugging a belt that was stuck inside the seat. Not having seat belts is not great when the driving is like a scene from a Formula 1 contest.
Also, you can’t expect the driver to speak English, so having the name and the address of your destination written on a piece of paper is a good idea. The locals don’t usually tip the driver, but they may expect you to tip big, as you are a foreigner. Tip if they helped you with your luggage or you were in other ways happy with the service. But you don’t have to tip, if you don’t think it was a great experience. You could just round up the fare.
All of this sounds a bit much. Are there any alternatives to yellow taxis in Turkey?
I recommend downloading the BiTaksi app on your phone. The app works a lot like Uber. The nearest taxis appear on your screen and these taxis are also registered. Although the BiTaksi app is in Turkish, it’s simple enough to use, especially if you are familiar with Uber or Gett.