Jump into a taxi in the US, Canada, or Western Europe and the accrued fare will be several dollars or euros before the vehicle even begins to drive off. Taxi cab rides are much more affordable here in Mexico.
The cab system is not standardized across the entire country; each state applies its own rules and regulations about how taxis are licensed and operated. So the fare you pay and, moreover, the way in which the fare is applied, is distinct depending upon where you hire a cab.
In recent years, the advent of App-Cabs has begun to transform the taxi market in Mexico, providing taxi customers with additional options. Uber and Cabify are the two principal App-Cab companies operating in Mexico, although Uber operates in more cities and has significantly more drivers.
In a few cities, including Mexico City, most taxis are metered, and some locations operate official ‘zone charging’ systems. However, taxis operating in most villages, towns, and cities across Mexico have no meter and no official zoning system in operation. In these circumstances, the fare you pay is the fare you negotiate with the driver. Being able to speak some Spanish will be particularly useful and help you to negotiate a better price.
Principal taxi types in Mexico
There are many different taxi types operating in Mexico and these are detailed in our Taxi Guide (see link below). The principal taxi types operating across Mexico are:
Street cabs: Every town and city has street cabs, which can be hailed from the street or boarded at taxi cab ranks, known as Sitios in Mexico.
App-cabs: You can book cabs by smart-phone App in many principal cities across Mexico. Uber has the biggest presence here, and Cabify also operates in several Mexican cities. You can use these services even if your Uber or Cabify account is based (billed) outside of Mexico: fares are charged in Mexican pesos and the corresponding amount in foreign currency, e.g. dollars, euros, pounds, will be billed to your credit card.
Airport taxis: Every commercial airport in Mexico has ‘official taxi’ ranks where you can hire a cab from the airport to your local destination. World-wide, these taxis cost considerably more than other taxis, and Mexico is no exception. Taxi fares from airports are based on a zone charging system, and the farther you travel from the airport, the higher the fare. Some airports, including Mexico City, allow Uber and Cabify drivers to pick-up passengers and this can offer savings in comparison to the official taxi prices. Check your cab App for details about meeting and pick-up arrangements.
Bus station buses: Every intercity bus station in Mexico operates an ‘official’ taxi rank, signed as Taxis Autorizados, in the same way as the airports do. The fares are lower than airport taxis, but higher than street cabs. See our comprehensive guide to Bus Travel in Mexico for more details.
Hotel taxis: Taxi cabs based at hotels are a form of taxi rank. The cabbies are tied to a particular hotel (or group of hotels) and agree to wait patiently outside until a guest requires ground transportation. These taxis charge a fixed fee by zone or location, or charge fares on a ‘rate per kilometer’ basis or, unusually, run a meter. Hotels without a dedicated rank outside will usually telephone one of the nearby local taxi ranks or co-operatives when guests need the service.
Mexperience Guide to Taxi Travel in Mexico
Our Guide to Taxi Travel in Mexico is comprehensive and includes typical cab fares for the different types of taxi on the road. If you plan to travel around Mexico by road, reading the guide will give you a thorough grounding in the art and science of cab travel in Mexico.
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I think John’s assessment of taxi’s in Mexico is correct but I would add the following. Where I live there are no meters, zones or guild lines. One’s best bet is to remember what the charge was for the last ride and simply give the current driver the same. This goes smoothly if one takes care to have the correct amount on hand. Asking for change always costs more because no taxi driver ever has change. That’s what they tell the customer at least.
I agree with you about remember what you paid last time but also when they see me the gringo they charge me double sometimes triple not all of them but most. So me and my wife did an experiment she gets the taxi while i am behind the car and she gets the price than i come over and we go and the price is good than next time i get the taxi and is funny how the price goes up so now i use uber about 90% of the time because the taxisare not regulated or metered where i am.
The low cost of cabs, plus the fact that they’re everywhere–even in the tiniest villages–makes travel without a car a real possibility. I like to take buses from city to city, and rely on taxis when I get where I’m going. Overall cost of transportation for a road trip is much less than the cost of gas, tolls and occasional extortion by the police.