One of the things we all worry about when arriving to a foreign country, and especially when we don’t speak the local language, is how to move around the city without being an easy prey for scammers. Today we’re focusing on moving around by taxi. When getting to Buenos Aires, you’ll see taxis everywhere. We recommend you read this post first, and learn some tips on how to take taxis safely and to beware of possible threats.
- Radio taxi companies
There are some taxi companies and drivers that are not the official ones, but look like them and might offer to take you from the bus station to the hotel or so. When trying to take a taxi, always look for the ones that say “Radio Taxi” on the side doors or on the top. Preferrably, try to call a taxi instead of taking them in the streets, so that you can make sure you’re taking a real one
2. Check the price beforehand
Before you take a taxi, for example when leaving a milonga, check with someone you know (your teacher, a friend, etc.) how much they think a trip like the one you’re taking may cost. This way, if when arriving to destination you see that the driver wants to charge much more than that, you can realize if you’re being scammed. What to do in this situation? Never argue with a taxi driver. You may tell him that you don’t have enough, and offer what you have (a similar amount to what your friend suggested) or if you feel threatened, you may ask the driver to wait for you to get some more money inside. If you’re staying at a hotel, you may ask the receptionist or a hotel employee to help you handle the situation.
3. Try to have change on you to avoid giving 200 or 500 notes.
When we are abroad, many times we get confused by the different currency. As you won’t be familiar with Argentine peso notes, try to keep your wallet organized and try to get change of 20, 50 and 100 notes. If possible, try to avoid 200 and 500 notes when taking a taxi. Why? Taxi drivers many times complain of not having change, and this is a way for them not to give your change back (or not to give it all back).
4. Check your change before descending.
Many times, as we want to get off the taxi, we just accept the change given and get out. Be careful, many times they may give the change quickly, and may be giving a lower value note without you realizing. If you can’t see properly as the light is sometimes dim, ask the driver to turn on the light (Say: ¿Puede prender la luz, por favor? = Can you turn on the light, please?). This way you can check your money before getting out of the taxi.
It’s very important for you to remember that $5 an $500 notes are very similar (they are both green). There are many stories of people that got confused, and gave a $500 note instead of a $5. There might be honest people that will let you know, but others may take advantage.
5. Be confident
If you show the driver you’re not sure of where you’re going and you hesitate on the destination or how to get there, they will take advantage of that and tour around the city before taking you to your place. A good idea is to ask a friend the names of the streets you will be crossing, or the way to go to your destination, so that you can tell the driver, for example, “Agarre Avenida 9 de julio” (Take 9 de Julio Avenue) and show them you know where you’re going.
If you’re still hesitant about taking taxis in Buenos Aires, remember Uber is available, and you may feel more familiar with their system. But it’s important to know how to take a taxi, especially as you might not always have internet access to call Uber.
Check out our video on how to take a taxi in Buenos Aires, and practice how to say the most useful expressions: