Taxi scams in the Philippines?

You may read or heard somewhere that taxi drivers in the Philippines are usually unfair to foreigners and they think that you, as a foreigner and visitor do not deserve a fair ride for a fair price. It is probably same every where in the world that taxi drivers are trying to take advantage of tourists and it is same in the Philippines, even tho, not significantly more often than anywhere else.

Well from my many visits of such beautiful country, which Philippine Islands undoubtedly is, I have only very few bad experiences with taxi drivers. The first really bad one was in Manila and the next one was in Cebu. Both were taxis from airport. There was a few more but not as bad as those I will write about. On the other hand I also had a very good experience with taxi drivers over there so it really depends on the person and it should not be treated as a rule. I will add one good story later at the end.

It was during one of my first trips to the Philippines, as usual I arrived to Ninoy Aquino Airport - terminal 2. Instead of taking taxi on Arrivals I rather gone upstairs to Departures (I explained in one of previous posts why), left the airport building and stood in queue for taxi. After a while came my turn, so I followed instructions of coordinator and sat into cab. The driver turned around, nicely asked where I want to go. I told him to Makati, where I had booked hotel room. He moved the car and started to haggle. The offer was 30 pesos for every 100 meters. I almost told yes because it did not not look so bad in a hurry, but then I realized it will make 300 pesos per kilometer, which is approximately 8 Australian dollars. So I told him no way, and told him to stop. While I was leaving his cab, he tried to give me another offer but I just strictly refused. There are plenty of other taxis waiting for customers so no need to risk some other offer which would be obviously in drivers' favor.

The second case was in Cebu. I arrived after midnight from Singapore directly to Cebu. It was around 1 am, Saturday morning. Airport was still pretty busy even it was late night. I followed the way to waiting place stand of yellow taxi. I took a first cab in a row, even some drivers remember me from before.

As we passed the bridge and followed Cebu North Road to Liloan, I noticed meter was showing unusually high price according to distance we passed from the airport. I asked the driver if his meter is all fine. He replied yes. I asked him again: "Are you sure?" Then he switched it off and told he may forgot to erase the meter before we started a ride. He was trying to make it look like an accident, but everyone can figure out it was not an accidentally forgotten running meter ;). Anyway he told that he will be happy with whatever I will pay him. So when we reached our destination, I gave him 350 pesos, which was even more than the normal ride would cost and left.

However the other, good one, story happened on the way back from Liloan to the Mactan airport couple of weeks later. It was 1st January afternoon, many people was out on the streets, overcrowded jeepneys, and it looked impossible to get to airport on time. One taxi stopped but driver wanted to make a deal, not very attractive deal tho, so I let him go. After a while I have got lucky and stopped a taxi, the driver has no problem to drive with meter on unlike previous one. Even guy looked like english does not belong among his strenghts, but he did not thought twice about sharing his snack - raw peanuts.

In general there are bad taxi drivers and good taxi drivers. The Philippine Islands are not different from any other country if it comes to getting scammed by a taxi driver. However Philippine authorities already made some huge steps to prevent tourists being scammed. For example in many major airports, malls and other places where taxis usually pick up passengers I have noticed coordinators who write the taxi plate number and place where you want to go on a ticket with phone numbers and hand the ticket to you. So if you are unsure about the fairness of the price you have all numbers you need to check with the authorities. But what can you do if you will get scamed? Probably, the best thing you can do is to make a picture of the licence plate and a picture of the taxi licence number. Send those pictures with complaint to Land Transportation Franchising & Regulatory Board (LTFRB) number and let them sort it out. You may not get your money back, but at least you will prevent other people to get scammed.