The taxi driver is a great source of information about popular restaurants and attractions in the area, local customs and politics, current events, and many other info that can help make one’s trip convenient, comfortable, and truly unforgettable. Some even share tips you may not find online.
Sadly, not all drivers are as trustworthy as the others. Taxis in Manila, particularly in the airport, have a reputation of being scammers who often take advantage of unsuspecting passengers, especially foreign ones. It is therefore important that you are aware of such issues so you don’t get scammed.
The following are 10 ways to stay safe when using a taxi in the Philippines.
Before Getting On
1 | Research Reputable Companies
While planning your trip, research online for the names of the most trusted taxi companies in the Philippines particularly in the exact city where you are heading.
2 | Research Unfamiliar Place
If you are heading to an unfamiliar place, find more information about the place whether by researching online or by asking someone you trust who knows about it. Ask for information like commuting instructions, landmarks, how long will it take to get there, and price range to your destination.
3 | Avoid a Rogue Taxi
If your gut and your judgment tells you not to get on that taxi, by all means follow it.
4 | Avoid Ride-sharing
Scan the taxi to see if there’s anyone inside aside from the driver. If you see someone inside, don’t get in and politely decline the ride. Similarly, if the driver picks up another passenger during the journey, get off the taxi immediately. Sharing a taxi with a stranger especially at night is highly discouraged.
5 | Choose Metered Taxi
Make it clear to the driver that you prefer to use the meter instead of a fixed rate which is often more expensive. Avoid a taxi whose driver won’t agree with using the meter.
6 | Prepare Loose Change
Always have small bills and coins ready in your pocket for fare and tips. This is to avoid you from overpaying or being scammed when the driver says or pretends that he doesn’t have enough money for your change.
While Inside the Taxi
7 | Sit in the Backseat
Take the seat away from the driver’s reach, especially when you are traveling alone. This is so you’ll be less accessible and less likely to be targeted.
8 | Record Details
Use a piece of paper and pen or your phone to record the taxi’s name, plate number, contact number, and operator name. Check if the details found outside the cab, inside the cab (right below the window), and the driver’s ID card (displayed somewhere in the dashboard) matched. Send the info to a family or whoever is waiting for your arrival, and make sure that the driver knows that.
9 | Take Care of your Valuables
Make sure to lock the doors, keep the windows up, and valuables hidden to avoid attracting robbers and “smash-and-grab” groups. This is mandatory for taxi safety. Always keep loose change in your pocket so you never have to take out and display your wallet when paying.
10 | Never Share Personal Information
While it is normal for some drivers to get chummy with their passengers, always remember to avoid sharing too much personal information such as your itinerary as well as your life back home. If you sense something suspicious, like the driver keeps on asking for personal information, get off the taxi in a lit main street.
11 | Be Wary of Shortcuts
Instead of going through the main street, some drivers take shortcuts or alternative routes to avoid traffic or toll booths. You can look this up online using your mobile phone apps. If you are headed the wrong way entirely, let the driver know that you are aware of the direction, or better yet, get off the taxi at the first opportunity.
12 | Be Alert
Avoid sleeping inside the taxi. If you are drunk, ask a friend or some you trust to ride with you. This is to avoid you from being taken advantage of when you are helplessly drunk and unable to defend yourself.
13 | Check the Taxi
Look around the seat for your valuables you could have unconsciously dropped or left behind.
14 | Leave the Rear Door Open
Remember to leave the rear door open when you get your luggage in the trunk. It helps in keeping the driver from speeding off with your stuff as you step out of the taxi.
The reputation of some taxis shouldn’t cause you to avoid the ride at all times. You just have to be cautious so you never experience any untoward incident during your trip.