How to Take a Cab in San Jose, Costa RicaIf you’re traveling to Costa Rica, and it’s your first time in Latin America, you might come across the cab (taxi) services they have. Taxis are a great way to get around in the city, and sometimes within the country. They are relatively in-expensive, if taken within the city.
For travelers coming in the country who are reluctant to take the transportation system, it can be intimidating, especially, if they do not speak the language. Communication can be an issue, but if proper precautions are taken, anyone can use these services with ease.
What to look for?
Airport Taxis - In the airport of San Jose, there are official taxis services that work specifically with passengers arriving and even departing the country. Taxi Unidos offers services almost anywhere in Costa Rica. All the drivers speak English, and are accustom to servicing foreigners.
Red colored taxis - Are the general taxi services within the country. When looking for official taxis, keep an eye out for cars; with red in color, and with yellow triangles on both passenger and driver doors. These yellow triangle signs are to signify they had registered their car, and they have specific numbers assigned. Most of the red cabs are associated with taxi companies, and are very reputable services, which a lot of travel services use. With big companies, reservations can be arranged via phone, and arrival times are very convenient. Plus their meter system is usually fair, and they tend to be a more honest in taking you to your destination, without having to go through extra mileage.
There are also other red taxis that have the same look, but work independently from the big companies. These taxis tend to have a bad reputation, because they that tend to charge more than usual, or they never use the meter. But not all of them are like that, if the passenger knows what they are doing, they can find out respectable independent taxis. If a passenger decides to take one of these taxis, be prepared to negotiate a price prior to entering the cab. If you know your destination, and the normal price, you can ask that driver how much would it cost to get there? If the price sounds just about right, then, it’s a fair ride.
Generally when taking red cabs, off the streets, it’s a good idea to know a few phrases and questions prior to taking the ride. Normally passengers would ask;
• Maria? (locals call the meter Maria)
• Marca con Maria?
• Cobra con Maria?
• Usas con Maria?
If they say no, you can either negotiate a price, or move on to the next taxi.
Un-marked cars – in smaller towns of Costa Rica, they have taxi services that have un-marked cars. Independently run, these taxi services are usually negotiations only. They are not red in color, and often times, it’s a local who uses his or her personal car as a taxi.
What to prepare for?
It’s suggested when taking any taxi to get your directions pre-planned or ready. This way the passenger can get to the destination a lot faster and possibly save some money. If possible try and memorize your directions, especially in Costa Rica, they don’t use numbers on buildings and houses. Instead directions are based on land marks.
Have enough money in your pocket or bag, to pay the taxi, in case you have to get out prior to your destination during heavy traffic. Plus having exact change will prevent showcasing bigger bills, which prevent theft.
For the new travelers coming in the country, know the Costa Rican money currency before you pay. Often times, people mistakenly paid more money, because the bill looked the same in color. If the driver is not honest, they might simply drive off without giving you change.
This blog is for anyone traveling in the country, and for study abroad Costa Rica students.
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