Cairo is one of the easiest cities in the world in which to hail a cab, as its crowded and chaotic streets are literally flooded with taxis. But there are two types of taxis always buzzing around, and tourists should always try to find the type that will reduce the likelihood of getting ripped off in Cairo yet again… and again… and again. Yes, it’s part of the experience of visiting Egypt to get ripped off at least once or twice, whether it be on cheesy souvenirs in the Kahn el Khalili or overpriced ride you got from the airport to downtown. Regardless, when it comes to picking a taxi out on the streets, it’s best to know a little bit about the simple difference between the two types.
In Cairo, there are two types of taxis – black and white ones that are mostly black and black and white ones that are mostly white. The former (the mostly black ones) are older, dirtier, and don’t have meters in them. If they do have what looks like a meter from the 1960s, the meter won’t work. The latter (the mostly white ones) are newer, cleaner, and should have working meters in them. This is the type of taxi that tourists should always try to take around Cairo.
If the driver of one of the newer, mostly white taxis tells you that he doesn’t have a meter or that his meter doesn’t work, he’s most likely lying and just wants to try to rip you off, so definitely decline his ride and move on to the next one that comes by. Metered taxi fares are extremely reasonable (even dirt cheap to some) in Cairo, and the rides in these newer cabs aren’t that bad at all for short distances. Make sure you also give the driver a few extra pounds as a tip for good service and your patronage will be much appreciated.
When I first moved to Cairo nearly a decade ago, only the older (mostly black) taxis were around, as the newer ones didn’t start coming out and proliferating until years later. You always wondered if those older taxis were going to make it to wherever you were going, and you had to put up with heavy exhaust smells for the whole charming ride. On a few occasions I could even count the potholes we sped over through the holes in the floorboards. And since there were no working meters in them, you had to either know the normal price of your route from experience or spend 5 minutes haggling back and forth with the driver on a set price before you took off with him.
You can still get the experience of one of Cairo’s old “black and while but mostly black” taxis if you want, as they still roam the streets of this crazy metropolis like little cracked out ants. But if you want a better, more straight-forward taxi ride that’ll just get you where you need to go so that you can go about enjoying the rest of your trip (and save getting ripped off for elsewhere), opt for one of the newer taxis in Cairo – the “black and white but mostly white” ones.