Latest Posts

10 tips for taking a taxi in Bogota

Taking a taxi in Bogota can be a bit of an ‘adventure’ to say the least; an un-seatbelted adventure which can leave you silently praying for your life, as most taxis do not have functioning seat-belts for the back seats. If you’re taking a taxi in Bogota, keep in mind the following tips, which include common scams and typical taxi driver behaviour:

1. Always use a taxi app to order a taxi

Or ask the hotel/restaurant/bar you’re at to call you one – I cannot emphasise enough how important this is. If you hail one from the street, you really don’t know who you’re going to get, and you won’t have the same peace of mind regarding safety. I will go on to explain why.

2. ‘Paseo Millonario’ – The Millionaire’s Ride.

If you hail a taxi in Bogota from the street, you risk being taken on a Millionaire’s Ride, referred to as el Paseo Millonario here, which is a LOT less glamorous than it sounds! It involves being temporarily kidnapped, held in the taxi against your will and possibly being drugged and joined by the taxi driver’s accomplices, before being taken to various cash machines and being forced to withdraw money from your bank account and handing it over. It’s not common, but it’s common enough that it has a name, I know two people it’s happened to, AND I know someone who ‘rolled’ out of a moving cab because he feared it was a case of ‘Paseo Millonario’. The taxi driver didn’t stop. Another reason NOT to take a taxi from the street!

3. ‘The Extended Tour of Bogota’

This has happened to me a number of times and can happen whether or not you have called for a taxi; you tell the driver your destination, and the driver, guessing that you don’t know the city well (being a foreigner), will take you on the longest route possible in order to make the journey as expensive for you (and lucrative for him) as possible. If you’re not familiar with the city but you have a local SIM card and a smartphone, I would use Google Maps to try to work out the quickest route first, and then tell the driver, or write it down on a piece of paper and hand it over in order to try to prevent this from happening. You can then follow the route on Google Maps during your journey, if you have data.

4. Dangerous Driving

Many taxi drivers drive recklessly and behave aggressively towards other drivers. Sometimes they can be speeding along inches from the driver in front of them and you just know that if the driver in front happens to brake suddenly, there WILL be a crash. Asking them to drive more carefully can provoke a defensive attitude and often won’t make a difference. All you can do is hold on tight!

Taking a taxi in Bogota

5. Tampered-with Taxi Meter

This will be pretty much impossible for you to detect unless a) you are a seasoned Bogota taxi passenger and are familiar with the speed at which the taxi-meters increase or b) you have taken the exact journey before and know more or less how much it is supposed to cost. What some drivers do is tamper with the meter so that it increases more quickly than it’s supposed to – it should go up by one digit every 100 meters. Again, if you suspect this is happening there’s not really anything you can do about it (unless it really is blatantly obvious, such as increasing every second – this has happened to me!) except report the driver on Tappsi if you ordered the taxi through that, or on the Calculadora de Tarifas app, whose main function is to allow you to calculate what you have to pay for a journey, or write down the taxi’s license plate number and report him to the police. And if possible, tell the taxi to stop, and then get out of the cab without paying (but only if you know more or less where you are!).

6. Bogota taxi drivers may hide the tariff

The taxi-meters are not a transparent charging system – they don’t go up in amounts of money but start at the number 25 and go up by one digit every 100 meters. By the end of the journey, the number displayed on the meter corresponds to an amount you have to pay, which you are supposed to be able to check on the taxi tariff, which should be hanging off the back of the front passenger seat. I’d say about 50% of the time the tariff is not displayed, so you either have to ask what you owe (which is basically an invitation for the driver to screw you over) or you can download the Calculadora de Tarifas app onto your smartphone and easily check on there. Be sure to add the ‘Puerta a puerta’ option if you pre-ordered the cab, the airport charge if you’re coming from the airport (and this means the airport, not NEAR the airport as some drivers try to claim!), and the night-charge if it’s after 8pm.

7. Charging extra for dropping people off at different locations

Taxi drivers are not allowed to charge extra for dropping people off at multiple locations – for example, if you’re going home with friends and you all want to be dropped back at your respective apartments. But taxi drivers do sometimes add an extra charge at will, especially if you’ve taken it from the street. Know your rights!

8. Don’t try to pay for a journey with a $50,000 pesos note

You would normally never expect to pay more than $20,000 pesos for a journey across the city, and taxi drivers will rarely be willing to give change for a $50,000 pesos note (even if they have change). If you say that’s all you’ve got, you should expect to be taken on the ‘Extended Tour of Bogota‘ while the driver tries to find someone to change the note, whilst hiking up the fare in the meantime (this has happened to me)! I’ve even heard of drivers becoming aggressive when people have tried to pay with a 50,000 note before. My advice: try to break a 50,000 note at any opportunity (i.e. in restaurants and shops) so that you don’t get stuck with them, and have plenty of change for the taxi!

9. Burundanga

One more reason not to take a cab from the street (and then I’m done, honest!): drivers have been known to sprinkle a drug known as burundanga somewhere around the back seats – for example, on the newspapers kept in the back pocket of the front passenger seat – so that when a passenger picks it up to read it, they become drugged and the effect is to make you do whatever the driver says, without afterwards having any recollection of what happened. The usual scam is to take you to a cash machine and force you to withdraw and hand over money. Again, not that common, but common enough that I’ve actually met someone that this has happened to.

10. Choose Uber!

If at all possible, use the Uber app (or Cabify, Beat or DiDi) to order a secure private cab. In order to use Uber you need to be able to register a credit card on the app. Nowadays an Uber X is about the same price as taking a yellow cab, and in my experience the drivers are honest, polite, some speak a bit of English, and you pay by your registered credit card, so you don’t have to worry about having change.

So those are my top tips for taking a taxi in Bogota! I know some of the things I’ve mentioned sound scary, but the worst things can be avoided if you pre-order the taxi using an app or by calling. The other scams are just annoying more than anything else.

Have you ever taken a taxi in Bogota? What was your experience? Are there any tips you’d add?

If you have found this blog informative or entertaining and would like to support How to Bogotá, you can now buy me a digital cup of coffee! 🙂

This blog is a labor of love – I don’t make any money from it, so to avoid putting up ads this is the best and least annoying way I’ve found to offer readers the chance to support How to Bogotá 🙂(other than giving me your loyal readership, for which I’m very grateful!)

43 Comments on 10 tips for taking a taxi in Bogota

  1. I find Uber X rides cheaper than the taxi one. I only use that, it’s pretty convenient and the drivers are always nice and friendly.

    On a side note, great blog!

    • Thank you for your comment – I’m glad you like the blog! (and sorry for the late reply!). I always prefer taking Uber. It’s true that the drivers are more friendly and usually they drive more safely too!
      All the best!

    • I heard because Uber isn’t licensed in Colombia the drivers are harrassed. Did you find that to be the case in Bogota?

      • Hi Lisa, it has never happened while I’ve been in an Uber but yes, Uber drivers say it happens. They try to avoid picking up from areas when loads of taxis are around (just outside shopping malls, for example) and always ask a passenger to sit in the front seat so it doesn’t look so much like an Uber.

  2. I like the suggestion to always use a taxi app, ask the hotel, or ask the restaurant to order a taxi for you. The taxis that come from a company to your location tend to be a bit safer than a taxi that you find on the street. A benefit of calling in a taxi is that you also know that the driver is actually licensed and will take good care of you . Thanks for the tips!

  3. Naomi I love your blog!
    I sent you an email privately as I am considering to move to Colombia!
    I should be visiting again in November and will definitely be more vigilant with taxi!

  4. Great tips to travel in Bogota, I am planning to visit there this September for a business trip and reading about the palace and the people. You have covered travelling part in a very detailed manner and this will be helpful for me (or I must say anyone reading this blog).

    But I recently heard that there were some issues with Uber and it has stopped it’s operations. Is that right? I was planning to use Uber frequently for my 15 days trip, but if it is not operating anymore, then probably I need to get some other taxi service.

    • Hi thanks for your comment, I’m so glad you’ve found the blog useful! There has been some controversy with Uber (ie the yellow taxi drivers aren’t happy about it!) but Uber is still running – I only used it 10 days ago! It’s still the best option, in my opinion. All the best for your trip!

      • Thanks for your prompt response. Good to know that it is still running there. Uber is part of controversies on many other places I have visited. They are facing same issues in India where I visited in June this year. But they are managing to run there as well.

  5. Hi,
    I am looking for a driver to take us into Bogota from the airport for a layover tour, from 3-7PM, do you recommend a taxi?


    • Hi Alice,
      You could take a taxi but I don’t like taxis as they often try to charge foreigners more. There are private drivers who wait at the airport exit who will charge about 40,000 pesos depending on where you’re going in Bogota. I could help you to find a driver if you like.

      • Hey,
        I’m headed to Bogota Colombia in 1 week and to be honest im scared lol. I’m going for 1 month to meet people and help expand flash wireless. Do you have a reliable driver I can trust?? Hopefully speaks English too. I am also looking to meet some locals (not companies) that are may be able to help translate i want to show them what i do and they can decide if they can help me or not. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Hey thanks for the great tips! Is Uber still running in Bogota? Saw the comment before about Uber but because its from 2016 I’m not sure.
    And is it possible to take a Uber from the airport or would you suggest to take a cab instead?

  7. Forgot to ask if there’s a ios version for the fare calculator? I just found it in the andoid store and not in the app store. Thanks, Anni

    • I don’t have any Apple products so I can’t check. Try downloading Tappsi – the Android version of the app has a calculator feature so hopefully the Apple version will too.

  8. Maria Velasquez // April 29, 2017 at 11:29 pm // Reply

    The taxis in Bogota are all bloody thieves, they don’t let you see the charges and on top of it, they charge extra $10,000 pesos they claim its is a tax. you can not argue with them because they will hold your luggage hostage until you paid what they charge. I hate using taxis next time i will take the bus

    • I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience Maria – unfortunately it’s not uncommon in Bogota when it comes to taxis! I highly recommend using Uber, if you can download the app onto your phone. If you ever take a taxi, always write down the ‘placa’ (licence plate number) so that you can report them to Tappsi or to the police if you have a problem.
      All the best.

  9. Its good to know that a taxi driver can’t charge extra for taking people to multiple locations like you said! I’ve been a victim of that scam before when I had my friend call a taxi to take a few of us home, and I think that knowing what taxi drivers can or can’t do is important. I’m going to have to remember that next time I call a taxi with some friends!

  10. Thank you for the great tips. What about the airport in Bogota? I heard there is a taxi line. Would you recommend to use that? Or is it still at the airport better to use an app?

    • Hi, at the airport, there will be people standing there as you come out of baggage reclaim offering a taxi service. Most of these people are private/Uber drivers who will probably charge about $40,000 pesos (11-12 euros) for wherever you want to go in Bogota. If you exit the terminal, you will see a line of yellow taxis. A taxi journey to the Candelaria or Chapinero would probably cost around $30,000 pesos (8-9 euros). You can’t really use an app to book a taxi at the airport, but you can see if there is someone supervising the taxi queue, and noting down the license plate number and where you are going. There is usually a supervisor next to the taxi rank, and you can ask that person “Estos taxis son seguros?” and they will reassure you. If you aren’t comfortable, you can take one of the private cars – the drivers are walking around in arrivals they should show you their business card and ID.
      For when you are in the city, you can use the Tappsi app or Uber. Tappsi now gives you the option of selecting only the drivers with the best ratings (4 or 5 stars), so you would have a better chance of having a trouble-free journey!
      I hope that this is helpful and that you enjoy your time in Bogota!

  11. OMG! I had no idea and am so thankful to have found this article. I will forward to my travel friends as we are headed to Colombia this summer. So, we have the uber app and use it in the US. Is it the same app or do we need to do something differently?

  12. I’ve been living in Bogota 3 years now and regularly hail cabs on the street without a problem. I know dozens of expats here who do the same and I have never heard of anyone experiencing any sort of incident. Of course using an app adds some security, and the latest version of Easy Tappsi will show you an approximate fare if you enter a destination address as well as an expected route. The occasional driver will inflate the fare a bit, especially late at night, but it’s still very cheap to get around by cab. The biggest real danger BY FAR is poor driving standards IMO and that is a complete lottery with yellow cabs whether you use an app or not, so wear the seatbelts if they work (that’s about 75% of the time in my experience). From the airport, you really don’t have to worry about taking a yellow cab.

    • Thanks Ian, hopefully competition from Uber and Cabify means the standard of service from yellow cabs is improving. I would just say that twice when I’ve taken a taxi from the airport with my bf, the driver has refused to turn on the meter, and one of them wouldn’t stop and let us out of the car when we told him to stop until we called the police right in front of him. This last incident happened this year. So I still wouldn’t advise taking a yellow cab from the airport. Private transport, in my experience, is safer and offers a better overall service.

  13. Ernesto Serrano Patiño // January 21, 2019 at 9:36 pm // Reply

    Que Articulo tan Difamatorio contra las personas honestas que prestamos un servicio honesto y eficiente, en los amarillitos, al autor de tan maravilloso articulo lo invito , a que realice un estudio de cuanto cuesta un vehículo , el cupo y los seguros, en general los costo de un vehículo para prestar el servicio, la inseguridad que nos acarrea prestar el servicio, es cierto que existen delincuentes disfrazados de conductores de Taxis, pero este acto no es solo en el este gremio, sino en todas las esferas de nuestra sociedad, y si no miremos la cantidad de políticos, jueces, policías, deshonestos que existen, y por este deberíamos indilgar a todos los miembros de estas entidades?
    Frente al tema de UBER, miren cuanto recibe la administración publica por los impuestos que ellos pagan y lo que tenemos que pagar los amarillitos, cuantas horas debemos trabajar diariamente para ganarnos el sustento… debería sentarse una jornada, para que sepan que es trabajar como Taxista en Bogota.

    Somos mas los buenos que los malos,

    • Señor Ernesto, gracias por el comentario. En este artículo sólo escribí sobre mis experiencias con los taxis amarillos en 2013-2014, después de lo cual dejé de cogerlos por tantas malas experiencias que había tenido con ellos. Lo siento señor, seguramente usted es honesto y prestas un servicio eficiente, sin embargo, tuve muchas pero muchas experiencias con taxistas que no eran honestos ni eficientes – no tengo por qué mentir sobre eso. Si no fuera que conducían de manera peligrosa, fue que me cobraban más de lo que me tenían que cobrar, o que cogieron una ruta muy larga. Yo diría que alguna de esas cosas me pasó con – por ahi – el 50% de los viajes que hice. Con el otro 50% tuve una buena experiencia, pero me cansé de preocuparme de si fuera a llegar un buen taxista o uno poco profesional. El año pasado, pensamos intentar de nuevo con los taxis amarillos y cogimos uno del aeropuerto. El taxista no quería usar el taxímetro, y cuando le dijimos que parara para que salieramos a coger otro taxi, no paró hasta que llamamos a la policía. Entonces lo siento mucho señor que haya tantos taxistas que les dan una mala fama a todos. No es justo, pero se necesita un cambio de cultura. Entiendo que cansa mucho manejar (yo lo odio, por eso voy con Uber o con el Transmi) pero si eso es la ocupación de uno, uno tiene una responsabilidad de prestar un buen servicio igual – y animar/presionar a todos los otros taxistas a prestar un buen servicio. No es la acción de pocos que ha creado esta mala fama – es la acción de muchos. Por eso Uber ha tenido tanto éxito, porque de hecho, muchas veces sería mucho más conveniente coger un taxi de la calle en vez de esperar unos 15 minutos por un Uber… pero al fin me cansé tanto del comportamiento de los taxistas que prefería esperar los 15 minutos.
      Dicho eso, es posible que vaya cambiando la cultura, y espero que sea así.
      Un saludo cordial.

  14. Will the UK based Uber App work in Bogota? And regarding the airport taxi line, is this for yellow taxis? Thank you.

  15. Thank you for your prompt reply!

  16. I read your blog and have enjoyed viewing your suggestions but I want to know if there are any updates regarding the better apps for taxis. Is uber or cabify still a good option in 2020? Thank you

  17. Hi again. That’s a shame that Uber are no longer operating in Bogota, if I have understood correctly. Who would you recommend as I will be staying in a hotel and will be using cabs to get to and from where I want to go. I will have internet access.

    • Hi Peter, you can download the Beat and Cabify apps, which offer an Uber-type private car service. You can also use Cabify to order yellow taxis. Your hotel may also be able to arrange a private car service (if so, these would normally be charged by the hour) or they should be able to call a taxi for you.

  18. Thank you 😊

  19. Have been thinking of travelling to Colombia to see SO for a few weeks now. I fear that window of opportunity is closing as it’s probably only a matter of time before visitors from the UK will be required to self isolate for 14 days. Just wondering what the situation currently is in Colombia with Covid 19.

  20. Hi again. I see international flights into and out of Colombia were banned until the end of June. Now that ban has been extended until the end of August. Do you think there is any chance that ban will be lifted? What worries me is that it might be extended further. Then there might will be huge demand once it is lifted making travel impossible.

    • Hi Peter, we are living in Spain at the moment and my partner was in a dilemma about whether to fly back when they announced the international flight ban. We decided to stay here, and are also keeping an eye on the situation. There are a few humanitarian flights that depart from Madrid occasionally, to help stranded Colombians return. I doubt the international ban will be lifted before August, but there might be opportunities for Colombian citizens and residents to return on humanitarian flights before. If you’re a Colombian resident currently outside of Colombia, I’d contact the Colombian consulate nearest to you to get your name on a list for a humanitarian flight (these are likely to be more expensive than commercial flights).
      All the best,

  21. Many thanks, Naomi. This international ban is a real nuisance and judging by the way the general lockdown kept being extended, I am fearful that this flight ban will suffer the same treatment. I know about the repatriation flights. The FCO in London is involved in just one more out of Bogota.

  22. The FCO said the last humanitarian direct flight out of Bogota probably leaves in June but I suppose that may imply that there could other indirect flights, ie, via Europe, that might be arranged. I wonder how social distancing will be achieved on these flights. I have heard that the air on aircraft is recycled every 2 minutes or so but through HEPA filters which should remove viruses.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.