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One of the popular means of transportation in Cancún and the Riviera Maya is the taxi. Not only for tourists or foreigners, many locals use taxis every day to get to and from their workplaces, stores, or other destinations. It is definitely one of the main means of transportation in the area.
You should know that no taxi in Riviera Maya has a meter. This means that if you do not know the rates they may end up charging you more, especially if you are a tourist – even more so a foreigner, and this is quite common. We will get into it below, but the best thing to do is ask for the rates before you even get in the taxi.
In this article, you will find how taxis in Riviera Maya work, their rates, and some tricks that you may find useful so you become an expert!
How zones work
Larger cities such as Playa del Carmen or Cancún are divided into zones. To know the rates from one area to another, you should know that ALL taxis have a table available. This table showcases the official rates that should be charged depending on the start point and the destination. It is important that you know this, because taxi drivers never have these tables visible. They will show them to you only if you directly ask for them.
All taxi drivers are required to show it to you if you ask them. If you are ever faced with a price that seems exorbitant, ask for the table and look at the rate.
It is recommended that you always agree on the price of the trip with the taxi driver before boarding. This is very important, especially for long journeys. If you refuse the first price, there is a possibility that the price will be dropped a bit.
What is the rate for the “flag drop” or “banderazo”?
It refers to the minimum fare that you will be charged for moving between the same area, which is currently between 30 and 35 Mexican pesos (about US$1.67 to US$1.941), and the final price will increase depending on where you need to go.
But beware! In Cancún, staring at Km 0, that is, where Blvd. Kukulkán begins (commonly known as the Hotel Zone) and until the end of it, prices increase considerably. This occurs in all tourist areas of the Riviera Maya as well, so you need to be careful where you are picking a taxi. For example, a trip that in any other area would cost 30 pesos, can cost approximately 80 pesos for the same distance within the Hotel Zone of Cancún and at or near Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue) in Playa del Carmen.
Where can you grab a taxi?
Taxis only have the right to pick up passengers in the town to which they belong. That is, Cancún taxis can pick up passengers in Cancún and take them anywhere: the airport, Playa del Carmen, Tulum. But they can’t pick passengers at any other location (not even the airport). Since the areas are well delimited and they cannot enter in competition with the local taxis from said locations, or the taxi drivers licensed to operate at the airport.
It is possible that during a journey the taxi driver stops to pick up more people and you have to scooch over. It is even possible that a busy taxi stops to ask you where you want to go. This is because, in case you go to a destination that comes by the taxi driver, he can pick you up and take you to your destination for a lower price than if you took one on your own. For the taxi driver this is a way to save time and gasoline, so they will probably end up charging you less.
Hiring a taxi for the day or several hours
Many people are not comfortable driving in Mexico or places they are unfamiliar with or simply wish to sit back and let someone else drive. In this case, taxi drivers will often hire themselves out for the day or for several hours. The price is negotiated upfront between you and the driver. Depending on the distances and amount of time, the cost may run approximately between 1200 and 1800 pesos (about US$67 to US$1001). Though your driver may know some details about some areas and destinations, don’t expect your driver to be a full-fledged tour guide. If you are looking for custom guided experience, consider one of several reputable local tour guides or businesses available in the Riviera Maya.
Paying the taxi driver
No taxi driver will charge you with any credit or debit cards, since they don’t have terminals or the system to do so. Cash is the only way that you have to pay them, and you should carry small bills with you, since, although it is hard to believe, taxi drivers often have no change (especially 200 and 500 peso bills). And the truth is that this is very common. Even if they do, they will never want to break a larger bill because that means they will be out of change for people throughout the day.
Always carry 20, 50 or 100 pesos bills and some coins to pay the taxi drivers. Otherwise they make a stop at an OXXO or any convenience store and make you buy something so you can pay them. As illogical and unfair as it is, that is the way it happens sometimes.
Uber in Riviera Maya?
Uber operates in some, but not all cities in Mexico. In September 2016, Uber began operating in Cancún and had plans to extend operation into the Riviera Maya in mid-September 2018. However, as of late-December 2017, politics and pressure from the local taxi union has forced Uber to suspend all operations in Quintana Roo for the time being. Join our Mailing List to stay up to date on the latest information.
Recommendations for Riviera Maya taxis
- Before getting into the taxi, agree on the price of the trip with the taxi driver. Remember that they do not have meters.
- If you doubt the price, ask for the rate table. Keep in mind that you never have it visible and only if you ask the driver to show it to you.
- When you get into a taxi, you might also want to note their unit number, found in the back, and even their license plate. If you have any problem or leave something behind, it will be easier to solve it.
- Remember that the base rate for a trip between the same area is 30 to 35 Mexican pesos.
- Always carry coins and small bills (20, 50 and 100 pesos) to pay, taxi drivers do not accept a credit or debit card and often do not carry change with them.
If you are going to make long journeys or be moving constantly from one place to the other, you might as well consider renting a car, since it may even end up being more cost effective.
For more information, see our article “Arriving and Traveling Around the Riviera Maya“.
Do you have any more questions? Don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below and we will make every effort to get the information for you.
1 An exchange rate of 18 pesos per US dollar is used for demonstration purposes.