Catching a taxi can be a vastly different experience depending on where in the world you are. In Germany you might be driven around in a comfortable Mercedes Benz, which seems fancy until you remember that it’s just a locally produced car. In Australia you’re out of luck if you want to get a taxi at 5am on weekends, since this is when the majority of nightclubs close and seemingly all the taxis are busy. In Thailand you might take a tuk-tuk, which is a motorbike rickshaw that has no seat belts, and you’ll be thankful for your travel insurance as you daringly weave in and out of heavy traffic. Catching a taxi in Cuba is an experience as unique as the country itself. To successfully get from one place to another by taxi in Cuba requires the knowledge as to which taxi to catch (and there are a few to choose from). It also requires having the right attitude to ensure that your Cuba taxi ride is an awesome(and not too expensive) experience.

The Official Taxi for Visitors

Despite Cuba’s reputation for having exclusively old American cars from the 1950s, there are a few rare exceptions on the road. A few Japanese and European cars are used as official licensed taxis and these offer mod cons such as air conditioning, for which you will probably be grateful. These turistaxis (tourist taxis) feature meters, although the driver will often try to negotiate a price before the journey and will not even turn the meter on. It’s wise to know roughly how far you need to travel so that you know the price is fair. These taxis are clearly marked – it’s not difficult to spot them.

Unofficial Taxis

Private taxis are a type of Cuba taxi that have become popular due to the Cuban government’s increased flirtation with private enterprise. While turistaxis are operated by the state, private taxis (taxis particulares) are operated by the few private citizens that own a vehicle. They are licensed, so don’t worry – it’s not an illegal Cuba taxi. These vehicles are more likely to be a classic old American car, which is a bonus for visitors. Despite the fact taxi particulares are a different type of taxi than a turistaxi, the price will not necessarily be lower. The driver is extremely unlikely to turn on the meter, so again – be sure to know roughly how long your journey should take. If the driver quotes a price that you feel is too high, feel free to negotiate, and even threaten to get out and find another car… it’s all part of the process. These taxis are also clearly marked, and you can often only tell the difference between a turistaxi and a taxi particular by the type of car that is being used.

When a Cuba Taxi Is More Like a Bus

In most cities, if you see a group of people crammed into a taxi you’ll assume that it’s a bunch of friends on their way to somewhere. This is not always the case when it comes to a  Cuba taxi. Larger towns and cities feature taxis colectivos, which are communal taxis. They drive around pre-determined routes, and there are no official stops – the driver will let you out wherever it’s safe to do so. Of course, this makes it difficult to know where to catch the darn thing. Ask at your accommodation, and they should be able to tell you where to find one. You can only use taxis colectivos if you happen to have some Cuban pesos. Most foreigners use the Cuban convertible peso which is pegged to the US dollar, although if you happen to visit a shop or restaurant away from the popular tourist haunts, you might get your change in Cuban pesos. Taxis colectivos generally only accept Cuban pesos, and it’s an amazingly cheap way to get across town. You might find yourself getting from one side of Havana to the other for less than USD $1. This really is the way that the locals travel.

For Short Trips Only

A bicycle taxi is a common site in areas frequented by lots of visitors, and Cuba is no exception. You will see a lot of bicycle taxis (bicitaxis) around, particularly in Old Havana. Many visitors will use these as a kind of joy ride, but you can also use them to get back to your accommodation after a long day of walking around. The price is negotiable, and this type of Cuba taxi doesn’t even have a meter. The price is fairly similar to a turistaxi or a taxi particular, and you should be sure to agree on a price before you start your journey.

A tailor-made Cuba family holiday is built with your requirements, timeframes and best interests in mind.

Comments are closed.