Ecuador Taxis: A Guide in Taking Taxis in Ecuador Like a Local

Getting to the historic centre of Quito using taxi

Taxis are a common mode of transportation in Ecuador, and they are budget-friendly for short trips within towns or cities. With just a few dollars, you can cover a considerable distance. Hence, knowing some important tips can help travelers have a smoother and safer experience. 

This post will provide you with a few tips for taking taxis in Ecuador to help you prepare for your upcoming trip.

Authorized Taxis

There are plenty of unauthorized or pirate taxis in Ecuador. Look for official taxis with distinctive yellow colors and taxi signage. They usually have a taxi license number displayed on the outside and inside of the vehicle.

We tried taking a pirate taxi during our trip, and we did not encounter any problems. However, it is still best to avoid them to ensure your safety.

Ask Locals

If you’re unsure about the fare or route, don’t hesitate to ask locals or your hotel staff for advice. They can give you a rough estimate of what you should pay.

Engaging with locals can be an enriching aspect of your travel experience. Ecuadorians are known for their warm hospitality and willingness to assist travelers. They might provide you with valuable tips and advice on fares or even recommend alternate transportation options if applicable.

Negotiate Fare

Some taxis in Ecuador are unmetered, especially outside major cities. We recommend negotiating the fare before starting the ride to avoid any disputes later. You can ask locals for an idea of the typical fare for your destination.

We’ve come across taxi drivers who pretend not to understand the address you’ve provided. They might also complain that the journey is longer than expected and try to charge more than the agreed-upon fare. Don’t be fooled by this. Stick to the price you agreed upon and negotiated.

Use Radio Taxis

Radio taxis are generally considered safer and more reliable. These taxis are dispatched by a central service, which helps ensure accountability. You can call or use a taxi app to request a radio taxi.

We tried using radio-dispatched taxis and are glad we do not have to haggle over the price. We paid the standard fare without any hassle, and the drivers didn’t raise objections or request extra money.

Bring Smaller Bills

Currency used on Galapagos Islands

Make sure to carry smaller bills and coins for taxi fares, as drivers might not always have change for larger denominations.

One time, we forgot to bring small bills, so we ended up looking for a nearby convenience store where so we could pay for our taxi fare.

It is inconvenient and a waste of time, so make sure to prepare bills and coins before taking a taxi.


While Ecuador is generally safe, taking precautions is still a good practice. Sit in the back seat, especially if you’re traveling alone. Keep your belongings close and avoid displaying valuable items.

Language Barrier

If you don’t speak Spanish, having your destination written down or saved in a digital format with clear instructions is helpful. This will minimize communication barriers and ensure the driver takes you to the right place.

You can also quickly learn a few simple phrases to use when talking to taxi drivers. For example, you can use the phrase “Con taxímetro por favor” to politely ask the driver to turn on the taxi meter.

Emergency Contacts

Have emergency contact numbers saved on your phone, including local authorities and your embassy or consulate. This simple precaution can provide you with peace of mind and quick access to assistance should you encounter any unexpected situations. 

Taxi-Hailing Apps

In larger cities like Quito and Guayaquil, there are taxi-hailing apps that can provide a convenient and safe way to book a taxi. Apps like Uber, Easy Taxi, and Cabify are also available.

Taking a Taxi to and From Quito Airport

The distance between Mariscal Sucre Airport and Quito historic city center is roughly 30 km. The established fee for the journey into the city is USD 25 according to official rates, but in practice, the standard rate is around USD 27. This amount is subject to negotiation with the driver, mainly based on the specific area within the city that you’re headed to.

You will find signage outside the airport with detailed taxi fares per destination. 


Ecuador taxis offer an accessible and economical means to go around. They conveniently take people through cities and short distances for just a few dollars.

Taking taxis in Ecuador isn’t just about getting a ride. It’s also a chance to connect with the local culture. We hope the tips and insights above will help you prepare to experience a seamless trip to Ecuador.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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