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Do not even think about renting a car to drive in Cairo! Taxis are cheap and plentiful and one should leave the driving to Cairenes.
Cairo traffic is erratic, heavy, bizarre, and can be downright scary. It is best to try to stay calm in the backseat of a taxi and hope on a wing and a prayer that you make it to your destination. Ironically, Cairenes seem to have some method to the madness of Cairo traffic, but sadly, accidents do happen.
Taxis used to be typically old cars, in poor condition and with an open window (or widows) as the only means of ventilation and almost no suspension! If you were taking a taxi for more than 5 mins, you would have had to make sure that is it not leaking fumes into the seating area. However today after a taxi reform, the common cab in Cairo is plain white, a relatively new Korean car (Huyandai, Daweoo) and sometimes Japanese. It has a meter and air conditioning. However, some taxi drivers tend to keep the AC off to reduce fuel usage but you may ask them to turn it on for a reasonable tip (10% of total fare). If you want something better and less hassle, work with a local Limousine agency and get a chauffeured car for about $40 a day more or less, depending on where you would like to go, or for how many hours. Local travel agencies, can provide a touristic car, it may cost more as they usually provide small vans (Hyundai or Toyota) and for a Full day (6 or 7 hours use more or less) it can cost an average of 50 USD. Another option is to flag a normal taxi and ask for a daily rate. Tell the taxi driver the longest distanced to be travelled then agree on a daily price otherwise he will be renegotiating the price at the end of the day.
In 2009, the meter started at 2.50 LE and goes up by the KM (approx. 1 LE). N.B: Fares might have risen in the recent years.
Old Taxi New Taxi
Sometimes, taxi drivers will not put the meter on for long distance rides to landmarks or to the airport. In this situation, here is an idea for approximate prices:
- Airport to Downtown (24km) : 100-150LE
- Airport to Downtown (off hours, e.g. 3AM) : 150LE
- Airport to hotel in Pyramids area : 150-200 LE
- Downtown to Pyramids area (or vice versa) : 50 LE
- Downtown to Khalili Bazaar : 10 to 15 LE
- Downtown to the Citadel : 30 LE
- Downtown to Ibn Touloun Mosque : 10 to 15 pounds
- Pyramids area to Khalili Bazaar : 35 LE
- Pyramids area to Citadel or Ibn Touloun Mosque : 60 LE
THIS YELLOW CAB WAS THE FIRST METERED CAB IN CAIRO
Another option is the blue cab company, they have a website: www.thebluecab.com which gives full details including their prices, they have a minimum charge of 50 LE.
The meter starts at 2.50 LE and goes up by the KM (approx. 1 LE).
If you still want to take a regular taxi, the best way for tourists for long distances (airport to hotel and back or day trips), is to agree the price before you start the ride, this avoids being overcharged at the destination. Make sure you know exactly what is included in the price. If the taxi driver still wants extra money on arrival, just get out and pass the original amount to him through the window, and walk away - this is how it is done here in Cairo. Just be confident and you will not have any problems. For short distances you should NOT negotiate a price. Simply tell the driver your destination and if he says ok, hop in. If he asks you how much or plays like he doesn't understand where you're going, say thank you and tell him to leave. There are 100s of taxis waiting to drive you where you want to go. It will be a matter of seconds to get the next one. Know the prices and hand once at your destination, get out of the taxi, hand the money and walk away. That's it.
Another important note, always have the correct money with you, as they will not give you change!
If all else fails and you end up having issues with a driver or anyone else, look for a tourist police. They are there to protect you.