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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 are typically old cars, in poor condition and with an open window (or widows) as the only means of ventillation and almost no suspension ! If you are taking a taxi for more than 5 mins, make sure that is it not leaking fumes into the seating area. Put your head in the cabin, if it smells of leaking petrol fumes walk away otherwise you will have an unpleasant and unhealthy ride. If you want something better than this, work with a local Limosin agency and get a chauffered 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.
Al-Azhar Street full of Cairo Taxi's
So you can agree with a taxi driver for a full day and negotiate the price and stick to it. Make sure to ask prices at the tourist office of from a trustworthy local. The prices of taxis just like everything else in Egypt is driven by tourism. It goes up the moment it's printed. Be sure to get all the details of what is included in the fare such as parking, the number of passengers and stops, or you will find yourself arguing with the driver that you should not have to pay for the parking etc.
The following are examples of approvimate prices which may be of help :
- Airport to Downtown : 100-120 LE
- 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
Or, if you want to have peace of mind and use a metered taxi (bit higher in price - but cars are very nice and airconditioned), you can try "Cairo Cab" or "City Cab" . You can reserve them in advance by phone, and they come to pick you up to your destination, meters work, the drivers speak some english, airconditioned cars, which are yellow . Their meter system is that its starts at 3 LE (from most places except out of city areas) and each kilometer costs you 1 LE. The contact phone nos. for these companies are :
19155 / 19730 / 16516, They are easily available in down town / Zamalek, but in other areas it is often not possible to get one, the demand on them is heavy.
If you take a metered cab, beware of the scenic route. They might take you on a loop around the city if you don't know where you're going so that they can charge extra for the ride. This can get quite tricky.
Another option is the blue cab company, they have a website: www.thebluecab.com which gives full details including their prices, they have a minumum charge of 50 LE.
From May 2009 there is a new kind of taxi, white cars with a a thin black and white band. New cars to replace the old "Black and Whites", some are air conditioned (depending on the model) and they have meters, a little more expensive than the black and whites but a comfortable clean ride. Flag them down, no way to pre-order. 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.