Travel Tip: How To Hail a Cab in India

Blair Pfander

taxi cab in delhi Travel Tip: How To Hail a Cab in IndiaWe’re all about exciting international adventures, but even a seasoned globetrotter will tell you that taking a cab in New Delhi, the second largest city in India, is no cakewalk.
But don’t let that put a damper on your vacation-planning. We hit up Samrat Banerjee—the general manager of New Delhi’s ritzy boutique hotel, The Manor— for a crash course in Indian cab-etiquette. From what to tip to peculiar cabbie practices (many drivers, we were surprised to learn, keep the meter covered in cloth), Banerjee’s taxi tips may prove to be invaluable on your next Indian excursion.
1. Hailing a Cab. “It is not easy to hail a cab on the street in Delhi,” Banerjee cautions. “They are usually available on call or at designated cab stands. Any known market place, shopping mall, monument and sight-seeing place usually has a cab stand not more than 50 meters away, if not within the premises.”
2. Communication. “Language is not usually a challenge in Delhi—[cab drivers] understand English quite well,” Banerjee says. “All roads or any other signage is always in English. However, in case of difficulty in understanding or communicating with your driver, the contact number of [your] concierge or hotel will come in very handy.”
3. Be Prepared, You Might Not See the Meter. Banerjee says, “It is an absolute mystery why cab drivers cover the meter machine with a cloth. However, having taken many comparable trips with covered and open meters, the amount is usually about the same, with a slight difference of 10 rupees ($0.20), which puts me at ease that I’m not being cheated under a veiled meter-monster that occasionally jumps a couple extra numbers.”
4. Plan Ahead. “There are many cab companies on call,” Banerjee advises. “However, it is best to book in advance, as there is a waiting period, and [it is] very difficult to get one during busy office hours and late evenings. There are [also] cabs on call available for single lady travelers with lady chauffeurs.”
5. Budget Well. “The charge for a half day—about four hours, or 25 miles—is between 600 to 800 rupees ($11 to $15),” Banerjee says. “For a full day—8 hours, or 50 miles—the charge would be between 1,200 to 1,400 rupees ($21 to $25) for a black and yellow cab. 50 to 100 rupees ($1 to $2) is charged after 10 p.m.
6. Tipping. “Tipping is very subjective, and not required for short trips,” Banerjee advises. “For day trips, no more than 100 rupees ($2), give or take, is the norm.”
7. If You Think You’re Lost. Banerjee’s no fail tip: “When in doubt, always go to the nearest hotel. Get out, and walk to the concierge or manager.”
What other cities have tricky cabbie practices? Tell us your experiences the comments!