(Originally I posted this in a comments section of Taxi stories, but might as well make it into an article)
I did not see anyone else post about this service here yet so I thought I would pass the advice along that allowed me to never take a taxi again. It has been a god-send.
I’ve always hated taking taxis in Manila. It is such a pain to argue and negotiate with them. I know if and when there is traffic so I’m so sick of hearing that as an excuse to add P200 to the fare or double the price of what it normally would be. I have no issue tipping well if the guy turns the meter on and we are stuck in traffic cause I actually feel bad for him. Other than that, I hate negotiating, being driven in circles, wondering if the meter is moving faster than normal, or if he is going to pull into an ally where his friends will be waiting to rob me.
After a long night of drinking and being exhausted, the last thing you want to do is sit there and negotiate. It makes you even more tired. Since I’ve been going back and forth to the Philippines for over 15 years, I kind of have an idea where things are (not always), but since I’m a foreigner they try to take full advantage of me. I finally got to the point where I felt almost nauseous when it was time for me to take a taxi.
A friend of mine introduced me to the holy grail of solutions to say good-riddance to the corrupt taxi system of Manila. It’s Uber!!! www.uber.com. You can read all about it on their website, but I will give some short details on it as well.
I had no idea what it was at first, but after complaining to a friend of mine, he grabbed my smartphone and immediately loaded it on there. Then he made me input my credit details (which I was uncomfortable with of course). He knew I was going to Manila in a couple of days and demanded that I use it. I’m so happy I did.
If you’re unfamiliar with Uber, it’s basically a private taxi or ride sharing service. You will not have to ride in dirty taxis with cheating drivers. You will be picked up in a private, newer car that is clean, plus before the driver gets to your location you have access to his phone # to text/ call him. You will not have to negotiate with taxi drivers and the rate will be set. If the rate is higher during peak times, they will warn you before you commit to a pickup. The App can also give you an estimated cost of fare.
The money is taken out of your credit/ debit card. I know that is tough to accept at first, but I have not had any issues with it and not heard of any. The receipt is then emailed to you along with the map and route you took.
The biggest hurdle you will have with using this App (other than knowing how to operate a smartphone for the older guys) is having an internet connection. If you have a cell phone and plan, you will know full well, the mobile internet is super unreliable. Globe, Smart, and Sun like charging you for it, but do not like delivering it.
The best way around this is to carry a pocket WiFi device. I have found Smartbro is the best so far and works almost anywhere in Manila. The smaller, less-internet capacity devices can be bought for less than P2,000 now, maybe even P1,000. Then you will need to “activate” or load it. I’ve found the best way is to get the 5 Day unlimited for P200. If you are arriving at Terminal 3, they even have a kiosk near baggage claim you can use. (Usually, I let my fiancé wait for the bags while I take care of the pocket WiFi. Yes, we have to use Uber immediately when we arrive).
So there you have it. I did not see anyone else talking about it so I decided I would post it and give it the recommendation for others just frustrated taking taxis in Manila. They even give you a free P200 (or first ride free) and P200 when you recommend other people. If you want to use my promo code and give me P200, go ahead. (https://www.uber.com/invite/uberJcaputo) However, I really just want to let everyone else know what I discovered about 8 months ago and the newest way to feel like you have overcome one aspect of the cheating pinoys. The best part is their rate is about 20% cheaper than using an actual taxi.
If no one has used it before and has any questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them in the comments section.Published in