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8 Street Smart Tips When Riding A Cab

Updated on November 26, 2013
jpcmc profile image

I'm a dad, husband, and Christian first. The rest are just life's add-ons: an educator, administrator, learner, & development professional.

A taxi line at a SM Fairview mall
A taxi line at a SM Fairview mall

Metro Manila is a buzzling metropolis in the Philippines. It is a haven for business and commercial establishments. Moreover, it’s a melting pot of cultures where the old and new commingle. In one area, you can enjoy the tranquility of nature, and just a short drive away, you can experience the modern world. Without question, there is something for everyone in Metro Manila. But this is no travel and leisure article. This is about street smart tips when riding a taxi in Metro Manila to make your stay here safer and fun. Making fond memories means ensuring safety.

Do you feel safe in the hands of a taxi driver?
Do you feel safe in the hands of a taxi driver?

A real but not so happy story

Several months ago, my brother hailed a cab from his office going home. The trip would not take more than 10 minutes – or so he thought. The driver told my brother he had to take a leak so he stopped at a urinal alongside of the road. Yes, we have those here in the Philippines. But just a few seconds after the driver got out, two other men jumped in the taxi and held my brother at gun point. The driver got back and drove around while the two got his cash, phone, laptop and other valuables. They did not stop there. They got his ATM cards and asked for the PIN. While one went up to the machine to withdraw everything in it, the others stayed with my brother threatening to kill him if he gave the wrong PIN. A few more minutes and several kilometers away from his actual destination, they let my brother go. The experience rattled my brother, but keeping his cool, he managed to get back home in one piece.

This is just one among hundreds of stories about passengers getting robbed in taxis in Metro Manila. Unfortunately not everyone is as lucky as my brother. Others get hurt while other encounters are fatal. Knowing what to do in such situations is very important. It’s your life on the line. But won’t it be better to avoid such scenarios altogether? Here are street smart tips when getting a cab in Metro Manila.

How often do you take a cab?

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Taxi info painted on the door panel
Taxi info painted on the door panel

1. Write down the details

Here’s one habit that my wife and I do – we write down the details of the taxi. Should anything happen, at least we have important information. Moreover, send the information to a friend or family via text, phone’s email, instant messaging or carrier pigeon if you have one. Furthermore, take note of the time and location you got the cab. Likewise, include your destination and your estimated time of arrival. There are times when I call my wife and let the driver hear that I am giving the details to her.

Important information to write down:

  • Name of taxi company
  • Plate number
  • Operator/company owner Name
  • Contact details of operator
  • Pick up point
  • Drop off point
  • Pick up time
  • ETA at destination

The first four details are written on the taxi’s door panel. Furthermore, I usually update my family with my current location. If there is heavy traffic or an accident, I tell them so they can adjust the estimated time of arrival. I make sure that the driver is aware that I am reporting my whereabouts to someone.

A Rotten Few

Surely, there are many honest and excellent taxi drivers in Manila but there are a few really rotten drivers out there that you should avoid.

Check the local directory for a cab company near you
Check the local directory for a cab company near you

2. Call a Reputable Taxi Service

In Metro Manila, you can easily get a cab almost anywhere. There’s almost a taxi line waiting for passengers in corners, along main thoroughfares, subdivisions and commercial areas. This makes it really convenient for people to get a ride especially late at night. However, it’s important to note that these taxi lines are not exclusive to one company. As such, expect different types of cabs from really reputable companies to independent taxi drivers.

This is one of the most important safety tips in getting a taxi in Metro Manila – call a reputable taxi company. Through the years, I’ve used the services of a few taxi companies like Shiro Taxi, Reno Taxi, and Dollar Taxi. I already have their dispatcher’s number in my phone so I can call them wherever and whenever I need their services.

Here are other advantages of getting a cab company service:

  1. You’re assured of a taxi ride anytime of the day
  2. They pick you up wherever and whenever you need them – without extra charge
  3. They give important information about the taxi and the driver – plate number, body number, name of driver, etc.
  4. You can request specific drivers if you want
  5. They usually have two-way radio to call for another taxi should the one you’re riding breaks down.
  6. Dispatchers also advise the drivers which routes to take to avoid traffic.
  7. Dispatcher records details of the driver, taxi unit, time and the passengers pick up and drop off points.

Compute your taxi fare

Here's a cool site to help you calculate the taxi fare from one point to another:

Taxi Fare in Manila

3. Get from taxi line from reputable establishments

A taxi line is a queue of cabs waiting for passengers. Instead of driving around and wasting fuel, many taxi drivers opt to wait for passengers at strategic areas. The line is usually first come first serve basis. Furthermore, establishments like malls, hotels, corporate buildings and areas, even gates of subdivisions may have taxi lines.

Although this is convenient, there are taxi lines that are better than others. For example, taxi lines in malls may have guards on duty. They ensure that every passenger gets a ride safely. Also, they record cab details and even give a copy to the passengers. Likewise, some malls have CCTV cameras that offer a certain level of security. In addition, there are attendants to keep the passengers in order.

Getting a cab from a relatively safe taxi line is essential. The additional level of security does help. But of course, passengers should never let their guard down, even in the most secured places. It may sound like someone is out to get you, but a little precaution helps.

Taxi Line
With additional Security from mall guards
Too many people waiting for a cab
Outside subdivisions
Convenient for commuters
No set schedule
Additional security from the guard
May ask for extra payment
Business centers
There's always one available
May ask for extra payment

4. Get directions from reputable sources and stick to the route

Believe it or not, not many cars and cabs in Metro Manila have GPS devices. So you may want to ask for direction from reputable sources like the hotel concierge, guard on duty, or the ever dependable Google maps.

When you know the route, you can tell the driver to use it. Of course, most taxi drivers know alleys and short cuts that can get you to your destination faster. But, deviating from what you know may be uncomfortable to you. Furthermore, these deviations from the route can be dangerous.

It’s your choice whether to let the driver strictly follow your route or not. Just remember that it’s easy to get lost in a place that you don’t know. Some areas in Metro Manila especially the old ones have roads that crisscross while others have a fairly organized road system.

When I travel to places I don’t know, I have the habit of researching the main roads and the side streets. Also, I try to memorize the names of the street and count the intersections, right turns and left turns to my destination. Then I realized that getting an updated map is easier. A map on your phone is even better.

Here are some tips you may want to keep in mind:

  • Learn the names of the street especially the main roads
  • Ask for land marks you’ll pass a long the way to your destination
  • It pays to know the route of other public transport like buses, jeepney, and trains like the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light rail Transit (LRT)
  • It’s a good idea to know the location of hospitals, police stations, malls, public markets and other well-known places in reference to your destinations
  • Know which streets are one-way and two-way.
  • It’s always a good idea to know alternative routes.

It is one thing to get to your destination, but it’s another to get there fast and safe. Let’s face it; every country has their scary areas you want to avoid.

A map is always handy

Lock the doors
Lock the doors
A manual window crank
A manual window crank

5. Lock your doors

Here’s a street smart tip when riding in taxis in metro Manila – lock your doors. This seems common sense, but it’s worth mentioning. When you lock the doors, you prevent easy entry into the cab. There have been reports where passengers get robbed during traffic stops. Be wary of people walking around through the traffic while the vehicles are waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Some would open taxi doors and snatch bags and purses.

On the other hand, there are some taxis with broken door locks. As such, only the driver can open or close the doors. Be careful with that as well. There was a time when my wife and her friend took a cab to the mall. The driver won’t let them out unless they give him additional cash. Of course the two refused and the driver insisted they give additional cash. Since they can’t open the doors, they started shouting and making as much ruckus as they can to get the attention of the mall security. Eventually the driver opened the door and they got out quickly. Unfortunately, they were not able to get details about the cab and its driver.

Just an afterthought, there are times when I feel more comfortable with old taxis with windows that you have to manually crank open as opposed to motorized windows. I can easily open it without worry that the driver can sabotage the mechanism. But as usual, I see a lot of taxis with broken window cranks. Whether they did that on purpose or not, I just don’t know.

6. Whenever possible, go in groups

There is safety in numbers especially when you go to places you don’t know. So, whenever possible, go in groups. Even if you have different destinations, you can still get a cab to drive all of you. Just tell the driver before hand so he can choose the best route. This won’t be much of a problem if you call a cab company. However, if you just hail a cab on the street, they may ask for a little extra for multiple destinations. Or, they may ask to reset the taxi meter every destination point (this is more expensive though). I usually add a few bucks on top of the taxi meter as a tip for the driver.

Do you talk to the cab driver during the trip?

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7. Stash cash in a safe place

It may sound crazy but, I usually keep cash in different places on me. Apart from my wallet, I have cash in small pockets of my pants. I have inconspicuous containers that hold extra cash just for emergency situations. It’s not that you are praying to get robbed, but it would be a good idea to store emergency funds when needed.

To fully maximize these secret stash containers, you may want to write emergency numbers and contacts and keep it with your cash.

It pays to have extra money when you badly need it.

Store emergency numbers in your phone
Store emergency numbers in your phone | Source

8. Know the emergency numbers to call

We don’t have 911 emergency hotline here. Instead, you may opt to call 143 for Red Cross emergency services or 117 for police hotline. So when you’re in Manila, make sure you store these emergency numbers in your phone.

If you know how to handle yourself in Metro Manila, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy your stay. Also, getting around using taxi will become safer if you keep these street smart tips when riding a taxi in Metro Manila.


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    • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

      JP Carlos 

      3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello there Heather Dunlop,

      There is always a risk when we take public transport. We simply have to be vigilant and use our commonsense. My brother came out unharmed but the ordeal was unforgettable. I hope you are always safe.

    • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

      JP Carlos 

      3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there Dondrea Thnk you for taking the time to visit the hub.

    • profile image

      Heather Dunlop 

      3 years ago

      That's awful what happened to your brother. Cabs can be sketchy. The only bad experience I have had is the driver trying to take advantage of longer routes because I was a tourist being picked up at the airport.

      Such a good tip to write down the cab info. And these days, it'd probably be a good idea to text it to a friend "just in case"

      Stay safe

      - Heather

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Very good

    • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

      JP Carlos 

      3 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello Tara Woodruff,

      I hope it helps people be safer.

    • profile image

      Tara Woodruff 

      3 years ago

      Great Outline for staying safe while choosing and using Taxi services!!

    • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

      JP Carlos 

      4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there jilagan,

      That is such a great idea. With more people always on the go, this app can help improve safety and who knows, it can even improve the taxi services we have here in the Philippines.

      You can share this hub in your Facebook page so we can help more people be safe when riding a taxi in the Philippines. Best of luck with your app.

    • jilagan profile image


      4 years ago from Pasig

      We've recently launched an Android App called Taksilog which allows users to log and rate taxi trips and encounters, and it can be downloaded from the Google Play Store here:

      One feature of the app is that it allows you to say that you've boarded a cab with a certain license plate no., the date and time, and the general location. Once you've boarded, any contacts that you've registerd in the app will then be notified automatically via SMS with the details of your ride.

      It's currently designed to work in the Philippines, though we're assessing if this is applicable outside as well.

      Would you mind if we share your blog post in our app's Facebook page? We'd like to help educate the taxi riding community on the importance of taking precautionary steps when riding cabs.

    • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

      JP Carlos 

      4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there jabelufiroz,

      Thank you for dropping by and the kind words.

    • jabelufiroz profile image


      4 years ago from India

      Well written article and Smart Tips. Voted up.

    • jpcmc profile imageAUTHOR

      JP Carlos 

      5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I appreciate the kind words ameliam.michelle1. Public transport can be safe if we know how to protect ourselves. Happy hubbing my friend.

    • ameliam.michelle1 profile image

      Ameliam Michelle 

      5 years ago from London, England

      Thx jpcmc for sharing valuable insights about cabs in Manila. London too has an extensive taxi system and some of the tips apply for the cabs there too. Loved the hub and voted up


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