Macao or Macau is known all over the world as the “Las Vegas of Asia” with all of its huge and extravagant casinos and hotels. It is also a favorite destination of history buffs because of its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Being colonized by Portuguese for a long period of time, Macao has been a fusion of traditional and modern, of East and West culture. Tourists in Macao have no complaints except for one thing, taxi. Taxi scam in Macao is so alarming that is why the Macao Tourism is doing their best they can to monitor it.
Working in front of the house of any hotels, it is very common that we get complaints about taxi drivers bargaining with riders. They say that taxi would not run the taximeter and ask for a flat rate which is definitely a no no. Some would even go to length of pretending to be official hotel taxis to get what they need. Having problems with taxi drivers can definitely ruin these Foreigners’ travel experience and needless to say, it can hurt the overall Macao tourism.
This problem is not unique in Macao, in fact almost all places in Asia have the same situation. And in each city, tourists are vulnerable to be victimized. I myself am frustrated that I take taxi as a last resort.
How Not to Get Scammed by Taxi in Macau
As much as Macau Tourism wants to eradicate this massive taxi problem, they just can’t. There are still honest and decent taxi drivers around Macau and we are not generalizing. But if you find yourself needing a taxi, here are some tips to help you prevent these ongoing scams.
- Know the basic don’ts of taxi drivers.
It is important for everyone to know that taxi driver in Macau cannot; bargain the fare, refuse to hire, drop you off to other places than your intended destination, take a detour, and to let other people aboard the vehicle. Failure to follow the aforementioned rules can result to a fine or suspension.
- Be aware of the present taxi rate.
Currently (September 2017), the initial drop down fare is MOP19 for the first 1.6 kilometers. Every subsequent 240 meters or part thereof is MOP2. If your destination is to Macau International Airport or Taipa Ferry Terminal, there is an additional charge of MOP5. Same goes with your luggage, every piece of suitcase is also chargeable.
- Know the estimate of fare to your destination.
Here are some of the famous places of interests in Macao and their corresponding fare estimates. Note that these are only estimates and guidelines and not taking into account the traffic and other unforeseen circumstances.
Senado Square (Ruins of St. Paul’s) to Venetian Hotel, Galaxy Hotel, City of Dreams Parisian – MOP60-MOP75
Senado Square to Macau Airport or Taipa Ferry Terminal – MOP70-MOP85
Senado Square to Macau Ferry Terminal – MOP30-MOP40
Venetian Hotel to Macau Airport of Taipa Ferry Terminal – MOP40-MOP50
Venetian Hotel to Border Gate – MOP80-MOP90
- Ask your hotel Concierge or Front desk to call taxi for you.
Make use of hotel Concierge or Front Desk when asking for a taxi. They will be happy to do that for you. If some hotels can’t call for a taxi ask them to escort you to taxi stands. This way, the driver may think twice in charging you higher.
- Take a taxi on an official taxi stand.
Hailing a taxi from the street is more vulnerable to scams and they might try to haggle for a fixed rate since the drive might think you are desperate to get one. Try looking for an official taxi stand. In Macao, it’s everywhere.
- Call the complaint hotlines if you find yourself in one situation.
Here are the most important numbers to call if you are being scammed by a taxi driver:
The Transport Bureau: +853 8866 6363. The transport bureau handles taxi complaints while; Public Security Police Force +853 2857 3333 handles abuse or accidents occurred while inside or by/with taxi driver. The hotlines are responsive and they will be your best friend during these situations.
- Have your phone ready to take picture of the driver’s ID.
Calling the Transport Bureau is the right thing to do but they will ask for the following information: car plate number, taxi driver identity number, and taxi driver’s name. While inside the taxi and you notice that there is something wrong with the taximeter take a picture of the ID hanging so you’ll know the information. Taking a picture of their ID would also mean that you mean business and that might scare them.
- Call the Radio Taxi Company as an alternative.
In Macao, there is a new Taxi company that is operating that charges the usual fare but can sit up to 6 people (regular taxi only sits 4) and is guaranteed to not scam their way in. Call this number or ask the hotel staff to call this number for you: +853 288 1345
- Be alert.
In every situation, one must be aware and alert at all times. If the taxi driver is trying to negotiate, get off the taxi and find another. It is futile to engage in violence or cursing, just walk away and ask for help.
- Use other mode of transportation.
Aside from taking a taxi, public buses and free shuttle buses are available all over Macao. Make use of them and take taxi only if necessary.
Macao is a tiny city that some tourist attractions are within walking distance of one another. Take for example the Cotai Strip. Cotai Strip is the place of big hotels such as: Venetian, City of Dreams, Parisian, Sands Cotai Central, Galaxy, and Studio City. The city center is also within walking distance from Grand Lisboa, Wynn, or MGM hotel.
The truth is, you can travel and enjoy Macau without even taking a taxi once. Local transports are convenient and is available almost 24 hours. Being a traveler means being street smart. Know the place you are going, research, and everything will definitely be fine.