Taxis in Russia: How Not To Get Ripped Off
What are the best and most reliable taxi companies in Russia?
- In St. Petersburg and Moscow, Yandex.Taxi and Taksovichkof are among the most common taxi companies. Their apps are reliable and easy to use.
- Uber is a great choice. If you already have an Uber account, you won’t have any problems using it in Russia’s bigger cities.
- Moscow Cab lets you order English speaking taxi drivers for pick up at the airport even before your trip begins.
No matter if you take a guided tour to Russia or you travel independently, you may need to take a taxi during your trip.
Taxis in Russia work a little bit different than their Western counterparts. First of all, they are incredibly cheap. Finding a taxi to the airport for about $10 is absolutely no problem, if you know the right way to do it. In most Western countries I’ve been to, a taxi for $10 gets you to the nearest corner. Now, there are several things that you have to keep in mind before hopping into a taxi in Russia. This article is here to help you stay clear of overpriced taxi rides.
Taxi drivers most likely don’t speak English. If you can, try to learn the phrases you need in Russian. You’ll find a small list of these at the end of this article. Not only will it make communication easier, but a taxi driver who thinks you’re a Russian will automatically demand less money from you. Here is a general overview of taxi prices in Russia. First, you can type in or search for the city you need. Then you’ll receive a list of prices per kilometer or mile traveled within that city.
As we all know, high and low seasons influence prices in the hotel and flight businesses, but it goes even further than that. Just like the rest of the service industry, taxi agencies adjust to the season. So, the first step in finding a cheap ride is arriving in winter. You’ll see that prices will drop by almost half compared to the summer time. Not an option? Alright, there are other ways not to get ripped off.
Flagging down taxis
It is never a good idea to just flag down a taxi on the street. Even if you haggle with the taxi driver, you’ll probably end up with a ridiculously high price. Especially in popular areas, on the weekend or during rush hour, you’re guaranteed to get ripped off. The same rule applies to airport taxis. In your attempt to leave the airport, you’ll enter into a shouting mass of taxi drivers trying to sell their service to you. While this might sound tempting, it will only be unnecessarily expensive. It’s always better to use an app or call a taxi company. Since Russian taxis usually don’t have meters, it is impossible for you to track how much you’ll spend. Therefore, if there is absolutely no other way (e.g., if you don’t have internet or a foreign sim card in your phone), at least make sure to agree on a set price before departure.
How to order a taxi
The easiest way to take a taxi in Russia is to order it via a taxi app. There are several apps for different cities. In St. Petersburg and Moscow, the most popular ones are Yandex.Taxi (both cities) and Taksovichkof (only St. Petersburg). And, yes, Uber also works. Download the app, create an account, and you’re good to go. If you want to, you can link your credit card. If not, the default option is to pay cash. You can either point a pin on the map or type in the address, and you can also choose between three different comfort classes. Taksovichkof has an additional haggling option: if you’re not satisfied with the price offered, you can type in your personal suggestion and see if the taxi driver is willing to accept. Yandex.Taxi shows you pick up points close to you that will reduce the price. For instance, if you walk down the street for two minutes, you might get a ride that is ₽30 ($0.50) cheaper. Now that doesn’t sound like much, but the average ride with one of these apps costs around ₽200 ($3), so you’re actually saving 15%.
If you’re not a friend of mobile applications, of course you can always make a phone call. There even is an English-speaking taxi company called Moscow Cab that will get you around in St. Petersburg and Moscow without you having to speak Russian. You can use WhatsApp or Viber to order, or just call their number: +7 926 477 22 71. On the downside, they only accept cash, but as a plus they also take Euros, Dollars or Pounds. You can book in advance and they’ll wait for you at the airport. All of this makes them fairly expensive, with prices starting at $40 for a one-way-transfer. If you just want to get to your hotel quickly, or if you want a two-in-one taxi and city guide, this might be your option.
Do you tip taxi drivers in Russia?
Yes, it is common to tip taxi drivers if you are happy with the service. 10% of the trip is appropriate. If you are using a taxi app, you will be given choice whether to give tip or not and you'll be able to select tip amount. You can find more tipping guidelines in Russia in our article.
To wrap it up, if you need a taxi in Russia, use an app. Apps are the most secure and reliable way for a ride, and it won’t get any cheaper than that. If for some reason it’s not possible for you to order a cab online, don’t forget to set the price before departing. If you can, learn one or two Russian phrases before you leave your country - even if it’s just to say thank you.
Мне до … (Mnye do …) — I need to go to …
Сколько будет до …? (Skolko budet do …?) — How much will it be to …?
Тут хорошо. (Tut khorosho.) — Here is good. (Indicating where you want to be dropped off)
Спасибо! (Spasibo!) — Thank you!
Пожалуйста. (Pozhalista.) — Please. / You’re welcome.
Photos by @5tep5 @vonshnauzer @onemorephoto @nordwood