How to Not Get Ripped Off by Korean Taxi Drivers

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Although the reputation of Korean taxis has been improving in recent years, there are still a few bad apples that try to swindle foreigners in Korea. Luckily, there are a number of preventive measures you can take to not get ripped off by Korean taxi drivers.

*Disclaimer – Korean taxi drivers are for the most part honest people making an honest living. Seoulistic.com does not label all Korean taxi drivers as cheats. But many foreigners experience problems in taxis, and these tips are designed to help foreigners in Korea have a more enjoyable time.

 

Use Naver Maps

For Visiting Korea or Living in Korea

One of the greatest resources is to use Naver Maps. Enter your starting point and your destination to see approximately how much a taxi fare will cost from one specific point to another. (See this post for a more detailed look on how to use Naver Maps to prevent being ripped off by Korean taxis.) Use this tool before you head out to know approximately how much you’re supposed to pay.

 

Fake Confidence with your Korean

For Visiting Korea or Living in Korea

One of the ways some Korean taxis drivers pick their victims is to sense weakness. If the customer sounds like they are unsure of where they’re going, they’ll use this to their advantage. One of the easiest ways to prevent yourself from being another Korean taxi cab rip off victim is to fake confidence. Get into the cab and confidently tell the cabbie “Go to Myeongdong.” Don’t just say it, order the cabbie. In addition to being confident, having some decent Korean pronunciation helps tremendously with ensuring a fair taxi cab ride in Korea (read stories of what better Korean pronunciation can do for foreigners). Even if you’re in the cab with a bunch of friends chatting away in English, Spanish, or Swahili, being confident from the very first moment you step in will give that Korean taxi driver second thoughts on ripping you off.

Language tip: ‘명동’ 가 주세요 (“myeongdong” ga juseyo) – Please go to “Myeongdong.”

Know the Roads

For Living in Korea

This is another great way to prevent any Korean taxis from taking unnecessary scenic routes that will cost you your hard earned cash. If you frequently take a cab from your favorite place in Itaewon to your apartment in Gangnam, pay attention to the roads and remember the fastest and cheapest way to get home. That way you’ll be able to tell your Korean taxi driver the specific roads to take, and he’ll know you’re not messing around. The taxi driver may of course give his own suggestions on how to get to a certain destination, but if you tell them the exact route to take, it’ll greatly reduce the chances of you getting ripped off by Korean cabbies.

Language Tip: 직진하세요 (jikjin haseyo) – go straight
우회전하세요 (uhoejeon haseyo) – turn right
자회전하세요 (jahoejeon haseyo) – turn left

 

Call a Cab Beforehand

For Visiting Korea or Living in Korea

Just like in many places in the world, you can call a taxi to wherever you are in Korea. These so-called 콜택시 (Call taxi) services are especially helpful if you have a lot of luggage or are on a street that doesn’t have too many cabs. It’s also really good for ensuring a fair price and rate for your trip to Seoul. The companies that perform this service generally don’t have a reason to rip you off; the driver’s getting paid the same, and they need to keep up a reputation. The only thing extra it will cost you is about 1,000 won for the direct pick up.

Tip: Visiting Korea? Get your hotel staff to call you a cab.

 

Take a Deluxe Taxi Cab (Black Cab) – 모범택시

For Visiting Korea

There are many different types of taxis in Korea (see CNNGo’s complete guide to taxis), but any taxi that is a sleek, elegant black is what’s called a 모범택시 (mobeomtaeksi). Literally translated, 모범택시 (mobeomtaeksi) means exemplary or model taxi, which all equates to better and more trustworthy service. If you value fairness, you’ll have to pay a little extra for this so-called “luxury” service.

Tip: Luxury cabs are not as numerous as regular cabs. Flag one down if you see one, but many times, you’ll have to call one to your door.

 

Write Down the Taxi Driver’s Credentials

For Visiting Korea or Living in Korea

This is a last ditch effort for making sure you’re not ripped off by Korean taxi drivers. By writing down the driver’s credentials, you’re basically sending a message that you’ll be reporting them to the authorities, which could result in them losing their taxi license. When you do this, make sure the taxi driver sees you writing down his credentials. The purpose of this is to not actually report the driver but to make him know you’re not messing around. Many times this leads to a change of heart and a more accurate fare.

Tip 1: Be careful to do this only when you’re blatantly getting ripped off. Some Korean taxi cab drivers can get pretty heated when in an argument. (See “Other Preventative Measures” #2).

Language Tip: 신고 할 거에요 (shingo hal geoeyo) – I’m going to report you.

 

Other Preventative Measures

1. Make sure the meter is running.
2. Open the door sooner than later, so you don’t literally get locked into an argument.
(See “Write Down the Taxi Driver’s Credentials”)
3. Pay the exact amount when possible. (Watch out for drivers switching bills).
4. Have a cellphone with you? Call 02-1330 (Korea’s tourism hotline) when you’re in a bind.

Note:

The Seoul government offers a hotline for those that want to report unfair taxi rides. Simply call ‘120’ to report.

Keith
Keith

Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he’s put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea.
Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

12 Comments

  1. Chris says:

    Take a Deluxe Taxi Cab ? I would give the opposite tip, don’t take one lol

  2. Joseph says:

    I wish they had this website when I was stationed I Korea. 2 of my co workers were ripped off,when they took a taxi from the airport to deague. Cost one of them 500 usd, and it costed the other 80 usd to go in a circle around the airport. And the police told him He had to pay or he would go to jail this was around 2005 and 2006

  3. Richard says:

    I was there in the summer shopping in Myeongdong and it was 9pm and its so hard to find a taxi around. So I was too tired and finally saw a taxi parking there and the driver asked me where i want to go.. I said Jamsil and he just told me the price 50,000… When I arrived it shows 22,000 on meter but i had to pay 50000…

  4. Hanna says:

    When in Gangnam:

    Most Gangnam cabs on a busy weekend are trying to pick people that are
    going out of Seoul such as Ghyeong ghi province or Seongnam or Incheon hence
    most cabs will not stop when they see a foreigner since A) they know foreigners r either visiting businessmen
    hence staying near Gangnam or B) they don’t want to waste time trying to figure out
    where the foreigner is going .

    If you are staying in Korea for a longer period of time, it helps to read the license plate to see
    which region the cab is from ( Incheon,Ghyeonghi,Seongnam etc)and learn to read the word Yaeyak which means
    reserved which can be mistaken as an empty cab sign.

    Best would be to have a Korean help you if together otherwise
    know major station names nearby or major cross road names.
    If all conditions are correct such as correct license plate for Seoul. correct red light on for empty car ( Bean Cha) and still cab hesitates and u r tried from waiting too long, just negotiate a price.

    If you sense the cabbie is a jerk pretend to take photos ( cabbie license info is at the front passenger seat area)

    When in Hongdae its similar but even harder to catch a cab. If not too late, might be better to take a bus and move away from Hongdae a stop or two and try to catch a cab

    Don’t expect Korean cab drivers to know how to use the navigator cause that’s rarely used byvthem

  5. Clarence says:

    Basically the taxi drivers are ok.I only met on last week in Seoul.The taxi driver demanded extra 2000 won more because I have to children with me.I just pay whatever I see on the meter and just walk off.

  6. PIERRE says:

    How to cheat the cheaters ? After long waiting time on Iteawon main street last Saturday at 0230 ( to go the Grand Hyatt, 5 min drive from there , under heavy rain… ),after several taxis asking from 10’000 to 20’000 Won ( instead of 2400, normal price with taximeter ), we asked a policeman to help. He was friendly but unable to find a cab, all answering it was not on their way, they finished their work etc… Finally we accepted the deal for 10’000 Won, and arriving at hotel, we jumped out, and ask for the Hotel security and driver to come out to the reception. He disapeared…at least, the travel was free !…. Sad for the 90 % kind, honest and clean drivers…Why police is not able to catch them ??

  7. Nat says:

    Yes I totally agree that you have to get ready the exact amount of money to pay the driver. I took a cab with my friend from Incheon Aiport going to Myeongdong because it was too late and there weren’t anymore airport limousines for us to take. The driver and us agreed on paying according to the meter. Upon reaching, the meter shows 57,000 won and we added the 8,000 won toll so we had to pay him 65,000 won. As we did not prepare small notes, we had to give him 70,000 won and we were expecting a change from him. However he pretended he didn’t understand, shooed us off, got on his cab and went off. It was disappointing to have met with this incident once we arrived in Seoul……

  8. meg says:

    I’m sure they did have the $5 or 5000 won change, but tried to pretend they didn’t. I just came back and while my korean is decent, I know I got the “foreigner” route several times, with one taxi bill coming out to twenty some dollars, when it should have been 10. We just paid it, but now I’m wondering if there’s a place I can report the guy. I can’t call the “120” number from here to report. Anyone else have a different number?

  9. Alexandre Joire says:

    Hi !

    Last week, I took a grey taxi at 5 pm from Seolae Maeul (near Banpo) to Changnyangri.
    Usually, it costs me something like 12 or 13 000 won, but last Monday, the taxi driver asked me a little bit more than 21 000 won. He took a long way to reach cheongnyangri train station. I had to argue with the taxi driver not to pay what he was asking me. Finally, I paid 13 000 won and went out of the taxi. I was furious and I missed my ITX train for Chuncheon.

  10. enk says:

    Do they charge extra at night time after 12? It was around 6km.

  11. Dylon says:

    I gave a taxi driver 2 bills, both 10,000 won. He gave me my change and I got out. He then came running out of the cab saying I gave him a 10,000 won bill and a 1,000 won bill. I assumed he was right so I paid him 9000 more won. This isn’t the first time a taxi driver in Korea has tried to trick me. Some of these guys are completely shameless when they try to steal your money.

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