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Cancun is a top destination for American sun-seekers looking to escape the harsh winter months. It’s home to a string of world-class hotels, a pristine coastline straddling the Caribbean Sea, and a developing wellness culture, but there’s one big caveat tourists are warned about: the city’s decades-old problem with taxi scams is now increasingly common.
For years, travelers to Cancun have struggled with daily corruption on various levels. Whether it’s restaurant owners who overcharge Americans assuming they have money to spend, corrupt police officers who will extort naive visitors about every detail, and of course, inflated transfer fees that make New York fares look like a business flight.
Unfortunately, despite the local government’s zero-tolerance policy against crime, it seems that Cancun still has a long way to go when it comes to exploitation:
The average price of a taxi in Cancún is higher than in New York
As the winter months approach, when a record nine million guests arrive in Cancún, Cancun’s infamous taxi fares average 500 pesosi.e. the equivalent of 24.35 USD, for a 3 mile trip – that is, if you speak a little Spanish and know how to negotiate very well. Otherwise, you might even pay a lot more.
According to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, a similar trip in New York would cost $12.34 much less, proving that tourist areas in Mexico are become more upscale Minute. Cancun sun attributes the phenomenon to a lack of competition, as popular ride-sharing companies like Uber, which offer cheaper rides, are banned.
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Of course, there is public transport in the city and a multitude of collective, minivans that only run when filled to capacity, which are generally preferred by locals and station employees. These are however not ideal for holidaymakers looking for a luxurious retreat – but again, it’s the only viable option left compared to extremely expensive cabins.
What is the rate at the other hotspots in the Riviera Maya?
While the official rate is much lower, Riviera Maya tourists would have paid 600 pesos for every three miles while lesser-known tourist destinations like Bacalar may charge just 60, or about ten times more. In a study conducted by Cancun sunout of 35 tourists surveyed, 86% paid more than 500 pesos for a 5 minute ride.
It’s about $24.27 per mile and a half. In other words, the vast majority of Americans vacationing in Cancun will experience corrupt practices when hailing a cab. Naturally, not only short-term visitors, but also digital nomads who have moved to the Mexican Caribbean are beginning to verbalize their dissatisfaction with the abuse.
After attending a co-working meeting, the Cancun Sun concluded that 100% of expats and remote workers living in the Cancun-Tulum belt who attended refuse to take taxis, primarily because they “can’t just can’t afford it.” . Alternatively, many travel with rented scooters, making it an option for couples or solo travelers.
Tulum is the worst place for budget travelers in the state
The situation in Cancún may be critical, but in the nearby resort haven of Tulum, it’s even worse, with overdevelopment and consumerism being largely responsible for the city’s declining tourist scene. Richard Downy of Rapid City, who has lived in Tulum for half a decade, reportedly said it “will continue to get more expensive” unless the state of Quintana Roo intervenes.
Downy States prices continue to “double” every year, but since there is no alternative, tourists simply have to pay. Sharing a similar view, Washington-born Stephanie Sargento is another Mexico-loving digital nomad who moved to Tulum “because it felt like heaven on Earth,” as well as being “cheaper and more relaxed.” than other beach hotspots in America.
Sargento couldn’t have been more wrong: Although she admits that the overall cost of living is lower in the Riviera Maya compared to her former base in Seattle, over the past year and a half she has noted that taxis no longer fit her budget and , like others at the same meeting, buying a scooter was his way of cutting the cost of living on Mexico’s most luxurious beach.
Finally, the Cancun Sun interviewed a third nomad whose first name is Darrin (last name was not provided), who swapped Tulum for a more affordable Playa del Carmen due to exorbitant prices. After all, besides the average fare of USD 72.00 for a 15-minute taxi ride, there is also the cost of accommodation and food, and these also increase through digital nomad hubs in Mexico.
How to avoid getting ripped off by taxis in Mexico
The best way to avoid being taken advantage of and losing your hard-earned money to corrupt drivers is pre-booking your airport transfer (know-how) and any inter-municipal travel in advance. By contacting local companies, you can negotiate the price and ensure that the price agreed upon during the discussion is maintained at the time of travel.
Unfortunately, until the authorities in Cancun, including Cancun Airport, allow ride-sharing alternatives, such as Uber, introduce stricter fare caps to eliminate corrupt taxis from the market, or improve public transportation in the city, tourists will continue to fall prey as they are easy targets.
As for the latter, the long-awaited Mayan Train will launch next year, connecting Cancun to many destinations across the Yucatan Peninsula. This should help ease the heavy financial burden on visitors’ shoulders, but so far the problem of extortion remains unaddressed, unlike that of security.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com