Taxi scams

Despite recent attempts by the Budapest municipality to regulate taxi services in the city, some taxi swindlers still manage to rip off unsuspecting tourists, especially at the East and West railway stations (Keleti Pályaudvar or Nyugati Pályaudvar). No need to worry at the airport, as the rogue taxi drivers are literally not allowed to set a foot on the ground there. Some may try it, but as long as you book a taxi through the official taxi service desk at the airport, you will pay a reasonable fixed price to be taken into the city.

Budapest-taxi-scamsBudapest has an extensive and cheap public transportation system, with buses, trams and metro lines across the city. Only use a taxi service if it’s the easiest and quickest way to reach your destination, and don’t get into a taxi with just a sign on the roof, but no other indications of an official licensed taxi.

Before the regulations of 2013, each taxi company was allowed to set its own tariff structure, which resulted in tourists being ripped off by some of these companies. Nowadays, the licensed taxi’s in the city are easily recognizable from their yellow color and the taxi sign on their roof. They have to abide by a predetermined rate system, with the prices clearly indicated outside and inside the car. They are obligated to use their taxi meter at all times. Still, some may take advantage of tourists unfamiliar with the city infrastructure to take a longer route to the destination. The most reliable companies are City Taxi (+36-1.211.1111), Budapest Taxi (+36-1.777.7777) and taxi (+36-1.222.2222).

It’s never a good idea to ask a taxi driver for a recommendation on restaurants and bars, as they are likely to take you to a place that pays them a commission for every customer they bring, and these are generally not the best nor the least expensive establishments. Instead, they recover the commission paid by charging their customers outrageously high prices.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Budapest and Hungary Tourist Scams Forum.

Comments

  1. Well, silly me. Got scammed today. I took 15,000 ft from a teller machine at the baths near Heroes square. So clearly a 10,000 ft note and a 5,000 ft note. Got a cab at the kerb and went back to the Marriott by the river. Meter read 4,950 ft. I handed the dude (grey, long hair btw) the 5,000 note and he did a sleight of hand apparently and says I only gave him 500 ft. I didn’t quite get it, my wife says you only gave him 500, and I was like oh ok here the 10,000 note. As it turns out, she was only translating what she heard him say where I thought she had seen the note I gave him. Anyway he gives me a 5000 note back. Turns out we were going to Gundel restaurant for dinner, just across from the baths so we got a cab there… Only 2,500 ft. I paid by credit card. Then got a can back later, it was only 1,950 ft this time and I handed him the 5,000 note I got from the earlier driver, and this guy says I need florist- the 5,000 was one of these Indonesian things. SOB. Ok, only like $50 in total for what should have been at worst a $10 cab ride, but …
    So, beware the scam and if you see a grey long haired dude driving your cab, pass him a false note or do a runner on him for me please. Pity, we had such a good time otherwise in Budapest.

    • Michael Fong says:

      Taxi scams are still going on. I have just caught a taxi from the Chain Bridge to the Hotel Mercure Korona, a distance of around 2km. Got charged 5,000 forints. Googled what the fare should have been when I got back to the hotel – around 1,100 forints.

      Certainly put a very bad taste in the mouth, bad enough for me to decide that I will not be visiting Budapest again.

  2. There is an app for checking taxi fees:
    http://web.t-online.hu/bensoftbt/

  3. Jordan Budding says:

    …..same happened to me and my wife….2km taxi ride (6-7 minutes) cost us 5000 desptr it clearly detailing cost on the taxi door and window. It should have been c.1200. No compromise with these guys either, you question it and they simply shrug their shoulders.

  4. Taxi scam main train station. Go for a taxi and another man approaches showing a card “with zones” saying your hotel is in zone whatever and the charge is 7,500Fo -zone 1. Like at some airports. No such thing. Point to sticker on cab window 260Fo per km. Insist on meter use and make sure it doesn’t go round like a slot machine.

    • Got scammed from the train station to the Intercontinental. I had no idea of what’s going on. The guy showed me the card and asked 25 Euros or 7500 forins for the ride. 1st hour in Budapest and being ripped off. Obviously, nothing being done to fix the issue, reading all these posts. My mistake that I did not check before landing here. Frustrating and obviously I wont be back in a city so corrupt. They should be kicked out of the EU.

  5. Craig Johnson says:

    Had a five minute trip in one of Budapests taxis & charged us 9000 forint, when i questioned the price, he insisted he was correct!!
    Even dressed in a shirt & tie, mentioned something about weekend rate!!
    Lovely city, but…. the taxi situation leaves me thinking we won’t be back.

  6. Same scam today with us. Gave him 10,000, says I gave him 1000. Also overcharged a 3000 fare as 6450. Terrible. These thugs give Budapest a bad reputation.

  7. Vinit mehta says:

    We were scammed by a taxi driver who charged 6000 forint for a distance of 1 km. From our hotel Eurostars Citi enter Budapest. This city is very nice to look at but the. Taxi guys are not controlled.. and they do not want. Uber….

  8. I got the old “weekend rate” scam too – only went 3km and he tried to charge 4x what the fare notice said it would be. I said “You’re scamming me, if you can show me where a weekend rate is mentioned I will pay it, otherwise call the police and they can sort it out”. He just shrugged and wouldn’t make eye contact, so I only gave him amount for the flag fall and 3km.
    My tip is to Google Map the route first so you know how many km, and then sit in the back by the rates notice so you can work it out. And be assertive.

  9. And another one !
    We booked a taxi at our hotel to take us to dock 7 for a dinner cruise.
    Cost was 1600 forint, which was OK.
    After the dinner cruise, picked up a yellow taxi waiting outside.
    Cost for return to hotel was 5600 forint.
    After a few sherberts on the boat, I had not sussed that this was an ‘unofficial’ taxi, even though it was yellow and had a taxi sign on the roof.

  10. Just caught a budapest taxi an official cab in budapest i gave the scum bag 10,000huf and he did a slight of hand and and said i gave him 1,000huf please make sure you check what you are giving them as he made me doubt myself but i only one one 10,000huf note on me so its a no brainer for me i know i got scammed.. no.harm done i wont be spending my money in this city again

  11. Patrick Reid says:

    At Keleti yesterday, I needed a 12 minute taxi to Attila Street (4.7k).
    The drivers at the station had a discussion and said they would do it for 8,000 forint so I walked away and stopped one in the street instead ?(all yellow cabs).
    At the end, he pointed to the meter and it showed 10,000 .
    Should have refused or called the police but …
    In 30 years of travelling, I have rarely been ripped off. Budapest is the worst and it leaves a very, very bad impression of the city and it’s governance.
    Nearby places like Debrecen, Szeged and Romania are all honest.

  12. Livid! Been caught tonight, a 2 mile journey cost 7500 HUF! Getting to the airport was only 1000huf more!! I gave him 10000 HUF and it turned into 1000 HUF, I knew something wasn’t right, I knew I gave 10000 but, I believed him and gave another 6500, even left a tip! I’m so upset, bitter taste definitely left!

  13. Got done with change for 10,000 and was given an Indonesian 5,000 worth 27p for a fare clocked at 4,900. Hadn’t a clue what currency didn’t look like until tried to buy something with it.

  14. Just been done my self!! Woman taxi driver green bridge to the cable bridge 7800!!!!!! Gave her a 10000
    Note she gave me 1000 back and said mr it’s 7800 not 1000….. lucky I only had 10000 nots on me cause I had just been the cash point.. so tryed to argue in reply she started screaming…. love the city but won’t be returning had loads of taxi journeys here and some are normal price say 2800 then for the same journey it’ll be 7- 9000 and they just shrug and say mr that’s the price!! Wanted to smash the taxi up
    Soo sooo soooooo rude

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