Wednesday 22 January 2014

Ramblings from Saudi: How to Take a Taxi in Jeddah

Taking a taxi in Jeddah can be quite an adventure at times. So here are some tips on how to take a taxi in the city:

[1] Be choosy. Pick the latest model of Toyota Camry or Hyundai Elantra, of which there are plenty. You get to enjoy a better ride and the best thing is that it doesn't cost more than taking that 5-year old Hyundai Accent without the air-conditioning. 

[2] Haggle the fare before you get into the taxi. Minimum fare usually is SAR10. SAR15 is more of the norm. For farther destinations in the city, SAR20 max per taxi. Locals though, I have been told, tend to haggle for the SAR10 fare only. (USD1 = SAR3.75) 

[3] The fare that is based on meter (which starts at SAR5 and increases at a rate of SAR1.60 per kilometer) always ends up higher than the fixed price agreed with the driver. So it's better to avoid taxis using meter (This is totally the opposite of the situations in Malaysia and elsewhere). And for some reasons, the drivers most of the time just agree on the fare without using the meter. 

[4] For non-Arabic speakers like yours truly, to give direction to the taxi driver: 
- Turn right: yamin 
- Turn left: yasar 
- Go straight ahead: ihdeenassirotol mustaqeem 
- Stop here: sodaqallah ul 'azim 

Again, for non-Arabic speakers, fret not. Since taxi drivers are mostly South Asians (with a few Saudis and Yemenis), giving direction in basic English should not be a problem. But do at least make sure you either know the direction or the driver knows the destination before you get into the taxi. 

Additional Notes:

[5] The good thing about agreeing on the fare beforehand is that the driver would try to get you to your destination as fast as possible and using the shortest route possible. "Fast" here however may not necessarily be good though. Refer to my entry on "How to Drive in Jeddah" for further info. 

[6] If the driver tries to take you for a ride and then ask for higher-than-previously-agreed fare at the end of the journey, just get out and run like you run for your life! (Okay, I don't actually recommend that but apparently someone I know did just that! LOL!) 

[7] If you plan on going to Makkah by taxi from Jeddah: 
- Go to Bab Makkah (Makkah Gate) where all the taxis bound to Makkah are. The 1-hour trip between Jeddah and Makkah should cost you no more than SAR10 - SAR15 per person or SAR50 - SAR60 per taxi. 
- If you are approached by a driver, do not agree on anything until you see the condition of his car. Drivers with old cars or cars in bad condition tend to park their car away from the crowd and try to get the customers to agree before bringing them to their car. 
- If you are traveling alone and plan to share a taxi with other passengers, go for the front seat. More often than not, the driver would try to squeeze 4 passengers into the backseat.


Okay, the last 2 translations under [4] is just a stupid joke among Malaysians in Jeddah. It should be "ala tol" and "woqqif 'indak" respectively. :)

This is the seventh blog entry under 'Ramblings from Saudi' series.

'Ramblings from Saudi' is a series of blog entries originally written when I was living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for one year from 2007 to 2008. While the entries under this series are not exactly travel entries, (I hope that) they tell stories about life in Saudi Arabia in general as I personally experienced them.

For other 'Ramblings from Saudi' entries, click here.


Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. Cis tertipuuu. Dah agak dah tengok lain mcm je bunyinya. Hahaha

    1. What?? Biar betul? Hahaha!

    2. Haha.

      Yelah, mula2 ihdinassirotalmustaqim tu fikir, mungkin betul kot sebab memang maksud dia ada kaitan dengan jalan yang lurus.

      Tapi bila stop here sodaqallahul'azim, I was like 'Tang mana ada Allah dekat stop here?'. Hahaha

      But you got me bro., You got me. Sebab still percaya cuma ada sikit suspicious di situ. Hehehe

  2. I was practicing the Arabian (with the Arabian accent lagi, mind you) only to see that it's not the right one...and here I was thinking, wow, just "stop here" also so hard to pronounce..

    1. Hahaha! Sorry, Jeff! "Sodaqallah ul 'azim" is what Muslims usually say when we finish reading the Quran. "Woqqif 'indak" is the correct term for "stop here" :)

      P/S: Please remind me next time I see you. I want to hear you say Arabic words with Arab accent, heh heh! :)

  3. oh that really easy in arabic go strait and stop here hahahahaa :P
    that run for your life quite interesting hahahaa.. but i agree not recommended for women to that action hahahaa..

    1. Hehe! That's what I was told when I first moved to Jeddah, haha!

  4. thinking to stay and teach there oneday...

    1. Khai, I can more or less assure you that it's going to be quite an experience. If you get the chance, go for it! :)

    2. Good tips. But you should also mention that women are not advised to travel alone. Am I right?

    3. I can't really confirm that because I've seen it a few times. But then I'm just talking about Jeddah, which is somewhat more "liberal" compared to Riyadh and obviously Makkah & Madinah. So maybe there's a ruling on that but not really enforced in Jeddah. Wallahu 'alam.

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