The Real Deal – Taxi Prices In Quito

Quito is unique among major South American cities in that it has metered taxis. What is not unique is that 4 in 5 drivers refuse to use them, quoting you inflated prices to get from point A to point B. Moreover, most travel guides give lousy advice as to what taxi rides ought cost in Quito.

For example, at least three web-sites state that it costs about $8.00 to get from La Mariscal (“Gringolandia”) to the northern bus terminal, “Terminal Terrestre Carcelen”, where you can catch buses to Otavalo and Imbabura, but this is cr*p! On the meter, from the “Centro Historico” which by the way is further away from Carcelen than Gringolandia, this trip is $5.80. From La Mariscal, it should be no more than $4.00.

So…as a public service, we’ve cooked up a little table that’ll give you the skinny on what it should cost to get around Quito by taxi.

Where to Where… On the Meter… Negotiate for… You got soaked!
Aeropuerto Mariscal Scure to el Centro Historico ~ $4.00 $5.00 >= $7.00
Aeropuerto Mariscal Scure to La Mariscal (i.e., ‘Gringolandia’) ~ $2.50 $3.00 >= $5.00
La Mariscal to el Centro Historico ~ $2.00 $3.00 >= $4.00
Terrestre Carcelen to el Centro Historico $5.80 $6.00 >= $8.00

Keep in mind that taxis in Quito charge by time, not by distance. So a trip from Gringolandia to the old city, is a bit more expensive than the distance would normally indicate, given the horrible traffic. Also, most taxi drivers will quote a couple extra dollars at night. So keep that in mind when you negotiate. In addition, *USE SPANISH* when negotiating with taxi drivers. They’re much less likely to try and soak you if you use a well placed, “…demasiado!” (“too much!”) and a counter offer. And finally, if you have to negotiate the fare…don’t tip the driver! He (she) has already included a percentage for themselves.

The Real Deal – Traveler’s Checks in Quito, Ecuador

Despite what the guidebooks say, cashing a traveler’s check in Quito, Ecuador is a royal pain-in-the-ass. Take it from the guy who wasted a day walking all over the ‘Centro Historico’ and La Mariscal (affectionately referred to as ‘Gringolandia’) in an almost futile attempt to find a place to cash his checks. Here’s what I found, from big banks to tiny cambios…fees, lines, and limits.

Banco de Pichincha (Venezuella Street near Plaza Grande, Centro Historico) – Lines from hell; crowded, loud, and confusing but no indication of the “tarife” board that cashing traveler’s checks was even an option.

Banco de Pichincha (Quayaquil Street near Teatro Sucre) – Same as at Plaza Grande only longer lines, didn’t even try.

Banco Bolivariano (Garcia Moreno at Mejia, Centro Historico) – “No. Try Banco de Pichincha.”

Unibanco (Near Plaza Granda on Garcia Moreno, Centro Historico) – Yet again, “No. Try Banco de Pichincha.”

Banco de Pichincha (Avenida Amazonas, La Mariscal) – A nice young man at the front said basically, “no aqui” (‘not here’).

Banco de Quayaquil (Avenida Amazonas and Ventimilla, La Mariscal) – Every damn guidebook says Banco de Quayaquil will cash your checks for a low fee, but don’t believe them. Not only will they not cash them, but the tellers will give you bad directions to the main branch.

Banco de Quayaquil (Cristobal Colon and 6th of December) – The ‘edificio’, the real deal, the main branch; up three flights to the ‘international section’ (you won’t find it without help), and the disdainful woman there tells me, “…we do, but the not right now”. When they do cash traveler’s checks is not clear since the sign says “8:30 – 4:00”, and I’m there at 2:30p.

Banco del Pacifico (Avenida Amazonas near Ventimilla, La Mariscal) – My savior…a 2.5% commission, but a $200.00 limit per transaction (maybe per day). Head upstairs to your right for the international section.