To which species do Budapest taxi drivers belong anyway?

To which species do Budapest taxi drivers belong anyway?In our editorial office the behaviour of Budapest taxi drivers and the situation caused by them is recurring topic. Some of our colleagues hardly see them as humans anymore, but think of them as predators ready to eat up themselves too in the lack of other victims.

Why the harsh opinion?

Before the fall of communism, taxi drivers were among the first participants of the economy who could go private, meaning they were the first (raging) capitalists during the years of socialism. This put them into a position of power, with a Dacia or a Lada they could earn more than a doctor or a company manager. Common sense and straight thinking soon abandoned them and they immediately got nasty. Without regard to age, sex or nationality they employed diverse methods and devices to rip people off. Due to the complete lack of legal regulations their hands were untied as they were allowed to use the tariff they wished and anybody could get his taxi driver's permit on a whim. One of the most widespread methods was "fast forwarding", which meant that they installed a micro switch behind the indicator or some other hidden place which could fast forward the meter. Like this if the passenger was not paying attention, they could fast forward their fees, eventually charging twice the amount they should have.

Hungarians of course wouldn't stand for that for too long, so they either watched the hand of the taxi driver very closely - thereby making him unable to overcharge them - or they turned the ride into a scandal by simply refusing to pay all of the fare. It became customary that at the beginning of the ride the passenger agreed with the driver on a fixed price so there was no need for any metering. At the same time taxi companies were founded with the aim of changing things for the good making the drivers joining them stop ripping off clients for good.

It was at this point that taxi drivers, being the predators they are - or maybe we should simply call them frauds - (with the few honourable exceptions), started picking on tourists from abroad, concentrating only on them.

With them the old trick still worked. While the fare for a trip up to the Castle was HUF 1000 for a Hungarian, the same cost HUF 4000 for an unsuspecting Italian. This "good" old habit still refuses to die, especially among "independent" taxi drivers (not belonging to any company) and those working for hotels.

This had to be explained so that the reader understands why Hungarian taxi drivers are prone to trick foreigners travelling to a nightclub. This is why the brains of taxis drivers in Budapest have become "wired" to think like that of a criminal, not considering "ripping someone off" to be an indecent act.

I'm sorry if the wording above is sometimes a little harsh and I must repeat that there are honourable exceptions...

The reason why I don't consider the words used above uncalled for is that I am convinced that the decline in tourism in Hungary was primarily caused by this persistent hard work of the taxi drivers of Budapest. These people don't hesitate to rip off foreigners already on the way into the city from the airport, they ask for a commission from restaurants for not talking their passengers out of going there for dinner and they charge nightclubs for a FEE for each client they manage to deliver to them.

They are responsible for the bad reputation of Budapest, often ganging up into mafia-like organisations with the corrupted clubs to deliver passengers to places where they will get tricked and stolen from and to receive the fee of often up to 20-30 thousand forints per person for the delivery.

The worst thing is that almost all of the taxi drivers of five star hotels belong into this group, which means even rich businessmen sometimes end up being delivered to criminals' dens. It also happens many times that tourists having chosen an honest and decent club on the internet tell the taxi driver where they want to go, but the cabbie tells them all kinds of lies to talk them out of going there and choose a different club.

The list of such lies is endless:

  • that club has been closed down.
  • it is closed on that given day.
  • oh, that's very expensive, I know one that's closer and a lot cheaper.
  • trust me, the girls there are really ugly, I know a much better place, etc.

If you hear such excuses or anything similar, you should get out of the car or insist on your original destination, because you are being tricked. Don't listen to the taxi driver or the receptionist, because they are the worst advisors, they are only trying to rip you off so that they get their fee.

About receptionists:

Unfortunately it is quite characteristic that hotel employees take part in deals like the ones above. We have heard from clubs that when a client chooses an honest and high quality club and asks for confirmation from the hotel employee, this person will call the club and blackmail them, saying the client is standing right in front of him and he will talk the client out of going there unless the club pays him some money.

Incredible, isn't it...?, as an independent website only aims to represent and protect the interests of its readers and of foreigners visiting Hungary. Therefore we suggest that you not only read the comments on this page, pad you take a look at articles and opinions on other similar sites as well before you travel to firmly make up your mind about which clubs you would like to visit. It won't be difficult to choose as visitors' comments always confirm each other, saying the same about each club.

After this all you have to do is insist on the destination you have chosen and not to listen to anyone else. Not to any taxi drivers, receptionists, porters, only to yourself!

And don't let this article put you off, do visit Budapest for its nightlife. The past couple of years have brought about significant positive changes, with many clubs offering a chance for being safe and entertained just like elsewhere in Europe, for a very good price. And in comparison to other Western European clubs, Hungary has the most beautiful girls and the best atmosphere, so if you were considering it, don't miss it for the world.

This article is only a small guide, we sincerely hope it was useful..


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