When you travel, it’s often apparent whether you are in a cheap destination or not as soon as you get a cab from the airport. I was reflecting on this last night as I bought my 127 peso official taxi ticket in the Mexico City airport. Last year at this time that would have meant a shade over $12 U.S. Now with the peso over 13 to the greenback, that comfortable ride from the airport to the very center of the city cost me less than 10 bucks.
I also just paid $10 in December to go from Lima’s airport to Miraflores, and only $3 to get from the airport to the center in Cusco. (OK, a little bargaining was required on that one.) You’ll also pay around $10 or less in Bangkok, Saigon, Kualu Lumpur, or Kathmandu.
Now compare this to the more expensive cities in the world. An airport cab in Madrid or Paris will usually run you at least $40. To get from Heathrow to central London can set you back 60 pounds, which is $80 to $120 depending on exchange rates. The long airport ride in Japan can top $200. (You can find sample fares for specific routes on some of these at worldtaxifare.com, though be advised this only works for fares TO the airport. Most of the city governments or airport authorities tack on additional fees for taxis FROM the airport, just as my greedy one does in my own home town.)
In fact, you can get a cab from an airport to a neighboring city in much of Latin America for what it will cost you to get from the airport to the city center in most of Europe or the U.S. Guatemala City to Antigua, for instance, or the Leon airport to Guanajuato in Mexico.
In places where tourists seem to outnumber the locals, all bets are off of course. You will pay $8 for a taxi in Merida, in the Yucatan state of Mexico, but you will pay $30 or more (depending on your bargaining skills) to get to your vacation factory hotel in Cancun. Same goes for Ixtapa, Cabo San Lucas, or Puerto Vallarta.
As usual, avoid the tourist hordes and your wallet will thank you.