Can I Use Uber in Cartagena?
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One of the questions I get asked the most when friends visit me in Cartagena is, can I use Uber to get around?
My usual response is, “yes, you can use Uber in Cartagena, but there are better ways to move around the city.”
Uber in Cartegena
As the best-known ride-sharing company in the world, Uber is available in Cartagena as it is in most major cities. However, since Cartagena is not very metropolitan, Uber has yet to catch on here as elsewhere.
You can definitely find some rides through Uber, but because there are fewer users on the platform, it takes longer to get a ride.
I do not recommend using Uber as your main ride-sharing service in the city of Cartagena.
Instead, try using InDrive, as it is the city’s most efficient and cheapest ride-sharing option.
Before I tell you all the benefits of using InDrive instead of Uber, let me give you some advice about Cartagena taxis.
The streets of Cartagena are like a sea of yellow: there are taxis everywhere, so it is tempting to hop in a cab out of convenience.
Unlike Bogota and other major Colombian cities, they are a safe option for transportation.
Having said that, safety is not the only thing to consider when choosing your mode of transportation. It is best not to take taxis unless necessary; here are a few reasons why:
Why You Should Not Take Taxis In Cartagena
Taxis in Cartagena do not use meters
The transportation department publishes a decree with estimated fare prices.
These values are based on where you are going/coming from and the time of day.
Unfortunately, this official information is hard to find. Even the locals don’t know exactly what the cost of the fares is supposed to be.
These fares roughly outline prices between city neighborhoods without specifying boundary lines, leaving room for a lot of ambiguity.
This ambiguity creates the perfect opportunity for taxi drivers to take advantage of riders, especially tourists.
I have gotten myself into countless verbal altercations with taxi drivers about how much they tried to charge me.
If they happen to hear me speaking English instead of native Spanish, I know it’s going to cost me.
These interactions are easily avoidable by not riding taxis. If you do choose to hail a cab: approach the vehicle and agree on a fare with the driver before you even get into the car.
When you are exiting the vehicle, hand them the exact change and quickly leave so they cannot argue with you; and they WILL try to argue, which leads me to my next point.
One side note: not all of the tap water in Cartagena is safe to drink. Please read, Can I Drink Tap Water in Cartagena? to get up to speed.
The majority of taxi drivers are obnoxious
They are obnoxious in the way they drive, the music they play (and volume), and the manner in which they speak.
Taxis in Cartagena weave in and out of traffic, stop in the worst possible places to pick up passengers, blare their music, talk loudly on their cellphones, and pull over to talk to their friends while you are in the back seat; you get the idea.
I have found drivers on ride-sharing apps to be much more conscious of the riders’ experience and more cautious drivers overall.
Did you pack the right clothes for your Cartagena adventure? Not sure? Check out my Ultimate Guide for What To Wear In Cartagena.
The taxi cars are often in disrepair
As a vehicle owner in Cartagena, I know firsthand the toll that extreme heat and salty sea air can have on a vehicle; maintaining a vehicle in Cartagena is time-consuming and expensive.
Since taxi drivers seldom own the vehicles they drive, their cars are often falling apart.
In contrast, drivers on ride-sharing platforms usually put their own cars to work, and this pride of ownership shows in the state of their vehicles.
Now that I have convinced you not to take taxis in Cartagena let me tell you about the best alternative to both Uber and taxis: InDrive.
But before we really move on, check out this article, 11 Pros & Cons for Expats Living in Colombia, to see if Colombia is for you or not!
Why InDrive Is The Best Way To Find Transportation In Cartagena
You may not have heard of InDrive (formerly known as InDriver) before, but this app has taken Latin America by storm.
Cartagena is no exception, and here are some of the reasons why it is the best option:
You will find the most users on this platform.
This means your ride will arrive quickly because, at any given time, there are multiple cars in your area looking for rides.
Set your own price.
InDrive allows you to offer the price you wish to pay for your ride. In turn, the driver may accept, reject or counter your offer.
This quick negotiation adds an element of excitement to the ride-sharing process.
The app will suggest a fair price for you to offer, but it is ultimately up to you to decide how much you want to pay; this gives you some power back in a world that is used to taking advantage of foreigners and tourists.
If you do not get any bites, you can always up your bid in small increments until someone accepts it.
Side note: here is a big question for Cartagena. Can you flush toilet paper? The answer is here.
User ratings & information
As with most other ride-sharing platforms, rider/driver ratings are available within the app. This feature helps ensures a safe ride experience for all.
Additionally, InDriver gives you the exact vehicle make/model BEFORE you accept the ride so you can choose the best option right from the get-go.
Uber may be one of the most widely used platforms to find transportation, but in the case of Cartagena, there are better options to try.
As a local living in Cartegena, I always suggest that my friends use InDrive over Uber, especially taxis. That being said, people always ask me if renting a car in Colombia is a good idea.
It’s a great question, and a whole other topic that you can check out Is It Safe To Drive In Colombia?
One other suggestion before coming to Colombia is to catch up on all the traditional and Colombian dances in this article.