There's good advice posted here to use your cell phone to call City Taxi or Fo Taxi because taxi line cabs and street cabs will rip you off. That is certainly still true, even though all Budapest cabs are supposed to be metered now. If you are using your US cell phone carrier, you have to dial 011 in front of the local numbers. I was defeated trying to follow James' advice to call City Taxi at Keleti Station by not thinking of this. We really got stung by one of the non-radio taxis in the taxi line. It was double what it should have been. Then the cost was further increased by not having forints yet and having to pay a penalty for not using the local currency. That's fair if it is a fair amount and I didn't object to it when we taxied to our airport hotel in Zurich, but this Budapest guy was a rip off artist. There is a change money stall inside Keleti, so use it no matter how late and tired you are.
You will find that the "+" sign followed by the country code which in Hungary is 36, works well for making phone calls.
Where did the cab take you and what did you end up paying? This is the single worst tourist scam in town; so things could be worse. But still an embarrassment and unforgivable.
Unfortunately, some things are learned too late and it pays to do your research ahead of time. I used them three times recently and had no problem.
Well, I'd say I did the research because I had the City Taxi phone number programmed into my phone exactly as it was given out here. I just didn't realize I would have to dial 011 in front of it as if I were still in the US. This is information that might help someone else, if they are using their regular US cell phone and not a local SIM card. I don't buy a local SIM because my regular US TMobile international rate of 20 cents per minute is cheap enough for me and I get unlimited international data and texts. The cost of the taxi was 15 euros from Keleti to the Intercontinental.
I went back and checked my posts. I referenced City Taxi a lot so I bet I missed the one you used, but the ones I found either gave the website or the full number +36- 1 -2-111-111 Note that the "+" replaces "011". Some countries don't use 011 for international access but the "+" will always work (to the best of my knowledge). Still, if you didn't know about using your US phone in Europe I can understand what happened. To say you didn't do your homework is a little strong. Sometimes you cant answer questions you don't know to ask. Sorry this happened to you. I ran the numbers, assuming the traffic wasn't too bad and allowing for a lousy exchange rate you paid about $20 for a $10 ride; so you got clipped for $10. At least the cabs in Budapest are so cheap that if someone doubles it on you it's not vacation wrecker. Could you imagine having the fare doubled in London? Yikes!
It is very helpful to make the point about using the + sign in front of the number. That's something I didn't know, and I hope making particular note of this will be helpful to others. James, all your posts on this forum are so enjoyable and much appreciated.
We've had great use of City Taxi all over town today! Nice cars, nice drivers, prompt, reliable, fair.
You are still there. Excellent!!! I've used City Taxi for years and have always been pleased with them. There are others that may be just as good, I just don't have the experience with them to recommend them. I hope you find the Hungarian people as kind as my wife and I do. Enjoy the trip.
I have learned that there are absolutely no black and white answers. So, for my money vs convenience vs whatever; the ATM machines are still the best for exchanging. Otherwise I prefer just using my credit card. But, again, there are other valid options as well.
As for SIM s. I just use my US TMobile like you do. That combined with WiFi calling when WiFi is available 2 or KS fine for me. I've gotten good rates and good signals from Istanbul to Prague to Rome and to Moscow and points inbetween. .
You mean avoid the exchange outlet(s) inside Keleti? Look for an ATM instead?
True, under "goulash communism" the desired hard currency by Hungarians were $ and DM.
I believe there is an ATM in the station and I know there is one in the airport arrival lobby. Otherwise, like in most cities there is an ATM about every 100 feet. OTP is one of the larger banks. YOu can use this page to locate their ATMs https://www.otpbank.hu/portal/en/Contact/ATMlocator
I programmed City Taxi's number exactly as James gave it and it dialled with no problem when I called--I have an iphone, maybe it automatically added the 011? Actually, just checked my phone and it's in there as +36 1 211 1111, so I guess it must have. I must say they were a pleasure to deal with, only used them twice but each time they arrived within 3 minutes and drove me in the most expeditious route to my destination.
ETA--Saw the post about OTP ATMS and had to add this thought--I needed a bit more money after a couple of days there (had gotten my first batch at Keleti ATM) so wanted to visit the OTP near Kalvin ter metro and was dismayed to discover you have to be a customer and swipe your card to enter the ATM lobby. Fortunately there were people inside using it so I went in when they opened the door, otherwise I'd have been searching for another ATM to use.
@ worldinbetween....Thanks very much for that piece of inside info, a real help for unsuspecting tourists arriving fresh at Keleti. It only stands to reason that the exchange outlet (Change, Cambio, Wechselstube) inside a train station is the first place one would go to upon arrival but got it...avoid it. Luckily, I didn't go to one on either visit to BP.
@christa; Big Surprise. ANY card with a magnetic strip will open the door. Don't ask me why, but that has always been the case. Now that I have said that someone will prove me wrong. It might have to be a Debit Card or an ATM Card. Cant say for certain because that is all I have ever used. Maybe a driver's license will work for all I know. There was one ATM where my card didn't work but I may have passed it through facing the wrong way; don't know because someone came out before my second try and just held the door for me. You will find that nearly all the ATM's are guarded that way.
I did try swiping my ATM card, but of course it's entirely possible it was going the wrong way.