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How Badly Are Tourists At The Rio Olympics Being Ripped Off By Cab Drivers?

A journey into the ~dark~ heart of Rio.

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So, we decided to try a little experiment.

We wanted to see if taxis in Rio de Janeiro were taking advantage of the fact that their city is currently completely overrun with clueless gringos. Alexandre Aragão, a reporter for BuzzFeed Brazil and Carioca (someone born in Rio), and I, one of the aforementioned clueless gringos, decided to see how bad the fare differences would be if we each cabbed it across the city.

The Olympic zones in Rio are spread out all across the city, and traveling between them can be a real pain. There's massive traffic occurring on most major roadways, and while the city has tried to manage things by adding a bus lane, taking a cab is pretty much just as fast.


My theory was that the cab driver could tell Alexandre now lives in São Paulo so decided to take him the long way to punish him for abandoning his city. (São Paulo and Rio have a real Boston–New York rivalry.)


But there was an unexpected development as we hit the port area! My guy got stuck in traffic so decided to honk his horn at a street vendor and buy snacks from the window of his car. He offered me one! I don't know what it was, but I ate it and it was delicious.

And then I got to my destination. The whole thing cost R$100, which is about $30. Not bad! What about Alexandre? Did I get totally fleeced? Turns out, I beat him by R$2!

Ryan Broderick / BuzzFeed

I think my São Paulo traitor theory was probably accurate, tbh.

Ok, so in order to get a really good idea of just how vulnerable Olympic tourists are, we decided to try one more trip, this time heading from Praça Mauá to the Copacabana Palace.


Then things got a little nuts when we hit the highway. Alexandre thought my cab driver was either a) inexperienced or b) trying to rip me off. Could this be the dreaded taxi scam that tourists heading to Brazil hear so much about???

I got to Copacabana with a total fare of R$38. I was worried. It was a pretty quick ride. And it turns out it was higher than Alexandre' R$1! His was R$37. So, a 20-minute cab ride ended up costing each us both around $10.

VERDICT: Getting a cab in Rio is pretty much like getting a cab in any other city.

The Olympics this year have had some pretty bad press.

With the zika virus, the water toxicity, the traffic jams, the kidnappings, the living conditions for athletes, the algae in the pool, things sound pretty bad.

But as the games have gone on, it's becoming pretty clear that, yes, Rio can be a dangerous place, but it's also for the most part like any other massive city.

Also, every Carioca I've spoken to is mainly just proud to have so many people from all over the world checking out their gorgeous home.

Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ryan Broderick at

Alexandre Aragão é Repórter do BuzzFeed e trabalha em São Paulo. Entre em contato com ele pelo email

Contact Alexandre Aragão at

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