Is it safe to hail taxis on the street in Medellin or must we always call one? We can't help looking like tourists. We do stand out.
It's safe to hail them off the streets. I'm a foreigner and do it every day. In terms of standing out - at least in the areas that tourists frequent - locals are well used to seeing foreigners.
At night you might want to call a cab. During the day though, in the main areas you should be fine.
One thing to remember is that taxi drivers often don't have change for larger banknotes like COP 50,000. Try to have smaller notes when using a cab.
The stories about issues with cabs are overdone. Yes, people have been taken off to ATM machines and made to take out money but it's not something that is unique to Medellin or Colombia. Nor is it frequent. I've travelled extensively in Latin America over the years and I've come across the problem once. It was a single guy, out at a 'club', he was drunk and took the cab handily standing outside. And that was in Mexico City.
And as always, there's increased safety in numbers. The scams, if and when they happen are generally with a single person in the cab.
Your biggest danger to life and limb in Medellin, for the ordinary tourist, remains crossing the road.
One issue we have had with taxis lately, they sometimes don't want to go where you want to - for example Centro to Envigado or Envigado to San Diego Centro commercial - never used to happen but as the traffic has gotten worse taxis are sometimes avoiding the worst of it - I don't blame them , generally only a problem at afternoon rush hour.
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