The world's 10 best taxi experiences

BLACK CAB, LONDON

Lots of legroom, enough height to accommodate a top hat, a turning circle tight enough to navigate the entrance to the Savoy Hotel, and an old-fashioned silhouette make the hackney cab delightfully retro – although they're not all black now. Forget satnav: cabbies must pass the legendary Knowledge exam by memorising thousands of routes and points of interest, which makes them the best taxi drivers in the world. See visitlondon.com

MERCEDES-BENZ, MUNICH

It was a German who invented the taximeter in 1891, and German automobile companies have supplied many of the taxis in Europe (and elsewhere) over the decades. Mercedes-Benz has led the way in providing taxis since 1927, with its first diesel model arriving in 1936. Hop into the latest incarnation in Munich, where sleek, high-class taxis are painted cream and invariably polished to a shine. See muenchen.de

VINTAGE PEUGEOT, ADDIS ABABA

The Peugeot 404 and 504, built in the mid-20th-century as good-value, durable family cars, are still operating – just about – in Ethiopia, though slowly vanishing thanks to lack of replacement parts and their appalling fuel efficiency. The cars are invariably painted sky blue and often have a handy roof rack for your suitcases or chickens. The eastern city of Harar has perhaps the biggest surviving fleet. See ethiopia.travel

VW BEETLE, MEXICO CITY

The iconic green taxi with its white roof was phased out by city authorities in 2012, but unlicensed Beetles still prowl the byways. This is one of the world's few two-door taxis and hence most squeezed taxi ride, though some drivers remove the passenger seat to provide extra legroom. Belching exhaust fumes and the chance of getting mugged are other downsides, but what price nostalgia? See cdmxtravel.com

STANDARD TAXI, SINGAPORE

Forgo premium and limousine taxis for what Singaporeans call standard taxis, because they'd be impressive anywhere thanks to stiff competition and stringent regulations. Taxis are cheap, air-conditioned, clean, driven by courteous English-speaking drivers and painted in lollypop colours (yellow, pink, red) depending on the company. This is one of few cities with sedate taxi drivers, since warning beeps sound if the speed limit is exceeded. See visitsingapore.com

TOYOTA COMFORT, TOKYO

Tokyo Taxi
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Tokyo taxi's are known for their immaculate interiors. Photo: Japan National Tourism Organisation

This Toyota model was released in 1997 specifically as a taxi, and is distinctive for its ordinary, rather boxy appearance and fender mirrors. The driver controls the opening and closing of the back door. Expect an immaculate if old-fashioned interior and cabbies in white gloves who refuse to accept tips. Confusingly, a red light on the dashboard means the taxi is available; green means it's occupied. See gotokyo.org

VINTAGE CADILLAC, HAVANA

If you're a fan of retro American cars, Cuba has a fleet old Plymouths, Oldsmobiles, Packards and Studebackers. Those used as shared taxis are falling to pieces, and regular tourist taxis are more likely to be from Hyundai. Yet lovingly restored (often modified) cars from the mid-20th-century still take you through Havana. Choose a lipstick-pink or parrot-green Cadillac from the 1950s and you'll feel like Elvis Presley. See cubatravel.cu

YELLOW CAB, NEW YORK

Taxicabs queue up outside Grand Central Station, NYC
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Taxicabs outside Grand Central Station, New York City. Photo: New York Convention and Visitors Bureau

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Yellow cabs have cruised Manhattan's streets since the 1920s; the Ford Crown Victoria provided the most iconic look until production ceased in 2011. Now most cabs are Nissans, and under threat from share-ride services. True, taxis were once grubby and driven by irate drivers expecting large tips, but nothing else felt quite as New York. How will Hollywood set the scene when they're all gone? See nycogo.com

PORSCHE CAYENNE, MOSCOW

If an oligarch's private limousine isn't available to you, then call up a pre-booked private Porsche in one of the world's most expensive cities. They're painted a hideous orange to ensure they catch the eye of envious pedestrians. Don't be surprised at other fancy cars zooming in taxi lanes: rich owners register their cars as taxis so they can beat Moscow's notorious traffic jams. See russiatourism.ru

HINDUSTAN AMBASSADOR, KOLKATA

This classic, canary-yellow, made-in-India taxi was designed on the Morris Oxford and produced between 1957 and 2014. It became a status symbol as a private car, and as a taxi is renowned for its durability, roomy back seat and capacious boot. Ambassadors are now under threat from age and Uber, yet still buzz around Kolkata, piloted by chatty drivers eager to relay the latest cricket scores. See wbtourismgov.in

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