First of all I would like to state this taxi scam could happen anywhere and it’s more common in Vietnam so let this be a warning.
You arrive in a new distant land and the first thing you want to do is get straight to your Accommodation. Normally I always take public transport, it’s cheap, reliable and mostly safe.
But for some reason after reading my lonely planet and discovering taxis are dirt cheap, I decided to go for the more upmarket route and arrive directly to my hotel by taxi.
I hate getting a taxi full stop.
They’re really expensive And I see them as annoying more than a luxury.
But why on earth did I get into if I was worried from the start?
I was greeted with smiles and welcome messages as I walked over to the taxi rank.
This couldn’t be so bad I thought so I jumped into a taxi and off we went.
He asked what football team I supported and where I was from, he seemed rather friendly, but the talking stopped as we exited the airport toll booth.
So 200,000 for the parking and 100,000 for the toll booth and 5,000 for the call fee, you sign the paper here to confirm payment.
You heard me 305,000 now
(300,000 VN is around £10 and I paid 120,000 on the way back and that’s what Lonely Planet and locals quoted as normal)
Can I just pay it all when we get there?
“No you pay, sign here”
I started to to smell a taxi scam going on and I didn’t like it.
I remember thinking to myself, oh nooo! You see, the first taxi you get in for years reminds you why you never get in them and it all happened within the first hour of arriving in south east Asia. Just my luck.
I kept on saying can I pay it all when we get to the hotel just to get me there, but he insisted on wanting the payment now. Then he asked if he wanted me to stop the meter and make a one off payment, I screamed no!!! Still, he told me to sign this bloody piece of paper which I didn’t and enough was enough.
He said 10,000 at the airport and all out of the blue these fees popped out, then he told me it was 10,000 per km, then I was pissed.
The last straw was when I asked how much will this one off payment be?
He replied 3,000,000 then I went red and told him some nasty French words and told him to pull over.
This was when the fun started,
He said no you pay me first and I’ve watched to many new York movies to know what to do next. Armed with my hand luggage and coming up to some red lights I just went screw It And winded Down the window and jumped out the window and ran around the corner.
I had been a victim of a taxi scam and I was lucky to get away from it.
He was stuck for a good few minutes so I snuck into a conveniently placed KFC.
I had to sit down for a while and Calm down from all the drama.
The staff were very friendly and wanted to learn and speak English inside the KFC and that just restored my faith in the Vietnamese people and they were all very friendly from that moment onwards.
Ho Chi Mihn, Saigon, Vietnam is a wonderful city to explore and discover, its such a shame for many it can start off so horribly with a Taxi Scam.
Don’t let these taxi scam artists ruin your holiday by giving a negative impression of the country your visiting. They are cowardly individuals and they need To be stopped. Here are some tips to follow in order to help best avoid these situations:
Tips to avoid Ho chi Minh taxi scam
Stay in control
No small talk, no signs of weakness, actually act like a snob and show strong characteristics. If you don’t they will take you for a ride (literally). It may be rude but if they are nice in the end, give them a tip and thank them and smile.
I’ve heard that small talk is done in order for them to tap the meter and rise the price, its simply not fair.
Pre book a taxi with your hotel or hostel
Having a reliable source from the place you’re staying puts their reputation on the line. They won’t mess around and if something does go wrong with the taxi you have someone to complain to. They can get to the bottom of it and in most cases get your money back as their neck is on the line.
Many hostel/hotel resorts offer an airport collection service, it will cost a little extra but you can charge it to your room and ensure that you arrive safely and for a fair price. Many hotels use the same reliable taxi company for this reason and you can ensure the start of your trip goes well, its worth paying the extra.
Take local transportation
I’ve learnt my lesson, no matter how cheap, it will get you where you want to be and will start your trip on a high rather than a horrible low
Report the taxi driver
To help avoid this happening in the future make sure you get the number of the taxi company, take pictures, jot down the name and license plate and then either hand it in to the local police or even better, tourism office, tourism police or the airport itself.
Avoid putting your bag in the boot
The minute you do this your trapped, there is no way out of it, one good reason to travel light, if they refuse to take you, someone else will so don’t panic.
Get out. Get safe
The minute anything appears off balance just get out, if they refuse do the window trick, even walking is better than being scammed, it’s your pride at the end of the day. If you’ve upset the driver try and lay low for a little in a tucked away corner just in case he has a mob backed up and ready to go.
If you can’t get out of the taxi scream, kick up a fuss go mental, try and scare the driver. Even shout help, police, look at people outside for help they will come to the rescue.
I hope the above helps and prevents it from happening to you. Vietnam is a wonderful country and I don’t want the first encounter to put you off, it really is down to some assholes who want to scam tourists. Do you have any similar experiences you would like to share with us? Post in the comment section below