Where's Dariel? – Travel Blog

Taxi Scam-ed in Ho Chi Minh City

Before leaving for Vietnam in October for my Hanoi trip and in December for my Ho Chi Minh holiday, I’ve done a lot of research about avoiding being scammed by taxis in Vietnam. I sort of managed to avoid that in Hanoi but couldn’t really say the same for Ho Chi Minh.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh has been said to be a prime location for taxi scams. I prepared myself to the fullest (or so I thought) and followed every advice I could find on the internet and from my friends who frequent the city. After getting out of the airport, I saw a taxi queue on the left side with many taxis waiting, including what they called “the most-reliable taxi companies” Vinasun and Mai Linh.  But I decided against joining the queue and follow what some people advised – walk to the Vinasun / Mai Linh counter to ask for one.

At first I came to a counter for airport shuttle, they were asking for 250,000 VND. I thanked them and walked away. Then I saw another counter across the road. I went over and asked. It was a Vinasun counter – Bingo! I said I needed a taxi to go into town then a guy told me “ok, we call a limousine for you” pointing to a 7-seater. I wasn’t sure how much that would cost so I replied that I have no need for a limousine, just a normal car ( I meant to say sedan). Somehow that statement made him become uninterested and he just turned away!

At this point, another guy who was standing around the whole time when I was having the conversation with the Vinasun guy walked to me and said he would get me a taxi, a normal car. Since he was there the whole time, I thought he belonged to either the Vinasun or Mai Linh taxi companies. Then he quoted – 300,000 VND. When I heard that, I told him no, it’s too expensive and I want a car with meter (like what everyone said on the internet). The guy replied “Madam, now is peak hour, traffic jam, you take meter, the taxi will go round and round. 200,000 VND for the taxi and 100,000 VND for the car park, ok?” I thought the “round and round” thing made some sense and tried to have a conversation with him  (all the while still thinking he was a Vinasun / Mai Linh staff). However, with the limited English on his side, it proved to be difficult. And I was getting confused about the car park he was talking about.

Then all of a sudden he took my luggage and brought me to a silver cab and went on to put my luggage inside the boot before I could stop him. Then he said “300,000 VND ok, you give the driver”. It was a lady driver and for a moment I thought that’s better than a guy bringing me to god-knows-where, so I boarded. I actually got into the cab!

While in the cab, it suddenly dawned on me what had happened – I have been taxi scammed!! Even the airport shuttle was asking for only 250,000 VND! The trip to my hotel took about 20 minutes so I definitely paid more than what it was supposed to cost. To make things worse, my hotel arranged for my transport back to the airport at the end of my trip for a mere 150,000 VND, in a Toyota Fortuner no less!

The difference of 150,000 VND (about US$7) is not a big deal but I just don’t feel good about being scammed, just because I am a foreigner! I definitely used either a Vinasun or Mai Linh taxi after the experience.

taxi scam


taxi scam

taxi scam

taxi scam

Have you been taxi-scammed before? Share your experience with me!

5 thoughts on “Taxi Scam-ed in Ho Chi Minh City

  1. mj

    !!!!! that’s the issue with HCM for me – the last time I was there many years ago I had a similar incident. I also was approached to ask if I would like ‘help’ in getting my picture taken with my family and was then asked for cash. While Vietnam is a beautiful country I would caution all tourist to be careful of scammers! Feel bad for you 🙁 but at least you had great food! Looking forward to your post on food 😀

    1. Dariel Post author

      It’s the black sheeps that are making the country become somewhat unattractive to tourists. Another blogger was pissed off because he get scammed and pay more all the time just because he is not a local. I suppose that happens in a lot of places but it seems the problem is more into your face in Vietnam. Definitely going to write about the food I’ve tried there though. Akan datang!

  2. JustineJ.T

    It’s the same in Bangkok even if you use the que for the official taxis.

    Some, seeing (or hearing) that you are not local, will try to charge you a flat rate rather than by meter. I have gotten into the habit of just handing over the chit, casually looking to see if they turn on the meter; all in silence in order not to project “tourist” which has helped tons. 🙂

    The only time i nearly got cab scammed, i insisted (and was really firm!) on getting down (and if i did, i would have left the cab doors open so they’d not drive off with our luggage!). The guy finally relented. He was sulky through the toip (which was half of what he quoted) though 😛

    1. Dariel Post author

      That’s a good tip! Will definitely try not talking next time. And yah, I don’t know what got into me to actually get into the cab! Need to be more firm, if there’s a next time haha

  3. Pingback: Taxi hacks in 9 Popular Asian Countries to Prevent Scams | Yoshi Today

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