How not to be scammed by the taxi mafia

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When you come to Vietnam the first time, all the new impressions will be overwhelming for you! However, things you naturally see, do and you are used to will differently be done in Vietnam. So you should carefully watch how Vietnamese do everyday things. When you arrive at the airport either in Ha Noi or Ho Chi Minh city, you will need to take a taxi to your hotel. Taking a taxi might be a normal business in your home countries, in Vietnam it isn’t. Vietnam is a nice country with many friendly and lovely people. But there are also some people who only like you because of your money. And taxi drivers are among them – at least, people who pretend to be a taxi driver.

When you walk out of the airport, after a ten to fifteen hours flight, tired and really groggy, wanting nothing more than a hot shower, some food and some sleep, you will certainly try to get away from Noi Bai Airport or Tan Son Nhat as fast as you can. Most visitors therefore get a taxi. But when the door opens, dozens of Vietnamese will confront you, some will try to take your luggage and bring you to their taxi station. You should really ignore them. They are in most cases not taxi drivers. They have a car, and they will bring you to the destination you wish, but they will charge you a lot. Usually, one transport from Ha Noi – Noi Bai to the city’s Old Quarter will cost around 120 000 – 200 000 VDN, depending on the route you go (in HCMC nearly the same). The so called „taxi mafia“ in Ha Noi will charge you three- to four times that much. I just met a tourist who complained he paid 400 000 VND. Others charge even more! First visitors often do not know about the prices and how much maybe one million Vietnamese Dong is. 

So, what can you do?

In Ha Noi the scams got so heavy, that the city’s government and the airport administration decided to introduce a new system: Prices are now fixed. You usually pay BEFORE you get into a taxi and get a voucher. You pay later with the voucher, but you can tip the driver, if you like. Taxis of Mai Linh are the best in Vietnam (in my opinion). I’ve never experienced scams with them. One time I saw the taximeter in a taxi go from 19000 to 120 000! Someone inexperienced would finally have paid the 320 000 VND, instead of 32000 VND. I asked the driver about this and he replied, the taxi meter was broken…Sure…and it will take a long time to repair.

Mai Linh Taxi

Mai Linh Taxi, Old Quarter, Ha Noi, Vietnam. Photo by David McKelvey(dgmckelvey) on Flickr-CC BY 2.0

Other scams with taxis to get a higher price is going a longer route. Everytime I go to Ho Chi Minh City, I start at the Western Bus-Station (Ben Xe Mien Tay) and go to Quan 1. And everytime I see a different street. I am not so familiar with Sai Gon, so I cannot say, if the driver’s going right or wrong. But I always pay around 200 000 VND, so I think it is okay. One time I had a taxi, who wanted charge me then 320 000 VND. I complained a lot, and finally he reduced a little. Official taxis have usually an ID card in the front and a phone number, so you can complain directly if there is need to. I do not really want make an advertisement for Mai Linh, but they are really the best carriers of this country and reliable. I don’t want say, all others are not reliable or will scam you! If there are taxis from taxi companies, you usually need not fear any scams. If it is a „private“ taxi, you should insist on a taximeter. If it has none , you really should not go with him, since he will charge you fantasy prices! You should everytime insist on starting the taximeter!

Nothing is worse than a start into a holiday by a nice scam at the airport.

  1. March 7, 2014


    Hi guy. welcome to vietnam. My english is not good, but when i read your article i see that you only give disadvantaged things about my country. i think i have to talk some things. You know, every country in the world all have a themselve own disadvantaged things, you can see on Western or Middle East or Thailand…Violence are there so much, But in vietnam you can visit any where you want, the policy is good in my country. And the next thing. when you come here you can save a liitle money compare with other country, the pirce in there is so cheap, And you can enjoy good service, and so many nice landscapes: Ha long bay, Hoi An aceint town.,..And the peple in here are so friendly. They are willing to guide anything which you dont know…Hi its my opinion, Nice to make friend with you guy

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