It was one of Rowjie’s most bothered looks I’ve ever seen of him. No, he wasn’t thinking about a sick member of the family nor stuff at work that he left unfinished. His thoughts were completely focused on why we still got outsmarted by a taxi driver aka scammer after avoiding a lot of them at the airport.
Philippines’ low cost airline Cebu Pacific Air only has one flight to Saigon (old name of Ho Chi Minh City) everyday at 10:50 PM and lands in HCMC at 12:20 AM (Vietnam is an hour ahead of us). Though we initially planned not to use the services of taxis during our trip (to cut down our expenses), we had no choice but to ride one upon arriving in Saigon. It was late and last trip of buses from the airport leaves at around 10:oo PM.
We were specifically told by our Saigon-based friend, Daks, to only ride either a Vinasun or a Mai Linh taxi (they are the only meter-based taxis) and that we need to pay 10,000 VND for their toll fee. We kept that in mind and honestly followed it except that one thing went wrong.
After running away from a flock of taxi scumbags offering overpriced fixed rates, we THOUGHT we found a driver of a Vinasun taxi because he was standing in front of the said cab. After sealing a deal that we would use the taxi meter, we followed him and he took us to a seemingly-like ordinary car, no name of Vinasun on the side doors but we just shrugged it off.
To cut the story short, though the unknown taxi’s meter ran all throughout our ride, we still paid a whopping $22 (including the toll fee) for a 30-minute ride from the airport to Saigon’s District 1 where our guesthouse was located. He insisted that we pay him 450,000 VND instead of the agreed metered rate. From what I’ve read, our taxi fare should only range from 100,000 – 150,00 VND max. We didn’t want to argue since we were in a foreign place, which we barely know so we gave him what he wanted.
After harvesting a lot of money from our small wallet farm, the taxi driver still had the heart to warn us to take care of our stuff because District 1, the backpackers mecca of Saigon, is apparently crook-infested.
Oh boy, we were cheated by a boss-like taxi driver.