After our unfortunate first taste of Vietnam, I realized that it is really upsetting to get ripped off by a heartless and rascal taxi driver especially when you tried so hard not to fall victim.
So here are some tips on how to spot an illegal taxi in Ho Chi Minh City:
- You cannot see a logo or even the name of the taxi company on any parts of the cab (side door, seat covers, etc.).
- The driver does not wear a uniform.
- You will be told that meter isn’t working and so they will negotiate for you to pay a fixed rate.
- If you’re able to make a bargain of using the meter, you might not notice it but the meter rate will increase at a ridiculous speed.
- Speaking of meter, illegal taxis’ meter are not installed at eye level nor above the dashboard.
- Registered or legal taxis only accept payments in Vietnam Dong (VND). Be wary if you’re asked to be paid in any other currency.
- Saigon is but a small city. Start to worry if the meter goes up higher than 150,000 VND after your 15 kilometer mark especially when there’s no heavy flow of traffic.
If worse comes to worst and you have ridden one of these fake or rogue taxis, do take note of the following:
- Politely say no when the driver offers to bring you to odd places that are out of your way like a tailor shop, jewelry store, sexy clubs, etc.
- Ask to be dropped off a crowded area or near a police station without being obvious. This can scare the driver and might charge you the regular rate.
- Do not argue when you are asked to pay a fixed price. You don’t want to end up being beaten.
Still, the best way to prevent encountering illegal taxis is to take the public transportation as they are always available until before midnight. Not only it costs a lot cheaper, they also keep you away from any unpleasant rendezvous with scammers.
Enjoy your Saigon vacation!
Kaiz is a stay-at-home mom and currently works as an Operations Specialist for a software engineering company based in the US.