Paul and I have been traveling for many years, separately and together. And both of us have experienced scams and taken advantage of as tourists.
Sometimes it was our fault for not recognizing that we were being scammed… as we were engrossed in the fun times of our adventures. Then in other situations, we were on the ball and able to get ourselves out of scams.
So wherever you travel, you may experience tourist scams even unknowingly. And some places are safer than others, yet it’s best to travel with caution everywhere.
But on a trip within the Hanoi Old Quarter, we were experienced a Vietnam taxi scam.
So in this blog post, here are 7 tips for handling a taxi driver scam in Vietnam.
1. Use A Taxi Fare Estimator Website
Before you hail a taxi, use a website like Taxi Fare Finder www.taxifarefinder.com
Here, you type in your starting address and destination… then it will calculate an estimated taxi fare.
It may also provide different routes. So if there’s a particular direction you want to get to your destination you’ll be able to see it on a map.
Plus, you can look at options the fastest, cheapest or shortest route.
The fare will be estimated based on live timings, that is, when you are checking the taxi fare. So for example, if you check the fare estimate at 9am, the price may change if you check it again at 5pm.
Remember, this is an ESTIMATE of the taxi fare you may need to pay.
Take a photo of the taxi fare estimate. So when you are at your destination and maybe exposed to a Vietnam taxi scam, you can show the driver.
2. Remain Calm At All Times
If you’re involved in a Vietnam taxi scam, you’re initial reaction maybe to get frustrated and angry. And who could blame you!
Yet, in Vietnam and in many parts of South East Asia… you’ll notice that their culture is not to raise their voices or get angry.
Plus, who knows what connections the taxi driver might have! And you don’t want to end up hurt, in hospital or worse.
So arguing loudly and having heated exchanges won’t help your situation.
Make sure you remain calm and maybe count to 3 first! Especially if you have luggage in the car boot… as you don’t want the taxi driver driving off with all your belongings.
You either suck it up and pay the fare the taxi driver is demanding, or have calm negotiations.
3. Don’t Take A Ride With A Random Driver
When you’re in Vietnam, especially at the airport, you may get people who come up to you asking you if you need a taxi. Sometimes these people are from authorized taxi companies.
Generally, we’ve found that if they are valid taxi drivers, if you say “No” they will leave you alone.
But other times there’ll be individual drivers who’ll look to prey on unsuspecting tourists.
Some of them may dress well, or in clothes that may resemble a uniform and offer you a private car. Others may be dressed in casual clothes and ask if you need a taxi… followed up by telling you they’ll give you a cheap price.
Then, many of them won’t ask you once, they’ll keep at it until you’ve said no about twenty times!
We recommend that you do not take a ride with these drivers ever.
If you’re visiting tourist sites… there may be “taxi drivers” who hang around the sites either in their cars or outside their cars. They’ll then ask if you need a taxi.
Sometimes they don’t take no for answer.
So if you hear someone yell out if you need a taxi or they start to approach you… engage in conversation if you’re with other people. And if you’re solo, don’t acknowledge them and keep walking.
4. Tell The Taxi Driver To Use The Meter
On “authorized” taxis, they will usually show the rates on the side of their car. This will help you to understand and estimate the taxi fare.
Then, before you get into a taxi, point to the taxi meter and say something like “meter OK.” If they indicate a yes, then it’s safe to assume that they’ll use the meter.
If they don’t have a meter or they say it’s broken, move on to a different driver.
Further to this, make sure you have a look at the meter every now and again. The reason is, sometimes the meter could be dodgy… and it’s going much faster than it should so you end up paying much more.
In these situations tell the driver to stop, pay what’s on the meter and get the hell out!
If you still want to take the taxi if they don’t have a meter or it’s not working… negotiate the price before you get into the taxi.
Then, write it down on a piece of paper, or plug it into your phone showing the driver… or show how much you would pay to the driver by showing them the money.
When you get into the taxi… take a photo of the meter and the taxi driver’s license details, so that they notice you doing it. This should help to keep the driver honest.
5. Have A Variety Of Denominations Of Vietnam Money
Another Vietnamese taxi driver scam you might experience is they supposedly don’t have change. Now, on the rare occasion this might genuinely be the case… especially if you give them 500,000 VND for a 20,000 VND ride.
So to cover yourself from this tourist scam… make sure you have different denominations of Vietnam Dong.
And remember to double check the money BEFORE you give it to them, because some of the notes look similar. For example, a 500,000 VND note is similar to the 20,000 VND note.
6. Be Wary Of Fake Taxis
Now, you may have heard that the 2 most reliable taxi companies in Vietnam is Vinasun and Mai Linh.
Yet the thing is, although the drivers may work for a reputable taxi company, remember this… each driver is an individual!
Now, there are other taxi companies that we’ve used that we’ve found reliable… but these companies may be regional like just in Nha Trang.
Here is a photo of an example of a Vinasun taxi…
The Vinasun taxis are generally white with a one red strip and green strip below. Here is a link to their website. So then you can find out what the phone number should be on the side of the taxi, as a guide for if it’s a genuine Vinasun taxi.
And here’s a photo of an example of a Mai Linh taxi. Generally Mai Linh taxis are green, but they can also be white like in this example.
Here’s their website for more information… and to check the phone numbers for the different regions in Vietnam
What you may find is that others may try to make their branding and details similar to these 2 taxi companies. So make sure you familiarize yourself BEFORE getting into a taxi, as it may be a fake taxi.
7. Use The Grab Vietnam App
Grab is a transport company, where via an app you can book rides like a taxi service. Plus, in Vietnam for example… with Grab you can get food delivered, parcels delivered, pay bills and more.
With the Grab app, you’ll know what the general fare is before you ride. So then you have an idea of what you’d expect to pay. Be wary that the fare does not include fees like tolls.
Generally though with tolls, you can see what the toll amount is. That’s because the Grab driver will need to stop at the toll gate. Then the fee to be paid is displayed, and the driver pays the fee in cash. You then pay the driver back.
Also, as the fare is fixed apart from the tolls for example… the Grab driver will aim to get you to your destination as efficiently as possible. So there’s no point in trying to scam you.
Reliable Support If You Need It
And the great thing is, Grab have a support center where you can make a complaint about your driver or the ride. They have support in English too.
I’ve had to use this a few times and found the support to be excellent. Also, if they find that the driver is in the wrong, they will give you compensation in the form of a credit on the Grab app. You can then use that credit on a future trip.
Plus, you earn points for every ride you take. So, if you take enough Grab rides you could redeem your points for food, ride discounts or more.
And another good thing about Grab is that you can see the ratings of the driver BEFORE you take the ride. So, if the driver is not a 5 out of 5 star rated driver you can cancel the ride.
Generally, the fare will be cheaper than a taxi too.
Using Grab Vietnam is our preferred method of travel… rather than being caught in the middle of a Vietnam taxi scam. Yet, on occasions we’ve had to hail a taxi. But we can use the Grab app as a taxi fare estimator too.
So, hopefully all this information will help you to avoid or get your way out of a Vietnam taxi scam.
Enjoy your travels, especially if you don’t travel often. Yet as mentioned earlier… make sure you’re cautious and aware of your surroundings to help avoid tourist scams.
Have you been involved in a taxi driver scam? Let us know what happened and what you did to resolve it!
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