Have you ever experienced the feeling of afraid something right at the moment you step out of the airport in a strange country? For example, you have just landed a minute in a foreign city… and you hardly know anyone… and the only thing in your hand is a small paper written down your hotel name & address in also foreign language? Then to reach your hotel, you have no other choice but to call a taxi… How should you know whether this taxi would be safe or unsafe? Some tourists are also afraid of being driven to somewhere like ending up at a zero-star hotel in a black alley or with a huge amount of taxi fees although arrival at correct hotel. And even when you have settle down safely to your hotel, what will ensure you that at another time, when you need to take a taxi to go to somewhere in the city, you may not encounter another taxi scams with a galloping meter? Such things may make you frightened but please do not be worry because even Vietnamese people sometime are cheated by taxi not foreigner like you. So, the first key is do not miss negotiation before you go anywhere by taxi. Below are suggestions for the most common situations of taxi cheats and tips to avoid them as below:
1. Taxi brands:
Mai Linh is always recommended, but Taxi Group and ABC are also solid – though Taxi Group is pricier – and next are small Phu Dong, Thanh Nga, Vic or Morning taxis. So, if this is your first time in Hanoi, we highly recommend you to choose exact names of prestigious taxis.
2. Over charge:
The airports are often referenced as blacklist of scamming taxi drivers due to the demand of clients here. Nowadays, the Vietnamese government promotes strict rules on taxi companies that all the licensed metered cabs that wait at the rank should list their price on their rate board. If you use one of these taxis, get agreement on the rate before you get in by pointing at the rates sign and getting a confirming nod. If the driver tries to charge you more upon arrival, don’t pay. Also, don’t pay any extras for the tolls/parking – that is all included. And if possible, you should book the airport pick up from your hotel or travel agency in advance.
3. Vague distance:
As well as over-charging, “vague distance” is another matter that you need to be careful whenever you step in a taxi. For example, although your hotel receptionist and your google map tell you that it only takes you about 5 km to travel from point A to point B but the taxi driver may drive you a far more distance up to 9 or 10 km than you think whatever. What should you do in this case? You will have two options: (1) get out and walk, (2) refuse to pay until they take you where you want to go. And to prevent this from happen, let’s negotiate about the distance and the price with the taxi driver before get on his cab.
Finally, try to remember the following basic steps whenever you catch a taxi:
*If there is a meter in the taxi:
1) Ask the driver to pay by meter.
2) Check that the meter is starting at 0km.
3) Pay the price indicated in meter or on the paper given by the driver.
*If there is no meter or if driver disagree on putting the meter on:
1) Always negotiate the price before going inside
2) Find another one if you don’t agree on price
3) Try to know the approximate distance between your destinations and check if the driver is not taking the longest way.
Whatever you do, do not get waylaid by the men who pounce when you leave arrivals; chances are they work for an unlicensed taxi firm and will overcharge.
As well as over-charging, apparently taxis from the airport or station often take people to the wrong hotel, as they are working on commission. Hotels will certainly tell you this is the case in order to persuade you to book a transfer with them, and of course this does avoid the issue. But if you’ve not booked a hotel or they’re over-charging for the transfer, make sure you have the exact name and address of the hotel you are heading for, ideally written down in Vietnamese, and make it clear to the driver that you have a reservation.