Apr 02 2011
When I am in need of a ride, the quickest, and my favourite, way to get around Saigon is by using one of the many motorbike taxis, or xe oms. Drivers can be found on nearly every Saigon street corner sitting, or laying, on their bike. Catching a xe om, especially during rush hour, will save you a substantial amount of time and money compared to a taxi, as well as allowing you to experience the city’s traffic ﬁrst hand. However, just like everything in Vietnam, life will be made easier if you know a few simple tips.
First, always remember to agree upon a price to your destination BEFORE you get on the motorbike. Since most xe oms speak little English, haggling may be, at times, difficult. Hand signals work great or actually showing them the amount you are willing to pay.
A motorbike ride should generally be half the price of a taxi ride, so if you are familiar with your destination this is a good starting point. If not, I generally take whatever price the xe om initially offers and cut it by 60%, usually settling at about half. If you’re trying to drive a hard bargain, don’t be afraid to walk away as he will likely call you back. But, remember how much you’re walking away for. More times than I’d like to admit, I’ve found myself walking a couple extra blocks over ﬁfty cents.
Once the price is settled, that is the price you pay. All xe oms have an extra helmet, but if you’re in town for a while, I’d recommend using your own if possible. You can ﬁnd helmets for sale on the side of the street, as some of these loaners can be quite dirty. Now that you are on the bike, hang on to the back handle and enjoy the ride. Xe oms are experts at weaving in and out of traffic, driving on footpaths, and ﬁnding short cuts through Saigon’s numerous back alleys. These rides are one my favourite things about the city and the best way to get around Saigon.
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