Apr 25 2011
Taxis in Saigon are easy to find and cheap to ride, but they can be a trap for the unknowing tourist. Here are a few tricks of the trade for you to know about the Saigon taxi business.
Choosing the right taxi company is very important and will save you money. I stick to Vinasun and Mailinh, who are the more reputable companies in town, because they have more reliable meters and drivers. Other taxi services have meters that jump in price wildly, or have no meters at all, and drivers that may try to take you to a different location.
Most of these off-brand taxis hang out at tourist hotspots such as the War Remnants Museum or the airport, preying on the unsuspecting visitor. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, walk to the end of the block where you may be able to find a better taxi. Some taxi services have even gone so far as to mimic one of the more respected brands with their logo. If I hail a taxi and another company’s cab tries to pick me up I will wave them off — don’t worry, they’re used to it.
Once you’re in a cab, be sure to have a copy of your destination’s address written down to ensure minimal confusion for you and the driver. If you are asking to be taken to a place you know to be a popular destination and your taxi driver seems confused, do not feel the need to stay in the cab. I have been in quite a few taxis where the taxi driver either didn’t know my destination, or pretended not to know, and took me for an expensive ride.
Another thing to watch out for is cab drivers making unnecessary stops such as checking tire pressure, getting gas, or even relieving themselves on the side of the road (seriously, this happened to me). Always remind your cab driver to turn off the meter if you make an unscheduled stop. It is your duty to watch the meter; no one else will do this for you.
Once you get to your final stop remember that in Vietnam, unlike many other countries, it is not customary to tip the driver. Tips will however be accepted and I usually leave the small change with the driver. Before you get out make sure you have all of your belongings, as a phone left in a cab will likely be a phone that is never seen again.
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