Nov 02 2011

How to get an airport taxi in Saigon

Published by at 2:09 pm under Transport

The flight to Ho Chi Minh City can be a tiring one — from my hometown of Seattle for instance, it takes about 17 hours. And once you land, you still have work to do: getting through immigration, which may include a wait at the visa on arrival desk, collecting your bags, and then stepping outside to a humid heat you may not be, or ever get, used to. Finally, if you haven’t arranged for a pick up at the airport, you have to catch a taxi. Unfortunately, the airport is a notorious haunt for bad taxis, so here are a few tips on where to go and how to catch a reputable one.

About time.

About time.

To get a good taxi, or any taxi for that matter, head left once you exit the airport into the sea of people waiting for their friends, family, or clients to arrive. As you head left, you may be approached by several people asking if you want a taxi. Most of these taxi peddlers are decently dressed and, to the untrained eye, can seem all right, however they are known for telling you that your hotel has been closed and taking people to the wrong destination. Ignore them and push on toward the end of the sidewalk where you will see a line of taxis, in all variety of size, shape, and colour, waiting to pick you up.

Navigating your way through the masses.

Navigating your way through the masses.

Once you make it to the line, you’ll probably be called out to again, this time by drivers next to their taxis. They will be willing to negotiate flat rates to the city, and they may promise good deals, but the same warning applies: they may take you for a ride. Like I mentioned in an earlier post about catching a taxi anywhere in the city, I default to my trusted brand of taxis, either Mailinh or Vinasun, and this includes at the airport.

To catch one of these, search for one of the men with a dark green shirt and red tie, for Vinasun, or green shirt and green tie, for Mailinh. These men are in charge of calling in taxis for respective companies; once you contact them you will be ‘in line’ to get a cab. Remember to be patient, as you may think you’re first in line, but when the next taxi pulls up, someone else may be shuffled in. Don’t worry! You’ll get a taxi — they want your money and getting upset over your assumed position won’t speed the process. After you do get your ride, tell the handler the address of the destination and you’re off.

Remember, not all taxis are created equal.

Not all taxis are created equal.

That’s all there is to it — the main line of defense you must take is to fend off the less reputable taxis. The ride from the airport to a hotel or guesthouse in Pham Ngu Lao will cost around 150,000 VND and take about 30 to 40 minutes depending on traffic. If anything about your ride feels questionable to you, you can always double check the final price with your hotel and they should come to your aid in the case of a pushy taxi.

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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “How to get an airport taxi in Saigon”

  1. […] sees Saigon residents jam the streets to look at the Christmas lights around the city and getting a taxi from the airport is ridiculous: last year on Christmas Day I was quoted a million dong by several […]

  2. Stefano Starkelon 11 Jun 2012 at 6:29 am

    Hi Angela,
    great article!

    Would you mind to add a link or just a mention in it or in the bottom page notes to my taxi service?

    I’ve notice you have another article concerning taxis in Saigon (Taxi tips for Saigon). Either will do, but both is better!!!

    I run offering private airport pick up directly at Saigon airport to either Mui Ne, Vung Tau or Da Lat.

    The company is foreigner run, and we offer great service and really competitive rates catering to private or groups of up to 16 people, plus the advantage to book and pay online, so no need to worry about scams in Saigon…

    Thank you in advance


  3. Joelon 19 Nov 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Hi Angela,

    Such a very informative article!

    I will be in Vietnam soon and i’m concerned if i could stay or is there a place to stay inside the terminal overnight. I will be arriving at 1am in the morning and my onward flight to Hanoi is at 6:00 am.

    Since i’m on a budget, i do not want to book a hotel just for that 5 hours.

    Please help. Any information would be helpful.


  4. Danielon 14 Jan 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Great tips. I’ve had experiences with both Mai Linh and Vinasun. Vinasun would be a better option. I’ve been cheated by Mai Linh taxi before and would not recommend it. The driver took us to a location we did not request because he gets commission for bringing us there.

    @ Joel: look for some hotels in Go Vap. They’re $30/night max. However, ask for a room with a view i.e. window looking out to something. Many rooms do not have windows.

    Have fun in Vietnam. Tripadvisor on your phone will be a friend there. Before going anywhere, check out the route via tripadvisor. Show the map to the driver to let them know that you know your directions and they cannot cheat you.

  5. andongon 26 Nov 2013 at 3:05 am

    Another Taxi company at Tan Son Nhat Airport is SATSCO, Their Taxi counter is right at the gate No. 12 of International Arrival Terminal

    See their Counter:

    At this counter, you can buy a cupon to rent a car with English speaking driver to go to City center or any places you wish. Do not pay for any extra charge.

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