Hanoi Airport \
7th July, 2011
Arrived at Hanoi Airport today and somehow, after travelling around South East Asia many times and should have been knowing better, but being tired and keen to get to our hostel, we found ourselves in an unmarked "Taxi" after a man in the Terminal building flashed us a "License" without getting even a vauge idea of the cost before hand - Stupid but surprisingly easy mistake when your tired and let your guard down for a moment around these "Taxi" guys.
So as we were on our way and it started to dawn upon me that these guy's were almost certainly going to try and overcharge us for the ride, I began preparing myself and thinking of how to handle this as it was difficult when he would not give me a straight answer when I asked many times during the 40 minute ride about how much this was going to cost. What I was not prepared for however, were the lenghts these guy's went to to confuse you and push you around (not physically luckily) to get what they want.
The first obvious thing that made me suspicious was the lack of a meter, and also the fact that there were 2 guys, asking alot of questions about ourselves like - "is this your first time in Vietnam?" but the wierdest thing was when they told me that the Dong currency that I had just gotten from the Airport was "no good" in Hanoi, only in Saigon and that I would have to got go an ATM and get the proper money out. At this time I was getting worried as there was something about these guys that really put me off and as it was just my girlfriend and I, and having just read the lonely planet Hanoi section in the Taxi about the Airport Scams run by the Mafia, and having never been to Vietnam before, I went along with the obvious crap they where feeding me and drew out about 800000 Dong. I also had no idea of how much it was worth and I told him I wanted to pay in US dollars, He eventually agreed to $20 US after much negotiation. Note that he was very hands on with my wallet and stood very close as I entered my PIN number, told me which ATM to use- he even had the nerve to press button for the amount to draw out! I changed my PIN number just in case.
So after all that we get to "the Hostel" where another man - who "works for the hostel" informs us that it is full but he would come with us in the car to another ideal hostel but I had already read about this scam in the lonely planet in the car where they pretend your hostel has moved or is full then take you to another place where they charge you exorbitant amounts of money AFTER you have stayed the night.
By this time I had had enough of these guys and being in a public place told them we would get out here and then he tried to charge another $20US for the toll but I just gave him $10 and told him it's already very generous he eventually and angrilly said OK, the "hostel representative" was still being very pushy but we finally got our bags from the boot -thank god- and went on our not so merry way to find the real hostel which is a whole other story in itself!
This kind of behaviour being tolerated by the authorities, which it must be as these guys operate IN the Airport terminal- is absolutely outrageous and gives Vietnam such a bad name not to mention our tarnished first impression, who knows what would have happened if the third guy had gotten into the car, probably nothing but you never know.
And I will never moan about the Lonely Planet again! The information predicted everything accept for the strange Hanoi money/ Saigon money charade.
Hopefully by writing this some people will become more wary of Airport Taxi scams and the more people that complain about it, the more likely they will do something about it..... hopefully.
#1 Posted: 7/7/2011 - 23:09
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