Just last week, my friend Arati and I flew to Vietnam for a little girlfriends’ getaway.
We were super excited! Prior to the trip, I didn’t really bother looking for attractions; I was more interested in learning how to survive there.
And an important one that I read was: Only use Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis!
We got to the airport at about 8PM there and didn’t see any Mai Linh or Vinasun taxis, so we asked the airport staff for assistance. And she told us to use any of the airport taxis, they’re okay.
She seemed quite nice 😇, so we decided to trust her.
BIGGEST F**KING MISTAKE OF THE TRIP!!! 😡 😡 😡
First, the taxi driver gave a quote instead of turning on the meter. That was already a huge red flag and I was ready to walk.
Taxi Driver: US$30!
Us: No. Meter.
Taxi Driver: US$30!!!
Us: No. (Was pulling my luggage away)
Taxi Driver: Okay! Okay! US$25!!
Me: No, I said METER.
Then he very reluctantly agreed. And till now I regretted getting onto the taxi. It was such a horrifying experience!
We should’ve just turned away, but we were tired after the flight and wanted to get to our hotel.
We got onto the taxi and the meter was turned on, but after driving about 3 minutes out, there was a toll booth. And he stopped, telling us we needed to pay 100,000 dong. I read that it was supposed to be absorbed by the taxi company, but thought I could be wrong. I didn’t want to think badly about someone who is trying to earn a living.
So we gave him 100,000 dong.
Then he drove up to the toll booth. Showed his taxi ID and drove off!!!! He didn’t even have to pay the toll! What the royal f**k! Within 10 minutes of seeing the country I was already abhorring it.
And I kept on eyes on the movement of the meter – just as I read; the ‘non-legit’ taxi companies’ meters move at the speed of light. The meter was jumping at 2,000 dong every 5-8 seconds!!!
Then throughout the journey, he pointed at random buildings lesser than 5 times – telling us their names. Which honestly I didn’t give a flying rat’s ass about, I was already cursing him, his family and entire ancestral line. Hearing him blabber just pissed me off, but I tried to be light-hearted with Arati about it anyway.
We were nearing the hotel area at Old Quarters, and then there was a couple with their luggages standing by the road. This f**ker just stopped the taxi, lowered his window and shouted, “Go airport??”
Arati and I looked at each other, “Wtf?!”
Like, hello royal wanker. WE ARE STILL IN YOUR TAXI AND YOU HAVEN’T EVEN FULFILLED YOUR JOURNEY ON THIS ONE, YOU WANT TO TAKE ANOTHER ONE??
I CURSE YOUR BOWLS OF PHO TOO!!!
Then he drove couple of meters down and told us to get off.
Me: This isn’t our hotel!
Taxi Driver: Inside! Inside! 2 minute! 2 minute!
I don’t know what is it about these people who cannot speak proper English; they somehow simply love to repeat and shout what they’re saying twice. Like that’s supposed to ease the communication. Him repeating his words just made me repeatedly angry at him.
Me: No, I don’t see it!
Taxi Driver: Inside!!!
I knew he wasn’t going to cooperate. So just decided to pay him off. Meter said 367,000 dong, so I took out a 500,000 dong note. It was the smallest I had at that time.
He took it and asked Arati for 70,000 dong more.
Taxi Driver: Tourist!
Me: So you want to cheat my money?? GIVE ME MY CHANGE BACK!
Taxi Driver: Tourist tour! I give you tour! Tour 200,000 dong!
Me: That wasn’t a bloody tour! I didn’t even ask for a tour!
Taxi Driver: No, no! 70,000 dong more!
Me: No! You want more money? Take 3,000 dong! So give me back 130,000 dong!!
Usually my mathematical skills aren’t so quick, but somehow at that moment I was so filled with fury and literally wanted to tie a rope with dongs and throttle the guy… I already calculated 3,000 dong to be like S$0.20 anyway.
Taxi Driver: *takes out a 200,000 dong note* This! Tour! I give you!
Me: You didn’t give me a tour! I didn’t want any bloody tour. Give me back 130,000 dong NOWWWW!!!
Taxi Driver: *makes angry sounds and gives me back 130,000 dong*
Arati alighted first, and just when I was about to – something told me not to… because he didn’t even open the boot for our luggage and was ready to drive off!!!
What the hell man! How disgustingly low can these people get??
So I opened the door super wide, refused to alight and asked Arati to get the luggages out first. If he wants to drive off with the luggages, I was ready to whack the guy.
We pulled our luggages along and looked for the hotel, but simply couldn’t! We were in a foreign country where almost no one speaks any English – the only ones who did were tourists as well! We asked uniformed officers who gave us all different directions…
From the “2 minute!”, we walked about Old Quarters lugging our luggages for about 60 minutes!
And it started to get dangerous – we spotted some men following us around. One guy even touched my suitcase, till I yanked it away and glared at him. And somehow he scurried off.
Usually I’d be quite scared in such situations, but at that moment I simply didn’t have the luxury to be scared. It was running late, we were hungry and tired, Arati was freaking out like crazy, no one was able to help us properly – I couldn’t freak out too.
Then I remembered that I kept a record of the hotel’s contact! Why didn’t I think of that earlier. So stood in front of this rather crowded tourist spot, and made the phone call. The staff came over to walk us over – thank God!
It was an absolute nightmare!
The stupid taxi driver actually stole 100,000 dong from us, citing that it was for toll. He didn’t even drop us off at our hotel, just so he could take another passenger. He had the audacity to demand for 200,000 dong extra for a ‘tour’ for naming a few random buildings on the way over. And he almost drove off with our luggages!
And when I had WiFi to do some research, I found that the wanker took a longer route too.
It was awful, awful, awful.
Within the first hour of visiting Vietnam, I was already missing Singapore. Hardly felt like it was a proper holiday if I had to be so on guard all the time!
But from then on we all entirely Mai Linh taxis, which were all amazing. They were professional, rates were very reasonable (by Vietnamese standards) and we felt super safe with them. And when we took the taxi to the airport, we didn’t pay for the toll!
Only down side was Mai Linh is popular with the locals as well (which actually is a good thing!), so most Mai Linhs are taken up.
Vinasuns tend to be bigger, so better for larger groups.
Now, be VERY careful about the spelling of the names as well. I spotted a ‘pirated’ brand that are similar to Mai Linh; spelling was something like ‘Mai Lin’ and it had the exact same green. But they’re not Mai Linh! Read up that other tourists were conned in those imposter-brands as well. 😰
On the left is Vinasun and on the right is Mai Linh.
Trust me when I say this – don’t trust what the locals tell you. Just stick to Mai Linh or Vinasun!
We trusted a local and it ruined our mood so much!! You really don’t want that when you go for a holiday.
Gosh. Sickened to my bone over this.
Anyone else have any other con stories to share? Tell me in your comments!
One response to “Disgusting taxi scam in Hanoi!”
I’m aware of when this post was written 🙂 but happened to see this article again while I was doing some research on Ho Chi Minh City and felt like sharing my latest experience.
I recently returned from HCMC for work reasons. Putting aside the fun motorbike rides and the tasty food after office hours, I’m ashamed to say that I almost got scammed the first day I reached.
And when I say almost, I mean if I wasn’t alert or assertive enough I would have gotten ripped off big time!
Stay away from ‘Saigon Air Taxi’ if you are there. Their meters run abnormally fast and they request for ridiculous amounts of ‘toll fee’ (similar to the fake ones in Hanoi).
I was previously aware of Mai Linh and Vinasun but I was not feeling well and a little drowsy the day I set foot on Saigon and was wanting to reach the hotel soonest. So I settled for the first taxi I saw – Saigon Air Taxi. I mistakenly took that thinking it could be a Vinasun as it was white (in my defence I was under medication, haha) After entering the cab, the starting fare of 100k dong displayed made me Google the company. I just wanted to ensure what I was getting into since I was travelling alone. To my horror, there were tons of negative references on that taxi company and it was rather unfortunate that I was already seated in the moving cab after paying the ‘toll fee’ of 200k dong. But I didn’t want history to repeat itself so I did my best not to pay anything extra.
Good tip: You can threaten to open the door while they are driving, it worked for me! The drivers get scared when you do that. And use Google Translate to tell them you know they are overcharging and refuse to pay anymore. The drivers won’t know how to react when foreigners use Vietnamese with them (even Google Translate-it kinda takes them by surprise and they won’t ask for anymore cash). Hence, I escaped without having to pay more than 200,000 dong (around 11 SGD) – which was already above the maximum fee of 180,000 considering the distance (according to my Vietnamese colleague). Just so you know, I was travelling from the airport to District 3. But it was better than paying what was displayed on the meter at the end, which was 1 million dong (yes you read it right).
Hoping my experience helps those who face such situations in future!