Taking a taxi in Vietnam is something that you are likely to do at one point or another if you spend any relative amount of time in the country. This can be a good, comfortable way to get from A to B and it can often be much easier than having to deal with the stress of trying to navigate public transport networks.
Still, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. Scams in Vietnam are widespread.
This is something that is an unfortunate result of a country where 10% of people live in poverty. Taxi scams too, are not unheard of.
As a matter of fact, you could say that taxi drivers the world over are often a breed unto themselves. Vietnamese cab drivers may often see tourists as a great opportunity to make a little extra money.
At a basic level, they may simply try and overcharge you and assume that you do not know the correct going rate. From their perspective, a tourist isn’t going to know the correct price of getting from here to there so why not make a couple of extra bucks?
Aside from that, sneakier scams and tricks are also common. While Vietnam is not a place where you need to be scared of travelling, it is a good idea to always travel prepared.
Being aware of the various reputable taxi brands and knowing what taxi scams are common, is a good way to protect yourself.
Taking a Taxi in Vietnam: Best Brands to Use
When you are taking a taxi in Vietnam, it is good practice to ask your hotel/accommodation host to organise your cab for you. Most people and hospitality businesses will likely have a preferred driver that they trust and often call upon.
This is safer and offers more accountability than when getting into a random taxi on the street. Grab taxis (the Asian alternative to Uber) are also a good choice.
You can also ask your hotel/accommodation what the correct price ought to be for making certain journeys. That way, when you take a taxi, you are already well-informed and less likely to be tricked.
GRAB is a rideshare app that is available across Asia and is a reputable alternative to Uber. Once upon a time, Uber did function in this part of the world. However, GRAB acquired Uber Vietnam in 2018 so there are no longer two different rideshare apps functioning here.
Don’t worry though, GRAB is a great way to get around! GRAB taxis are typically much cheaper than street cabs.
Better still? Each booking earns you GRAB points which can be redeemed via future journeys, food delivery discounts, etc.
It is a good idea to download the app and set up an account prior to flying out to Vietnam so that you are well prepared. The app tells you how much you need to pay for your journey before you get into the car, and it maps out the route that your driver will take.
This is great as there is no chance of a surprise price increase. Some travellers, including solo female travellers in Vietnam, may prefer the safety measures implemented by GRAB.
For instance, you can see the driver’s name and number plate information prior to getting in the vehicle. You can also click their profile to see their ratings, past reviews, and how many journeys they have taken. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with the selected driver, you can cancel the ride and search for another one.
You can also easily share this journey information with your friends and family. You simply don’t have this kind of visibility when you get into a random street cab.
Mai Linh Taxis
Ask any Vietnamese local or ex-pat what the best taxi brand to use is and chances are that they will all answer the same thing: Mai Linh. Generally speaking, if you are going to hail a street cab, you should look out for a Mai Linh car first.
This is widely regarded to be the safest and most reputable brand. The creme de la creme of the Vietnamese taxi world if you like.
Mai Linh taxis are bright green with some white detailing. You cannot miss them.
They are available in most tourist destinations around the country. For instance, Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Danang, Hanoi, etc.
There is also a VIP arm of this brand known as Mai Linh limousine if you want to travel in a little extra style and comfort. If you want to find the contact numbers of Mai Linh or Mai Linh limousine in the region that you are travelling to, just Google “Mai Linh” and the name of the Vietnamese town/city.
Vinasun, like Mai Linh, is a very reliable Vietnamese taxi company. If you cannot see a green Mai Linh cab, you should look out for a Vinasun car before using any random local cabs.
Vinasun cars are bright white with green and red stripes, and green and red lettering displaying the brand name on the top and sides of the vehicle. You will find Vinasun in Ho Chi Minh and other large Vietnamese cities. The brand also now has its own app which you can use to order taxis in a similar way to which you would use GRAB or Uber.
Taxi Group is a third Vietnamese taxi company that you should add to your radar. It emerged in 1993 and is gradually gaining people’s trust to the extent that it is considered the “next best” alternative to Mai Linh and Vinasun.
Taxi Group cars can be found in HCMC, Hoi An, and several other major towns, cities, and tourist destinations. Their cars are white with a red stripe, with their brand name and contact details displayed in blue letters.
If you are arriving at the airport in Vietnam and you want to know that someone will be waiting for you when you land, you can consider organising a private transfer. A bilingual driver will collect you at Arrival and transport you to your destination in a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle.
A complimentary bottle of water, some wet tissues, and hand sanitiser will be provided for your comfort. You will provide your flight details to the transfer company at the time of booking so if your flight is delayed at all, your driver will have a note of that and will wait accordingly. You can obtain a quote for a Ho Chi Minh City transfer here.
Taking a Taxi in Vietnam: Scams to be Aware of
Unfortunately, taxi scams in Vietnam are not unheard of. While you are more likely to fall victim to a scam if you ride with a second-rate, random local company, you are still not immune from them even when you use Mai Linh or Vinasun.
For that reason, it is good to be alert. Read up on the below scams so that you can ensure that these things don’t happen to you.
Unfortunately, counterfeit taxis do exist here. Only in Vietnam, right?
Counterfeit taxis are basically fake taxis that are designed to look just like a Mai Linh or a Vinasun taxi, but the person operating the vehicle works alone and is generally out to trick tourists. This is not that common these days, but it can happen.
A taxi will be made to look like a Mai Linh one but you may notice that the shade of green that the car is painted in does not look entirely right, or that there is something iffy looking about the vehicle or the logo. Just keep your eyes peeled.
If in doubt, it is better to be safe than sorry and to get into another vehicle. There are always plenty of taxis around.
Taxi driver takes a long, roundabout route to the destination
When taking a taxi in Vietnam, you may get into a car and find that your driver takes you on a long roundabout route to your destination. They may take unnecessary detours so that you spend more time in the vehicle and rack up a higher bill.
Again, they assume that since you are not local, you have no idea of which roads they should be taking. A good way to avoid this is by downloading a map app that works offline on your phone. For instance, Maps Me. Then, you can keep an eye on your map during the journey and call out your driver if you feel that he is not taking you on a logical route.
Faulty, dodgy meters installed in the taxi
A sneaky trick that some corrupt cabbies employ is to work with dodgy meters. They turn on the meter when you enter the vehicle under the guise that they are calculating a fare rate for your journey but the meter makes the rate progress far faster than it should. Look out for meters where the numbers seem to be increasing at an alarming rate.
Taxi driver confuses you with change
Everything may seem fine with your taxi driver until it comes to the time when you need to pay. Up until this point, they may have come across as chatty and charming.
Then, they try and act confused to bedazzle you with currency so that you pay more than you should. For instance, say the fare is 80,000 dong. You hand your driver 100,000 dong and he hands back 10,000, then corrects himself and hands back 20,000, then corrects himself again and hands back 10,000.
The drivers move the notes back and forth so quickly that it is hard to keep track of what is going on and you don’t know that you have been scammed until you step out of the vehicle. Always keep plenty of small notes with you. Where you can, try and pay with exact change.
Not turning the meter on during the journey
Always make sure that the taxi driver turns the meter on before getting in the vehicle. Failing that, agree on a price before entering.
If you get in a car without agreeing on a price in advance and the meter is not working, you can prepare to be charged an extortionate rate. You should also look out for taxi drivers quoting a price before you enter the vehicle, and then on arrival claiming that that is per person, or something else sneaky.
Unlicensed motorbike taxis
As you meander around Vietnam, you will constantly be approached by people on the street asking if you want a motorbike taxi. This is quite literally, a man with a motorbike who offers you a ride on the back to your destination.
While this may sound somewhat fun (?), this is not a safe way to get around. These people do not have any kind of license to operate and often do this illegally as a quick way to make some cash in hand.
You are not only leaving yourself open to pricing scams but this is also dangerous. If you fall off the bike, you are not insured.
Furthermore, these people do not have helmets. Do not entertain this option when taking a taxi in Vietnam.
Airport taxi scams
When you first arrive in Vietnam, be mindful of what the correct fare ought to be to get to your hotel/end destination. It is a good idea to organize your ride in advance if you can.
You may think that it is a safe bet to organize your transfer with the taxi kiosk in the airport, but that is not always the case. You will often find that the airport taxi kiosk offers a completely different rate to the taxi drivers waiting out front.
For instance, perhaps the taxi kiosk quotes 180,000 dong for a journey that a cab driver quotes 100,000 dong for. That is not a marginal difference and it is worth checking the price with a few people.
Similarly, you should make sure, once again, that you only use a licensed cab at the airports. Ignore the toots trying to get you into their random vehicles.
No ID Badge
Vietnamese taxi drivers should always have their ID badges on display in the vehicle. If you approach a vehicle and there is no ID badge, no meter, or the meter looks weird or broken, do not get in!
FAQs about Taking a Taxi in Vietnam
Do you have any other burning questions or concerns about taking a taxi in Vietnam? Hopefully, you will find the answers that you are looking for below!
Are taxis expensive in Vietnam?
Taxis are not expensive in Vietnam. In general, this is a very budget-friendly travel destination and the prices for everything here are reasonable.
How much should a taxi cost in Vietnam?
The cost of a taxi in Vietnam varies depending on the length of your journey and whether you are using the luxury arm of a brand. However, generally, you can expect to pay around 14,000 dong per kilometre. So, a 10-15 minute journey across a city should not cost you more than around $2-$3.
Is there Uber in Vietnam?
Uber no longer works in Vietnam but you can use GRAB taxi which is a great alternative.
Are taxis safe in Vietnam?
Taxis are generally safe in Vietnam, provided that you take precautions for your safety and always use reputable brands.
Do you have any additional questions about taking a taxi in Vietnam or planning a Southeast Asia trip in general? As long as you keep your wits about you and you are always aware of your surroundings, you should have a wonderful time travelling here.
Safe travels! Melissa xo