Taxis, Ho Chi Minh City
The general rule of thumb is that taxis will always try to rip you off if they can. It can be as simple as a rigged meter that goes too fast or charges by time rather than distance, regardless of time of day. Late night traffic is fine. Day traffic is a nightmare. For long rides, settle on a price right off the top and also set a meter, just for kicks. In the end, it might not work. You might still find yourself stunned by a massive bill and in a strange part of the city with a few mafia types waiting to beat you senseless if you don't pay up. I lived in hcmc for a year, so I know what I'm talking about. The odd thing is that people there will try to rip you off for lots of money or just a few cents. Doesn't matter. Any extra money is a victory for them. It's a badge of honor. It's the code for those people. And don't be surprised to have people you've known for many many months suddenly upon your departure begin to rip you off. They'll ask for clothes or computers as gifts. I had a girl who worked in my house and who I knew for nearly a year start to rip me off with change....just started taking 20k dong when I asked for change for US dollars needed for my return to the states. Little things that just make the whole experience miserable. Trust no one, expect theft at every turn.
It’s quite easy to answer what is the best convenience mean to go around the city. It’s foot-walking! Since it’s considered the city with no specific rush hour – it can be rush hour anytime of the day. You’d better watch out when choosing the transportation mean for your trip around the city.
Speaking of taxi, the situation has been improved recently. Some taxi service providers have won faith of customers and make city folks, visitors become frequent sources.
To recognize the good taxi brands are easy. If you see a green & white taxi with phone number printed on its doors (08) 38 38 xx, you are in good hands. Or you can also choose the white with brand associated with “the sun”. The yellow brand is not quite good but acceptable. Generally, if you are standing in front of a big – very big – building waving for taxi, you are safe.
Once out from the arrival hall, turn left and walked around 25 meters to the taxi stand. There will be a few taxi company workers wearing different coloured tie standing by the road side radioing taxis for the passengers. By the pavement, there are a few rows of seats for the passengers to rest while waiting for the taxis. My preferred taxi company is Mai Linh (worker with green tie and an embossed company name by the chest). There is also Vina Taxi & Vinasun Taxi as well. All the taxi used meter without asking. My bill came to around VND95K to Pham Ngu Lao Street, District 1. If you have a large family, the taxi staff will arrange for a larger 7 seater (Toyota Innova) taxi. Slightly more expensive. Very easy and reliable.
I have always used Mai Linh Taxi only around HCMC. If I can't see one if I needed a taxi, I will rather wait. Plenty of them and you will not have to wait for long. Wave the Mai Linh taxi even it is occupied. The reason is the particular taxi driver will see that you needed a taxi and he will radioed other nearby taxis of the same company to where you are standing. I am very satisfied with their service.
According to the local, there are tow major taxi companies welcomed and trustworthy, VinaSun & Minhlin in HCMC. They are using limo with good driver. I accidentally paid the driver 90,000 more than what I was supposed to, but the driver was nice to remind me that I gave him wrongly.
Basically, these two companies are big in HCMC, you should find one very easily.
I had to transfer to the airport a couple times. Hostel arranged price was $12US. Luxury hotel costs can be $30US
I asked the concierge at several hotels in District 1, and they all said that a taxi to the airport should be about $7UD (from City Hall area).
I flagged a taxi and he said $10, I said $7, and he said 100000 VD (at the time about $6.50)
Other people I know said taxi meter in opposite direction finished at 95000 VD, so figured this was a perfectly reasonable price.
Be cautioned that many of the taxi drivers will not want to use the meter with foreigners and therefore will ask inflated prices. When in doubt demand that they use the meter and prices will be very reasonable.
I was also surprised when the Mai Linh taxi driver at the airport tried to pulll a fast one! He had a strip of paper jutting out of his meter so one couldn't read the numbers. (Just to see the meter you have to pop your head around the headrest in front of you - so most people would've missed it.) I asked him if he wasn't going to re-set his meter and he played dumb. So I reached over and moved the paper - to make sure it was re-starting. Surprise - it was at 60,000 VND from the ride he dropped off at the airport. He still wouldn't re-set it and moaned about extra money. At this point, I was mad and told him I wouldn't expect this from Mai Linh. But since I was hot, tired, and already had my luggage in the car - in the end, I offered him a flat 100,000 VND to get to District 1. (It usually takes from 60,000-85,000 VND plus tip - and then this was almost midnight.)
The lesson is take a clean-looking cab with a driver you feel comfortable with and check the meter. You can't help it if it's pre-set to go faster - but you can pre-select the car/driver so you don't get ripped off. And don't be afraid to round the fare up - and give them some extra money...they usually deserve it (not this guy). Feel some pity for the honest ones who have to pay for the car rental, gas, wait in traffic, and make a living for their families. I didn't bother reporting this driver to his company because he seemed sincerely sorry for trying the scam/and getting caught/and getting yelled at - and he wasn't argumentive...just sort of sad.
In travel forums, this is always one of the questions so I try to save time for everyone. Taxi fares are very cheap in HCMC compared to many metropolitan cities in the world. However, you are likely to be deceived if you don't show the taxi driver that you know the basic fares and so on. Usually a taxi ride from the airport to city center will cost around 5 USD or 75000 Dong. When we were just out of the airport, some taxi drivers approached immediately. The highest price offered for our 5 USD ride was 20 USD. Finally I managed to find a decent taxi driver, double checked the cost before I jumped in to his taxi and I had a comfortable ride. The best way is to ask them to turn on their meters. The opening rate is around 12000 Dong. Do not jump into taxis which don't have proper signs on them. They are pirate taxis and you may have problems when it comes to pay. Taxi drivers also try to cheat you if you want to pay in USD instead of Dong. The common conversion is 15000 Dong for 1 USD. If they ask more, do not accept. One taxi driver tried to give me back 4000 Dong instead of 40000 Dong until I insisted the money in return and a friendly police made him return the exact amount. As long as you know what to pay and what to get back in return, you won't have any major problems. Just be wise and check before you pay and count back the money in return.
HCMC is a small place you can reach all the attractions by feet. But if you will going to airport or far places from your hotel. You need to take a cab, and I recommend THE VINA TAXI with tel Number 8-111-111 with color yellow. Its a good taxi with honest driver.
You will see taxi counter before you get out the arrival building ( near by the exchage counter ) 5 us for 1 car from the airport to city center ,if you need a bigger car it's only 6 us.
On July 2008 the price is up to 10-12 us from the airport to your hotel.
I didnt see any counter in there anymore ... you walk out and somebody will attack you ... asking you "taxi? taxi?"
Taxis services have dramatically improved in the last few years with some profeesional companies opening up such as Mei Linh and Vinataxi. But still there are a few rouges out there so here are some tips: You don't need to bargain for a taxi, if the driver tries, get another taxi. The most common trick is for them not to start the meter, if he refuses get out and get another. From the airport is about 75,000 dong to get downtown on the meter, again if he asks a fixed price (which is normally $10) get another taxi.
If your going to travel around HCMC then I would strongly advise visitors to use Mai Linh Taxi's. This is an honest and reputable company which will not rip you off.
Generally taxi drivers are notorious in Saigon and will rip you off without blinking an eye. Don,t be fooled that the taxi has a meter and that the driver dutifully switches the meter on as you leave the kerb. Most of these meters are rigged to empty you pockets asap.
I am an English teachers living in HCMC. Save yourself a whole load of frustration...stick to Mai Linh Taxis and save your cash and arrive at the destination you ask for (rather than the taxi driver's brother's retaurant or hotel.
its great to be well prepared, carrying such information with you plus the business card of the hotel you are staying in for less hassle especially at night. also, the conceirge/bellboys are very helpful and can colverse with the taxi driver on where to bring you. so use their help as well. these tel.no. infos where very helpful:
Deluxe - 826 2626
Festival - 823 2323
Saigon - 811 1111
Vinataxi - 845 6456
Vinasun - 827 2727
I would like to share my unpleasant experience about my recent trip in Ho Chi Minh (1-4/Jun/07). Being a foreign tourist travelling in Ho Chi Minh should be very careful to every cheating tactic. I was taking a cap outside Ben Thanh Market to Indochine restaurant for dinner alone (the restaurant was recommended by my vietnamese friend) which the whole journey took about 15 mins. When i reached the restaurant, I was shocked to see that the charges was VND 615,000 (which was about U$ 38). I suspected something was wrong, but I still paid the taxi fare. Unfortunately I was having short of cash in hand so I requested the driver to take me back to my hotel for the balance payment. The driver finally agreed with the deal and he drove me back to hotel. When he was driving, this time I was starring at the meter running extremely fast (just 1 min the taxi fare jumped from VND 615,000 to VND 900,000) which was unbelievable. I started shouting at the driver and scolding him for cheating on foreign visitor. He quickly pressed pause on the meter and shown his innocent that he didn't cheat on me. He finally agreed to take me back to the restaurant without collecting the balance payment after long arguement. However, I have already paid him abt U$25. When I was walking out from the taxi, the driver turned his back from driver seat and was trying shake my hand to shown his friendliness.
In Ho Chi Minh city, and actually in Vietnam in general, you may consider using Mai Linh taxi when possible. They're cheap, trusted, and available all over the country, not like other taxi companies which are only available in some areas/cities. They're easily recognized by green color.
Taxis in the city are very easy to come by. I generally travel by Vina-Sun (White-coloured taxis) as Vina-Taxis (Yellow-coloured taxis) were hard to come by. I'm a believer of walking to experience more of the Vietnam life, but I won't go all out to kill myself doing that when I'm lugging some heavy stuff that I've purchased from the market.
The going rate for Vina-Sun is 12,000VND. If you're staying within District 1, or the outskirts of District 3, the metre should remain as it is - 12,000VND.
Most major hotels will have taxis waiting outside their hotels, but for smaller hotels, do get your reception counter staff to make that call for you so that you don't have to foot the bill for the calls made. Remember to insist on the more reliable taxi companies.