Taxi scams and how to deal with them.

This is the first of two pages compiled in a joint effort by myself, and a travel professional (ComeAndGoVietnam) to help educate you as to how not to get taken advantage of by taxis in Vietnam, but in Nha Trang and Saigon in particular. Please excuse me if some of the information gets repeated.  ComeAndGoVietnam’s writing is in Italics, whereas mine are standard lettering

A frequent complaint from foreign visitors is of being overcharged, ripped off and generally mistreated by the city’s taxi drivers, particularly those operating at Tan Son Nhat Airport. (Saigon) Indeed, a 2007 survey discovered that the number one reason cited by tourists as to why they would not return to Vietnam was being overcharged by taxi drivers.

Taxis are a concern in many countries, and Vietnam is no exception. As a matter of fact, I personally consider them one of the worst things about this country. They can be aggressive, manipulative, and most cannot be trusted. Even individuals working for reputable companies will try to take advantage of a tourist at every opportunity.

Taxis are highly commission driven and they will take you to the furthest spot they can that will give them the highest commission. Do not ask the driver to recommend and drive you to a nice restaurant. You may or may not end up where you want, but where he wants. The friendly fellow will even wait for you to take you back.

Another very common practice, and one that annoys me immensely is the practice to try to scoop a hotel guest by lying, or trying to trick them into thinking there is a good reason for you not to show up at your reserved hotel. You will probably end up at some budget hotel and getting bullied into pre paying for your nights so you do not leave after your sleepless night. The taxi driver does not care…. He has made his 20% commission for scooping you. That is all he cares about.

When you arrive at Cam Ranh airport to go to Nha Trang, there are a few things to watch for in order not to be scammed. You can elect to buy a shuttle ticked at a desk as you leave the airport for 80000 dong that will take you to the old Nha Trang city airport. From there you can catch a taxi, bus, or motorcycle cowboy. You also have the option to purchase a taxi voucher for 380000 dong that will take you wherever your hotel is. (Ignore excuses or other things he says and do not pay extra unless you wish to tip) The cheapest option is to walk out past the ticket desk and out the front doors past the Airport Taxi mob to the parking lot and grab a car or taxi that is waiting a short distance off about 15 meters towards the rear of the parking lot towards the right side. Take your time and do not rush to get a taxi. Walk to the Mini vans and cars off in the distance and let them approach you to offer a ride. A car should cost 200000-300000 dong, and a Van 300000-350000. They will run the meter to keep track of miles. Beware the common scam of them saying the price was for one way and you are required to pay the return fare or what the meter says!!


Important!! If your taxi pulls ahead or behind the entrance to your hotel, you are most likely being cheated. The taxi driver is trying to avoid the possibility of the receptionist coming to your aid.

Lastly…. Always take note of the taxi number when you enter. If there is any problem during or after the trip, you will at least have some chance of making it right. If you forget something, it may be returned, and if you were scammed, at least it can be reported to a company that cares.

So how can you ensure that your visit to Saigon isn’t blighted by taxi cheats? Here’s my guide, based on 7 ½ years as an expat in the city!

Which Taxi?

In my 7 years in the city, only one company has an unblemished record with regards to overcharging – Mai Linh. Their taxis are white & green. Be careful – there are several fake Mai Linh taxis around using very similar livery and logo. In recent months they have become outnumbered by the ubiquitous Vinasun taxis – they’re mostly OK but are less fussy about who they employ as drivers, and tend to employ country bumpkins with no knowledge of Saigon and with zero customer service skills. I mostly agree except I myself have been taken the long way by Mai Linh taxis and have had them also try to cheat me. It all depends on the individual driver I guess. You can also spot fakes by the driver not wearing a tie which must be worn at all times by a Mai Linh or Vinasun driver.

All other taxi firms should be treated with extreme caution!

To be continued……..

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

59 thoughts on “Taxi scams and how to deal with them.

  1. Hi Owee,

    I am travelling in Vietnam right now and going to Nha Trang soon. Found this thread about taxi prices but wanted to check if the rates are still the same. I am going to Doc Let from the airport, do you know how much that should cost? Is it still better to go to the parking lot at the airport and find taxi? Thanks!

    1. Same rules apply. I believe the current rate is 380000 – 400000 Doc Let resorts are about 40 km north of Nha Trang. If you are going to Jungle or Paradise beach, they should be able to arrange a car for you for a decent rate. I am not sure how much to negotiate to Doc Let. Perhaps 800000 would be ok.

      1. Hello Owee,

        Thanks for your fast reply! Now we are back from Vietnam and really enjoyed our stay. I just wanted to tell to whom it might be interesting that we payed 900000 dong for the trip from the airport to Doc Let area. You could probably get them to drive you for 800000 dong but we thought 900000 was good enough and didn’t try to go lower.

        Thanks again!

  2. Hi,

    Was wondering if you could tell me the best way toget from Da Lat to Nha Trang. There are 4 pax and luggage. Thanks

  3. Hi Owee,
    I’m going to Nha Trang in early November. My flight will arrive the Nha Trang Cam Ranh airport around 9:00pm. I found out the airport is about 50 minutes’ taxi ride to the city. Is it safe if I take a Mai Linh taxi from the airport to the city? And according to the information above, it usually takes around 380,000VND?

    1. Yes I believe the rate is fixes at 380000. The Mai Linh, and the new Yellow cabs, Emasco, and Tuan something are ok. The airport taxi service has the most dodgy drivers. IF any of them tries to get you to pay the meter rate, ONLY GIVE HIM THE 380000 and get the taxi and driver number for a complaint.

      1. Thank you for your prompt response to my question, Owee. You are so knowledgable and helpful!

        One more question: is it safe for me to take a 50-minute taxi ride alone around 9:30 pm from the airport to the city? If your answer is no, then I might need to consider changing my flight to an earlier one.

        1. Perfectly safe. The bad stuff you might read about crime happens almost exclusively to very drunk people leaving the tourist bars very late.

          1. Great! That makes me breath easier for I don’t have to pay the rebook charge to change my flight, which will cost a few bucks.

            Your comment really helps. Thanks a lot, Owee!

  4. Hi Owee

    I hear you talking about the taxi issue in Nha Trang (and have gone on your website), anyway there is some chatter bout a bus going from the new airport to the old one for 60K or around there. My question is can we take that bus from the old airport TO Cam Ranh? Whenever it comes up its always from the Cam to Trang never the other direction.

  5. self and wife would like to see vitenam. the numbers of days at our disposal is about 15 days. please suggest place of interest to see,transportation and stay. please indicate if possible the cost there off

    1. You can take a look at the sample itinerary section for ideas. I suggest you contact my friends V’Explore Travel for prices. I only qoute motorcycle tours.

  6. Hi Owee,

    I’m planning to go to Dalat straight from Ho Chi Minh airport by car/taxi. We are a group of 4. Do you have any recommendations? And what is the estimated cost?

    1. I would estimate you can negotiate a deal dor around 125 dollars. That is only an esucated guess as I am basing it on what a car would cost from Nha Trang to Dalat and adding the extra distance

    1. The Mai Linh and Vinasun companies are pretty good most of the time. Your hotel can arrange. A taxi online might be overly expensive. In Saigon if you walk over to the domestic terminal there you can flag your own car instead of relying on the sometimes cheating taxi marshal

  7. Hi Owee, you probably wont see this in time but unfortunately I am taking a 6am flight from Danang to Nhatrang which means leaving Hoi An for the airport around 4am. The hotel says they can arrange a taxi for me for $15USD. I initially requested Mai Linh but she said something about not having their number as they don’t usually utilize them. Should I feel comfortable using the hotel’s suggestion? I’m a single girl traveling alone so I definitely don’t want any doubts in a taxi in the middle of the night.

    1. 15 usd for a car to the airport is ok and I am sure the hotel does not want hassles or bad reviews. They are probably doing someone a favor and giving them work.I woult trust them personally, and if the car does not show, just call the number you see on the sides of the cabs.


      1. Hi Owee, I attempted to send you an email as well. We will be arriving on the Sun Princess on August 03. Ship will dock in Nha Trang from 8-5. We would like a combination of city tour and beach, or beach and Thap Ba mud bath. Would you please advise. Many thanks. Thao

  9. Thanks for a very informative website. Extremely interesting.
    I just got one question about these taxi drivers ripping off tourists at the airports or elsewhere in Vietnam. If the Vietnamese Government is really so gungho about promoting tourism in its country as you said, why didn’t they do something about this scam since this is the first impression of any tourists entering the country of the country.

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