Airport taxi scam

Ho-Chi-Minh-City-Vinasun-taxiTaxi scams are a phenomenon that happens all over the world, and also in Vietnam. Even the cyclos or bike-taxis in Ho Chi Minh City are not all trustworthy. One of the prime spots for taxi scams is Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat airport. Saigon Air Taxi has a monopoly at the airport, but this only means they will charge higher rates, and it doesn’t automatically mean you won’t be ripped off by the driver. MaiLinh (white and green cabs) or Vinasun (white and red cabs) both have a better reputation from travelers and locals, and both have a tourism desk inside the airport, although they may be hard to find if you’re not specifically looking for them. Booking at these desks can save you a lot of hassle, and may be worth the small premium they will charge you. The best option is probably to use the Grab ride-sharing app, which is the Asian equivalent of Uber. This way you can choose to pau by credit card and you’ll know the cost in advance.

Ho-Chi-Minh-City-Mai_Linh-TaxiIf you don’t book at the tourism desk, the taxi stand is on the left side as you step out of the International Arrivals terminal. You are not required to take the next available taxi, meaning you can wait for one from MaiLinh or Vinasun. If other taxi drivers get in your hair, just tell them you are waiting for a pre-booked taxi.

A ride from the airport to anywhere in District 1 should cost you around 150.000 Dong (€ 5,50 / US$ 7 / £ 4.25), so anything over 200.000 Dong can be considered a scam.

If you are not in a hurry, or if you’re looking for the cheapest way into town, walk to the right side upon exiting the International Arrivals hall, where bus 152 will depart from across the Burger King restaurant. This bus will take you to Ben Thanh Market, where you can take a taxi to your hotel for a much lower rate. Be aware the last trip of this bus departs at the airport at 6PM, and the fare is 5.000 Dong per person with an additional 5.000 Dong per bag.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam Tourist Scams Forum.


  1. At Ho Chi Minh airport we were scammed by a taxi where one of the taxi men temporarily grabbed our money when I was about to pay, saying he was looking for small bills. Whilst the other driver distracted us he took 1million / $50 before I managed to take the money back. They then moved us to another taxi (using an excuse of a bigger car) so that if we found out during the taxi ride it wouldn’t be the same driver who stole the money. This was the taxi booth outside the airport to the left. I recommend trying to find a different place to get a taxi.

    • The exact same thing happened to me today. I was robbed of two million dong! To say this has ruined my experience of Vietnam is an understatement!

  2. There are more scams in Ho Chi Minh city than in any other city in Southeast Asia. I am just back from a 3 month stay during which time I was robbed of all my cash and credit cards. Forced to leaved HCMC due to death threats and had my stolen passport used in connection with some child porn extortion business.
    Taxi scams are well known but watch out for the shoe shiners who lift your phone/wallet while shining your shoes. Look out for a guy working on Pham Ngu Lau called David Khanh who attempts to meet westerners and offers to help them with jobs and hotels etc, if you accept his offer and go with him your credit card/cash will disappear. He has scammed several people out of thousands $$ in recent months after meeting them in the backpacker area.

  3. I just came back from my trip in Vietnam. This was my first time and since I left when I was little everything was new to me. Upon arriving to the airport we went through custom and came to baggage claim to pick up our luggages. The guys working there immediately picked us up and literally helped themselves in assisting us. They dragged our luggages only a few feet from our pick up point and we were obligated to give them a substantial tip. As soon as we stepped out of the airport another guy ushered to a taxi to take us to the airport. The trip wasn’t that far and on the meter it said 158K vnd when we arrived at our hotel. Throughout our ride the cab driver talked nonstop. As soon as he’ was about to drop us off he tried to take advantage of us and said, “Since you’re from America why don’t you give me XXX amount?” Which was three times the amount of what was on the meter. I can’t believe how blatant he was. I guess I live in the states and no one would tried to scam you so blatantly.

    All in all throughout our whole trip we noticed as soon as the local people spotted that we’re not from Vietnam they raised their prices. Taxi drivers are notorious for pumping up prices. We used Grab instead and was happier since it was a set amount we know beforehand. When it was time to go back to the states we got dropped off at the airport. Immediately several guys tried to grab our hand cart to help us. Once again, they forced themselves to help us. We already loaded our luggages beforehand. All he had to do was push it a few feet to our airlines counter. He stood there while we present our passports. He followed us after our luggages got picked up. My family gave him and XXX amount and he demanded 4 times that amount! I was so mad by then. I told myself I do not want to come back to a place where I am being ripped off left and right.

    From my personal experience I do not recommending visiting Vietnam unless you’re willing to deal with all the scams.

  4. Pissed off Paul says

    The scam is real.. DO NOT LET THEM TALK YOU INTO CHEAPER TAXI SERVICE (unmarked cars). The above event occurred with me and my fiancé. The guy picks you up to negotiate at the curb. Walks you over to the parking lot. Send you off to a driver and another negotiator. Put the a lot of bags in the back seat so that the two pasangers will need to split up. Ask for the money before we take off. Both the driver and negotiator will try to grab you money and tell you how to break the change. While you are startled and confused they will try to distract while the other steal a portion. By the time you got the money back, it’s too late. You will be missing a good chunk of your cash in the million dongs.

    STICK TO UBER. There are ways you can trace all of it with the system Uber has in place along with a fair rate.

  5. I agree with all the previous comments. In just the last few days in HCM city, I’ve had
    1) 2 Million VND stolen from me at the airport upon arrival
    2) Aggressive shoe-shiners accosting me every 50 meters or so
    3) Pimps chasing after me offering me prostitutes and calling me names for not being interested

    In this cess-pool called HCM city, you really need to adopt a more aggressive attitude to fend off these opportunistic scum. I’ve had to resort to telling them to “F*** Off!” – something they actually comprehend.

  6. Frustrated Lucas says

    I had similar bad experience getting ripped off by a faked taxi driver who claimed to be from vinasun. He show out a small vinasun card and told me his car is a metered taxi. The faked taxi driver start to take my luggage without hesitate to his car. His car put a fake vinasun card on dashboard. He ask you to sit next to driver seat. After he drove out from airport he stopped nearby road and asking for taxi fare from me. He will look into your wallet and asked if you have usd. He confused me with currency talk and grab some vnd notes together with one usd50 without realised. Lesson learned:
    1. never respond to those ‘Worms’ outside arrival hall.
    2. Never let them see your wallet, they grab some notes from your wallet.
    3. Always sit at behind seat.
    I would curse the guy to have big accident in few days time.

  7. We had our holiday trip last Aug 19 and we were scam by a taxi driver in the airport 100 usd in a split of seconds in our very eye.
    booked taxi in the airport instead or use grab.


  8. I just arrived at HCM Airport about an hour ago and had the exact same thing happen to me and my boyfriend.

    A guy approached us as we were looking for taxis and offered a car into town for a reasonable rate. He then took us to his ‘colleagues’ car, put the luggage at the back, so that my boyfriebd had to sit in the front seat.

    After a few metres of driving, he stopped as we had to pay some ‘road fee’.

    He was trying to confuse us with the amount and currency, and as my boyfriend was looking through his cash, the driver grabbed the notes and pretended to be ‘helping out’. We turned suspicious and then spotted him ‘accidently’ dropping a 500,000 in the centre by the gear stick. We immediately grabbed the money back, screamed at him loudly, and left the car immediately. I managed to take a picture of his license plate on our way out.

    Beware of this license plate number:



  9. This happened to me today, we’d just got off a long flight and exhausted, not paying enough attention. Stupidly I had my wallet in my hand in the cab, and we didn’t agree a price, and when I opened my wallet the Taxi driver grabbed cash from my wallet, saying he was looking for small notes and needed to pay the airport fee. It was very quick. He handed back some and I didn’t even realise what he’d done until hours later taking stock of cash spend, to find he’d taken about 1m dong. Lesson learned to be more aware…and if I see him again I’ll kick him in the balls.

  10. All your stories are tamed compare to mine. 2018 november, I went to HCMC for three weeks.
    From the moment I left the airport, the scams started, the cabbie charge me 500000 dongs when it only cost 150000 to get to district 1. I ask him to take me to a motel near my booked apartment which wasn’t ready to next morning. The motels rips me off and double charges me.
    Next morning the a guy with his scooter already greets me which I thought was odd and offers me a tour of the city says I can pay him what ever I want. He was so nice during the two hours tour then he says “you want to see the saigon river, it’s very beautiful out there” I was so excited about my trip that I said yes. Once out in the saigon river he demands $200 US from me and ask if I think I can swim to shore, the boat was operated by his friend which I’m sure has some kind of weapon. I’m now in a bad suitation, either I’m going in the water or him and his friend is, so I settled at giving him $100. Only afterwards it occured to me the taxi driver, hotel clerk, and the scooter thug all knew each other. They really target lone travellers who don’t speak english. This didn’t turn me off though, I loved my trip and will go back, but I’m learning some vietnamese and research online all the scams that go on here.

    Wa Tsan

  11. we flew in to saigon a week ago; it’s my second time in this city but, unlike last time, we arrived very late at night on the first day of the lunar new year.
    i was told previously that a taxi to district 1 shouldn’t cost more than 200,000 and my brother had just gotten back from saigon and also recommended grab. but after a long flight and unsuccessfully trying to figure out grab, we just wanted to get to our hotel.
    our cabbie said he was using a meter and as soon as we left the airport we had to pay a toll (don’t remember having to do that last time but it was 200,000?!?!), which he asked for on the spot.
    he was super cheery, being new years and all, and it did lift our spirits a bit, but once we arrived, the fare had come to 1,100,000?!?! AND on top of that he was super pushy about a tip (and knowing we’d just arrived, probably knew we had cash to spare).
    so in total we paid 1,400,000 (with a tip since we had nothing smaller) and i kept telling myself it must be a surcharge for new years, but really we were just fooled.
    hopefully karma gets these scammers in the end!

  12. Same thing happened to me. The driver grab money from my wallet and take 500,000 vnd. Just noticed when I get into the second car. What a bad attitude. HCMC city full of scammmm!!!

  13. Haha, I should have google Ho Chi Minh Airport Taxi Scam beforehand and find this site 1st before travelling there. Yesterday like many of you guys here got ripped, scammed robbed by my 1st driver a 2.4 millions dong.

    The tactics they used are very similar as what you guys said.

    1st) The negotiator pull you to his friend (taxi driver) saying that “I’m Grab driver”

    2nd) Since I don’t have any big luggage, he still told me to sit in front beside the driver.

    3rd) This is where the “action” took place. The driver talk to you in a gibberish language asking for airport tickets fees. Since I’m tired and I did not prepare and dropped my awareness, I took out my wallet to search for notes. The fcker simply reached his hand to my wallet and pulled out my local currency and put it on the dashboard demanding to use it.

    4th) Since I my phone was on Google Maps, he drove me 1 round of the parking lot and said I cant send you. Please use other car. For fck sake, wtf? Confusion arise and being idiot me, I got off and he returned my local notes. I got onto a 2nd driver and being tired and all agreed to 200k dong. (still overcharged but I couldn’t care less). Reaching my hotel and after checking in, I made a calculation of my expenditure and to my surprise, 2.4 millions dong gone.

    HCM can be say is one of the best city to travel around but with all these local touts and scams, I learned that wherever you go or travel (doesn’t have to be HCM, it can be any other countries) always do some research, GOOGLE and seek advice from friends if they had travelled there before. Well again 2.4 millions dong of expensive lessons learned. Thank you HCM, you taught me self-awareness skill and raise up my defence level (next time you gonna meet an aggressive ME instead of friendly ME).

  14. Hi, my name is Ken: Few lessons I learnt myself as well. Saigon is pretty tricky when it comes to scammers. You should be able to spot a scammer before he approaches you and try to avoid the route., but unless you have been scammed you will wont be able to spot one.

    I have been scammed thrice in Shoeshine scam, market taxi ride and airport taxi ride.

    -Shoeshine scams are more common in Hanoi in the old quarter area. Whatever has been mentioned in the earlier threads/post here is 100% true.

    -Tax in City- Fetching taxi ride from markets areas, first tell them to go by meter or negotiate a reasonable rate.
    If cabbie agrees on meter then ensure you see the meter and ask them what does the meter state! for just 1 km I was scammed 360,000 VND. When I sat in the taxi the meter said 36 which should be 36000 only! but at the end of approx. 1 km I asked cabbie to stop the car as meter did not move and was still at 36! It was not worth fighting as it was night time so I paid 350000 and just left.

    Airport Taxi- (Part A): As soon as you come out of the airport area you have to pay parking toll or something. The taxi driver will stop the car and ask you to pay the parking fee. I am ok with this but ensure you insist on them paying it as because probably you may not have loose VND notes and will end up giving 200,000 or 500,000, so if that happens say goodbye to your balance money…they will not pay the balance back to you or probably rip you off.

    Airport Taxi (Part B) – This has happened to me. As soon as you come out of the airport, and search for taxis, some white dressed cabbie will come and take your bags and let you follow him to the parking lot where he will pretend that his taxi is parked.
    Once you sit in the car, he will make you wait by giving a reason that some other taxi driver will come and drive you.
    I already knew I had fallen for a scam and that also a dangerous one in late late evening. I immediately pretended “that I am calling a friend who also happens to be near by airport and wanted me to ride in his hotel shuttle” and in this pretext I got out of the taxi safely with by bags.
    My suspicion was raised when the white dressed cabbie told me to sit in front and buckle myself up although the actual cabbie had not arrived. and he was on phone with the other person! probably set me up get to rob!

    Be safe guys.

  15. Ken says:
    Guys even after what I have gone through i.e. 3 scams mentioned as above, still I went on, lifted my spirits and have visited Vietnam 5 times in the last two years.
    I was really hurt and felt stupid about falling into various scams although I am a well traveled person but guess nobody is immune to VN scams. hahaha.

    Food is great, people are nice expect for these scammers!

  16. I was scammed by a fake taxi driver by the same methods as posts previously. I lost 3 million Vn out of my wallet by his quick hands.
    Advise is to not follow any Vietnamese man across the road into car park. You will loose money from your wallet. If any one walks up to you and offers a taxi service, tell them to F… off.
    Only language they understand.
    Wish the police would clean up these low life gangs.
    Vietnam has a bad reputation for a good reason.
    Be aware when travelling in this country.

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