Date: June 23rd, 2022 6:20 AM
Author: Crosby, Stills & Gash
What do you think of what Wikitravel says about Vietnam:
Vietnam probably has the most scams per square foot, and significantly more than in surrounding countries. One certain trait of Vietnamese scams is that there seems to be no limit to what people would try to overcharge you. It is pretty common for the scammers to attempt to overcharge you by ten or fifty times and sometimes even more.
A very common one is when the organizers claim that the bus broke down and the tour operators force people to pay huge amounts for crummy hotels "while the bus is repaired". Be careful when going to a shop or restaurant that doesn't have prices written down. Before eating a meal, ask for the price or you may be in for a surprising bill. When you embark on a tourist tour, be independent: know where you are at all times and be aware of alternatives; the tour might suddenly fall apart.
The police are probably the worst crooks of them all. They are known to steal items from people (both locals and tourists) and ask for a steep bribe to get the item in return. Also, don't count on them for any help if you are victim of crime.
Most scams in Vietnam are in transport, hotel prices and the two-menus system practiced by some restaurants.
Hotel owners may tell you that the room price is 200,000 dong. However, when checking out, they may insist that the price is USD20, charging you almost a double. Another trick is to tell customers that a "room" is a few dollars, but following day they'll say that price was for a fan room only and it's another price for an air-con room. These days, legitimate hotel owners seem to be aware of these scams and are usually willing to help by writing down how much the room is per person per day (in US dollars or dong), if it has air con or not. Staff of legitimate hotels also never ask for payment from a guest when they check in. Watch out if they insist that you should pay when you check out but refuse to write down the price on paper.
Some restaurants are known to have two menus, one for local people and another one for foreigners. The only way to deal with it is to learn a few Vietnamese phrases and insist that you should be shown only the Vietnamese menu. If they hesitate to show you the local menu, you better walk away. On rare occasions restaurants have two (English) menus with different prices. Taking pictures of all menus might be excessive, but if you suspect that the food had a different price when ordered, stand your ground. We usually memorize the prices of what we order and pay exactly that. The owners rarely make a big deal out of it because they know they cheated. Otherwise ask for the police.
Many taxi drivers in Saigon and Hanoi install rigged meters, charging up to 2 to 8 times more. The best way to reduce your chances is by taking a taxi from reputable companies such as Mai Linh (+84 38 38 38 38) and Vinasun in Saigon and Mai Linh and Hanoi Tourist for Hanoi (but note that taking these companies is not a guarantee, and travelers have had problems even with reputable companies). If you don't know what a reasonable fare is, it is generally a bad idea to agree on a price in advance. Spoken for Saigon, the two recommended companies have quite reliable meters. Vinasun taxis usually have notices explaining that the meter value should be multiplied by 1000 to obtain the fare. Some drivers will take advantage of the ambiguity, and tourists' lack of knowledge about what the fare should be, so it is best to have things clearly written out.
Taxis are abundant in Saigon - and you can get a taxi at any time of the day or (night). You can also call a Taxi, and usually people at call centers will be able to either converse in English, or will pass on the phone to someone who can. Rule of thumb to detect scammers: if the taxi doesn't have the fare charges written, or drivers name and photo on the dashboard, immediately ask the taxi to stop and get out. It's a definite scam.
When leaving the airport, the taxi driver may insist that you pay the airport toll. He might not be very forthcoming about the price and, if you give him cash, he will pay the toll and pocket the rest.
Many taxi drivers in Sai Gon and Ha Noi try to overcharge thin faced, just arrived, and gullible travelers. You should consult some guidebooks and travel forums to prepare yourself for those petty scams and to learn more about how to avoid them. The airport toll fee in Saigon is 10,000 dong - this is also written, along with the fare, on the dashboard of the taxi. You can confidently say "airport toll only 10,000" and refuse to pay anything else such as parking etc. (unless there were more toll roads in between). Usually, the driver will not argue it out. In Saigon, a trip to Backpackers Street should not cost more than 250,000 dong from the airport in any case.
In several other cities of Vietnam, such as Dalat, Hoi An, Nha Trang etc. - DO NOT travel by meter. The airports are as far as 30-40km from these places and meter will cost you from 500,000 to 650,000 dong. However, you can either take a bus from the Airport to the city center, or pre-negotiate rates with taxis from 200,000-300,000 dong. Refer to individual sections for details. Pay attention to sides of taxi - usually a rate for Airport drop is written on the door itself.
Taxi and cyclo drivers may claim that they don't have change when accepting payment for an agreed-upon fare. The best way to handle this is to either carry smaller bills or be ready to stand your ground. Generally the driver is only trying to get an extra dollar or so by rounding the fare up, but to prevent this scam from becoming more popular it is advised to stay calm and firm about the price.
When you meet an over friendly cyclo driver who says, "never mind how much you would pay" or "you can pay whatever you like at the end of the trip". He even tries to show you his book of comments from international tourists. This kind of driver has to be a scammer. If you still want to use his service you should make it clear about the agreed price and don't pay more than that. Just be clear what you are willing to pay; the cyclo drivers are just trying to make a living.
Another very infamous scam in Vietnam includes the tons of copycat tour companies which pop up after any tour company gets famous in Vietnam. One such example is the many Sinh Cafes you may find across the country. The original has since changed its name to TheSinhTourist.