Motorbike is a cheap, fast, convenient, flexible, and effective mean of transportation in Ho Chi Minh where the traffic is crazy, especially in rush hours and there is a huge network of back alleyways. Sometimes you have to take a motorbike taxi to reach a destination in a narrow alley. Or you would like to reach somewhere as fast as possible in rush hours. Some travelers would like to minimize their budget by getting around the city instead of taking taxis or buses. The other like motorbikes and would like to experience Saigon (former name of Ho Chi Minh) on two wheels. If you do not have a motorbike driving license and could not drive a motorbike, you should catch a motorbike taxi or Xe om which is very popular in the city. How to catch a motorbike taxi? How to avoid motorbike taxi scams in Ho Chi Minh? As a local, I will share some useful tips for catching motorbike taxis and avoid scams.
How to catch a motorbike taxi?
Motorbike taxi drivers with their motorbike usually gather at corners which are next to tourist attractions, markets, offices, schools, universities, hospitals, etc. You can come and ask the drivers in Vietnamese if they are motorbike taxis, how much it costs to reach the destination. You should prepare notes on which written the address or show the address on your phone. Prepare VND cash including small cash. Some useful Vietnamese phrases include:
Xin chào: Hello; Rẽ phải: Turn right; Rẽ trái: Turn left; Đi thẳng: Go straight; Quay lại: Go back; Địa chỉ: Address; Đây là địa chỉ: Here is the address; Bao nhiêu: How much; Cảm ơn: Thank you; Tạm biệt: Bye.
Common scams and how to avoid?
Deal with motorbike taxi
Motorbike taxi scams are common in the city. They scam not only foreigners and visitors but also local people. Firstly they agree on a price for a ride and then ask for a lot more when you arrive at your destination. For example, you agree with the price of 50,00o VND. However, when you arrive you are asked to pay 500,000 VND. Or they can tell you that the agreed price was quoted in USD, not in VND. They can tell you that you heard wrong. To avoid this, ask them to write the amount on your note in VND. Choose motorbike taxi drivers in uniforms.
Book a Grab ride
The best way to avoid being ripped off is using Grab to book a ride. Grab has become more and more popular in Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam. We call the motorbike taxi on the street “traditional” and Grab motorbike taxi “technical”. Grab motorbike taxi drivers are said to be more friendly and polite than traditional motorbike taxi drivers. 3G/4G/Wife is required to use the Grab App on your smartphone or tablet. Using Grab, you know the exact fares even before you book, the driver’s name, review and rating, the vehicle registration number, location of the driver, and if he arrives at the pickup location.
Step by step of booking a Grab ride
The followings are steps of booking a motorbike ride using Grab:
1. In the Play Store on Android or App Store on iOS, search for Grab Application, click Install:
2. If you do not see the Grab App on the home screen, search for it:
3. Choose tab Ride, you will see a map with many motorbikes around the pickup location and 2 text boxes where you enter the pickup location and destination.
4. Enter the pickup location
5. Enter the destination
6. Grab quotes the fare, you just click Book button to book your ride and pay at the end of the trip.
7. Your Grab motorbike taxi driver arrives and pick you up. He should be in the green uniform with Grab logo.
Now you know how to avoid motorbike taxi scams in Ho Chi Minh and I hope this guide help you as much as possible on your Ho Chi Minh trip.
If you would like to explore Ho Chi Minh on two wheels, simply book a Saigon motorbike tour, the local guide will take care of you as well as possible. There are a few motorbike tours for your choices:
Read more about Travel Ho Chi Minh by Motorbike