That Time When We Got Scammed by a Taxi in Hanoi

That Time When We Got Scammed by a Taxi in Hanoi

One of the most common problems of travelers in Asia, which can spoil the fun, is taxi scam.  It is so prevalent that sometimes taking a taxi is not an option anymore not unless necessary.  Vietnam, Thailand, Macau, Philippines, and some other countries have tourists complaining about how their taxis dupe them.  You’ve heard stories about this all the time.

We have had nice taxi experiences in countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore, but I guess no matter how cautious and wary you are you’ll fall victim at least once in your traveling life.

Whenever we go to a new place we make it a point to check how to get around the place including the basic fare of taxis, just in case we need to take them.  So, we didn’t expect it when we got scammed by a taxi in one of our most favorite places, Hanoi, Vietnam.  Yes, we got scammed and though I can laugh about it now, it wasn’t funny when it happened that time.


That Time When We Got Scammed by a Taxi in Hanoi


It was the day after we arrived from a very enjoyable tour of Halong Bay.  We were still hungover by the breathtaking views of limestones karst, floating village, and caves and yet we were ready to further explore Hanoi.

We planned to visit Hoa Lo Prison, then watch Water Puppet Show, and stroll around the lake which what seemed to be a perfect day of history, authenticity, and enjoyment.  After hearing the recommendations from our hotel’s Concierge, we were off to our first stop, Hoa Lo Prison.

The Concierge has helped us call a taxi to Hoa Lo Prison and five minutes after their call, the taxi arrived.  We were given a ballpark of the taxi fare so we would have an idea.  He also kindly reminded us to be careful when taking a taxi and we planned to heed the warning.

We arrived at the prison after ten minutes and we paid VND30,000.  We were impressed and captivated by how historically important the prison was not only for Hanoi but for the whole country.  I have a lot of good things to say about Hoa Lo Prison, but I’ve said it all already on this article:  Hoa Lo Prison After more than two hours of exploring the place we were ready to go.

We were heading to the nearest department store to have some snacks and to go shopping as well which was as near as to the hotel.  Since it was near, we were expecting we would be paying the exact amount.

Just right outside the prison, a taxi was already waiting for passengers.  We taught we were lucky for we didn’t have to wait.  We gladly tell the driver where we wanted to go by pointing it on the map we were holding.  He was courteous and seemed friendly.  We took the taxi and when we settled we looked at the surrounding we were passing.

After like five minutes I’ve looked at the taximeter and I was shocked to see that the fare was already almost VND200000.  I told my wife to look at the meter and she too was shocked.  I tried talking to the driver to ask him how was that possible and he said he cannot speak english.  What a shocker.

We arrived at the department store and the fare has reached VND320000, so I protested.  I explained to him that we were only expecting to pay the same amount as our last ride.  He motioned that he couldn’t understand me at all and just pointing to the meter and he was like asking us to pay.  I told him I will not pay him and I would call the hotel.

I was unable to call the hotel so I said I would have to talk to the security standing guard at the mall, but he locked the taxi.  He wouldn’t allow us to alight.  Then I tried calling the hotel again but to no avail.  I argued and even warned him that I would take a picture of his ID.  He willingly gave his ID and okayed to have him pictured.

I reasoned to him that I will not pay the amount and would compromise paying VND100000, because we knew that it was a scam.  But he seemed to not care.  Feeling helpless and hopeless, my wife asked me to pay the amount and get over it.  I gave the driver VND200000 and he angrily opened the taxi and shooed us out.

We had taken a picture of his ID and the taxi plate number and we were resolute to call the police and report it.  The guard at the department store helped us call the police and we were able to file a complaint.  After a couple of minutes, the police informed us that the taxi plate number that we reported was not registered and that it wasn’t a real taxi.

What a surprise!


On-going Scam


We found out that that was an ongoing scam and everyone seemed to know about it.  We knew that it wasn’t a big amount of money but the feeling that someone duped you hit you hard.

It would have totally ruined our day if we decided to dwell on it.  But, it was our vacation so we just let it go.  After that, we didn’t take anymore taxi and just walk to our next destination.

This experience had made us be more careful.  Since it is also happening where we are currently living, I was inspired to make an article about it.  An article about how to prevent from being scammed.  Here is the article:  How Not To Get Scammed By Taxis in Macau.  I wrote the article hoping I could help tourists be prepared enough and would know how to deal with it.

I love Hanoi, the food, places, the people, and of course Halong Bay.  It was just unfortunate that we’ve had to experience that.  But I guess, it’s part of Our Stories as travelers.

So, for anyone of you heading to Hanoi or to some other cities, be careful.  This view has made us forgot about the incident.  


Do you have any similar incident in one of your travels?  Please share on the comment section!

Written by

Carlo has started working in Macau in 2007 and two years after, he met his destined-to-be wife, Lorna and they started exploring the world. Together.

  • Frances says:

    Its always a hassle to get scammed and we learned it here in the ph too. As foreigner we’re a little more helpless since we cant talk their language and there’s a chance they are not very good at english.

    All you can ever do is prepare for your destination and read up about scams on the particular country. Like what taxi cab should you use in vietnam or what water you should drink. Last time i went to vietnam a lot have said to take the 2 main taxis only i forgot the name but it has sun on it. So i only took those type of taxis and didnt get scammed.

    • youngOFW says:

      We were actually prepared and we knew about it too. So I guess it was our fault, too. We hurriedly took the taxi without thinking. I hope the government should really be strict about penalizing abusive taxi drivers. I know they don’t condone it, but stricter measures should be implemented.

  • Marge Gavan says:

    I am not surprised at all by this story because Vietnam is notorious by these kinds of scams, that and the fact and I too got scammed by a taxi (and a rickshaw), also in Vietnam (but in Ho Chi Minh). It definitely ruined the experience for me, to think it was the first country abroad that I visited.

    I am so sorry to hear about your story, you are actually pretty brave for telling that person off. Too bad their government cannot do anything about it.

    • youngOFW says:

      I really do hope they can do something about it. It’s bad for their tourism though people will still keep coming. I guess, we only have to be careful always.

  • heraafarooq says:

    It’s so sad to know how taxi drivers take advantage of tourists. The laws should be more strict. It’s a good heads up to be careful for those who are planning a trip there.

  • Indu says:

    Personal experiences, good or bad, are the best guides for other travelers who wish to visit that destination. You described all extensively in your post.

  • Alexander Popkov says:

    Thank you for shring your experience. It is always important to know what people really think happened. Never been to Hanoi and would be careful if I go

  • Neha Verma says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I am sure it is going to be helpful to others visiting Hanoi. It is always good to be informed about the prevalent scams when visiting a place and posts exactly like yours are the one which raise awareness amongst rest of the travelers!

    • youngOFW says:

      I bet that’s the only thing we can do right now. I don’t think it’s gonna stop anytime soon. I mean the scams and all.

  • Neil Alvin says:

    Thanks for this very informative article. You’re right, taxi scams are one of the worst experiences a traveler can face. You’d feel like you’re being robbed legally.
    You’d see that in Thailand and the PH too.
    That’s why more and more people are switching to Grab and Uber.

    Keep us updated on your adventures. More power to you and have a safe journey to you and your wife.

  • Yikes Carlo. Oh yes; we have paid our travel tuition LOL and have been scammed a few times by taxi drivers. Once in Costa Rica and once in Phuket, those clear situations come to mind. Both cases we had no idea where we were going, distances, all that stuff, as both were virgin forays to new towns in those lands. Oh well; I smiled, paid up and learned to get a ballpark estimation of prices online before I go anywhere offline.


    • youngOFW says:

      Oops. It happened to you twice. That must have been frustrating!
      Well, speaking of Thailand, got another story about tuktuk incident…

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