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.
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!
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!