Taxi cheats are probably the one thing travellers to Hanoi complain most about. How to avoid over-paying or ending up at a low-star hotel in a back alley when you book a hotel at somewhere fancy, here’s what to watch out for. Visit Hanoi with tours Indochina
Taxis from the airport
They often refer Noi Bai airport as a hotbed of scamming taxi drivers. Theoretically, all the licensed metered cabs waiting at the rank should be charging the rates on the rate board. If you want to get on one of these taxis, before getting in, you have to get agreement on the rate by pointing at the rate signs and receiving a confirming nod. If upon arrival, the driver tries to charge you more, don’t accept. Also, don’t pay any extras for the parking or tolls — they are all included.
However, either through your hotel or a company such as Hanoi Airport Transfers, it’s best to book in advance, although in theory, these taxis should be fine. As even the licensed, supposedly fixed rate taxis hike their rates up then, if you are arriving late in the evening, once the buses have stopped running, booking in advance is highly recommended. Tours in Vietnam
If you are a budget-conscious, take the Vietnam Airlines or Jetstar buses, which have a fixed rate to get into town. If these aren’t around you can also try private minivans and public buses, but you are likely to be charged a little more than locals for the minivans — only by maybe a dollar, but if that’s going to bother you stick to the airline buses.
No matter what you do, do not get waylaid by the men who pounce when you get out of arrivals; chances are they are working for an unlicensed taxi firm and you will be overcharged.
As a technique to overcharge travelers, taxis from the airport or station, who are working on commission, apparently often take tourists to the wrong hotel. It is certain that in order to persuade you to book a transfer with them, hotels will tell you this case, and of course, in reality, this does help avoid the issue. But make sure you have the exact name and address of the hotel you are heading for, ideally written down in Vietnamese, and clearly let the driver know that you have a reservation if you have not booked a hotel or they are over-charging for the transfer. Even though there are often multiple hotels sharing the same name, they do not all share the same address. If the driver does not take you to the wrong address, you can get out of the taxi and refuse to pay until they take you where you want to go.
Taxis from the train station
If you are unfamiliar with Hanoi, you are really exhausted after arriving on an overnight train and just want to get to your hotel, it is easy to meet unscrupulous taxi drivers. At the train station, you can easily find a good number of Mai Linh taxis parking on the platform. If possible, go for one of these, however, insist on the meter as even they sometimes try to negotiate a high fixed rate.
Walk out of the exit to a melee of taxi drivers offering you a ride if you do not get a Mai Linh. As a rough guide, depending upon the size of taxi, 30,000-40,000 VND is a fair fixed price to cover the distance of about two kilometers to the cathedral area. To get to Ma May area, it is a bit farther, so expect to pay 40,000-50,000 VND (less than $2.5).
Threaten to get out (even though you do not really want to as there will not be any other taxis around) and try to push for a fixed price if you decide to risk it with the meter and notice it is running too fast. You are in a good position as no drivers want to lose a fare as they will likely have to wait for the next train for another guest.
Note that even if you know which direction you should be going, don’t be surprised if it is not quite as direct as you might expect since there are a few one-way systems between the station and Hanoi Old Quarter. Only when you know how much you should be paying is agreeing a fixed rate advisable.
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