Getting a taxi can be as easy as 1, 2, 3 or a nightmare for some.
In Tan Son Nhat airport arrival hall, upon exiting the custom you will immediately be greeted by the humid air and the sheer amount of people waiting outside. The next thing to hit you will be taxi touts.
Knowing which taxi to take can be the difference between a happy holiday or a bad start to a nightmarish trip. In my series of guides about travelling to Vietnam, this chapter discussed about how to get from the airport to your hotel safely.
Single Trip Taxi
To get to your hotels safely from the airport, you can purchase a ticket at a flat fee from the taxi counters for roughly US$8~12 (from airport to within district 1). Immediately after clearing the customs where they scan your luggage, there are rows of money changers and taxi counters. You can purchase a taxi ticket there for the above mentioned price range.
You can bargain for a lower fee as well with some counters. The taxi counters accepts both Vietamese dong or US dollars.
Once you purchased the ticket, a lady (usually ;] ) in the long dress Ao Dai will lead you to the taxi waiting outside. The taxi will take you to your hotel and you do not have to pay any more fee. But I have experienced taxi driver asking for parking fee or tips. You may at the end of the trip give him a small tip of VND20,000 (US$1).
The second way is to by normal metered taxi.
How much from airport to district 1? – Usually 130,000 VND (At point of writing). I usually round it off to 150,000 depending on the service of the driver.
How long from airport to district 1? – Usually less than 30 minutes to district 1.
Where to find (safe and legit taxi) Metered Taxi ?
Exit the terminal (but remember to change some Dong first before exiting the terminal). Walk pass the receiving crowd, and turn right. Keep walking until almost until the end of the terminal. On the right you will see an entrance, re-enter the terminal using that entrance. That will lead you to “Left baggage” and a lift + escalator to upper floors.
Take the lift to the second floor (which is the departure floor). Exit the terminal once again. Upon exiting, walk right up to the road and you see that it is actually an official Vinasun taxi stand! Yipee! There may be another taxi company who will try to persuade you to take their taxi but stick to Vinasun.
Remember how it is spelt! VINASUN. There are other knock-offs taxis by the name VINSUN, VINASUM, VINASON, and what have you all ready to rip you off.
7 seater Vinasun Taxi. Safe to take!
It looks like this
It is mandatory for the driver to put on a tie! All other thug taxi drivers do not put on tie!
The Vinasun taxi will charge fare by the meter.
The distance from the airport to district 1 is about 7 km and should cost no more than VND180,000.
The other thing to note is how to read the meter. If the meter reads 180.2 it means VND180,200. If it reads 25.5 it means VND25,500. It is very confusing for tourist at first and takes some time to get use to reading the meter.
There is usually a Vinasun employee there asking you where you want to go (in English as well) and will inform the taxi driver about your destination. He will also write on a piece of paper the taxi number for your reference in case you leave something behind.
Vietnamese Lesson: The job as a Vinasun taxi driver is highly sort after. Yes! Amazing isn't it? And Vinasun has a strict one strike or two strike policy. So if the receive complains about taking tourists on a detour, they're out!
DO NOT TAKE ANY OF THE TAXI WAITING OUTSIDE THE ARRIVAL FLOOR!
These taxi are thugs. Their meters are rigged and some will bring you to a quiet corner before asking how much will you be willing to pay for a ride.
Well, Vinasun has started their taxi counter on the arrival hall on the left side of the terminal. But it is shared with all others thug taxis. Just remember to approach the Vinasun employee and he/she will use a walkie talkie to hail a Vinasun taxi for you.
The trouble with booking a hotel in Vietnam is the language barrier or they practice price discrimination against western tourists. Even as an Asian tourist you will also face similar fate. Even for someone like me who speaks fluent Vietnamese I still prefer to book via Agoda. Not only their rate is always BETTER than walk in rates, the information provided on Agoda website is extremely helpful for making a right decision, especially the MAP! If a hotel is not listed on Agoda, then don't bother at all. Please help me by clicking on the banner below if you are seriously looking for a hotel, as I can get a referral fee which helps me fund my yearly hosting and domain name fee. TIA!