Paranoid? Maybe. I assembled the items below from personal experience and a variety of sources specific to Vietnam travel. Some are widely known and should be practiced everywhere, others are country and culture specific. It’s going to be weird to be in a culture again where getting loud and angry in public is normal. Nice, but weird.
– Don’t take a waiting cab.
– If logo is a magnetic sign it’s not a taxi.
– Vinasun and Mai Linh taxi companies have best reputation. Know their logos because there are fakes.
Before Getting In
– Reject the cab if the taxi meter is mounted anywhere but the dash.
– If fixed price, have driver write down amount.
– Write down taxi tag plate number, car number. Make sure driver sees you do this. If it’s safe to pull out a camera, take photos of the numbers and the driver.
– Tell him to turn off the radio. Find another cab if he doesn’t. This isn’t about being forced to listen to the radio, it’s about showing him who is in control.
– If luggage in trunk, stand by until trunk is closed. Put luggage inside cab if room for it.
In the Cab
– Photograph driver id card.
– Tell him: No Phone. No talk. No radio. No stops. No other passengers. Rip him a new one if he deviates.
– Go ballistic if he locks doors and closes windows. Yell “Police”. Blow whistle. Have something to jam in window to prevent closing.
– Compare distance on meter to GPS or perceived distance. If the meter is fast get out and pay the man.
– If your taxi driver being deliberately stupid and can’t find the destination, the moment he seems not to know, get out and find another one. Know nearby landmarks. Have photo of hotel if possible because being taken to a flophouse with the same name as a popular place is a well known scam.
– Trump his attitude. First time he raises his voice, interrupt with higher volume. That’s their culture. You’re the alpha male in this brief unpleasant relationship.
– Take inside luggage with you if exiting the cab for any reason.
– Don’t pay in cab or on street, have driver follow you into hotel where he will be outnumbered. Tell him, don’t ask.
– If your taxi pulls ahead or behind the entrance to your hotel, you are most likely being cheated.
– Paying inside is also safer from theft and robbery.