Posted by: adventuressetravels | June 19, 2012

Tips for Mototaxis

Taxi drivers are notoriously crooked.  This isn’t just in Vietnam, or even in Asia, but around the world.  Metered taxis will take passengers on joyrides to run up meters, others simply won’t turn on their meters, but some of the worst are the unmetered scooters, cyclos (bicycle rickshaws), and tuk tuks.

Though mototaxis can be seen as dangerous, they are the fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to get around Vietnam and especially the major cities.  Moreover, traveling on them is safer than in other countries.  In 2003 wearing helmets became a law.  Even mototaxis are obligated to carry an extra helmet for passengers.  This can be a good thing for more than just safety purposes.

I have yet to have a single experience with a mototaxi in Vietnam that did not try to cheat me.  I don’t hold that against them, I think it is standard protocol to inflate prices for tourists.  Because of this, the traveler must stay on his toes.

1)      Always negotiate the price beforehand.  In Hanoi to get around the old quarter or even just outside of it the fare should be no more than 20,000-30,000 Dong ($1-1.50).

2)      Bargain Invariably the mototaxis will start with $40,000+ but do not agree to that price.  There are always many other mototaxis ready to take you at the reasonable price.

3)      Do not remove your helmet until the driver has given you the proper, agreed-upon change.   This is the best bargaining chip a tourist has in Vietnam.  Often the driver will try to wiggle his wormy little way out of giving you the proper change.   Use your power and do not give the helmet back until you get your change.

The nice drivers will give you a knowing smile and reluctantly give you your change.  But not all of them are so nice.  There are those who look at tourists as ATMs and when the “ATM” doesn’t give them as much money as they want, they may get angry.  Don’t worry, that just means you are getting the right price.


  1. I’m sorry you’ve had such bad experiences. As someone who lives in Vietnam, I’d say the first two tips are *essential*. I’ve never heard of your third suggestion, to keep hold of the helmet – nice idea if you face a problem! On the rare occasion I take a xe om I always make sure to have the exact change so I can just give them the agreed fare and walk away (in a public place).

    Most of the expats who live here in HCMC have a regular driver, based near where they live, partly for this reason. I hope you can find a reasonable one soon and when you do – keep his phone number for next time!

    • I definitely agree with you on having correct change. Alas it always seems like I’m running out of smaller bills RIGHT when I need a mototaxi.

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