The unbelievably cheap taxis of Vietnam

in #asean2 months ago

This is applicable elsewhere in the area as well. I was quite surprised to find that it extended also to Korea in the little bit of time that I spent there. I wasn't expecting it is such a modern country as that one.

One of the things that used to really irritate me back when I was just visiting South East Asia many years before moving here is that it seemed to be a constant struggle to get a taxi without getting ripped off. We didn't know at the time that we were being ripped off because of the countries that we come from and how extortionate the taxis are there. I have a friend who lives in New York City that I visited back when we were allowed to fly from country to country at will and getting a taxi just 10 blocks down the street would easily end up costing $20, probably more. So when I came to Asia and a taxi could cost $8 for the same distance, I presumed that I was getting a good deal. Little did I know that this journey was actually supposed to cost less than $2 and I was being conned.

Then the advent of taxi apps happened and this has become a very big thing just in the time that I have spent living in Vietnam. These days, almost no one uses regular taxis because of many reasons.

  • The fare is pre-determined before you ever get in the taxi
  • The destination is done via GPS so the language barrier is not an issue
  • There is accountability on the part of both the driver and the passenger because there is a rating system


The major one here in Vietnam is Grab but there are many others. Surprisingly, the largest providers of this service in USA and Europe, Uber, doesn't exist here at all. Since this service came into being, it is nigh on impossible to get fleeced for a taxi. I have also never found myself in a situation where I couldn't get a taxi either. The call for a driver seems to be answered immediately and at whatever the going rate is at the time.


The other day myself and 4 friends were returning from the shopping mall that is about 5 km from where we were going next. We had to upgrade our taxi to a 7 seater SUV because there were too many of us for a smaller car. This costs slightly more. It is just unbelievable to me that this ended up costing us 47,000 VND, which is less than $2. Can you imagine getting a taxi anywhere in USA for that distance for anything close to that price? I want you to keep in mind that I don't live in some middle of nowhere town with a low population either. There are over a million people living in this city and it could easily be considered a metropolis. Traffic is a factor here and there are many skyscrapers. This is not a small town.

Now here is something that doesn't make sense to me: Gasoline costs about the same here as it does in USA and most of Europe (that I can see) so why is it that our taxis back in USA are 20 times as expensive? I think I already know the answer to this question and it is probably regulations and taxes.

This car that we were in was also really clean and the driver was pleasant - a stark contrast to a lot of the taxis I have been in back in USA. I can't really see any reason to own a car here really. Since I can get from one side of town to the other for just a few dollars... what's the point?