If you are arriving fresh of the plane in Ho Chi Minh Ciy, taxi costs is one of the most important things to know in order to not get scammed. After doing tons of research and then visiting the city here is what we have learned:
Ho Chi Minh City taxis cost 13,000 VND as a base fee and then 12,000 VND for each kilometer. A ride from the airport to District 1 costs 160,000 VND. Make sure to only use the companies Vinasun and Mai Linh to not get scammed. If you have a smartphone, the app Grab is cheaper than taxis.
We will go through a quick step by step guide below so you don’t end up getting scammed anyway as there are a few “hidden costs” that you may not know about!
Ho Chi Minh City Taxi Costs
Like we mentioned above the base fee for taxis in HCMC is 13,000 VND, and then an additional 12,000 VND for each additional KM. And this is a fair price.
Taking the Long Route
However, even if you go with a reputable company like Vinasun or Mai Linh, you can easily end up paying too much.
The first step in avoiding being overcharged is to not let them know that it is your first time visiting Ho Chi Minh City. Even the honest taxi drivers have a tendency to take you on a bit of a ride if they realize you won’t be able to call them out on it. I always like to keep an eye on the route with google maps every now and then from the backseat just in case.
The next thing to watch out for is the very common shortchanging scam.
If you only bring large bills, for example from the airport ATM. And you only carry the larger 100,000 VND bills, and your taxi fare ends up at 160,000 VND as it should you naturally pay with your two 100,000 VND bills right? Well, your taxi driver may take advantage here, and say he only has 10,000 VND for change.
In this case, there is very little you can do about the situation.
The simple solution is breaking your large bills, and always carry some smaller bills. If you go to an exchange you could ask for a few smaller bills. And if nothing else works, Seven 11 or Circle K can always break your bills if you buy a water or something. Just don’t bring your large 500,000 VND to a street food vendor as they may not be able to break the large bill for you.
If you use the app Grab, you can pretty much eliminate all of the above scams. Grab gives you a fixed price for your ride, and all you have to do is stand around and wait for your driver at a convenient location.
The only “scam” to watch out for is if the driver requests you to cancel the ride in the app and pay him instead. Never do this, as you will end up eating the fee for canceling.
Everything transaction-related will be done through the app. So no need to worry about payment at all here.
Check out our recommendations for transport from Hanois airport here.
How to get from Ho Chi Minh Airport to City Centre
Like I mentioned above the best way to keep taxi costs down in Ho Chi Minh City is to simply buy a sim card (or use the wifi in the airport, but you will want a data sim card later anyway) at the airport download Grab right away.
This is absolutely the cheapest option. You can specify your hotel in the app, go outside and wait, and that’s it. No problems: no overcharging, no risk of getting scammed, no detours to run up the meter charge.
The next option is to take a Vinasun or Mai Linh METERED TAXI. You can find these outside the airport. You will want to double-check that you are using one of these two companies. These are both professional and won’t be scamming you.
If you go this route, follow the advice above and bring smaller bills to pay for your ride, keep an eye on the route, and don’t tell them it’s your first time just in case.
Both of these taxis can be found right outside the doors to the airport. Just follow the signs to the taxis.
Avoid the Touts
Inside the airport, there will be people yelling at you, and offering you transport, and “taxi rides”. Simply ignore them.
If you don’t mind spending a few extra dollars, sure just go for it. But be aware that you could pay less. The usual going rate for these transport options are 250,000 VND. Make sure you agree upon a price before leaving the airport and ask your driver as well before you step into the car.
Outside the airport
Once you step outside the airport, it is more like the wild west. Getting a fixed price taxi from the touts inside is perfectly safe, but don’t do that outside.
Outside, only use Vinasun, Mai Linh, or Grab.
We have heard horror stories of travelers being offered cheap rides only to be taken to a parking lot, and then forced to pay a different driver way more to drive them into the city. Since they are in another location, they lose their leverage and may end up having to pay up.
Also, a lot of the other taxis outside may refuse to use the meter, and overcharge you.
I would also say in general just avoid the motorbike taxis unless you know what you are doing.
Airport Bus 109 to Ho Chi Minh
Taking the 109 airport bus to Ho Chi Minh is by far the cheapest way to get into the city!
Your bus is found right outside the airport. Just like the taxi, it is very easy to just follow the signs. the airport bus itself is big and yellow and reads 119 on the screen in front.
The bus comes by every 15-20 minutes between 5:30 AM and 1:00 AM every day. The cost of taking the bus all the way into the city (District 1) is 20,000 VND per person. The whole ride will take 45 minutes.
You should also be able to bring your luggage without any problems or extra charge, but if you travel with a lot of bags, you may be better of taking a taxi. Remember you may have to lug that thing around for a bit in the city.
There used to be a yellow 49 bus that went the same route and would drop you off at your hotel doorstep for 40,000 VND that is sadly not operating anymore. But if you happen to see it while waiting for the 109 bus, that could be a great option if you have a lot of luggage.
Another option is taking the bus, and then grabbing a taxi for the last few meters if your hotel is too far from the bus stops to carry your bags.
A cheaper alternative airport bus 152
The cheapest alternative. This bus only costs 5000 VND (+ another 5000 VND per bag of luggage you carry!), and will also take you all the way to District 1!
Unfortunately, the conductors may not speak English on this bus, but you can still just give them the fee for the ticket and enjoy the ride on this airconditioned bus.
The bus can be found by the other green buses a little past the yellow 109 bus.
How to Pay for the Bus
Depending on the bus you either pay the conductor or the driver himself. Usually, you can just step on the bus and sit down if you see a conductor. Simply have some smaller bills ready to pay your fee, and wait.
In the rare case that there is no conductor you will pay the driver when you enter the bus, but I wouldn’t worry about this.
Here’s how much food costs in Ho Chi Minh City, check it out.
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