It's not easy to avoid the scams or bad tricks when you travel to a new city or country. Those troubles can happen to you everywhere especially touristy places. Ha Noi is where tourists are easily engaged in some negative scams and cheats.
1. Taxi Drivers
Fake taxies or bad taxi drivers are ready out there to cheat your money. Even though Ha Noi has made efforts on controlling fake taxies, there are still a few that may make you become a victim if you don't beware.
Mai Linh is the most popular and reliable taxi firm you should take. However, you need to map out the routes you are going to go to inform drivers that you know the distance. Taxi fare is labeled clearly inside cars, around 12,000 VND for the first km, 17,500 VND for the next 30 km and 15,000 VND for more than 30 km. The prices may vary with change of gasoline prices.
Photo by Rico Nguyen
"Xe ôm" is what people named motorbike taxi, a cheaper option of taxi in Ha Noi and other Vietnamese cities as well. If you want to take a xe ôm, you need to know the distance on a tourist map and remember to negotiate the price with the driver. The price normally starts at 10,000 VND to 12,000 VND per km. If you cannot fix a good price with a motorbike taxi, you'd better grab a Mai Linh taxi.
2. No Small Money Change Returned.
Don't be shocked if you pay a 50,000 VND note for 42,000 VND taxi cost and wait for getting back the change of 8,000 VND but the drivers stolidly say thanks and go. Is it a rip off? The drivers will think it's a tip and they are allowed to take them.
The lesson is: "Have small change by your side all the time". It's the best way to pay exact price if you don't want to tip. Or you can ask to get back the change after paying them.
Photo by http://media.tinmoi.vn/
3. Drivers Going Long Way Around
Foreigners hop in a taxi without knowing where the destination is or how far it is from this place to another. It results in the taxi cost of 10 USD or more while the real price is much cheaper because your going-to-go destination is only a few blocks away. At that time, you are scammed.
If you are going to use taxi in Ha Noi, it's good to locate the destination and distance or you can have map and show to the drivers where to go. Drivers can't cheat on you with a map in your hand and if you can estimate the distance and time to get to the stop, you need to ask the driver if he takes longer than you estimated.
3. Extra Luggage Fees
If you are traveling with a big backpack or a heavy suitcase by bus or train, you are much likely to be in another common scam for foreigners. The staff on the bus or train will ask you for extra fee for a so called oversized luggage fee. In fact, there is no any extra fee for bus or train. They just try to scam you for some money.
Photo by Nicole Hanusek
4. Overcharged on Food and Drinks
For eating in Ha Noi, you could be at least one time overcharged or ripped off by sellers or restaurants. It's not only happened to foreigners but the locals also.
Even when you ask the price up front or price printed on menu, you may be asked for something extra. For example, you ate a bowl of Pho at 40,000 VND. Then, you may ask for more broth or sauce or some veggies, you are forced to pay 40,000 or even 50,000 VND more. It sounds ridiculous but it's sadly a truth in Ha Noi.
In the central of Viet Nam and southern cities, restaurants offer ice tea for free but in the North and in Ha Noi, you normally have to pay for it.If you ask for a glass of ice tea and think it costs nothing, you are extremely wrong. An extra glass of tea may cost you a whole meal.
Always ask the price and what is included before eating.
Photo by Magalie L'Abbé
You are sitting at a coffee shop waiting for your drinks, there are some peanuts or roasted watermelon seeds available on the table, you think it would be served freely. However, it may be more costly than you could imagine.
In a Karaoke, fruits and snacks are more expensive than anything else, strange domestic tourists are even the victim of this kind of scam.
5. Added Hotel Fees
Before your visit to Ha Noi, you may have booked and even paid for your hotel room online. When you check in, you find out air-con is there but no power or remote control, or fridge without power connection. If you want to use all of these things, you have to pay for an extra fee.
You are not happy? You can leave but no money refund to you. Get stuck between a rock and a hard place, right? Note that everything left in the fridge is not free so it's better to use your own foods to not be overcharged.
Don't pay until you see.
6. Fake Beggars
This scam is often seen in big cities as Ha Noi where begging is a job of some really poor and disabled people. Many beggars are disguised as cripples or blind people who look so pitiful, or an old and dirty looking mom carrying a sleeping baby in hands walking and begging for money. Another form of beggar is the little kids who are forced to be out of the street, begging for money. These cases seem to be so heartbreaking that you have given your money. And you know what? After they get out of your sites, they transform themselves into normal people and do other jobs. Not all beggars are fake but most of them just try to take advantage of other emotions.
- If you want to help a beggar, you should give him/her food or drinks, not money.
Photo by http://gxvinhhuong.net/
7. Product Swap
This is a common scam. After a careful look and inspection of the product quality, you like and make a decision to buy it. The seller will quickly volunteer to wrap it up for free. This is when the scam happens. Behind the counter, they quickly switch the product and wrap it up and you pay for what you don't like or a less quality item.
Don't let the seller wrap your purchased product out of your sight.
Photo by http://dieukhacdanonnuoc.vn/
As mentioned before, it's dificult to know whether it is a scam or not. The only thing you can do is to be aware of all situations and make sure you are in right place without scams or treats. To do that, you need to get useful information from other tourists or social media.
Be informative, not be scammed.
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