Hong Kong Taxi

By Liuchoi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Every person who has travelled a bit has a taxi story to share. Over the past 30 years or so that I’ve been travelling, I can safely say that I’ve heard a taxi story from every continent. I’ve heard some shockers in Vietnam where I live and work nowadays, but equally, I’ve had my own less than desirable experiences in more developed parts of the world including Australia where I come from – and North America.

Some taxi-tales are a good news story – the birth of a baby in the back seat and alike – but most are about the kind of situations that travellers dread. We’ve all heard stories (or experienced them first-hand) about getting ripped off, taken to the wrong location, ‘lead foot’ taxi drivers, arguments about tips, traffic accidents and much, much worse.

Here in Ho Chi Minh City, I choose to use Vinasun Taxis – or I walk. I should point out that I don’t have shares in Vinasun or an axe to grind with other taxi companies in Ho Chi Minh City, although like everyone, I’ve heard about some horrible taxi journeys. From my personal experience, Vinasun cabs in Ho Chi Minh City are clean, reliable, 100% metered (an expression I heard from another traveller) – and you’ll see them everywhere. The drivers mostly know their way around, they’re trained to load and unload baggage and check if anything has been left in the cab before the passenger disappears into the Ho Chi Minh City throng.

Put simply, what I want from a taxi service is to take me from point A to point B for a reasonable price, without any surprises.  I think most travellers want the same. So, if you’re new to a city, how do you know which taxi company to trust with your personal property, sanity and dare I say it, well-being?

Catching a cab when you’re new in town is like so many other travel experiences in my view – go with your ‘gut feel’. If it doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance that it’s not right – so let it go. In addition, speak with other travellers and local people for their take on which cab service to use and the pitfalls. It’s also worth checking out what information is available on blogs and travel websites before you arrive in a new destination, although personally, I’m only interested in internet comments that have a name attributed to them.

When it’s all said and done, all of us are only one dodgy taxi ride away from having a horror taxi-tale of our own.  Be smart and there’s a high chance you’ll be the listener rather than the story-teller.

About the writer: Peter Goudge is the Managing Director of the Australia-Vietnam School of English (AVSE) located in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: www.avse.edu.vn. He is also the Managing Director of Teaching English – Vietnam, located in Ho Chi Minh City.

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