Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Transportation in Ho Chi Minh City

You can flag down a cab in Ho Chi Minh City easily, the problem is not all taxi drivers know where you are going if you can’t speak Vietnamese. Bringing a hotel card with Vietnamese on it with you is your best bet. Most of the hotel cards have one side in English and the other side in Vietnamese, make sure you show the driver the right side or you might find yourself in a middle of nowhere after a 30 min drive which happened to me once. When you pay the money to your driver it is expected that they would extra charge you one or two thousand VND by claiming they don’t have any change. Arguing is futile usually but hey take it easy, after all it’s only 1 cent USD and it might be little to you but it’s enough for them to buy a drink or something. If you don’t like the feeling of be ripped off and pay them the exactly amount, you might hear them mumbling in Vietnamese as you owe them or something. The good thing about taxi drivers here is that they seem not to have picked up the trick: detour. Although you might find yourself disoriented for having different paths to and from your destination, it’s just the one way system in certain areas.

“Cyclo” is another common transportation in Ho Chi Minh City. When walking in the street you will see many people waving at you, offering a drive on a motorcycle, that’s the cyclo. If you don’t feel like taking one just smile and say no, most of them will leave you alone and search for the next potential costumer. However, some of the cyclo drivers will approach you and pretend they had given you a ride before and try to get you on his bike. The most annoying one is those who have failed to get you on one of their bikes then try to foist you prostitutes. They act like mosquitoes in this wet season in Ho Chi Minh City: lock up the targets and pursue the hunting by following you and solicit blocks before giving up. Lucky most of them only linger in Dong Khoi St. and D Le Loi. Despite all that, it’s a good way to explore the city if you are visiting here in dry season which is April to November. Before you get on a cyclo make sure you have agreed with the driver about the money and be brave, for your riding in a motorcycle world without a helmet on.

Other transportation such as manpower three-wheeler still can be hired in some tourist attractions. But it’s sad to see an old man riding tourists around in the middle of a day for a living. Of course if you are confident to ride in the bustling traffic jam on your own, you can always rent a scooter or a bike and don’t worry about the parking, just park your scooter alone the sidewalk where security guards are sitting in the street.

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