Metered taxis are common in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and are becoming more common in Vietnam's smaller cities. Simply wave down a cab on the street, or ask the hotel or restaurant staff to call you a cab. In Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the moment you step into a cab the meter reads between 7,500d and 14,000d; after that the rate runs about 14,000d per kilometer. Fares are always quoted in dong, and many drivers will complain if you try to pay with $1 bills. Although tipping is not required, some cabbies have developed a habit of "not having change" in the hope you'll tell them to keep it.
Although many cabbies act like reckless kings of the road, taxis are the safest way to get around Vietnam's cities.
To find addresses in Vietnam it helps to know a few local practices. You may see addresses with numbers separated by a slash, such as "361/8 Nguyen Dinh Chieu St." This means you should head for No. 361 on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street and then look for an alley next to the building; you want No. 8 in this alley. When you see addresses with a number followed by a letter, such as "97A," this means there is more than one No. 97 on the street and you need to find the one numbered specifically with an "A." If you see "54bis," look for a building adjacent to No. 54; this is a leftover from the French that means 54½. The English word street (abbreviated St.) is used throughout the book rather than the Vietnamese words pho and duong. This was done to make sure street names are clear; in Vietnamese, the words pho and duong come before the names of the streets, which can prove very confusing when trying to find your way around. In addition, many Vietnamese refer to streets only by name (without adding pho or duong), so you may only see these words on street signs and maps.
Mai Linh Taxi. Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3829–8888; www.mailinh.vn.
Vinasun Taxi. Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City. 28/3827–7178; www.vinasuntaxi.com.
Faster than regular taxis, but a less safe option, is the motorbike taxi (xe om). Xe oms are available everywhere. Most hang out on the streets with the most foot traffic, outside bus stations, and in busy tourist destinations. They will drive next to you as you walk down the street, offering their services. For a short distance it can be fun. Always wear a helmet, agree to a price before you get on, and make sure the driver knows where you want to go (your best bet is to have the address written down). Never take a xe om late at night, especially if you are on your own or have had one too many to drink. Quite often, a taxi will cost around the same. Expect to pay no more than 10,000d per kilometer.