Vietnam: eVisa Nightmare, the $50 Taxi Scam, Day 1.

I arrived in Vietnam a few days ago and here are my impressions so far.  They're not good.

Day 1: After a long day of flying I was thankful that I had spent the money on an eVisa and had all of my forms printed out and ready to go.  Walking up to immigration there was no line,  I thought to myself, "how lucky am I, this is going to be easy as cake." I was wrong.

Turns out, even though an eVisa is required to file online.  You still have to wait an hour to get your visa on arrival.  It's also an additional $45US, and they only take US dollars and not Vietnamese Dong for whatever reason.  To make things worse, the ATMs only give Vietnamese Dong and the cash changers were closed.

Luckily I happened to have a few hundred US dollars as an emergency backup.  Lucky for these two German girls that I met on the plane, I was able to change some money for them as they were running around with no way to get US dollars to pay and enter the country.

An hour later, I got my visa.  Some people say it normally only takes 20 minutes, but either way it was a stupid system with no queue, just people pushing ahead to the front and them yelling names.  I wouldn't have minded it for a 3 month visa, as for Thailand you would have had to go to a consulate before hand anyways, but for a 30 day visa this is completely unnecessary.

Taxi Scam:

I avoid the guys trying to get me to use a random taxi on purpose.  I've been to enough places where I know to use the official taxi stand.  I even ask for the driver to use the meter and he agrees.  If you don't do these two things, you'll usually end up overpaying.  But even being weary, I ended up getting scammed another way.

As soon as we got in the cab, the driver asks for my ticket.  I handed it to him and then realized that it was probably for me to keep so I could report him in case he tried to rip me off.  I was extra careful, making sure to take my luggage out with me before he drove off, making sure I had my phone and valuables and paid the fare on display.  

However, being my first day in Vietnam, after almost 12 hours of traveling and an hour wait for my visa, I was exhausted.  I handed him 978,000 dong as it appeared on the meter and did a quick calculation knowing that it was supposed to be around $5US for the ride.  I didn't realize until I was checked into my hotel that 978,000 dong is $50 and not five.  He had an extra zero on his taxi meter. He had taken the taxi slip, had no ID on his car, and just ripped off another victim.

I was pissed.  Both at him, Vietnam, but most of all, myself.  I knew he would try to scam me and fell for it anyways.  I really hate getting ripped off, I was fuming.  But after I cooled down I calculated exactly how much this ordeal costed me and at the end of the day, it's really not that big of a deal.  I spend an extra unexpected hour and $45 for the Visa on Arrival.  And I paid $45 for a taxi ride that should have been $4.50.  

It's all part of the experience and I hope my experience helps others in the future not to do the same. I'm grateful that I'm making enough money where $90 really isn't that big of a deal.  I'm tempted to say that Vietnam is a piece of shit so far, but I'm going to keep an open mind and look for the good things about the culture, country and its people.  

Check back on the blog for updates on the co-working spaces, entrepreneur scene. people and food.

I'm thankful that I arrived safely, have all of my stuff, and even though the room I booked and paid for on Agoda said my room was taken after a few moments of thinking, "crap, I'm tired, it's the middle of the night, this is b.s.. Luckily they put me in a room down the street in another hotel and it was fine. Keep in touch to follow my journey throughout Vietnam, I'm sure there will be many more adventures yet.

Johnny - add me and let's keep in touch.

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  1. Hey Johnny,

    Looking forward to your blog adventures in Vietnam and your podcast in Vietnam. As always, you put out great contents and podcasts. I'd listened to all of your podcasts thus far.



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