I booked a hotel in Ho Chi Minh instead of a hostel for two reasons. I was scheduled to arrive after midnight, and unlike hostels, hotels usually have a 24/7 reception desk. I planned on only staying two nights, which meant I didn’t need to be cheap. For the following 12 days I would be staying in dorms, so I wanted to treat myself to a nice private room.
After getting my visa, I exited the airport. After what happened to me in Thailand, I promised myself I wouldn’t get scammed again. And that’s the first thing that happened to me in Vietnam.
A taxi driver approached me and asked where I was going, so I showed him the map and address on my hotel itinerary. He said his rate for that distance was $10, which seemed reasonable. His taxi was a black van, which seemed suspicious, but I didn’t see any “normal” cabs.
In order to leave the parking lot, we had to go through a toll bridge, which cost $10. He refused to take me any further if I didn’t pay, so my taxi ride cost a total of $20. To give you a perspective of how big of a rip-off this was, my 6 hour bus ride from Vietnam to Cambodia cost me $11.
When I arrived at my hotel, it was closed. I knocked on the door, and a woman answered. She said there were no rooms available. I said I booked my room for February 15th instead of the 14th because I arrived after midnight. She said I should have booked it for the 14th because the earliest check-in time is 8 a.m.
What was I supposed to do for 7 hours?
I asked if I could sleep on the couch in the lobby. She said that’s where she sleeps.
Her solution was to have another employee escort me down the road to another hotel. That hotel was more expensive and didn’t have hot water.
While eating Pho for the millionth time at the same restaurant down the road from my hotel, I overheard a woman telling her server about getting robbed. Curious, I sat down with her and asked to hear her story. She was from Israel and in her early thirties. She said she left all her things locked in her private single hotel room, and when she returned after a long day of sightseeing, all her cash was gone. She now had to travel to the Israeli Embassy, which was far north of us.
I loved Vietnam, and I would go back. But I recommend doing a lot of research on your hotel and the local scams beforehand.