Cyclo Scams in Vietnam & Best ways to avoid

Explore the charm of Vietnam without falling prey to cyclo scams! Our essential guide unveils common tricks and offers fail-proof strategies to enjoy scam-free cyclo rides. From negotiating fares to choosing reputable services, we equip you with all you need to navigate Vietnam's streets safely.
Cyclo Scams in Vietnam & Best ways to avoid
Table of Contents

Cyclo in Vietnam

Before getting to know about Cyclo scams in Vietnam, we will have a quick look at the overall history of Cyclos and its role in Vietnam tourism.

Cyclos were introduced to Vietnam during the French colonial era, quickly becoming a staple in the urban transportation landscape. They were initially used by the upper class and tourists for leisurely tours around the cities. Over the decades, cyclos have retained their charm and appeal, transitioning from a symbol of luxury to a beloved tourist attraction. Today, Cyclos play a vital role in Vietnam’s tourism industry, offering a slow-paced, eco-friendly way to explore the country’s urban landscapes. They are particularly popular among tourists looking to experience the local culture and lifestyle up close. A cyclo ride provides a unique perspective on Vietnam’s bustling city life, historical architecture, and vibrant street scenes. This is one of the reasons why cyclo tours are a must-do in Vietnam.

Cyclos are quite common in Vietnam tourism
Cyclos are quite common in Vietnam tourism

Common Cyclo scams in Vietnam


One of the most prevalent scams involves drivers significantly overcharging tourists for rides. This can occur when prices are not agreed upon in advance or when drivers demand more money at the end of the ride than was initially negotiated. This cyclo scam is the most likely one to happen.

Example: A cyclo ride for a short distance should cost around 150,000 VND (Vietnamese Dong) might be inflated to several hundred thousand VND without prior agreement. You can read an article in VNExpress newspaper about Hue cyclo drivers overcharging Australian tourists here.

Overcharging is the most common Cyclo scam in Vietnam
Overcharging is the most common Cyclo scam in Vietnam

Miscommunication on price

Misunderstandings about the agreed price are common, often stemming from language barriers or deliberate miscommunication by the driver. This typically involves confusion over whether the price is per kilometer, per hour, or for the entire journey.

Example: A tourist thinks they’ve agreed to a total price for a ride, only to find out later that the driver intended the price to be per kilometer or hour.

Forced shopping stops

Some cyclo drivers have arrangements with certain shops or restaurants where they receive a commission for bringing in tourists. Travelers might find themselves pressured into visiting these places and making purchases or ordering food they didn’t want.

Example: A cyclo tour unexpectedly includes multiple stops at souvenir shops or specialty stores, where there’s an expectation to buy something.

Taking Longer Routes

Drivers may take unnecessarily long routes to increase the fare, especially if the price is based on travel time or distance. This not only costs more but also wastes valuable time that could be spent exploring.

Example: A direct route that should take 15 minutes extends to over an hour as the driver meanders through various streets without clear direction.

How to avoid cyclo scams in Vietnam

Negotiate and agree on the fare upfront

  • Be Clear About the Price: Before starting your ride, negotiate a clear price with the cyclo driver. Ensure both parties understand whether the price is for the entire ride, per person, or based on distance or time.
  • Write It Down: If possible, write down the agreed price and terms on a piece of paper or your phone to avoid any confusion later.

Clarify your destination and route

  • Be Specific About Your Destination: Ensure the driver understands exactly where you want to go. Use a map on your phone to show the destination if necessary.
  • Agree on a Route: If you’re familiar with the area, agree on which route to take. This can prevent detours designed to increase the fare.

Avoid unnecessary stops

  • Communicate Your Preferences: Politely inform the driver at the beginning of the ride that you do not wish to make any unplanned stops, especially at shops or restaurants.
  • Stay Firm: If the driver insists on stopping, remain firm in your refusal. If necessary, end the ride early and pay only for the distance covered.

Use reputable cyclo services

Ask your accommodation providers or local friends for recommendations on reputable cyclo services. Some hotels and tourist agencies may even be able to book a ride for you. Or else, you can simply book a highly recommended Cyclo tour here:

Saigon Cyclo Tour - Local Lens - Happy guests
Saigon Cyclo Tour - Local Lens - Happy guests
This article is written by:
AN Tours Vietnam – Best chosen Vietnam traveling experiences  – An expert Vietnam travel company that gives the best advice and insightful tips & tricks for your trip to Vietnam.

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