Travel blogger Jayne Gorman has tweeted her way around more than 60 countries, but her trips haven’t always gone without a hitch. From rogue taxi drivers to fraudulent tour operators, Jayne confesses to Skyscanner Australia about some of the scams she’s fallen for on her travels and how you can avoid them if faced with the same dodgy dealers.
The Scam: ‘Your bus has left already’
My first ever trip to Vietnam was a little (shall we say) challenging. From the very first moment my girlfriend and I arrived in the country we were faced with resistance from cyclo drivers who just didn’t want to take us where we asked to go. This was to become a theme throughout our trip.
We’d come to Vietnam from Cambodia via a serene cruise down the Mekong River. Our plan had been to catch a public bus to Ho Chi Minh City from the point we disembarked the boat but getting to the bus station proved tricky. Two minutes after climbing into the cyclos we’d hired to take us to the bus station my driver says, “But the bus station closed, your bus left already”.
We knew this was not true, having just checked the details with our tour leader on the boat, so I told the driver firmly, “Please take us to the station”. He refused. Despite our insistence, we were dropped at his friend’s place in a quiet rural street and instructed to board this guy’s rickety minivan. We pleaded with our driver to take us to the bus station and tried, to no avail, to catch another cyclo or taxi. Eventually we gave up and went with his friend who drove us the six hours to the city, arriving much later than our intended bus would have but in one piece at least.
How it could have been avoided: I now try as much as possible to arrange transport in advance via my hotel or a reputable taxi service. Word-of-mouth recommendations from other travellers are great. This may cost extra but at least you can rely on the driver to take you where you ask them to.
The Scam: ‘Your hotel is no good’
In Cambodia a few days earlier we’d encountered a different kind of scam from a taxi driver. Upon hopping in his tuk tuk and giving him the name of our hotel the driver enquired, “Have you paid for this hotel already?”. It was a strange question but I answered truthfully (bad idea!), “No. Why?” “This hotel no good,” he tells us, “I take you to a better one instead.” Long story short, the driver drops us at a hotel who gives him a kickback rather than the one that came highly rated in our guide book. The Lake View Hotel the driver recommended sounded delightful but our room turned out to have no windows with which to enjoy said view.