One of the quickest—and scariest—ways around the city is riding on the back of a motorbike taxi, known as a Honda om or a xe om (xe means transportation, om means hug, and Honda is the most popular brand of motorbike in Vietnam). These days the xe om drivers who hang out in Ho Chi Minh City’s tourist centers expect to be paid the same as a taxi fare for a journey that’s far less comfortable and far more dangerous than in a taxi. Motorbike taxi drivers who are based outside of the tourist centers often don’t speak much English. A quick five-minute trip should cost no more than 20,000d.
For regular taxis, the recommended companies are Mai Linh and Vinasun. Mai Linh taxis are either all green or white and green, and Vinasun taxis are white with a red stripe. The drivers of both companies wear a uniform with a tie and should have an ID card on the dash. Meters start automatically—if you are trying to catch a taxi that has a passenger disembarking, you’ll be asked to shut the door and then open it again to reset the meter. Fares are relatively cheap, but vary depending on whether you’re in a four-seater or a seven-seater. Flagfall starts from 65 cents, plus 70–81 cents per kilometer; fares drop slightly at the 26-km (16-mile) mark. Waiting time is charged at 9 cents per four minutes. Check the name and the livery of the cab carefully as there are many fake taxis roaming the streets, often with one or two letters different from the company they’re copying.