Walking at night alone (around 23:00 to 4:00) at the center of Ho Chi Minh (mostly district 1), so many touts tried to get me on their bike. I have never got on it, but it might be that they talk to me since I look like a foreigner.

They usually talk to me in English (e.g. Can I help you? or Where are you going?), or something like "Hey" to get my attention.

But I feel that there is no meter on the bike, and it sounds unreliable to begin with.

Is this a tourist scam? Is it safe to get on their bike? How is the fare calculated? Or do they get me to the correct destination like a taxi, in the first place?

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    What is the reason for the 2 downvotes (though I never expect the spoilers to bother to elaborate on it)? – Blaszard Jun 9 '17 at 6:39

It is to scam you out of your money. They offer prices significantly above market, around 3-5X times what you would pay for a taxi in the area. Some of them will offer more elaborate plans like taking you to visit certain places and they will but again will charge you significantly more than a typical tour bus.

Actually, I was there a month ago and this happened to me all the time. They would call for attention or sometimes strike a conversation first, usually starting with Where are you from? or Where are you going?. I could also clearly tell that I was targeted more than others by a significant margin since I do look like a tourist, this increased to another level when I had my camera gear out and some would get right in front of where I was shooting.

One of the city guides given at the bus station even said about taking motorbikes:

Motorbike Taxi: If you like having helmet hair, a filthy place and an empty wallet, go right ahead.

One in Hoi An, a few days before reaching Saigon, even convinced me to take one as he said I was going to a car-free part of the. That turned out to be false and the charge was about 4X times what it cost me to do the way back using a metered cab. This scam is prevalent in all parts of Vietnam.

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  • Thanks and that is good to hear. It is bad you got in the trap... Did this occur on you only one time? (and "Where are you going?" is definitely more prevalent, which I missed. Edited my question) – Blaszard Jun 9 '17 at 6:41
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    Can I partially disagree? By your logic, Is a taxi a scam because it's more expensive than the metro, then? How can you seriously compare two different means of transport to the point of affirming that one of them is a scam just because it is more expensive? Then in London the hop on-hop off bus is a scam because it is more expensive than the normal two decked bus? Is renting bike a scam because is more expensive than going by foot? – motoDrizzt Jun 9 '17 at 7:06
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    @Blaszard - Yes, I learned my lesson. At least, none of the common scams are dangerous. – Itai Jun 9 '17 at 15:00
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    @motoDrizzt - OK, I understand your point. The reason that it is a scam is that they purposefully go directly after tourists and since there is no meter, they charge whatever they think they can get. Vietnamese people also go on these bikes but they know the going rate and get a much better deal than taxis (which are comparatively expensive in Vietnam relative to other South East Asian countries). The bike drivers don't ask Vietnamese if they need a ride, it's the opposite for them. – Itai Jun 9 '17 at 15:05

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