Put yourself in this situation... you arrive past midnight to a city you've never been to before. In this case, it's Siem Reap, the tiny bustling city right next to the famous Angkor Wat religious complex. Your guidebook tells you to easily grab a cab from the airport to your hotel and pay no more than $5 total for the ride.
Only by the time you clear customs and groggily saunter over to the taxi stand, there's not a taxi in sight. Except for one. The driver tells you with a serious face, he'll take you to your hotel for $20. You know this is the marked up price for desperate late arrivals and tourists who don't know any better, so you try to haggle the price down. After a somewhat harried negotiation, you finally agree on paying $12 even though you know you're getting cheated. The driver insists the price is different this late at night, and since he's the sole means of transport at that moment, he's got a point.
So, you resign yourself, hop in the car and drive along the dark and dusty roads, feeling relieved as you peer out at the few homes with twinkling lights. Then the taxi driver starts telling you that instead of your hotel, he's taking you to his house so his wife can make you a special dinner from fresh chickens they raise in their yard. Fresh delicious chickens killed in your honor. You tell him you're grateful for his hospitality, but no thank you as you're not hungry in the wee hours of the morning. But the taxi driver is just not giving up. He keeps insisting on those chickens, and in addition to those chickens, he's offering a special price for his excellent driving services every day during your stay in his city. Chickens and driving tours. Chickens and driving tours. Chickens and driving tours. Broken record at 1 am.
What a start to our Cambodian and Vietnam holiday trip last week! But oh so worth it when we finally feasted our eyes upon the very reason for our trip.
Angkor Wat at sunrise
Cambodia Travel Tip #1: If you're arriving late at night like we did, don't assume there will be plenty of taxis to whisk you away. Honestly this surprised me as I wrongly imagined we'd have our pick. Instead, arrange ahead of time with your hotel for a car or tuk-tuk pick up.
Have you ever had a similar traveling experience? How did you handle it?
So, how did we escape the clutches of the tenacious taxi man? Well, I have a special thing I say that works wonders when I'm feeling my most desperate and annoyed in these situations. I promise to disclose it at a later date, but in the meantime, I want to hear about your troubled experiences with taxi drivers abroad.