Unofficial Foreigner Tax to Park?


I ride my motorbike everywhere in Saigon.  I pretty much know my way around through all the districts now.  I normally know where to park and how much it costs.

At HSBC, you can park free behind the Metropolitan but I prefer to pay 2,000 VND to park across the street.  It is faster for me to run in, use the ATM, and run out.  The parking guys are nice too so my motorbike, if is not busy, is normally waiting for me 5 minutes later.

Parkson and Diamond Plaza charge around 2,000 VND to park.  If you park outside, normally it is 2,000 VND.

At Saigon Financial Center, I pay 3,000 VND.

The majority of restaurants and cafes I go to, it is free to park but normally the parking rate is around 2,000-4,000 VND.

At the Saigon Centre, the rates are much higher.  It went from 3,000 VND last summer, to 4,000 VND last month, to 10,000 VND this month.  If you get a receipt from Highland’s Coffee and stayed less than 3 hours, it is supposed to be free.  The parking attendants at Saigon Centre do not seem to recognize the receipts anymore and after paying 10,000 VND yesterday, I realized that I have been paying, possibly, double the price for awhile.  Parking attendants do remember faces.

It is an unofficial foreigner tax, maybe?

I go there very often so next time I will just leave behind my Vietnamese friend and have him pay.  Other options is to have Highland’s park my motorbike for free (valet motorbike parking) but it is a long wait to have them retrieve your it.  I can park across the street as well but outside parking lots are notorious for taking motorbike parts (a great business in Saigon).

Oddly enough, this is the only price hike I have noticed in the last couple of months, hence I blogged it 🙂


  1. Foreigner tax? You bet! Have you been to the zoo? The water puppet show? Pretty much any attraction in Vietnam where you have to pay an entrance fee? It’s always officially more (it’s even posted) for foreigners. If I want something cheap I have Trang buy it for me and I keep my round eyes and pale skin out of site. I hate being ripped off.

  2. >>At HSBC, you can park free behind the Metropolitan but I prefer to pay 2,000 VND to park across the street.

    Why not just park right in front for free like everyone else?

  3. I didn’t know that foreigners have to pay more.
    I remember the first time I went back to VN in 2007, every attraction places we went to we had to pay more because we were VietKieu. I hated it.

  4. @Tran: It is that way in most countries. When I was a Program Recruiter for the Bradley Program in Kyrgyzstan, one of the questions I asked was whether it was fair to charge foreigners more money for the same services they used. Half the class said yes, the other half said no. Think about it, the tourist areas in the US we have to pay more for drinks, food, etc.

    @Tracy: That is why you bought a cheap chihuahua instead of a real dog, right? 🙂

  5. >>You are not supposed to leave your motorbike unattended in front of HSBC.

    That sound a bit officious. Remember, “not supposed to” translates into Vietnamese as “well, whatever.” No one has ever said anything to me in however many years.

    Maybe it’s another unofficial foreigner tax benefit 🙂

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