12 Things you need to know about getting taxi in China
Getting a taxi in China can be tricky especially for foreigner tourist who don’t speak Chinese and don’t know the way around. Here are some tips, which can help you get to your destination faster even without speaking single world in Chinese.
- If for some reason you are staying at the hotel next to the airport, don’t be surprised that you will have trouble finding a taxi driver ready to take you there. Simply because its less mileage and they won’t get too much money for this trip. The second reason is that the taxi driver most probably arrived from the city and they want to go back there. The airports are outside of the city and if they will take you to the hotel in the remote area, most probably they won’t get another client and either they have to go back to the airport or just go back to the city empty-handed. You may have to pay more for this trip than its worth it even though the taxi driver should use the meter, he won’t use it and will quote fixed price: take it or leave it.
- If you want to take a taxi, just sit inside instead of asking a question beforehand if he can take you. They don’t like small chit chat and wasting the time. Either sit and show/tell them the address or risk losing a taxi.
- They won’t take you if they don’t want to. Taxi driver earns decent money and they can be picky. If they don’t want to go somewhere because it’s too far/close, there is traffic jam they know about, they don’t know the address, they will simply wave their hand and ask you to leave the taxi. You would think but I am the client=money, well…no. – China is a populated country, they will find someone else to give a ride to.
- There are particular switch hours when they switch shift and then you can stand waving at many taxis but nobody will stop, simply because they are off duty and they will take you if it’s on their way.
- Yes, you can pay with Alipay to the taxi driver or even more popular wechat but it may be more complicated for foreigners to use payment option if you don’t have Chinese card.
- Sometimes taxi drivers don’t want to use the meter. Instead, they will ask you to pay a fixed price. Insist on using meter every time but if you think you can negotiate the fair price just go for it.
- You don’t have to buckle up. Recently it has changed and you have to use a seat belt in the front seat. In the back seat, they don’t care.
- You can smoke in the taxi. China doesn’t have strict rules, where to smoke or where not to, just ask the driver for permission first.
- Taxis are not expensive in China as in other countries. Still cannot compete with public transport, yet offer fair price per kilometer.
- Taxi driver doesn’t know most of the places in the city they drive. Majority of taxi driver comes from other provinces than the provinces/city they work in. Besides cities in China are enormous, with population starting in small cities at least 1mln people. Images how the big city is to allocate this crowd. Thus the are many streets and places taxi driver wouldn’t know. If you won’t explain to the taxi driver where he should go/how to get there or what’s the characteristic place nearby then driver won’t take you there. The best idea is to either use map on your phone to tell him directly or have a phone number to the hotels front desk (in the case you are going to the hotel) so they can explain further how to get there.
- There is no uber in China but instead similar one called DiDi. Drivers here like most taxi drivers probably won’t speak English as well an app doesn’t have English.
- There are so-called “black taxis” in China, and yes many of them are black in color. These are illegal taxis and you not supposed to take them as they don’t have a special license so you don’t know who you dealing with a real taxi driver have their name, licenses number and company number shown in front of the taxi so that in case you need to complain you have all the credentials to do so. I have taken “black taxi” once and it was emergency, as we couldn’t find any other taxi. It was ok nothing to complain but I wouldn’t recommend it if you don’t speak Chinese and/or don’t have experience taking once in China.