If you are planning to visit some cities in China, taxi is a very cheap and convenient mean of transport in cities.
1. They are everywhere
If you walk in a city, you will not miss the taxis thanks to the enormous amount and the obvious color.
Most taxis are green, or yellow, depending on the cities, within one city, all the taxis have similar looks.
2. Price is extremely low
As the possession rate of cars for Chinese citizens is relatively small, the taxi services is quite popular in China, it is even affordable by students. Compare to Belgium, the price can be 10 times cheaper.
Some tips for foreigners who plan to travel to China. Remember always take an official taxi and ask them to put on the mile indicator. Also use Baidu Map to check your trip beforehand, it will tell you the estimated fare to take a taxi. I have to admit, it happened twice that my foreign colleague was asked to pay double or triple of the amount he/she should.
3. The vehicles are not fancy
Most of the taxi vehicles in China are quite basic, if you get one with air conditioner, you are quite lucky.
Most of the taxis I saw in China are VW, or Chinese local brands.
4. Crazy driving skills
The drivers can zeg zag in a street with 4 lanes full of cars, and they can take you to a place much faster than you drive yourself.
5. Drivers are very social
You hop in a taxi and tell the driver where you want to go, immediately he knows the way and then he begins to chat with you. Ask all sorts of questions like where are you from, what do you do, how old are you… Usually he does not mean to invade your privacy, he just wants to have a chat on the way.
If you are not comfortable with his questions, just throw the questions back, then he will spend the whole time telling you his story, from economics, politics to relationships, your occasionally nodding and smiling would be enough.
6. Most of the drivers do not speak English
China is not very international, the taxi drivers can survive just doing business with Chinese, if you do not speak Chinese, make sure you print your destination address and show it to him.
7. Be careful with your luggage
There was once a person took a taxi, after he paid, before he went off to get the luggage in the trunk, the driver drove away quickly.
Some tips would be:
Ask the driver to help you with the luggage in the trunk
Get your luggage before paying
If you are with 2 passengers, one stays in the car to wait until another person gets the luggage
Nowadays, it is very hard to get a taxi adhoc on the street, reasons are:
a. Drivers are used to receive orders online, and as a matter of fact, they are always “on duty”
b. In Shanghai, vehicles with different license plate have limited access to the areas of the city, I used to experience an awkward situation where I went in a taxi and tells the driver my destination, then he said “I am not allowed to go there with my car, I can only drop you XXX then you take another taxi.” In the end I had to ask the hotel staff to order a taxi for me online.
To order taxis with your phone, you can use Wechat, or Didi.
By the way, Uber got bought by Chinese local taxi online services Didi, check the reasons here.
9. The driver protection in the car is disappearing
Being a taxi driver used to be a dangerous job due to access to a huge amount of cash, the drivers usually got paid by cash and use cash to pay the fuel. It happened many times in different cities that the drivers got robbed by passengers. That was the reason that the driver community built up a fencing around the driver seat for protection.
Thanks to the digitization and online payment system, it’s hardly heard about such crimes in recent years. With time goes by, taxi driver does not require to have the seat protection on for new cars.
This is a guest post, read more here.