One of the most popular ways to hail a taxi in China is by phone, using the DiDi app. It's incredibly convenient; however, in the past this was only available to those who could speak Chinese. Luckily, the popular DiDi taxi app now has an English version that is becoming a huge hit for expats living and working in China.
In this post we will cover the basics of hailing a regular taxi in China using the DiDi app, as well as going through step by step how to set up your DiDi taxi service app in English. It works similar to Uber, so if you've used that service before then you will be familiar with how this will work.
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Getting a Taxi in China
Taxis may vary from city to city in China, but in most cases, they are clean and equipped with air-conditioning. Some are really nice and luxury cars.
How to Get a Taxi in China
As in the other parts of the world, you can get a taxi by simply hailing one with your hand. An empty taxi usually has a red or green light on behind its front window.
Tips for getting a cab in China:
There are very few drivers who can speak English even in metropolises like Beijing or Shanghai. Therefore, it is recommended that you bring a business card with your destination on it, or have your address written down in Chinese on your phone.
Pricing for a Taxi in China
In most cases, there is a fixed price for the first few kilometers, and then the price will go up by a certain amount per extra kilometer. In some cities such as Tianjin, you’ll also be asked to pay an extra CNY 1 as fuel surcharge.
Take Beijing as an example, the fixed price for the first 3 kilometers is CNY 13. It costs another CNY 2.3 for every extra kilometer. There’s no fuel surcharge in Beijing.
*Usually the driver will drop the meter once you get in the car. If not, remember to insist that they turns on the meter so you won’t be overcharged.
In major cities in China, it is possible to pay bills with your WeChat Wallet in most situations. However, it is still recommended that you bring some cash with you just in case.
After you pay the fare, you can ask for the receipt and keep it. You may need this to get repaid from your company. The other reason is that the receipt has the taxi’s plate number on it. In case you forget something on the taxi, you can call the taxi company to follow up.
While Uber is the dominant shared ride service in many other countries, in China, DiDi is what everyone uses. As online payment becomes more the trend in China, it is sometimes more convenient to “hail” a cab on DiDi.
Download the DiDi App and Sign Up
Search DiDi Chuxing 滴滴出行 in your app store and download the app.
Your phone number is needed for signing up with the app. When you are prompted to enter the login password, tap “Forgot password”, a verification code will be sent to your phone. Enter the code and then set up a login password.
If you got a Chinese interface, you can change the language by tapping “设置(Settings)” and then “多语言(Language)”.
Set Up the Form of Payment for DiDi app
Tap “My wallet” to set up your payment method. It is possible to pay for fares with your WeChat Wallet, Alipay, QQ wallet, bank card and international credit card. Follow the instruction and finish setting up.
Ordering a Car through DiDi
Set up a pickup location and a destination. When you request a ride, the app uses GPS to suggest the best pickup location nearby (make sure the app has access to your location on your phone settings). You can also pinpoint your location by moving the pin icon on the map, or entering the address or building.
Choose a type of service. DiDi offers 4 types of cars including Express, Taxi, Premier and Luxe. Choose a type based on your need.
The luxe car is reservation only, with the driver well-trained and suited up. It is perfect for picking up business clients at airport.
If you select a DiDi express car, you will need to make a choice among ExpressPool, Express and Select. The select car is better vehicle comparing to the normal express car.
Set the pickup time. You can hail a car right now or schedule a ride in advance by tapping “Reserve”.
Request a car and wait for it. The real-time location of the driver will be shown on the map. The model and plate number of the car are also displayed at the bottom. You can message the driver by tapping the little dialog icon on the bottom right. There are a few pre-defined messages which are really helpful. By doing so, you can avoid answering phone call from the driver who doesn’t speak English.
Cancelling Your Ride on DiDi
If you’d like to cancel your order, tap “cancel” on the bottom left. Note that you may cancel without paying compensation fee within 3 minutes after driver has accepted the order.
Pay the fare. For ExpressPool car, a flat price will be shown after you enter the pickup and destination points, after the trip, you only need to pay exact this amount of money. For the other express cars, premier and luxe cars, an approximate price will be shown. For taxi, your fare depends on the taximeter.
Your fare will be automatically deducted from your DiDi balance once you finish the trip. But if you take a taxi, you need to tap “pay” and enter the amount of your fare according to the taximeter.
For express, premier and luxury cars, you can tap “My wallet” and then “Receipts” to issue invoice.
Being able to use the DiDi taxi service app will boost your experience in China that much more. The new English version of the app will help spread your wings in China and make life in China that much more easy and enjoyable.
Please note: some country's app stores will not have the Didi passenger option. In this case, you can try to change your app store to a different country temporarily to download the app. Alternatively you can wait until you have arrived in China and set up your banking. This will make using and paying for Didi services much easier!