Before You Take the China Taxi
Before you even step foot inside the taxi there are a couple things you might want to have with you:
- Cash – most all Chinese taxis do not yet accept credit cards. Cash is crucial!
- Your Destination – if you don’t speak Mandarin very well, you’ll want to have the name of the place you’re going written down on a piece of paper. It’s not hard, so don’t worry! Most hotels can help you by writing down your destination in Chinese characters and you’ll want to pick up a card in the hotel lobby that says the name and address of that hotel. When entering the taxi, just hand the card over and they’ll know where to go from there.
Tips for Chinese Taxi Travel
Taxis vary from place to place in China, including both the condition of the vehicle and the price. In many cities there are general places that are easier to get taxis than others (close to hotels, for instance), but all you need to do is wave your hand at an empty taxi to pull them over.
At this point here are a few tips to make your journey as painless as possible:
- Always enter and exit from the passenger side – even when you’re in the back seat. Sometimes the driver’s side door doesn’t even open. Most of the time you can sit in the front seat unless it’s late at night (for safety reasons).
- Make sure the driver drops the meter – this is especially true when exiting the airport/train station/bus station. Some drivers will try to take advantage of you and “bargain” a price with you. This is illegal and you’ll probably get ripped off if you do so. Make sure they “drop the flag” on the dashboard meter to start your service.
- Pay Using Small Bills – if your fare is 10 RMB, don’t give the driver a 100 RMB bill. Many travelers have reported receiving fake bills in return and sometimes drivers won’t even have the correct amount of change.
- Don’t Tip the Driver – this isn’t a custom in China and he’s not expecting it…even from foreign travelers. Just say a thank you and be on your way.
- Keep the Receipt – at least for a few days. Why? The receipt has the vehicle number, so that if you happen to lose your wallet you can have your hotel call up and locate the exact taxi driver to return your belongings.
Chinese Language Phrases for Taxis
Use these phrases to make things a bit easier when taking a taxi in China:
- Ni qu nar? (nee choo nar) – Where are you headed? (asked by driver)
- Wo qu… (woh choo) – I am going to…
- Ting che! (ting chuh) – Stop the vehicle.
- You guai. (yo gweye) – Turn right.
- Zou guai. (zo gweye) – Turn left.
- Zhi zou. (jer zo) – Go straight.
- Xie xie! (sheh sheh) – Thanks!
- Zai zhan! (zeye jan) – Goodbye.
China Transportation Resources
In addition to this guide on how to take a taxi in China, TravelChinaCheaper offers other free resources to help minimize the headache of traveling in China. Check out the following:
- 4 Best Website to Buy China Flight Tickets – learn how expats here in China buy plane tickets (hint: it’s not Orbitz or Expedia)
- How to Buy China Train Tickets Online – learn how to take the stress out of buying China train tickets