How to Take a Taxi in China — Tips and Fares
Taking a taxi is a quick and convenient way to get to your destination, be it a hotel, a scenic spot, an airport, or a railway station. You can find taxis in almost every city, and the fares are relatively inexpensive for Western travelers.
General Tips for Taking China's Taxis
The Appearance of Taxis
Taxis vary from city to city, but in most cases they are clean and air-conditioned, and they have seatbelts in the back. Common kinds of cars used include Hyundai, Volkswagen, Sonata, Elantra, Citroen, Passat, Santana, Jetta, and others. The taxis are usually painted in red, yellow and green, or yellow and black.
You can get a taxi by simply signalling one or making a reservation phone call. Please note that taxis cannot stop anywhere such as in a busy street with traffic police, so drivers are likely to ignore your signal on such streets. Look for a taxi standing zone or try a side road when signalling a taxi.
Non-English Speaking Drivers
Very few taxi drivers speak English. Please bring a business card for your hotel or destination or have your destination written down in Chinese to show the driver. In large metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai, even the taxi driver can get lost. Have the phone number of your destination on hand if possible just in case.
Insist on the Meter
Usually the driver will turn on the meter. But if he doesn’t, get out or insist that he do so unless you want to hire the taxi for a half day or a whole day and have agreed on a set price. Some drivers look for tourists who they can overcharge in this way.
Carrying Coins and Small Bills Is Important
Bring small change with you for short-distant rides. Drivers are reluctant to break 100-yuan notes, and you might end up getting fake notes. Usually, tips are not expected. Please note that the fare is rounded off before you pay.
Get the Receipt
After you pay the fare, please ask for the receipt and keep it. The receipt has the taxi’s plate number on it. In case you have any complaints or leave something in the taxi, you can call the taxi company’s number to follow up.
Relative Fares for Taxis Across China
In general, it is higher in the richer first-tier cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, compared to other cities and towns and generally higher on the east coast than in the central areas. In Beijing it's 13 yuan for the first 3 km, but in Guilin it's 8 yuan.
There are a few exceptions to this rule of thumb. Small towns that are popular with tourists will also have high rates. For example, the popular town of Yangshuo, although it is in southern central China, has about the most expensive taxis in China, and they refuse to use a meter. Expect to pay at least 20 yuan for a ride up to 3 km.
Specific Taxi Fare Information for Popular Tourist Cities
Fares for Travelling Outside of Cities or for Extended Riding
When taking a taxi outside of cities, or if you are wishing to use a taxi for an extended period of time, drivers usually don't charge by taximeter and you can negotiate the price.
For example, the price is about 200 yuan (per taxi not per person!) for the 70 kilometer drive from the Guilin North bullet train station to Yangshuo and about 350 yuan (per taxi) for the 84 kilometer drive from the Guilin Airport to Yangshuo. (See our Guilin Taxi info.)
Tourists can also hire a taxi for a half day or a whole day and sometimes longer, but please make sure to first agree on a price with the driver. If you are unsure about the usual rates, try asking several drivers or ask a knowledgeable local.
Our Private Transport Alternative to Taxis
Private drivers: In many cities and towns, we can offer private transport (with a guide for all your questions and translation needs). It is a more reliable, convenient, and, apart from the very best taxis, a more enjoyable way to ride.
For transfer service: You don't need to struggle with hailing legitimate taxis and negotiating for prices in Chinese. We provide pre-booked transfer services to and from many airports/stations and hotels.
Our private tours come with a private vehicle suited to your group size that is more comfortable than a taxi. Contact us to make arrangements.