The Radical Travel Guide to Beijing, China: Important taxi tips

If you are taking a taxi in Beijing, here are some tips:

Taxi prices
Beijing taxis are differentiated by what they charge customers. Taxis charge RMB 1.2, RMB 1.6 or RMB 2.0 per kilometer. You can identify taxi prices by stickers located on windows next to back seat passenger seats. You can also typically determine taxi prices by the color of the vehicle - RMB 1.2 taxis are typically red or blue, RMB 1.6 taxis are red, blue or yellow, and RMB 2.0 taxis are black.

Taxi price and quality
As you might expect, different taxi prices are typically correlated with the quality of the vehicle. RMB 1.6 taxis are typically in better shape and of better quality than RMB 1.2 taxis. RMB 1.6 taxis might also get you to your destination quicker than would an RMB 1.2 taxi. But this can vary.

Avoid private or unlicensed taxis
If you are approached by a taxi that lacks a sticker signifying price, be careful. With unlicensed taxis you are taking a chance. If you choose to take a private taxi, make sure to agree upon a price for the trip before you get into the taxi. And, of course, wait until you arrive to pay the driver. If you are "taken for a ride" there is probably no way for you to recover whatever you paid the driver.

Your destination in Chinese characters
Most drivers only speak Mandarin Chinese. If you don't speak Mandarin Chinese, ask a friend / hotel employee to write down your destination's name and address in Chinese characters on a card. Also ask your friend / hotel employee how long your trip should take and how much the trip might cost. Hand the card to your taxi driver. If he / she doesn't recognize your destination (Beijing is huge - this is a possibility) then find another taxi.

Turning on the meter
So as to avoid any disagreement make sure the driver puts on the meter immediately. The meter starts at RMB 10 (RMB 11 late at night) and should be facing you at all times. If the driver claims the meter isn't working, find another taxi.

Tipping
Tipping is NOT expected. Drivers are incredibly appreciative when given a tip. If you have heavy bags you might consider tipping the driver in order to get some extra help.

Ask for a receipt ("fapiao" in Mandarin)
Always ask your driver for a receipt. There is a huge fine for taxi drivers who take advantage of riders. If you think you have been taken advantage of, take your receipt to your hotel and ask how to follow-up. You must know where your travel began and ended.

Hailing or exiting taxis
Be patient when trying to hail or exit taxis. Taxis have strict guidelines about where they are allowed to stop. Taxis will generally not stop on major streets but will pull onto side-streets to let you off / on.

Sitting in the front seat
Even if you are traveling alone feel free to sit in the front seat next to the driver. Some drivers are fascinated with foreigners and may attempt to converse in English. Many taxi drivers have English tapes distributed by the government which has mandated they learn English in the next couple of years before the Olympics arrive in 2008.

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June 8, 2005 | Permalink

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