Sometimes you love them. Sometimes….not so much. Taking a taxi here in Beijing is great because they are so affordable! A short 20 minute/5 mile ride can cost about $3 USD. A longer 30 min/15 mile ride can cost about $7. Taking a taxi is great when you don’t feel like walking or don’t want to take a bit longer on the subway. Plus, you get to see more of the city by way of a taxi.
I’ve had many different experiences with taxis so far.
Sometimes it is super easy to hail one. You see a ton around and flag one down or you happen to see an available one stopped at a light or in front of a building, so you hop in an go.
Sometimes it is a little more difficult. It might be rush hour and all the taxis are full. I’ve been there and with a little patience, we got finally got one.
Sometimes you get one and they know exactly where you want to go (so much easier this way). Other times, they have no clue. When I was trying to head to a place outside the city center for the first time–on my own, I hopped in a taxi and told him where I wanted to go. (This was after a few minutes of trying to find an open one and finally taking a taxi that someone was just exiting). Sometimes, the drivers take off before hearing where you want to go. That was the case this time and the driver didn’t know where it was I wanted to go. I ended up holding my phone for him and telling him where to go (and at this point I did not know my directions in Chinese) with hand gestures. He made a comment how my phone wasn’t telling him the directions in Chinese. Well, I don’t think that would’ve helped me much. We made one turn too early but managed to get there just fine!
I felt good about getting a taxi after my first experience by myself. The next time I tried to get a taxi to take me out that way, I felt good. I was more prepared with a brochure to show where I wanted to go and I easily hailed a taxi. I showed him it and he looked at it but then told me no-that he didn’t know where it was. So, I had to get out and stand on the side of the road until the next one came, which easily did. I got in again, and again, I had to get out because he didn’t know where to go. Finally, I hailed a third one. This time, before even getting in, I showed him where I wanted to go. Thankfully, he used his phone to type in the address and got me there.
I had to try yet again to head out of the city. After looking for a taxi, I finally found one (again, I took the taxi that someone was exiting). Holding my breath for hope, I showed him where I wanted to go. He took off, knowing exactly where I wanted to go.
You just never know with taxis who you’re going to get. Be prepared but don’t get too frustrated. You’ll get there. Although I would never agree to a 100 RMB ride that should be under 30! Sometimes, especially in those touristy areas, they try and get you. That’s happened just once to me–so far. It’s also happened to me where they say your money isn’t good or they don’t have change. It helps if you’re able to keep small bills on you. Just be confident and work through the situation. Also, try and stick sign the yellow cabs.
TOTE: Taxis are great but be prepared for some frustrations sometimes.