Taxi’s in Shanghai are great. They are plentiful and easy to get. They are relatively quick, although you need to allow for a little extra time during morning and evening rush hours (not really any different from any other place in the world). And paying for them is extremely easy to do if you have a Metro card (the stored value card you buy and keep reloading to ride the Shanghai Metro).
Oh, and they are cheap. By international standards compared to other modern, mega-cities (Shanghai has over 20 million people) they are very cheap. ¥14 gets you the first 3 kilometers, with another ¥2.4 for each extra km (up to 10km). Compared to the US, UK, and Europe, that’s cheap.
A few tips about taking taxis:
- Pay with your Shanghai Metro card – Much easier than dealing with cash. At the end of the ride just hand the driver your card. They’ll put it on top of the taxi meter and your balance on the card will show on their screen. They’ll hit a button and you’ll see the deduction of your fare and your new balance.
- Taxi Cards – a lot of places will provide you with a small card with their name, address, and phone number (sometimes a little map too). These are great for giving to your taxi driver. Be sure to get one for your hotel so it’s easy to get back!
- Or use maps on your phone. I use both Google Maps (you can download areas for offline use, since you may not have – or want to use – data roaming) and Open Street Maps. I use OsmAnd Maps & Navigation on my Android Phone, and have downloaded the entire country of China. All offline, no cellular data needed! Just load up your destination and show your phone to the taxi driver. Most can figure out where you want to go this way.
- Get in the Taxi BEFORE you tell the driver where you want to go. Sometimes a taxi driver will refuse to take you’re standing outside the taxi and your tell them a destination they don’t want to go to. Refusing this way is actually against the taxi regulations, but if you’re outside the cab they can lock the door and drive off. Once you’re in the cab, they don’t really have much choice. [Official Shanghai Taxi Regulations]
- BEWARE THE DARK BLUE TAXI’S!!! The dark red taxis too. Almost every ride I’ve had in a red or blue taxi has been bad, and unless it’s raining or there just aren’t any other taxis around, I’ll let them pass on by empty. Not sure why, but these drivers either go extremely fast, or extremely slow. And they almost always tried to turn off the taxi meter just before arriving at my destination. Once the meter’s off, you simply can’t pay for the fair with the Metro card and must use cash. The taxi driver is supposed to wait until you actually hand them the card or money, before turning off the meter. The red and blue drivers have also been – almost universally – rude. White, Yellow, Green…. these are the taxis to take.
- No tipping necessary – If you’ve had a really friendly and helpful driver, why not give them a few kuài (a.k.a. Yuan). But normally just hand them your Metro card at the end of the ride. No tip necessary.
- If you call for a cab, you’ll pay a very small surcharge.
- If you’ve just landed from an international flight overseas and exhausted, go ahead and take a taxi. You’ll pay about CNY140-160 to get to most places in Pudong, more to get to Puxi. Or if you want a really fast way into the city, try the MagLev. The cost is CNY40 if you use your Metro card and it’ll take you far in to Pudong in about 8 minutes. Then catch a taxi from there to get you to your door. Much faster, much more fun!
If you have any other advice or suggestions, post them in the comments!