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Take a taxi in Shanghai

Tipps and tricks for a pleasant taxi ride in Shanghai

Who doesn’t know those stories about the most exciting taxi ride in life – in Shanghai. Some of these stories are real, but most of them are based on the lack of knowledge of the passengers. If you just adhere to a few simple rules, you will learn that taxis are good and reasonable priced means of transportation.

Official Taxis

You can easily recognize taxis by their different colors. There are turquoise, green, white, red, blue, yellow and “Expo” taxis. Each color stands for a different taxi company. Two of the biggest Taxi companies are Qiansheng and Dazhong. 99 percent of the taxis are owned by the government. Via the illuminated sign on the rooftop of the car, you can see whether the taxi is free or not. If the light is red, the taxi is occupied, if the light is green, it is free. Inside the taxi, there is always a taxi meter. On the dashboard you will find a picture and the number of the taxi driver. A see-through plastic wall separates the passengers from the driver. The drivers are honest people and a few of them give tourists an extra sight-seeing tour. As it is anywhere in the world, each driver has his own style of driving. Some like it more sporty but, on the big scale, they are rather uncommon. The most commonly driven taxi model is  the Volkswagen Santana. The exterior of the taxis is usually very clean. All in all, it is quite pleasant and safe to travel by taxi in China.

Useful Tips

  • In China, hailing a taxi is done by waving your flat outstretched hand top down. You can hail a taxi anywhere on the streets, because taxi stands are almost non-existent.
  • There are approximately 54000 taxis in Shanghai. Nevertheless there can be a shortage of taxis, for example during rush hour. In that case, you will have to exercise patience.
  • The most important thing is to always carry your address in Chinese ideographs with you. Also, a map with intersecting streets and attractions within the area is recommendable. Some of the taxi drivers can not speak English and others can not read maps properly and by following these instructions you make it easier for your taxi driver. Make sure, while making reservations at a hotel or guesthouse, to always get the corresponding address in Chinese as well.
  • When exiting the airport, do not answer to private people who offer to drive you to your destination. The prices are mostly two to three times higher than the official taxi fees. Leave the arrival hall and go to the taxi stand in front of the airport to take an official taxi. The taxi stand is very well-organized. There are helpers who will assign the right taxi to you.
  • When it rains, you might have to wait up to half an hour for a free taxi, depending on where you are. In that case, it is helpful sometimes, to relocate into one of the side streets or a hotel entrance.
  • If there are any problems with the taxi driver, you can write down the driver number and call the helpline number specified in the taxi. Here, assistance in English will be supplied.
  • If the driver asks you “Shenme difang?” or “nali?”, it means something like “where do you want to go, specifically?”. Some people confuse this by thinking the driver does not know how and where he should drive, which is not correct. The taxi driver simply wants to know the exact location he is supposed to take you to.
  • Be sure to always take a receipt (“Fapiao”) with you when you get out of the taxi. If you, for example, have lost or forgotten something inside the taxi, you can call the number on the receipt and, consequently, you might get your belongings back.


In principle, it is quite inexpensive to drive by taxi in Shanghai. There is a card (Jiaotong Yikatong) you can use for the Metro and taxis, to which credits can be loaded and with which you can pay your trips.

Time of Day Initial Price Follow-up Costs

In the daytime

(5 A.M. to 11 P.M.)

16 RMB

2,4 RMB/km

(after the first 3 km)

At night

(11 P.M. to 5 A.M.)

18 RMB

3,1 RMB/km

(after the first 3 km)

Airport – Downtown around 200 RMB

Help for foreigners

Helpful to foreigners is, for example, the website “www.smartshanghai.com” (which is also available as a gratis app of the same name for iPhones). Here, you can search for your travel destination and the site offers you the possibility to open another tab which will provide you with extra information for your taxi driver, namely your address in Chinese ideographs. There is also an app called „嘀嘀打车” , with which you can order a taxi. Uber is also operating in China, which is a huge step forward for all foreigners not being able to read Chinese Characters.

Taxihotlines in Shanghai

Dazhong: 0086 21 96822
Qiangsheng: 0086 21 62580000
Jinjiang: 0086 21 96961
Ba-Shi: 0086 21 96840

If you adhere to these rules, there is nothing else standing in your way to enjoy a pleasant taxi ride. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by any story: taxi driving in China is rather enjoyable.