Getting around the Chinese capital city is not that convenient since it is continuously growing. I think that taking subway is the fastest and the best value for your travel to Beijing, even if you have to line up to access to the platform (and line up again to get in the train) at peak time. But subways stations are quite far from each other, and closes from 10:45pm until 5:30am, so if you want to go somewhere you’ve never been before or go home late at night the better would be taking a taxi. There are more than 70,000 legitimate taxis working in town. Hailing taxis is an art, so here are my advices not to waste time waiting for it and not to be fooled during your Beijing tour.

How to recognize them ?

Beijing cabs are green, blue, white, or black with a large yellow stripe, it differs according to the company. On every cars of one of those companies you can find a meter and a big lever behind the rear-view mirror to start or stop the meter. When the meter is on, a small red sign behind the windshield appears or lights up at night, and the taxi top light turns off. Moreover on the dashboard in front of the passenger’s side a placard with the driver’s registration number and name is stuck, every official taxi displays their license in front the passenger seat. Other thing, all Beijing cab license plate begins with “京B”. But be careful, Beijing is full of black taxis, make sure of all the details above before enter in one of those cars. Some are just random cars with a little red signal, other really looks like real ones in the appearance but they can’t give you a printed receipt, just a hand written one, so you should always asks fabiao 发表 (give receipt) before he starts driving.

How much is it ?

On daytime (from 5am to 11pm), the meter starts at 10RMB which equals to 3km, and then it’s 2RMB for each additional kilometer, and 3RMB charged for each additional kilometer after 15km. And from midnight until 5 in the morning, the meter starts at 11RMB for 3km, it costs approximately 0.5RMB more than on daytime for each additional kilometer. Stops due to traffic lights or traffic jam will be charged too, each 5 minutes will counts as a kilometer.

Other tips

First, you should know that empty taxis can’t refuse to take passengers, fix a certain amount of money for the ride before driving, or not to give you a receipt. Second, Chinese taxi drivers can’t speak English, they can’t even read pinyin, so if you don’t know how to say the name or the address in Chinese of your destination, make sure you have it written in Chinese with you. Thirdly, avoid taking a taxi at rush hour from 7:30 and 9:30 in the morning and 16:30-19:30, you will waste your time and stuck in the traffic jam. Hailing some cabs while it’s raining or snowing and in the middle of a highway is very difficult too, you’ll probably have more chances to hail some near the crossroads or just to be patient. And one last thing, you can ask the driver to put the radio on to spend a comfortable moment, I always ask for 88.7 (babachi) the China Radio International hits radio station.

I hope that this article could make you enjoy convenient taxi rides in you China travel !

Jack Li
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