Taxis are a popular option among expats. There is an abundance of taxis all over the city, but due to how populated Shanghai is, you will struggle to get hold of one at peak traffic times and when it is raining. Taxis in Shanghai cost 13 RMB for first 3 km (17 RMB from 23.00 to 5.00) and then 2.4 RMB (3.1 at night) per km after that. Without exception, taxis in Shanghai operate with meters. Be very careful when catching a taxi from the airport or the train station. There are some unscrupulous taxi drivers who will, without telling you, opt not to turn on the meter and, upon your arrival at your destination, they will demand exorbitant sums of money for the journey. Make sure that you only get into metered vehicles and that the driver always activates the meter within moments of beginning the journey.
Taxis take both cash and Shanghai Public Transportation Cards. Tipping is not expected.
It’s very uncommon to find a taxi driver who speaks a little English or is able to read the Latin alphabet. Until you learn to say your destination – as well as the cross streets – in the proper way, get it written in Chinese characters to show to the taxi driver. A card with your own address is a must in any newcomer’s survival pack. Taxi drivers are usually friendly with foreigners, but some of them drive as maniacs. Don’t be afraid, serious car accidents are surprisingly unusual.
If you call to book a taxi, there is a surcharge of 4 RMB on top of whatever the final fee is. Here are some phone numbers for taxi companies in Shanghai:
- Shanghai Eastern Taxi Service, http://www.shanghai-taxi.com, 6268 7291, American-owned company which is good to use for airport trips. Rates are higher than a normal taxi. Consult the website for more information.
- Dazhong Taxi: 96822 (English service available)
- Qiangshen Taxi: 62580000
- Bashi Taxi: 96840
- Haibo Taxi: 96965
- Jinjiang Taxi: 96961
You can also order taxis by text message via your mobile phone. However, you must be able to give them your location in Chinese. The SMS numbers are:
- China Mobile: 555596965
- China Unicom: 2196965