Taking a taxi is a fast and convenient way to get around Shanghai. The city has the best-managed taxi service in China.
Shanghai’s taxis are colorful, unlike New York City’s, which are all yellow. Cyan, white, green, blue, red, yellow, dark blue and dark red are the main colors of the taxis in Shanghai and the colors tell you different taxi companies. Dark blue and dark red are the colors for the city’s hundreds of small and medium taxi companies.
Taxis in Shanghai are plentiful and market competition has driven taxi fare down to affordable prices for the average resident. The taxi fare is 14yuan (18yuan after 11pm) for the first 3 kilometers, and 2.4yuan (3.1yuan after 11pm) per km thereafter. If you go further than 10km, you will be charged 3.6yuan (4.7 yuan after 11pm) per km besides the flag down fare. And five minutes’ waiting equals to one kilometer in charging.
Legal taxis have a logo light on the top of the car. Around the driver’s seat there is a transparent shield for the purpose of safety. A meter and an illuminated vacancy disk on the dashboard are also necessities for a cab. Without all these things, the taxi is probably unlicensed and you should avoid it, even if the driver solicits you.
The vacancy disk will help you know if the cab is available. When the disk is upright and illuminated showing two Chinese characters — 空车 — it means the cab is vacant.
Most cabbies know their way around and expertly negotiate the city’s busy traffic. Taxis are usually readily available, but hailing one in rush hours is difficult and on rainy days almost impossible. Besides flagging down a cab on the street, you can also book a car by phone. There is no service fee for phone bookings except Dazhong Company, which charges 4 yuan for each telephone or online reservation. The taxi hotline is 96965 and English is available.
- Don’t try to hail a cab at a crossroads, as taxi drivers cannot stop their cars within 30 meters from an intersection to pick up passengers.
- Cabbies in Shanghai are also not allowed to take a tip. Most of them are amicable, but their English is limited. So it’s best to get someone to write down your destination in Chinese.
- Remember to take the receipt. The slip will contain information on the taxi, including its plate number and the taxi company. In case you leave something in the car, the receipt will give you clues to find it. The following is a taxi receipt sample and tells you how to read a taxi receipt.