Taking a Taxi in China

Taking a taxi is not as expensive in China as in many Western countries. For example, in Beijing, the 起步价 [qǐ bù jià] (starting price) for a taxi ride is around 14 yuan, and then 2.3 yuan per kilometer. So whenever you want to go somewhere, you can choose to take a taxi.

In this lesson we will learn some taxi related words and how to give directions to the driver.

Taxi in Chinese is 出租车 [chū zū chē] or 的士 [dī shì]. So, to “take a taxi” is 打车 [dǎ chē] or 打的 [dǎ dī].

There are mainly three methods for finding a taxi. The simplest way is to wave your hand when a taxi passes by in the street. If it’s a 空车 [kōng chē](empty car), it will stop for you. If there are no taxis passing by where you are, you can call the taxi company and ask for a taxi, but this requires that you know the phone number for the taxi company. If you don’t have the phone number close by, you may also use a taxi app to book a taxi. Some of the popular taxi booking apps in China are: 滴滴出行, 快的打车, and 优步Uber.

Now that you’ve entered the taxi, you have to let the 出租车司机[chū zū chē sī jī](taxi driver)where you want to go. In big cities like Beijng, Shanghai etc, some taxi driver may speak a little bit of English. In a lot of cities, however, they cannot, so this next sentence is important.

师傅 is a respectful way of addressing a skilled worker. “我要去+place” is used to say where you want to go. Not so difficult, right? Here are some common places you might want to go.

  • 机场 [jī chǎng]- airport
  • 火车站 [huǒ chē zhàn]- train station
  • 汽车站 [qì chē zhàn]- bus station
  • 宾馆 [bīn guǎn]- hotel
  • 百货大楼 [bǎi huò dà lóu]- department
  • 公园 [gōng yuán]- park

If the driver knows the way, your work is done here. But in a lot of big cities, sometimes even the driver does not know how to get everywhere. In that case, the driver may ask you:

If you know how to get there, you can respond like this:

Turn left / Turn right

左转/右转 [zuó zhuǎn / yòu zhuǎn] are often used to give directions, and you may also use 拐 [guǎi] instead of 转 — 左拐/右拐 [zuó guǎi / yòu guǎi]. You can also put “往 [wǎng]” in front of these words — 往左(拐)/ 往右(拐) [wǎng zuó guǎi / wǎng yòu guǎi].
The meaning of 往 [wǎng] is similar to the English ”towards”.

  • 往东/西/南/北 走 [wǎng dōng/xī/nán/běi zǒu]- towards east/west/south/north
  • 前面第一个路口右拐 [qián miàn dì yī ge lù kǒu yòu zhuǎn]- turn right at the first crossing
  • 第二个十字路口左转 [dì èr ge shí zì lù kǒu zuǒ zhuǎn]- turn left at the second crossing

If you don’t know the way, you can reply like this:

Now you can communicate with the taxi driver! Enjoy your trip in China!

This is the accompanying blog post for our newbie lesson “Giving Directions to the Driver“.

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