Watch Out Bad Shanghai Taxi Drivers

For many foreign visitors to Shanghai, taxi is a convenient transportation tool that is not expensive. However, do watch out those bad taxi drivers!

This morning, I got an complain mail from my reader who asked me about the taxi fee from Pudong Airport to his hotel.

I have arrived to Shanghai, but i think i was victim of a couple of bad taxi men, they charge me with 480 RMB to bring me from the airport to the new Renaissance Hotel in Pudong, I read that the usual rate was around no more than 130 RMB. The taxi metter was working and suddenly they told me that it brokes. It was difficult to argue that the rate was high that I expected but they did not want to down my luggage until they (are) paid, as in fact they leve me across the street in front of the hotel, like pretending that nobody else saw the situation.

I do not want to post this at the web, because I do not want to create a bad concept on people. I am sure that this is no the usual stuff, just please make some comments by yourself so nobody else falls in this situation, assuming that they charge me wrong, in case that the rate is correct forgive my comments.

What? I shotted out to see there are such bad taxi in Shanghai that charges 480 RMB for a trip from Pudong Airport to a hotel in Pudong. Yeah. The rate should no more than 130 RMB for the trip. I think the service of Shanghai’s taxi is outstanding. This case is definitely not the common case. But I feel the responsibility to warn travellers to Shanghai about the bad guys.

How Much Does it Cost from Shanghai Pudong Airport to….

From email or my BBS, I’d say estimated taxi fare questions are among the top of the FAQ list. Give you some rules of thumb.

  1. Typically, you should not pay over 200 RMB for a trip in Shanghai
  2. You has the right to refuse to pay if you are not given a computer printed receipt.
  3. Call Shanghai Transportation Administration Bureau telephone 63232150 to complain

110 is the emergency number in the city just like 911 in U.S. Give it a try if you feel not safe in the taxi.

The Rule Behind the Fare

If you are interested, you can study the way Shanghai taxi charges. In simple words, the rule is 10 RMB for the first 3 km and 2 RMB per km and 3 RMB per km after 10 km.

A km trip in Shanghai will RMB

Note: This is only estimated taxi fare. Waiting time and night fare (50% up) not considered. Check here for more precise rules

Sample Fare

From Pudong Airport to

People's Square - 30 km and should cost about 100 RMB

Xujiahui - 40 km, about 130 RMB

Hong Qiao Airport - 40 KM, 150 RMB

Look at my Shanghai Hand-Made Map, you get an idea that Hong Qiao Airport is almost the west-most part of the city and Pudong Airport is the east-most point (Pudong Airport is at the sea shore. You can see the East China Sea from this bird view picture of Pudong Airport). If the taxi fee between these two points does not exceed 200 RMB, why the taxi driver charges you more than that?

Again, get a receipt

All taxi in Shanghai should use a meter to count the distance and the waiting time. Never let any taxi drivers turn off the meter during your trip. Pay only according to the meter. Here is what you may expect at Pudong or Hong Qiao Airport and my suggestions:

  1. Some will tell you that they offer you a better price than the meter.

    Don't believe in that. Insist to use the meter.

  2. What if they said their meter is broken?

    It is not possible. Most passengers in Shanghai ask for receipt and know the rule - no receipt, no money. So he must be cheatting. Warn him/her that you will complain.

  3. What if I think the taxi charge me higher than they should?

    Keep the receipt and ask your hotel to call the taxi administration to complain.

The Taxi Administration has gain my trust that they always follow up to find out the taxi driver for an explaination. For some bigger companies, they even provide "run it again" service. They send another driver to run the way again to check out the actually price.

Choose the Better Taxi Company

I suggest you to take the taxis from bigger company if there is any choice. I have a guide on the ranking of Shanghai taxi companies.

Dazhong Taxi, the best in Shanghai

Qiangsheng Taxi, also very good

Good luck and don't get cheated by a bad taxi driver.

35 thoughts on “Watch Out Bad Shanghai Taxi Drivers

  1. Xiao Wang:

    I must say, you did a great job with which how many foreigners will be helped out !

    I think we should encourage those were beguiled to make a complaint to Taxi Complaint Management Commission, please pick up the telephone number for them if you can, and for those are unable to speak Chinese, you might want to recommend to at least try to call 110 police telephone number where there has been foreign language service for already half a year as a pioneer in our country, including English, Franch, German, Japanese, arabic and else around the clock ! The purpose is clear, to keep bad taxi driver out or at least deter them from another malpractice, and restore our reputation of Shanghai.

    Incidentally, you might want to note that your wonderful fee calculator is one to compute the least fare in terms of driving distance, it should be made an allowance for waiting time additional fee in traffic congestion state.

  2. Two years ago I had a similar experience in Shanghai when I needed to go from my hotel to pick up some train tickets, my hotel was a cheaper one in a bad location and it was early morning, so there were no taxis around, I finally found one and the driver told me that it would be 14 RMB to the place to get the tickets, I thought this was a little much (should be just the 10 RMB as it was close), but I had just gotten into Shanghai from the US and hadn’t slept in over 35 hours, so I just got in. When we arrived he told me it was 40 RMB, I’d heard of this happening before where the driver would try to make you think you heard wrong, (“si shi” instead of “shi si”), I was pretty mad, but I was really tired and just wanted to get the tickets so that I could get back to my hotel and sleep, so I paid the 40 RMB and gave him a dirty look to let him know that I knew he was ripping me off, but it wasn’t worth it to argue with him. Well the next day I was off to the train station from the hotel, and it was pouring rain, no taxis, except for the guy who ripped me off the previous day, he quickly pulled up and got my bags into the taxi, he wouldn’t answer and questions about price, I was well rested and would give him a good fight if he even thought of asking for more than 10 RMB, when we arrived at the train station he refused to except any money and wished me well. At first I was happy that he felt bad about ripping me off, but then I realised he still had charged me 40 RMB for what in total should have only cost 20 RMB, ohh well.

  3. Wow, contience discover !

    It is a rare experience may be only for foreigner.

    The bad guy is not always ugly, once he notice what he did and feel a prick in heart, it is never too late. Of course, it is better if that guy could make a apologize and give bace overcharged money.

  4. Joel’s experience is so interesting. The guy even dare to get back the other day. Hehe.

    Of cause, Shanghai’s taxi is among the best in all Chinese cities. As anywhere else, there will be some bad guys.

  5. hehe.. cool i didn’t know the many things you mentioned. i don’t think i was cheated coz i don’t look foreign and i speak shanghainese. i don’t think many can tell i wasn’t familiar with the city LOL.

  6. I will arrive PuDong on 0700 am of Apr 22 and will check in either Shangri-la or Hyatt. The problem is I also have to attend the meeting at Shanghai Int Convention Center around 1000 am

    Please help to fix my itinerary, thanks

    By the way, I will leave PuDong 1030 pm of Apr 23

  7. I have been living in Shanghai for over 6 months, I had really bad experience with Shanghai taxi drivers. I was told to get the tickets and pay whatever it said on the tickets, I did actually. Still I got ripped off no matter what. The fact is the drivers they literally chose the roads that tend to be busier and take longer time to get to the destination. what are you going to do with that?

  8. Viasaxena, I guess you may misunderstand it. No taxi want to choose the busier roads. They are losing money when they wait. All of them want to use all the time they have to RUN – as quick as possible. For example, if they take you to Pudong Airport and they run all the time, the 30 minutes will get them 100 RMB, which is more than 3 RMB per minute. If they wait, every 5 minutes is converted to 1 km, which is 2 RMB. That is only 0.4 RMB per minute.

    They choose the busier roads because you may not know that other roads are either more busier or it goes far. People always argue that taxi drivers go far to get more money, but seldom complain to get stack on the road.

  9. is it possible to change euro into RMB at Pudong Airport or in other places in Shanghai?

    I decided to choose a university in Shanghai for a chinese program but i havent’t any admission documents yet so I can’t ask for a x-visa from my country (I want to stay in China for 6 months);is it possible to change a turist visa in a x-visa in China?is it difficult?

    if is it possible can you explain me how?)

    Thank You so much, your site is wondferful!


  10. You made an excellent job! I am a Shanghainese and living in Shanghai from I was born. Yes, some Shanghai taxi driver is bad( I also had the experience for their reasonless charge). So, do not trust them if they suddenley said the metter was broken out! If they did so, you can call their operation center ( But actually not all of them can provide English language service) You’d better call your friends(if you have) and make sure how much it should cost. Additonal point want to remind you, bad taxi drivers will intended to chose the incorrect way to charge you more! Sometimes your destination is not far away but they will keep you going around of Shanghai! So I agree with Jian Shuo, you’d better choose the good taxi company, such as Dazhong(大众)-in subgreen,Jonsen(强生)-in orenge,NGS(农工商)-in darkblue.

  11. Dear Sir,

    I will be taking a Royal Brunei Airlines flight into Pudong Airport arriving at 2340 hours and after clearing customs and immigration, I guess it would be past midnight when I would hit the curb side looking for a taxi.

    My question is whether there are taxis at this time of the night (or rather morning). If not, what would you suggest?

    Thank you.

  12. In my experience, just avoid to take taxi when they are standby in some special place (hotel, station, etc). If you’re in pudong, just take maglev train first (it’s cheaper, compare to the experience you will get :P). Try to walk 100 meters away from that place to stop taxi, better if you can find a crowded road to stop taxi. They will not argue with you, just turn on the meter and ask you where to go. Show your full destination address (with chinesse character if any) or point your finger directly to a map. Sometimes they just find out that i’m a foreigner after they give me receipt, hehehe ….

  13. Maglev will not work late at night. Our friend coming in on Royal Dubai is in for a head ache. There are cabs that work that late, and they will run on the meter which is good. However, there are some gypsy cabs working the airport late at night. These guys can be fine to trouble. Try to to negotiate a fair price if there are no meter taxis around.

    Still, stick to a meter taxi you should be alright.

    There could be a problem with currency though. The bank is not open so you will have to use the ATM. If you don’t have an international visa card, or the machine is not working or out of order, best to bring a few dollars along just in case.

  14. When I was in Shanghai, the taxi driver charged me around RMB 160 from my hotel which is located in Jing An Qu to the MagLev station in Pu Dong Airport. I suspected that I was being overcharged.

  15. Hi,

    my wife and I are arriving in Shanghai next week, and are wondering if it is easy to get a taxi from the maglev terminal in the city, to take us to Taicang city. What do you think would be a reasonable fare to pay? I know it is a long way, but our son thinks it should be no more than 200-300 RMB

  16. Hi,

    We are arriving @ Pu Dong Int. this August and need transport to Riverside Oriental Hotel. Do taxis take 5 people and roughly how much should it be? Alternately is it easier to take the Maglev?. I wonder if the hotel has an airport shuttle

  17. Damn it.

    I wish I had read this site before going away.

    Be wary of the people trying to get you into their taxi outside the maglev station.

    It cost me 450 RMB to the bund, and I knew I was being overcharged, but oh well…

  18. Wow. 450 to the Bund. Awesome.

    From Pudong Airport to the city should be no more than 160 during the day and 200 at night. If they won’t give you a receipt, call the police. If they have overcharged you by a small amount (20-30 RMB is common as people won’t usually make a fuss about that) get the receipt and then ring the taxi company or the city complaints line. You should ask for ten times the overcharge, and you will get it if you have been overcharged. That’s what my wife (Shanghainese) and her family do. Although you should never get into a taxi with a broken meter.

    Da Zhong are the best. Qiang Sheng are OK too, and the others are pretty much dreadful. At the end of the day they are all knackered old Volkswagen Santanas from the mid 1980s and you shouldn’t expect too much. If it’s a hot day sit in the front as the aircon doesn’t reach the back seats very well.

    And if you don’t take a taxi from the rank then you are asking for trouble.

    The Maglev is next to useless as it stops about 9pm and leaves you in the middle of nowhere anyway. It’s an option if you don’t have any luggage and your ultimate destination is near a tube station because it connects with the underground.

    In general you have to remember that many drivers first drove a car six months ago when they arrived in Shanghai. It’s pot luck as to who you get. Da Zhong and Qiang Sheng tend to use Shanghainese drivers who at least have a vague idea of the city. You’ll still get the odd driver who doesn’t know where Nanjing Xi Lu is and so on. But given the horrendous shortage of taxis in Shanghai sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

  19. hi

    Today i took taxi from hongqiao shanghai airport to my hotel, which near airport too, after put laggage in taxi i saw him address in chinese, he said okay, than suddenly after drive a little, he ask me for pay 100 RMB more, and i ignore, He stop the taxi on the road and want me out from taxi, i suddenly write down his no.057755 ( Shanghai Transportation Administration Bureau ), he saw this and got too much angry to me, he throw my luggage on street and heat me on my face and run way, i was too much sock, cant think anything for while.

    After i reach my hotel i try to call his company but nobody want to take my complain, i try to call the complain number 63232150 from last 2 hours but nobody pick call or maybe is wrong number,

    Hope everybody much careful if the take taxi from the airport.

  20. I have found something interesting. Red and grey taxis usually charge higher prices for the same route.

    I happened to cover exactly the same route for a week, every day and at the same time frame.

    This gave me a great ground for experimenting with taxis.

    I took all colors and brands, and finally found out whenever I take a red taxi the charge would be some 30% higher. Also, they tried to give me fake notes in 2 occasions (by the way use your bus card at all times!).

    Hope it helps!


  21. What can you do if the taxi driver tries to overcharge? i mean, they don’t start off by telling you the price. Even if they get the meter running, they can still ask for more RMBs or stop in the middle of the road. What to do if this happens?

    Or should I just pray that this will not happen?

  22. Hi there

    Just want to share a story from real live ;)

    I live in Shanghai and it is very rare that the cab driver try to cheat me ;)

    But my two friends should come and visit me & Shanghai, and even though they had been told that a taxi ride from Pudong airport to there hotel at the bund should not cost more then 150rmb (I pay never more then 130rmb and live close to people square, but I also know the way!) – they ended up paying 480RMB!!!!! the cab driver did use a taxameter but the meter was just a liiiitle faster then usual ;) – when they told me I got very angry and hoped they got the Fa piao so I could complain but they both knew the cab driver cheated them, where too shocked and did NOT take the fa piao….so I could do nothing to help my poor friends…..!!

    But they learned the leasson the hard (expensive) way & make a cab driver very happy!! – so please visitors to Shanghai – take care and remember always to get the Fa piao (recieve) :)

    RGDS Tanja

  23. This is a fantastic weblog for all people living outside China but are interested in China.

    I will be traveling from Pudong International airport to Tai Cang (a suburb of Shanghai). Could you tell me what is the best way to go for a jetlag traveller ?

    If I take a taxi from the Pudong airport, will the taxi take me to Tai Cang and what is the estimated cost ?


  24. All this information on Taxis service is helpful. However, no one has mentioned what the taxis driver might charge for luggage. We will arrive with four suitcases into Pudong and need to get to the Sahnghai Four Seasons and wonder what additional charges might apply for luggage. Also, I will assume the taxis charge would be the same for one or two people???? Can anyone help>

  25. The same thing just happened to me. I took the taxi from the Maglev station to Hilton Shanghai. The guy charged me 240 where it should have been around 50. The taxi meter was on so I did not think that he was cheating. The only thing I did not realize is that, there was a paper covering the meter and probably the taxi driver made the meter start around 190. So when we reached at the hotel, it was already at 240. Or he did not start the meter at all and he was just showing the previous meter read. I’ve travelled to so many countries and do not remember getting ripped off. The Shanghai taxi drivers are very tricky. Be aware!

  26. Just got a taxi from where the magnetic train terminates to my hotel (Rayfont Xuhui). Not knowing any better, I paid the charge that it said on the meter of 363.

    Stupid me. I took the invoice, then lookedat it after, and it should have been 304, not 363.

    On top of that, it said I traveled 85.1km in 09mins. Must have broken a land speed record :s

  27. It is possible for them to overcharge even when the meter is on as I recently found out. I met a Chinese friend on the G train from wuxi to Shanghai. We took a cab from there to Jin Qiu Lu. The price of the fare with my Chinese friend came out to be 35 yuan, but when I am in the cab by myself the price is always 50 yuan on the meter.

  28. Had bad experience with taxi in shanghai. Travelled to Pudong Airport from Bund Area in the night. Got charged RB 404. Since I am not in China, it would be nice if we have a e-mail address where we can send complaint.

  29. Some tips to all foreigner when take a taxi in Shanghai. Always remember:
    1) To keep printed taxi receipt (Fa Piao)
    2) To keep record the taxi number plate.
    3) To keep record the taxi driver register number where you can see on dashboard.
    4) When pay money to taxi driver please make sure to tell driver how much notes you’ ve given and how much he/ she should refund.

    Yes, after certain hour the rate of taxi fare is higher in Shanghai If I am not mistaken after 2300.

    My bad experience with Shanghai taxi driver was travelling from Pudong int’ airport to XJH during midnight. The god feeling told me I took a wrong taxi, the car speed up 140-150km /hour and I pretended to be calm recorded all taxi information. God blessing I was safe to reach XJH, but this driver was bad knew I am foreigner and cheated me for exchange my 2 pieces of 100rmb notes to 1 piece of 100rmb note and 1 piece of 20rmb note. After a sleepless night flight I was fatigue and not dare to argue with him then ended up paying him extra 100rmb. However, I didn’t give up I counter check my purseĀ and confirmed I overpaid. Since I had taxi number plate and driver register number so I called to 110 for help and operator gave me 12319 phone number for look up which taxi company. The happy ending story, the person incharge of taxi company is so responsible to call me for apology after two hours I made a complaint call to his center. He promised to refund me the overpaid money.

    There are many kind hearted people in China just need to extra caution especially such a huge population.

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