Tell Them You are Going to Chuansha

Every time I take ride of a taxi at Pudong airport to my home in Pudong, the taxi driver will educate me: “Next time, tell them that you are going to Chuansha”.

By “Them”, they mean the taxi dispatcher who happily acting as the bottle neck of the long taxi lines, and the long passengers lines. Every passenger will be asked where they are going before they can get on board a taxi (effectively slows down everything). They will then dispatch the passenger according to how far or near the passenger is to their destination. That means huge difference in taxi fare for the drivers, who have waited in the dark parking lot for few hours. You can imagine how powerful the dispatcher, and why they still insists to take the power at the expense of taxi driver’s time, and the passenger’s time – something similar happened in bigger scale.

So back to the taxi driver who was not lucky enough to have me as passenger, their only hope is by endlessly educate people like me to tell the dispatcher that I am going to Chuansha, a town just a little bit north of Pudong Airport. They are given special waiver to come back to cut into the queue again to get another passenger.

That is an interesting common pound tragedy in gaming theory. By educating their passengers to cheat the system, they are actually not helping themselves, but to make it harder to get more long-distance passenger (when more other taxi drivers pretend to have had a short-distance passenger, like they did).

An unfair system always cultivate dishonest people. This is an example.

No Taxi at Huaihai Road

It is so hard to get a taxi. Wendy and I were at the Huaihai Road and Xizang Road at around 9:00 PM tonight. We waited there for about half an hour but still don’t think there is any possibility to catch a taxi. There are people on both side of the streets waving their hands to every car – no matter it is a taxi, or non-taxi, but for a long time, there is no taxi stopping at all.

After about 1 hour standing on the street, we finally got on friends’ car to get back home. Thanks Echo…

The Demand Meets the Supply

It is not a secret that Shanghai is lack of taxi. It is very hard to get a taxi at rush hours (well, rush hours means 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM, including weekends).

Here are some records of terrible taxi waiting experience.

Hire a Taxi? Avoid Rainy Friday

40 Minutes for a Taxi at Hongqiao

Avoid Hong Qiao Airport on Friday Night

I chatted with a taxi driver few days ago. As almost everyone else, he complained about their tough life.

Shanghai Taxi Driver’s Life Tougher

Taxi Driver’s Life Tougher – Part II

But he is happy that the total number of taxi available in Shanghai has not changed for many years (is it true? I consistently get this message, but cannot find the official data). He said if the government increase the number of taxi, that will be disaster for their lives.

Who Got the Money?

Obviously, it is tougher at the current situation for taxi drivers if they increase the taxi number. But is it the right choice to keep it stable?

Look at this city. How many people rushed into this city in the last few years? What is the expectation for transportation? What is the passenger number for taxi? The nightmare to grasp a taxi tells the answer.

My personal guess is, the taxi company just got too much out of the taxi drivers.

Shanghai is famous for expense car plate (37K per plate in the bidding of last month), but a BX plate worth 800K RMB. BX car plate is a special plate for individual taxi drivers. They don’t belong to a taxi company and they get most of the money they earn. (Cautious: Avoid Taxi with BX in Plate Number).

The 800K RMB price tells the secret.

The big taxi companies monopolies the market, and charges very hight for the taxi drivers. The taxi driver’s life get tougher, so they cannot agree to put more taxi on the road. Then the problem is, the city is trading taxi availability for the profit of taxi companies.

An Open Market

What if it is an open market, and a free market?

Now, it is still unclear whether car pooling is legal or illegal. Although it is a general practice (and a very environment friendly approach), it is very risky.

Han Han talked about a trap on this blog the other day. It is about a story that the Shanghai government hired people to pretend to be in emergency (stomach pain, etc), and waving for help on the road. When victim driver stop by to help, the driver will be caught and charged for illegal operation, and fine 10K RMB.

There is no way to verify the story, but I am not surprised at all, since it matches my perception of how they behave. The society has been cold already, and they are trying very hard to pin-point those small percentage of people who still have conscious, and good heart and fine them for doing good deed, so they won’t do it again, and more importantly, tell others not to do it in the future.

Connecting the raid for illegal car operation, and lack of taxi, you see a scary picture.

Shanghai Dazhong Taxi

I have been talking about Shanghai taxi for many years, but the most frequent questions I got from day to day email is still about the best taxi company, and is about asking me what is my recommendation regarding Shanghai’s Taxi. The answer is pretty easy and straight forward: Dazhong Taxi 大众 is the best taxi company in Shanghai, and is definitely my recommendation.

Here is a photo of the taxi.

Why is Dazhong Taxi Good?

There are several factors to rate a taxi company. Here is my reason to pick Dazhong as definite best taxi company in Shanghai:

1. Service. Among all the taxi companies in Shanghai, the service provided by the drivers of Dazhong is definitely the best: they will greet you in standard language when you get on board, and they will ALWAYS remind you to bring your belongs when you get off the taxi. Besides that, drivers of Dazhong taxi are really nice to you. They do face growth problems, and there are some new drivers who do not know the streets so well – sometimes I encounter with one or two of them, but they are generally very nice.

2. Quality of the cars.

If you pick cars by how clean the seat cover is, I suspect Dazhong taxi will be the winner. Their seat cover is always white – snow white. There are certainly some expectations, but it is very rare during my experience. I always use them when I have a choice.

Their Call Center

Remember this number: 82222

or +86-21-82222 for reservation.

The Story behind the Color Turquoise

There is a little story behind the color of Dazhong taxi. It was not always turquoise. At the very beginning, when Dazhong taxi started, they use red as their identification color. At that time, there are not so many taxis. Later, when more and more companies joined the competition later, they all use the same red color. This caused problem for Dazhong, since they cannot identify themselves from the competitors. So they made a deal with Volkswagon, the taxi car maker, and bought out all the cars with color turquoise. Today, if you see a Volkswagon Santana that is turquoise, it has to be a Dazhong taxi.

Now, more and more taxi companies are using their identification colors, like yellow for Qiangsheng, white for Jinjiang Taxi, Green for Qiangsheng Taxi, and Blue for Haibo Taxi. There are more interesting thing around the color. In Shanghai, there are just few big enough taxi companies are allowed to use identification colors, and the red color are used for all the little taxi companies.

Avoid Taxi with BX in Plate Number

One little tip to share about Shanghai taxi: try not take any taxi with BX in the car plate.

Any car in Shanghai has a car plate, like this:


The first Chinese character 沪 means Shanghai.

There are special coding standard for taxi in Shanghai.

For the third character – the one after the little dot – the following characters were assigned to taxi:







That means, if there is a car without these characters on plate, and pretend to be a taxi, you will know it.

Among all these plate, X is very special.

X plate taxi are private taxi plate, while all the others are company owned taxi. A company owned taxi means the taxi is owned by a taxi company, and the driver is hired by the company to drive the car, and the driver needs to pay about 450 – 500 base fee to the company everyday. Their earning needs to pay this fee, gas fee, and all kinds of maintaince fee for the car before he can get a profit.

X plate taxi, or private taxi, is owned by individual persons, and they don’t belong to a company, so they don’t need to pay anything. Recently, they are required to join a company setup just for the management propose of private taxis. The management is as low as 150 RMB per month, v.s. 15,000 for other taxi drivers.

So they owner of X plate taxi earns huge profit.

However, their service quality is the worst among all the taxis, just because they are not afraid of any customer complain at all – there is no company responsible for it. Their service standard is also pretty low. The rule of thumb (although with a little bit discrimination) is, if you feel very bad about a taxi driver, chances are, it is a X plate taxi.

In Shanghai, there are 40,000 taxis, and among them, 300 are with plate 沪AX, and 3000 are with plate 沪BX. So for your safety, avoid BX taxi as much as possible.

Disclaimer: This article is based on my personal experience of BX taxis, and feedback from Internet. It is of cause more generalized, and some BX taxi may provide good service, I justified and thought it is still the right thing to do to put a caution here, to avoid unhappy experience for my readers. I hope the BX taxi can find a way to improve their reputation, just as Dazhong taxi has gained the reputation of the best taxi in Shanghai, even though not everyone of the drivers are very good. That is the power of brand, isn’t it?

Lovely English-Speaking Jinjiang Taxi Driver

After the nice meetup at the Canglong Fang, Jack, Xiaofeng and I happily got on board a yellow Jinjiang Taxi. Xiaofeng immediately noticed the driver is a four-star driver. They have a plate at the front of the passenger seat displaying their status of the stars. Four-star means at least he should be able to speak some English. Of cause, I didn’t realize this until about 20 minutes later.

When we were talking about the driving experience in Silicon Valley, since Xiaofeng still lives there, the driver suddenly asked us one question: “What is the difference between Freeway and Expressway in U.S?”

Not every taxi driver cares about the difference between these two English words, even a lot of people who learn English for many years.

He added: “I just heard my passengers sometimes use Expressway, and sometimes use Highway. I am curious about the difference. I am trying to learn English, but never been to U.S.”

What a good learner he was.

Before that, he demonstrated his great knowledge about Shanghai. I asked him to take me to “Hi-tech West Road”, and he immediately told me he knew the road. It was much higher than my expectation, since the road near my home was called Bowen Road before (for at least half centaury?), but just renamed to “Hi-Tech West Road” last month. His knowledge about Shanghai was updated so quickly. You know, not many taxi drivers in Puxi can tell the small roads in Pudong.

Finally, we said Goodbye, and he would go to another place at the south part of the Hunan Road to pickup his Italy customer. The 30 minutes conversation made me believe he is a skillful, knowledgeable taxi for Shanghai road, and English-speaking good taxi driver. So I’d like to leave his contact information on the blog to help him to get more business. Maybe next time you arrive in Pudong Airport, you can give him a call in advance to ask him picks you up at Pudong Airport. His name card reads:

Chinese Name: CHEN Quan

English Name: David Chen

Mobile: +8613801929519

(Posted with permission)

Good luck, David!

P.S. It is so lurxy to live in a city like Shanghai. There are enough smart people with good experience. They inspire you very day about the future. I had wonderful afternoon with Jack, Hwhua, Jinsong (he is researching on how brain works), Xiaofeng and Financial editor from Modern Weekly. The quote of the day I got was from Xiaofeng:

“You can not get everything, but you always can get something”

It is all about YOUR choice.

P.S. 2: I will leave Shanghai again before the Spring Festival for business trip to Hong Kong tomorrow. The flight is at 9:40 AM. Yiyi told me I should arrive at around 12:30 at Hong Kong airport. The next entry will be sent back from Hong Kong. Thanks Wendy for packing up for me. :-)

Call a Taxi on the Phone? In English?

My friend dropped an email and complain about waiting for half an hour or even one hour for taxi everyday – seems he is living in a very “decent” place that even taxi won’t go there to break the peace of the area. He asked if there is any telephone number he could call to book a taxi. He does not speak Chinese.

Well. There are many numbers to call in Shanghai for taxi services, but not many offers English service, so far as I know.

My Preferred Call Center – Qiang Sheng Taxi

After the previous year, I have formed the habit to dial +86-21-62580000 for taxi services. There are many other lines, like 96822 from Da Zhong taxi, but the chances to get through to Qiang Sheng call center is much higher (Dazhong’s taxi is much better though).

I checked with the center. They don’t have special English service line, but there are some agents who are able to answer English phone calls. So just call it and say whatever language is not Chinese. If an operator cannot understand you, chances are, he/she switch it to a person capable of English.

Lunar Calendar is Moon Calendar

Lookup and see the moon tonight – it is full moon, and I know it is the 15th day of the 9th month in lunar calendar. The beauty of Chinese lunar calendar is, it always exactly meets the face of the moon.

Tips to Get a Taxi

Taxi is becoming a headache in Shanghai. I remember about three years ago, taxi is was still abundant resource and I can could hire a taxi easily – empty taxis are were everywhere. (Update: Thanks Fang Fang to correct spelling of this paragraph)

However, recently, it is very hard to find a taxi. It is not rare to wait for half an hour in People’s Square area or Lujiazui area. There are no empty taxi at all and there are more than 20 passengers are waving their hands to call a taxi.

I chatted with a taxi driver on this and he laughed out loudly. He was very kind to share some tips and suggestions he has for passengers to get higher chance to call a taxi in rush hours.

1) Avoid Corners

Typically, if you wave your hand, and there are enough passengers the taxi driver can choose from, he will avoid those who stand at street corners since it will caught attention from police.

2) Avoid crowd

If there are many people standing together and all wave their hands, he suggests that you should stand about 3 meters behind those crowd. Most taxi drivers try to avoid stop before more than one person. It also happens that some one opens the front door and the other one grap the back door, and they start to argue who should take the taxi – it is not easy for any of them to give up after standing their and waving for 20 minutes – It means another half an hour of waiting …. Taxi drivers don’t want to get involved in this. They typically will choose someone who stand behind but also waving – just stop directly in front of one person so others don’t have a chance to catch up.

3) Keep Waving

According to the first rule, even though you think the taxi has slowed down for others, just keep waving. Some taxi drivers will keep moving until they see someone like you they feel comfortable to stop – to avoid conflict.

4) Go to Hotels

To go to hotel front door is a good idea since many taxi drops off passengers there.

It is very interesting tip!

Life in Shanghai is not Easy, isn’t it?

Everyone’s patience is a limited resource. After waiting for taxi for half hour, and there is no order (because everyone line up alone the long street), it seems the only reason to explain why some one get a taxi and others don’t is “good luck”. According to a happiness expert, “When people cannot control their lives and can only rely on luck, people feel unhappy”. That is one reason why people in Shanghai is not as happy as other cities.

Taxi Driver Got Compensation?

Dan from asked me the news says Shanghai taxi drivers get compensation for the increase of gas price. I know a little bit about this.

Formula of Shanghai Taxi

Almost for every Shanghai taxi, there will be two drivers for it. One runs for 24 hours and passes the taxi to the other one, and so on. Some taxis are run by couples, which means they can get a lot from the car but they don’t’ have time to meet besides the time to handle over the car. That extreme case is terrible – I cannot imagine a family like this.

Then, every one get passengers’ money and put it into their own pocket. A typical Volkswagen 3000 taxi driver needs to hand in 6150 RMB per month to the taxi company (this is the price for Qiang Sheng Taxi with telephone number 62580000). This does not include gas and maintenance for the car.

Gas is typically 150 – 170 RMB per day, but with the recent increase, it is about 20% more than before everyday. Now in extreme hot summer, they have to turn on air condition all the time, it costs more.

Then, they need to pay a lot of other different fees. For example, they pay around 60 RMB to have the taxi company clear their seat covers everyday. Some install GPS + CDMA. This is mandatory and you cannot choose to install or not. Then the driver needs to pay 65 RMB per month additionally for the service.

With the recent increase in gas price, the government gives 200 RMB per car compensation, which means 100 RMB per person and 7 RMB per day (if he runs 15 days a month). The 7 RMB is nothing compared to the increased cost, but it is better than nothing.

Taxi Driver’s Life Tougher – Part II

Taxi drivers’ life is one of the major topic I continously observe the report. They are very typical hard-working people in this city, and come from a world I don’t normal have access. Talking with taxi drivers is always my favorite. Their stories are vivid mirror reflecting the changes of the city.

Recently, we clearly feel taxi become rare resource for this city. Not at only rush hours, but also at normal time it is hard to find a taxi. I thought the major reason was because of the hot summer – these days, Shanghai is just too hot which drives up the demand. However, the recent talk with a taxi driver revealed another part of the story.

About 28 days ago, the price of gas increased a lot. Yesterday, it kept increasing. The price of 93# gas increased from 3.96 RMB/L to 4.26RMB/L. I guess it may be related to the change in RMB price? Just some guess.

The gas price change dramatically increased the cost for taxi drivers. They may need to spend more than before. In summer, it is required that taxi much turn on air condition. It continue to increase the cost of operation.

To help them, the taxi companies give them 7 RMB per day compensation, but it is almost nothing compared to the cost. So many taxi driver finally find out that even if they work very hard 24 hours, they still gain much less than before, and sometimes cannot earn money. So they just quit.

According to one taxi driver, many taxi companies have empty taxi parking in their parking lot without taxi drivers. The increase of demand and descrease of supply caused the current situation.

P.S. Shanghai Taxi Driver’s Life Tougher

Hire a Taxi? Avoid Rainy Friday

DSC03693 DSC03692 DSC03691

I waited one hour to get a taxi after I arrived in Hong Qiao Airport around 6:00 PM today. Wendy was waiting for me at Metro tower and waited for me to “help” her out because it was almost impossible to hire a taxi there. Whenever the rain meets Friday in Shanghai, quit the idea of hiring a taxi at rush hour. It is almost impossible. Check the long line of people waiting for taxi at an airport. Some first time visitor coming to Shanghai to say: “Hey, people in Shanghai are so patient. How can they bear waiting for taxi for hours eveyrday?”

Seeking for Shanghai Questions

I am back from Beijing. Recently, I feel not as good as I was in fullfilling the mission of this website – to help foreigners, expats, and people outside China to learn more about Shanghai, plan their trip better and to survive in this city better.

As everyone knows, my focus shifted in the recent months, especially after I join eBay. Last three days was wonderful, except that I skipped sleep for the first day (actually I slept two hours), and skipped breakfast and lunch for the second day. But it worth it.

I need your help to send me more questions about Shanghai. Let me help to answer so to help more people.

Shanghai Taxi Colors

Want to see real colors of the taxis, as I mentioned in this article? Here you are.





Taxi Queue

The left most taxi with only a tail is the Indian Red I mentioned. The dark blue taxi between the Dazhong (Turquoise) and the Qiangsheng (yellow) taxi is from Blue Union.

More Pictures to Come

I am not in Shanghai so I cannot take more pictures of the other colors, especially the France Red taxis. But I will post them here.

Why Shanghai’s Taxi is Good

There are 42000 taxis in Shanghai. Generally speaking, they are offering very nice service. Here are some of my old entries on Shanghai taxi.

Taking taxis in Shanghai

Shanghai Taxi Tickets

Typical Taxi Fares in Shanghai

Taxi Services at Shanghai Pudong Airport

Benz Taxi in Shanghai

More Shanghai Taxi information.

Why Shanghai’s Taxi Service is Good?

A taxi driver told me about the secret of management when I was in Shanghai.

People know there are several different color of taxis in Shanghai. If you observe carefully, you will find there will be only 8 colors of taxi in Shanghai.

Unique Color-ed Taxi

There are may taxi companies in Shanghai, and not every company are allowed to create its own branding color. Only taxi companies with more than 1000 taxis can select its own color for their taxi.

There are only 5 taxi companies reached the bar:

  1. Dazhong (Turquoise)
  2. Qiangsheng (Yellow)
  3. Jinjiang (White)
  4. Bashi (Light Green)
  5. Nonggongshang

Check the Background story – Why lot of taxi in Shanghai are red? section in this article.

All these companies care their branding very much and are competing with each other. They have highest quality standards.

Blue Taxi

All taxi companies with less than 1000 but more than 200 forms a union called “Blue Union”, and all of them are pained blue. All these companies are strictly monitored by the Blue Union for service quality.

Indian Red Taxi

For other smaller companies, like those with 40 – 100 taxis, they are all painted red – or to be more specific, the Indian Red. The service quality is generally lower than the big companies or Blue Union. It backed the general practice in Shanghai “Avoid Red taxis”.

France Red Taxi

To be fare to the good taxi drivers in smaller companies (less than 200 taxis), a new brand is introduced. It is called France Red Taxis. They are selected from 30 taxi companies (out of the 300 “Indian Red” taxi companies) with prove good service qualities. The France Red Operation Team monitors the quality of this type of taxi and they sometimes provide even better service than the big names.

Well. As you can see, the 8 colors represent the service standard in Shanghai. I would rate them in the following order

  1. Turquoise taxi ( Da Zhong)
  2. France Red
  3. Yellow taxi (Qiangsheng)
  4. Light Green Taxi (Bashi)
  5. White Taxi (Jinjiang)
  6. Blue (Blue Union)
  7. Indian Red (Others)

Beijing should learn from Shanghai on the management of taxis.

Benz Taxi Accepts Credit Card

Benz Taxi accepts credit card and the price is the same.

I took a picture of the Benz taxi yesterday. From the picture, you can see the taxi begin to accept credit card. It is not news in U.S., but in Shanghai, it is historical change in a city where even PizzaHut does not accept credit card.

The price is the same as any other taxi, 10 RMB per km. I begin to wonder it is reasonable? They have to pay the service fee, and equipments for using credit cards.

Benz taxi on the road.

Benz Taxi in Shanghai

Hey. Take a look. I finally saw and took a shot of the hot Benz taxi in Shanghai. It is reported that 50 Benz taxi were put into operation but I never seen one.

This morning, when I arrived at Metro Tower, a shining car passed by. It was a Benz. At a second look, I realized it was a taxi.

© Jian Shuo Wang. Benz taxi stopped before Metro Tower

Typical Taxi Fares in Shanghai

I talked with a taxi driver from Qiangsheng Taxi Company on may way back home. He is a experienced driver. I consulted him about the typical taxi fares from Pudong Airport to downtown Shanghai. He said he is very confident that the fare he estimated will not differ from the real charge by 10 RMB.

From Shanghai Pudong Airport to

People’s Square – 130 RMB

Pudong Shangri-la Hotel – 115 – 130 RMB

Xujiahui – 140 RMB

Hongqiao Airport – 150 – 160 RMB

Hong Qiao Area (ShanghaiMart, Ressaniance Hotel, Sheraton Hotel) – 140-150 RMB

Fudan University – 125 – 130 RMB

Shanghai Railway Station – 135 RMB (via Lupu Bridge)

Metro Longyang Station (End of the Maglev) – 90 RMB

To any place within the Outter Ring Road (A20) – less than 200 RMB

To any place within the Inner Ring (The Elevated Highway) – less than 150 RMB

From Pudong Airport to Nearby Cities

Ningbo – 600 KM, 1800 RMB (+150 RMB Toll Fee)

Hangzhou – 200 KM 500 RMB (+60 RMB Toll Fee)

Suzhou – 100KM 300 RMB (+30 RMB Toll Fee)

How to Use the Number

The number the driver gave is a very good reference for people new to Shanghai. If there is traffic jam, the fare will be higher (5 minutes of waiting = 1 km. Waiting means speed lower than 12 km/hour).

So you know if the taxi driver over charges you.

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.

Taxi, Currency, Credit Card and More…

Got an email with questions about Shanghai. I am going to answer the mail in public. Also, I removed all the personal information from the mail before I get confirmation from the sender that he wants his name appear.

The Letter

Dear Jian Shuo,

You have the most informative site I have found about Shanghai in the whole Internet. I really like it very much. Thank for spending so much time and effort for it. We as visitors really appreciate it. I am a little bit sad that the Maglev will only operate on particular days, because when I read your news yesterday I thought from today on it would be running permanently. We will be arriving on the 13th October, so we will not have a chance to use it to get into town, right? Just some questions, if you have the time:

  • We will have to get to the Sheraton Grand Tai Ping Yang Hotel, Zunyi Nan Road. Would you recommend to take a taxi to get there? How much will it cost approximately? Will it be okay if I show the taxi driver the reservation confirmation of the hotel which shows the name of the hotel (but not the road!) in Chinese and Latin letters. I am asking because I had some kind of trouble in Beijing once and drove trough the town with the taxi for about 3 hours because the driver did not know (or want to know) where my hotel was ;-) …
  • More questions: Is it correct that temperatures for the next 10 days will be around 18 degrees daytime and around 10 degrees night time?
  • Can I also change Euros into Yuan in the Airport? Or only U.S. Dollars?
  • Are there places to change money inside the town?
  • Can I usually pay by credit cards in restaurants and shops?

Oooops – quite a lot of questions, hope I don’t bother you too much.

The Answers

I receive increasing number of this kind of information inquery email everyday. To help more people, I tend to answer them and publish the answer on this site in case others has the same quesitons.

Get to Sheraton Grand Tai Ping Yang Hotel

I highly recommend you to take the Airport No. 3 to the hotel since the terminal stop of the route is exactly at the Sheraton Hotel. It costs only 20 RMB and 90 minutes. To take taxi there, it will costs about 150 – 200 RMB to ge there. However, it should be a little bit faster since the taxi will go via the outter ring road and the elevated highway. So you will not see a single red light on the road. For people going to other places, I will recommend taxi if the cost is not a problem.

Taxi Drivers

During the time of APEC, most taxi drivers were trained to speak at least one hundred sentences of English. However, don’t expect your taxi driver to be able to communicate with you. I believe most taxi drivers know the hotel well and your receipt with the Chinese name will work. If it does not work, be sure to tell the driver the word of “Hong Qiao”, since that area is the most famous area and the area is not large.

Current temperature

Yes. It is true. 10 – 18 degree C. I am still wearing my T-Shirt today, but felt a little bit cold. I believe a shirt will do today. However, it is forecasted that the temperature will goes down – many places in north China has snowed already these days.

Currency Exchange

You can change from many foreign currencies to Renminbi at the Bank of China counter located at the Arrival Hall. I even have a picture for you.

Also, if you check their website at, you can find the current exchange rate as below:

USD 826.46 821.49 828.94

HKD 106.63 105.99 106.95

JPY 7.4509 7.3948 7.4882

EUR 959.31 951.15 962.19

GBP 1377.29 1344.88 1381.43

You can easily exchange your EURO to RMB at any Bank of China branch office. There are some others banks that can exchange currency for you, but the Bank of China is easiest one to find. Look for this logo:


Credit Card

Most large shopping malls and department stores accept credit card. By large, I mean the store that seems clean and has at least two floors. This is only a rule of thumb. Check with the store or restaurant before you shop or eat there. It is very embarressing if the card does not work.

Also, keep in mind to bring some RMB cash with you since 1) the credit card, especially international credit card may not always work at local machines 2) not all operating staff can operate the international credit card correctly.

I hope I have answered all your questions. I’d also like to repeat there, that by writing to me, you agree that I publish the content of the email to the website. Also understand I am not able to answer all the questions.

Shanghai Taxi Tickets

Taxi is part of people’s life – especially for people with relatively higher income in the city, just as cars are part of people’s like in U.S. Since more people cannot afford or won’t buy a car, taxis are convenient and cheap. Well. It is not as comfort and convenient as a family car, definitely.

Taxi Ticket

All the taxis in Shanghai will give machine-printed receipt. There is some very interesting and useful information on the ticket. If you check any of them, you will find the story behind each of the ticket. Here we go.


Her is a typical ticket – the majority of companies use this kind of ticket. Here is the translation into English:

Car No.       Do V6683

Driver No.     026473

Date       2003-07-08

Depart  (K0970) 16:14

Arrive          16:18

Unit Price   2.00 RMB

Mileage         1.5km

Wait Time    00:01.24

Far         10:00 RMB


Electricity 0 RMB Toll Fee 0 RMB

The telephone number, customer complain hotline and location of the taxi company are required to print on the header for all tickets.

The Car No. is the license No. for the car which is printed on the car plate.

The Driver’s No. is a 6-digit number assigned to the taxi driver. Any taxi driver can be easily found with this number. It is registered with Shanghai Taxi Administration. So you know the important to get a receipt when you get off – if you want to complain the taxi or lost your belongs on the taxi, just call the taxi company at the telephone number listed in the ticket and give the driver’s No.

Date, Departure and Arrival time are easy to understand.

The Unit Price is the last applied price per km in your journey. Here is the charging model of Shanghai taxi. According to a taxi driver from Nong Gong Shang, this price is not adjusted in the last 10 years.

05:00 – 23:00

Basic Price: 10 RMB including 3 km.
2.00 RMB / kilometer between 3.00 km to 10.00 km.
3.00 RMB / kilometer farther than 10.00 km.

23:00 – 05:00 next day

Basic Price: 13 RMB including 3 km.
2.60 RMB / kilometer between 3.00 km to 10.00 km.
3.90 RMB / kilometer farther than 10.00 km.

Waiting time

Waiting time is the time spend for stop or speed < 12 km/hour
Every 5 minute waiting time is converted to 1 km
The fee for the converted km is charged by the current time range and distance

So you see, there is a Wait Time field in the ticket. It is the time the taxi waits for the red lights or in traffic jam. So remember, when the taxi is waiting, you still have to pay.

Fee is the most important field. It is the money shown on the meter and also the money you need to pay. The fee is calculated using the rules shown above.

I am not sure about what the Electric Adjustment is. For the Toll Fee, it is the fee the taxi driver may pay for you. The only Toll Fee in Shanghai downtown is the 15 RMB on the road exiting Hongqiao Airport. Sometimes, the taxi driver will print it on the taxi ticket in this field, but most times, they just directly give you the original ticket for the toll fee.

Well. Now the only thing left is the K0970. I didn’t know what it means. It is on every taxi ticket. Sometimes, it will be K5820, K0640, but number other than 970 is rare. What is it?

Finally I called the taxi administration and they told me the answer: that is the technical identification for the model of the taxi meter. To be more specific, 970 means when the sensor in the meter get 970 pulse from the wheel, it will count as 1 km.


Above is another kind of the ticket. It has almost exactly the same layout as the first one, the only changes are:

1) The Layout of the Date and Time Field

Date 2003-06-16

Depart/Arriv 8:26-8:54

2) The Taxi Meter Only Print Numbers

Unlike the more advanced dot printed, the old fashioned printer can only print out numbers. So it faces the problem of representing the Car No. which consists both English letter and digits. Do V6683 is an example.

The smart guys there have found out the way to transform the English letters into numbers. The characters can be represented by their ASCII code. A = 65, B = 66….. Let’s take the ticket above as an example.



|   |  |  |

|   |  |  ==== 3741 = 3741

|   |  ======= 78 = N

|   ========== 66 = B

============== 970, means 970 pulse = 1 km 

Here is the mapping table.

65 A

66 B

67 C

68 D

69 E

70 F

71 G

72 H

73 I

74 J

75 K

76 L

77 M

78 N

79 O

80 P

81 Q

82 R

83 S

84 T

85 U

86 V

87 W

88 X

89 Y

90 Z

Taxi Fee Calculation Practice

Taking the last ticket as an example, we can see the taxi ticket calculation rule in action.

Car No.   970-66-783741

Driver No.       201010

Date          2003-6-16

Depart/Arrive 8:26-8:54

Unit Price     2.00 RMB

Mileage           3.5km

Wait Time          0:20

Far           19.00 RMB

Here is the calculation. :-)

Basic Fee                      ===> 10 RMB

3.5 km - 3.0 km = 0.5 km       ===>  1 RMB

20 mins * 1 km / 5 mins = 4 km ===>  8 RMB


Total      19 RMB

Shanghai Taxi Driver’s Life Tougher


After 7:00 PM, I took taxi home. This is a very very early time for me to go home. Typically, I will stay in office till 10:00 PM everyday. Since I just returned from the long trip, I think it is a good idea to get off work earlier and go back home to rest.

I took a yellow Qiangshen Taxi at Xujiahui. There are so many people rushing back home. Since it is the communication hub, 10+ bus stops stand there, side by side. Busy buses and interlacing each other and push hard to get their ways.

I managed to get the taxi and told him where I live. He give a very quick left turn from the right-most lane to the left lane, crossing the three lanes in the middle. Other bus are beeping and the drivers are yelling, but my driver seems very happy that he has made them angry.

Two minutes later, I began to chat with this driver.

Me: How do you do recently?

Driver: Bad. There is no business today.

M: Don’t worry. It will be better

D: It has became worse in the recent year.

M: Why? More and more people are taking taxi recently. About half of my friends taking taxi back home after work everyday

D: It is true. But…

M: But what?

D: Three years ago, there are less taxi. Most importantly, if they take taxi, they pay average of 30-40 RMB. But now, I can get only 10-15 RMB per customer.

M: Why?

D: There is only one sub way line and when people want to go across the city, like from Xuhui to Yangpu, they will take taxi. However, after the line #2 and the light-rail line #3 were completed, people like to take them for long way. They take taxi only when they get off at a metro station and take the bus home.

M: This is exactly what my friends are doing.

D: But the time for a 10 RMB customer and for a customer pays 30 RMB are almost the same. So my income is lowered.

I don’t know whether it is good trends or not. When the life in the city is more and more convinient, the life for taxi driver is worse – if what he said is true.

See also