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Is there Uber in China? No, Uber sold its China operations to Didi in 2016, effectively ending its direct presence in the Chinese market. Uber does not operate in China at the moment. Didi is now the dominant ride-hailing service in the country, offering a range of services similar to Uber’s, including standard taxi service, premium car options, and carpooling. Beyond ride-share, a wide variety of efficient and affordable transport options exist throughout China.

Travelers heading to China may find getting around daunting however, with a little forward planning you can master Chinas modern and dynamic transport landscape. While Uber is no longer present, the country’s robust ride-sharing ecosystem, led by Didi, ensures you can travel comfortably and efficiently. Beyond ride-sharing, China’s extensive public transportation network, including metros, buses, and high-speed trains, serves as a backbone for urban and intercity travel. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of your options for navigating China’s cities and beyond, helping visitors get around the country with ease.

Is There Uber In China?

cartoon of man ordering a taxi, a large phone shows the different options for different taxis
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As previously mentioned, Uber is not available in China. The service was acquired by Didi Chuxing in 2016, and since then, Didi has been the leading ride-sharing service in the country. Didi offers a comprehensive range of services similar to what Uber provided, such as Didi Express, Didi Luxe, 6-seater and Didi Pool, catering to different needs and preferences of users. Users can also use Didi to book traditional metered taxis..

Didi in China

Didi dominates the ride-sharing landscape in China. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what you can expect from Didi, including services, how to use it, costs, payment methods, common issues, and tips on tipping.

How to Use Didi in China

Didi works like similar ride share services do else where. Riders are able to enter there pickup location, choose from available services, monitor the location of there driver and communicate with drivers through the app.

To use Didi, you will first need a Chinese digital payment platform like Ali-Pay or Wechat. Ali-Pay is often recommended by travelers for faster verification procedures.

  • Download and Set-Up Ali-Pay – Ali-Pay is the major e-payment apps used throughout China. Foreign credit and debit cards are not accepted in China, so you will need this app anytime your want to make electronic payments including when you want to use Didi. You can download the app and link your foreign bank card and mobile numebr. When you arrive in China, the app will ask for you to verify your bank account details and your passport number.
  • Now you can access and use Didi through the Ali-Pay app.

Are Didi Rides Cheap in China?

Didi offers competitive pricing, often cheaper than traditional taxis, especially in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The cost-effectiveness is enhanced by the variety of options available, allowing users to choose services that fit their budget, from economical carpool options to more luxurious private rides.

How Much Does Didi Cost in China?

The fare calculation for Didi rides is similar to Uber’s model, based on a combination of base fare, distance traveled, and time taken. Like Uber, dynamic Didi uses a dynamic pricing model meaning that higher demand can result in higher prices. Traffic conditions can also affect the fare due to idle time charges.

For example, a typical fare from Beijing Capital International Airport to the city center may cost around 100-150 CNY, depending on the service chosen and traffic conditions.

How Do You Pay for Didi in China?

As mentioned, Didi supports payment methods including major Chinese payment platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay. This flexibility makes it convenient for both locals and tourists to use the service.

Common Didi Issues in China

Users sometimes face issues such as long wait times during peak hours and difficulties in communicating with drivers who may not speak English. The app, however, includes features to translate messages between English and Chinese, mitigating the language barrier to some extent.

English translations of place names can also be confusing so double check pick-up and destination on the map.

Do I Need to Tip Didi Drivers in China?

Tipping is not customary in China, and Didi drivers do not expect tips. However, passengers can choose to tip as a gesture of appreciation for exceptional service, which can be done through the app.

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Are There Other Ride-sharing Apps in China?

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While Didi is the most widely used rideshare app throughout China and arguably the simplest for foreigners, there are several other ride-sharing services operating in China, offering a range of options to residents and visitors alike. These alternative apps often don’t have the same level of support for English or other foreign languages. Here’s a look at some notable alternatives:

Meituan Dache

Meituan Dache is another significant player in the Chinese ride-hailing market. Known primarily for its delivery services, Meituan has expanded into ride-sharing, providing competitive rates and services similar to Didi. The app is integrated with other Meituan services, making it convenient for users who already use the platform for food delivery or hotel bookings.

Caocao Chuxing

Caocao Chuxing is a greener alternative, utilizing an all-electric fleet of vehicles. It’s a great choice for environmentally conscious travelers. The service is known for its reliability and slightly higher price point due to its eco-friendly approach.

Each of these apps offers unique features and benefits, making the ride-sharing scene in China diverse and highly competitive.

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Taxis in China

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Taxis are a ubiquitous part of China’s transportation network, providing a reliable and convenient option for travel. Here’s a comprehensive overview of the taxi system in China, from costs to catching a cab.

Are Taxis Cheap in China?

Taxis in China are reasonably priced, especially compared to Western standards. They are generally more expensive than ride-sharing options like Didi, but they offer the advantage of immediate, on-demand service without the need for an app.

How Much Do Taxis Cost in China?

Taxi fares in China start with a base fare that typically ranges from 10 to 14 CNY (approximately 1.5 to 2 USD), depending on the city. The fare then increases with distance and time. For example, a typical fare from Beijing Capital International Airport to the city center might cost around 120 to 150 CNY (approximately 17 to 21 USD). Meter use is mandatory, and fares are clearly displayed.

Do Taxis Accept Credit Cards in China?

While cash has been the traditional mode of payment, an increasing number of taxis now accept digital payments via WeChat Pay and Alipay. International credit cards might still be less commonly accepted, so having a local mobile payment option is more convenient.

How Do I Catch a Taxi in China?

Taxis can be hailed directly from the street, found at designated taxi stands, or ordered through various taxi apps like Didi, which also offers taxi booking services. In larger cities, it’s posible to find English-speaking operators through hotel concierge services.

Are There Taxi Apps in China?

Apart from ride-sharing apps that offer taxi services, traditional taxi calls can be made through local taxi company apps or platforms like Didi, which integrates taxis into its service offerings.

Are Taxis Safe in China?

Taxis are generally safe in China. Drivers are required to display their identification and license prominently within the cab. However, it’s advisable to avoid unmarked taxis and always check that the taxi has a working meter before starting your journey.

Common Taxi Scams in China

While taxi scams are not as prevalent, they do exist, particularly in tourist-heavy areas. Scams may include rigged meters or taking unnecessarily long routes. Using a GPS to monitor your route can help avoid these issues.

Navigating taxi services in China is generally safe, but like many tourist destinations worldwide, there are a few common scams to be aware of.

  • Overcharging – This is the most frequent issue, where drivers may claim that the meter is broken and try to negotiate a flat fee that is usually much higher than the metered rate. Always insist on using the meter. If the driver refuses, it’s best to find another taxi.
  • Long-Hauling – A driver may take a longer route to increase the fare. This is particularly common when traveling from airports or to tourist destinations. It’s helpful to have a map or GPS app to monitor your route.
  • Switching Notes – Be cautious when paying with cash, as some drivers might quickly switch a large note (like a 100 CNY note) with a smaller one (like a 10 CNY note), claiming you gave them insufficient payment. To avoid this, clearly state the denomination out loud when handing over the cash.
  • Refusal to Give Change – Some taxi drivers may claim they don’t have change in an attempt to keep the change. It’s wise to carry smaller denominations to cover the fare exactly or close to it.
  • Fake Taxis – These are vehicles that have been made to look like legitimate taxis but are not licensed. They often lack a meter or have a tampered meter. Always check for a visible taxi license and identification, which are typically displayed in legitimate cabs.
  • Tampered Meters – Some taxis may have meters that run too fast or jump in price significantly in a short period. Watching the meter closely during your ride can help you spot any irregularities.
  • Refusal to Turn on Air-Conditioning – In some cases, drivers refuse to turn on the air-conditioning to save fuel, even on hot days, making for an uncomfortable ride. While not strictly a scam, it’s something to be aware of.
  • Airport and Tourist Area Touts – Scammers at airports and tourist spots may try to convince you to take their taxi with offers of flat-rate fares that are significantly inflated. Always use official taxi lines or pre-booked services.

By keeping these common scams in mind, you can more confidently use taxi services in China. Would you like to delve deeper into any specific scam for more detailed advice, or should we move on to explore other transportation options in China?

Do I Need to Tip Taxi Drivers in China?

Tipping is not customary in China, and taxi drivers do not expect tips. However, rounding up the fare to the nearest yuan is a small gesture that is sometimes appreciated.

How Do I Travel from the Airport to the City Center in China

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Navigating from major international airports in China to city centers is straightforward, thanks to multiple transportation options catering to different budgets and preferences. Here are some common methods:

Airport Express Trains

Many of China’s major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, have dedicated airport express trains that connect the airport directly with major city center stations. For instance, the Beijing Capital Airport Express train links the airport to the city center in about 20 minutes for a cost of approximately 25 CNY (about 3.5 USD).

Airport Buses

Airport buses are a cost-effective way to get to various parts of the city directly from the airport. These buses cover multiple routes and are available at most airports. Fares typically range from 20 to 50 CNY (about 3 to 7 USD) depending on the destination.


Taxis are readily available at all major airports and can be a convenient option, especially if you’re traveling with a lot of luggage. The fare from the airport to the city center can vary; for example, a taxi from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to the city center typically costs around 150 to 200 CNY (about 22 to 29 USD).

Ride-Sharing Apps

Apps like Didi also offer airport pickups. They can be slightly cheaper than taxis and can be booked in advance, providing convenience and potentially better service with an upfront fare.

The challenge of rideshare at busy Chinese airports is finding your driver and many travellers find it less stressful to take a taxi from the clearly marked designated taxi ranks than to try and track down individual drivers.

Private Transfers

For those preferring a more comfortable and hassle-free experience, private transfers can be booked in advance. This service provides a meet-and-greet at the airport and a direct ride to your accommodation.

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Rental Cars

Unlike many other countries, renting a car at the airport is uncommon due to navigation and driving challenges and the requirement for a Chinese driving license.

Other Ways to Get Around Cities in China

Bus and bus driver at a bus stop

China offers a multitude of transportation options catering to different preferences and needs. Here’s a comprehensive look at the alternative ways to navigate around the country.

Metro Systems

Most major Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, boast extensive and efficient metro systems. The metro is an excellent option for quick and affordable urban travel, with signage and announcements typically available in both Chinese and English. Fares vary by city but generally range from 2 to 9 CNY (about 0.30 to 1.30 USD).


City buses cover extensive routes and are incredibly cheap, with fares as low as 1 CNY (about 0.15 USD). However, navigating the bus system can be challenging for those who do not speak Chinese, as route information is often not available in English.

High-Speed Trains

China’s high-speed rail network is among the most extensive in the world, connecting major cities with efficient and punctual services. Tickets can vary from 150 to 800 CNY (about 22 to 120 USD) depending on the distance and class of service. It’s a preferred mode for intercity travel, offering scenic views and comfort.

Bicycles and Electric Scooters

Many Chinese cities are equipped with extensive bike lanes, and services like Mobike and Ofo allow users to rent bicycles via an app for short trips affordably. Electric scooters are also popular, though they require some navigation skill and awareness of local traffic laws.

Traditional Rickshaws and Pedicabs

In some tourist areas, especially in older parts of cities like Beijing and Xi’an, rickshaws and pedicabs offer a traditional way to see the sights. Be sure to negotiate the fare before starting the trip to avoid being overcharged.

Car Rentals

Renting a car is possible to navigate cities but not commonly recommended for tourists due to the complexity of driving in China, the necessity of a Chinese driving license, and the efficiency of public transport options.

Long-Distance Buses

For budget travelers, long-distance buses can provide a cheaper alternative to trains, though they are generally less comfortable and slower.

Each of these transportation methods offers a unique way to explore China, whether you’re moving through urban districts or traveling across regions.

How to Travel Between Cities in China

Three passengers on a train reading books and tablets

China’s vast and varied landscape is well-connected by an efficient and modern transportation network, making intercity travel relatively straightforward and convenient. Here are some of the primary ways to travel between cities in China:

High-Speed Rail

China’s high-speed rail (HSR) network is one of the most extensive and frequently used in the world. It connects major cities across the country with reliable, fast services. For instance, the journey from Beijing to Shanghai can take as little as 4.5 hours on a high-speed train, covering a distance of approximately 1,300 kilometers. Tickets can range from 550 CNY (about 80 USD) for second class to over 1,750 CNY (about 250 USD) for business class, depending on the speed of the train and the class.

Domestic Flights

China has a comprehensive network of domestic flights connecting all major and many minor cities. Air travel is a faster option for covering large distances, such as from Beijing to Guangzhou. However, it’s often more expensive than other forms of transport and can be subject to delays.

Long-Distance Buses

For more budget-conscious travelers or for reaching destinations not serviced by rail or air, long-distance buses are available. They are less comfortable and slower than trains but can be a cost-effective option for shorter distances or when other services are not available.

Private Car Rental

While not the most common option for tourists due to the complexities of driving in China and the need for a Chinese driving license, renting a private car can offer flexibility, especially for exploring more remote areas. It’s advisable only for those familiar with local driving conditions.

Shared Long-Distance Rides

Ride-sharing services sometimes offer long-distance travel options, allowing passengers to share rides over longer distances. This can be an economical and social way to travel, though it’s less common than other methods.

Traveling between cities in China offers a chance to experience the diversity of the country’s landscapes and cultures. Whether you prefer the speed of high-speed rails or the economy of long-distance buses, there are options available to suit various needs and budgets.

Is There Uber Eats in China?

Cartoon image of a man and his phone showing food delivery options

Uber Eats does not operate in China. However, the food delivery market in China is highly developed and competitive, with several local services providing extensive coverage, efficiency, and a wide range of food options. Here’s a look at the leading food delivery apps in China:

Meituan Waimai

Meituan Waimai is one of the dominant players in the food delivery sector in China. The app offers a vast array of dining choices, from street food and local Chinese dishes to international cuisine. The service is noted for its prompt deliveries and regular promotions.

Owned by Alibaba, is another major food delivery service that competes closely with Meituan. It covers a wide range of cities and offers services similar to Meituan, including quick delivery times and frequent discounts.

These apps are accessible via their respective mobile platforms and are often integrated with local payment solutions like Alipay and WeChat Pay, making them incredibly convenient for residents and tourists alike. The interfaces of these apps are primarily in Chinese, but with basic navigation knowledge of app icons and a little help from translation apps, even non-Chinese speakers can effectively use these services.

Final Thoughts on Uber and Transportation in China

While Uber itself is not available in China, the country’s transportation landscape offers a plethora of alternatives that cater to both local and international travelers. From the dominant ride-sharing app Didi to extensive metro systems, high-speed trains, and a competitive food delivery market, China provides a comprehensive and efficient infrastructure to meet the needs of its urban and interurban travelers.

The absence of Uber has allowed local companies like Didi to flourish and diversify their services, ensuring that whether you need a quick ride across town or a meal delivered to your doorstep, there are multiple reliable and affordable options available. Furthermore, China’s commitment to expanding and modernizing its transportation networks makes it one of the most navigable countries in the world.

Navigating this vast and varied transportation system might seem daunting at first, especially for those not fluent in Chinese. However, with a bit of preparation and the use of technology—such as translation apps and local mobile payment systems—travelers can manage quite effectively and even enjoy the richness of exploring China with relative ease.

Whether you’re traveling between cities by high-speed rail or exploring local neighborhoods with the convenience of ride-sharing apps, China’s dynamic transport options are designed to enhance your travel experience, providing both efficiency and a touch of local flavor.

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