Taking a Taxi in Shanghai

Shanghai is a huge city, and therefore, transportation is big business. Taxis, metros, buses, and the much-loved shared bikes are the most common modes of transport.

Why take a taxi

Taking a taxi to your home, work or favourite bar can be a desirable and more comfortable alternative to sitting on a stranger’s lap on the metro, or getting soaked in the rain on your MoBike. With over 50, 000 taxis operating in Shanghai, for over 100 different companies, a Shanghai cab is always an option. Remember to flag down the taxis with green lights on, as this means they are free for a pick-up. Once you are inside the car, you may need some of these translations:


  • Turn left – (Zuǒ zhuǎn)
  • Turn right – (Yòu zhuǎn)
  • Stop here / Arrived – (Dào le)
  • How much? – (Duōshǎo qián?)


Don’t get ripped off

As a foreigner, who may not know the pricing structures, you might feel like you’re going to get ripped off. Don’t worry, there are some things you can do to decrease the chances of this happening. When getting into the taxi, make sure to ask the driver to ‘turn the meter on’ (dǎ biǎo). This ensures that you can keep an eye on the fee and you’ll only pay for the trip you have taken. It is also a good idea to ask for a receipt (fāpiào) by saying ‘wǒ yào fāpiào’. Having the fapiao means you will hold the price, time, destination and driver’s ID, just in case you feel you need to check the price, or in cases of losing your possessions inside the taxi.

shanghai taxi

Be wary of the inappropriate

Taxi drivers can be very chatty; if they notice you speak Chinese they will often try and converse with you. Be warned, personal questions are much less of a taboo in China. As first conversations go, taxi drivers can be very forward in attempting to know the ins and outs of your current relationship status and financial wellbeing. Prepare yourself for questions like ‘Why are you in China?’ (Nǐ wèishéme zài zhōngguó?), ‘How much money do you earn per month?’ (nǐ yí gè yuè zhuàn duōshǎo qián?), ‘Why aren’t you married?’ (Nǐ wèishéme bù jiéhūn?) and ‘Why don’t you have children?’ (Nǐ wèishéme bùyào háizi?).

I know. Pretty intense, right? Not to worry, hopefully these phrases will help you if you find yourself in a similar situation:

  • I don’t want to talk about this – (Wǒ bù xiǎng liáo zhègē)
  • It’s personal – (Zhè shì sīshì)


Go for a ride

Remember, the next time you take a cab in Shanghai, take our advice to avoid getting scammed, and be wary of the conversation topics! We hope these tips will help you in the future, now get out there and test out your new language.

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