Arrival at the airport is not a great deal of fun, but it gets somewhat more hectic if you need a taxi.
As soon as you get in the area lining up for taxi's, you will approached by guys who ask you if you need a taxi into the city. If you say yes, they grab your bags and head out at high speed. You have to be very determined to stop them as these guys are simply non registered cars and vans and who want something like 500RMB, or if you haggle 400 to take you into town. Fortunately my son has been in Beijing a number of times and confirmed you should only get into a cab which has a meter and on the side windows displays a decal that shows the rate is currently (June 2014) 2.4 RMB a Km.
The real charge in a metered taxi in rush hour works out from the airport to the Novotel in mid downtown a mile or so from Tiananmen Sq, to be around 150RMB - quite a difference from these touts!
I have heard other travellers mention that some taxi's have a facility with a switch to make the fare jump some hundred or so RMB but I haven't experienced this but maybe almost subconsciously do glance at the fare as we travel along.
Possibly an urban myth?
We've all heard about taxi scams, whether from friends, articles or guidebooks. For example, you're in an unfamiliar city and your taxi driver takes you to your hotel by the longest (translation: most expensive) route possible. Or, you get into a cab at a foreign airport, the driver pulls away, and you realized that the meter is not turned on. When you question the driver, he shrugs expressively and says, "No good," leaving you to wonder just how much this trip will really cost you. Even worse, your driver announces that he has no change, which means he'll pocket the difference between the fare and the face value of the smallest bank note you have as a colossal tip.
It doesn't have to be this way. For starters, most licensed taxi drivers are honest, hardworking people who are trying to earn a living. The few dishonest drivers out there have developed some clever ways to part you from your cash, but you can protect yourself from almost all taxi scams with just a little bit of effort.
Research Routes, Rules and Fares
As you plan your trip, take the time to plan your taxicab trips as well as your hotel stays. Find out about typical fares from, say, the airport to your hotel, or from your hotel to the museums you wish to visit. Travel guidebooks also provide information about taxi fares. Jot this information down so that you can refer to it when discussing fares with your taxi driver.
Some taxi fare calculator websites show maps of destination cities. These maps can help you learn about various ways to get from place to place. Bear in mind, though, that these maps don't tell you everything about a city. Cab drivers often know several different ways to get from point A to point B, just in case an accident or traffic problem snarls up their favorite routes. The shortest way isn't always the best way, particularly during rush hour.
Find out about fare regulations before you leave home.
Take a Map, Pencil and Camera
It sounds so obvious: Track your own route and record your experiences, just in case. Taxi drivers aren't as likely to take you on a meandering tour of the local area if they know you are following their turns on your trusty map. If you're not sure whether you're headed in the right direction, ask; then start writing down names and taxi license numbers. If you forget your pencil and travel journal, pull out your camera and take pictures instead. Should you need to file a complaint after you leave the cab, you'll have hard evidence to back up your claim.
To help protect yourself from scams, unreimbursed accident expenses or worse, never, ever get into an unlicensed taxi, and ideally only use one who accepts credit cards as at least if you feel you have been scammed, you can take it up with the card company at a later date. At the present time unfortunately credit cards are not as common in China as they are in other parts of the world so it may not be possible to use one there
Small Dollar Bills
Carry a stack of US $1 bank notes. With these you can at least cover the tip in a denomination that most in the West are familiar with, especially when the local currency notes are a mass of zero's. Wonderfully for the traveler, places like China and certainly Japan, tips are not expected
Again, this should go without saying: save your receipt, because you will probably need it if you decide to file a claim. Your receipt may be your only proof that you were in a specific driver's taxicab. Remember to check your receipt against your monthly statement if you paid your fare by credit card.
When in Doubt, Get Out
If you can't come to an agreement with a taxi driver, walk away and find another cab. And, if the worst happens and your driver demands more money than you agreed to pay, leave the agreed-upon fare on the seat and exit the cab.
Unique Suggestions: Ensure the decal is shown in the side windows and maybe even ask to see the meter which sometimes is hidden when not in use and can be even up by the mirror.
Fun Alternatives: If travelling to a reasonably high standard Hotel, ask the staff who meet you, to get the price from the driver, enquire about the amount of tip, and even give the hotel people the notes to pay if you are using cash, as they can help with the maths to see if the fare is about right, recognize fraudulent local bank notes in your change and at the same time get you your receipt from the driver
We arrived in Beijing early in the morning. We did not take an illegal taxi but rather went to the designated taxi rank where there was an official on duty.
The taxi driver told us it would cost 600 yuan to our hotel. He showed us a list with all the prices listed. It seemed official. We got in. That 600 yuan was around $100. He would not give us a receipt when we got there. Perhaps he tipped that official. It was a complete take. Later we learned that max that trip should have cost around 40 yuan.
Unique Suggestions: The language barrier can be difficult in Beijing. Sad that even an official tax stand was a rip off with scams going on.
Fun Alternatives: Try to avoid taxis. We were there at 2am in the morning which was difficult. But far better to get the train into town. It at least gets you much closer to your hotel.
A taxi must have a metre and they must rip off the receipt and give it to you when your arrive at your destination. You can show the concierge if you have any concerns. Do make the effort to report taxi drivers that rip you off as it is highly frowned upon.
On the underground one day a local gave me a seat and said "Welcome to China." The difference between rip off taxi drivers and the locals is immense. Take public transport whenever possible for a real experience of China.
Our experience at Beijing Station
- First, there is no line. Just a large mob of people waiting.
- Second, there are constantly hustlers asking if you want a taxi. Theses people are not taxi drivers!! Instead, they charge ridiculous amounts (100 - 250 RMB), to take you to the front of the line. They take your money and you still have to pay the taxi fare to you destination.
Unique Suggestions: Our advice is to not even attempt to catch a taxi from the main Beijing Railway Station. Instead, use the subway system, or cross the road and try to flag a taxi away from the station.
After sightseeing at the Imperial Palace, I know from the map we had that our hotel is near the place and within a walking distance as we are in not in a hurry.
We asked the traffic man for direction for sure, when pedicab people offer their services. To help them earn a little, and an endorsement from the traffic man, we agreed in what they said CYN3. So we goes, and we change drivers, and they tried to convince to have a separate pedicab with my wife. I refused, and we cruise away from the main street to the alleys. The driver kept saying it is only 2 minutes. Then we stopped and told us to walk to our hotel, again for just 2 minutes. Another guy in a motorbike came and talked with driver. And the usual scam of charging us CYN300 instead, showing us a laminated price signage.
With presence of mind, I ran in the middle of a busier street trying to draw attention asking my wife to follow. They still followed us, so we cross the streets where a lot of taxi drivers are waiting passengers in front of a hotel. They spoke in Chinese, and it did not help us, so we enter the hotel, and asked for help from the staff, and they did. THANK GOD.
Unique Suggestions: Don't ride a pedicab. Take a taxi.
Fun Alternatives: The Chinese authorities should get rid of these scams.
We hired rickshaw/tuk tuks for a treat and although it was a lot of fun it's also a bit of a rip off so beware. We paid 100RMBs for a one hour tour for two tuktuks and drivers...but after 10 minutes we pulled up outside an authentic hutong house museum and were told it would take 30 minutes to explore this place - and it was very expensive to visit - as we were staying in a Hutong we decided to forego this and the drivers were very unhappy to have to return to work and told us the ride would be only be 20 mins as the 30 mins stop was incorporated in the 1 hour tour.... omitted to tell us this at the start.
But still a bit of fun exploring the area on this mode of transport.
Unique Suggestions: Check if there will be any stops or extra costs that you should be aware of before getting into rickshaws.
They speak English better than they let on - especially when it comes to money!!
My boyfriend and I just came back to our hotel in beijing from the Summer Palace together with our unpleasant experience with a rickshaw driver. We just got out the East Palace Gate when a rickshaw driver offered us a ride to the nearby metro station (Xiyuan) for 10 yuan. Since we were planning to use the metro and were tired at that moment, we accepted the offer. The distance from the East Palace gate to Xiyuan station is about 1.5 km. The Rickshaw seems to be powered by electricity. We arrived at Xiyuan station in about 5 minutes. I took out my wallet and handed over 10 yuan to the driver and then he said eno, not right, 10 yuan per personf . Just then, we knew we were tricked. We know that the cost for taxi within 3 km is 10 yuan in beijing. There is no way it can kost 20 yuan by a rickshaw for 1.5 km! I refused to pay the axtra 10 yuan and asked him to show any liscence or identity. I said eif you show me the ID or the liscence, I will give you the extra 10 yuanf. He refused to show anything. Apparently he is an illigal driver and making some dirty money by ripping tourists off. I didnft buy the trick, after a big quarrel, I draged my boyfriend directly to the metro entrace and left him behind. He didnft dare to follow us. Right now, sitting in the hotel we are still feel upset about the bad experience. We could have given him extra 10 yuan to avoid the quarrel. But we knew he wonft be appreciate for the money at all and maybe laugh at our weakness. Luckily, I can speak good Chinese, I can do a good quarrel.
Unique Suggestions: Like what other people have pointed out, here I remind you again never take any non liscenced transport in beijing, beter in whole China. You can never know what can happen. When there is anything unpleasant happens during using official taxifs in Beijing, you can still find a place to complain to. But when you are ripped off by non liscenced drivers, you can only upset yourself. When you take a taxi in beijing, always get the receipt. If you find the driver annoying, unplite or rippering you off, write down his working nummer, which you can find in front of the front passenger seat or write down the liscence nummber of the car. Then you can try to call 83611888 (or the telephone nummber on your receipt) to complain. But in China, itfs always difficult to get through the complain line. If your case is big, you can try to containt the English newspaper China Daily or the TV media CCTV channel 9, or you can also try to contact Beijing Tourism Administration (BTA)
I think, like meC a lot of people do like Chinese culture and China tour. I believe we should complain to chinese media when we are treated unfairly in China not only to protect our own interst but also to help China tourism develop healthily.
Our family just came back from beijing a week ago. Had our fair share of dishonest Beijing taxi drivers. First off, the taxi driver out of the airport tried to ask us to lie to the airport guard so that he could get a permission slip to come back to the airport for another pickup for the night. Instead of saying our hotel's name in the city, he told us to say another hotel's name closeby if asked by the guard of our destination. But, we didn't comply. Of course, he didn't get the slip and was not happy.
Second case, when we took a taxi from Temple of heaven to Summer Palace, the cost was rmb68 but on the way back to Temple of Heaven, I think we got into an unofficial taxi and was charged rmb104. Come to think of it, the taxi back has a smaller taxi sign on its roof and the meter was stuck under the seat. It looks kind of flimsy as well. The inside of the taxi was dirty and smelled of gas fumes the whole time. All these should have tipped us off.
Third case, the ride from Wangfujing st to our hotel or vice versa usually costs rmb15-20. However, on one night (around 10 pm) going back to hotel from Wangfujing st we were charged rmb70. I think that was an unofficial taxi as well even though it has a taxi sign on top of its roof but no meter in sight.
We encountered a very common problem in beijing with their taxi drivers even though we speak their language. When told of the destinations that we are headed, for example a wellknown restaurant to the locals like Bianyifang , 9 out of 10 times the taxi drivers would reply that they don't know the place and that they would have to make phone calls to verify the address. Then, they would start cruising around and rake up the meter charges. You know you've been had when u pass thru the same corner twice just in different directions. One time what should only have taken 15 minutes took the driver 45 minutes to get us there. Of course, the charge was 3 times more than what it should have been.
Beware of the pedicabs. After trying unsuccessfully for 20 minutes to hail for a taxi in front of Beihai Park to go to Tiananmen square during rush hour, we got into one of the many pedicabs. There were 4 of us and the seat was actually just big enough to fit 2 lean adults. However, the driver squeezed all 4 of us in the pedicab. 10 minutes later, when he saw a traffic cop, he quickly asked us to pay him and get out of the pedicab. Come to think of it, this is quite a dangerous ride. What if we were hit by a car or the pedicab flipped over since it is 2 wheeled. Afterwards, in talking to our beijing friends, we were told most of these pedicab drivers have permits for personal use not for picking up passengers. Even if they have the permits for transporting passengers for money, it's only within a certain hutong area definitely not at Tiananmen Square.
The city of Beijing really needs to step up and take care of these dishonest taxi and pedicab drivers. Nearly everyone that has been to beijing that we talked to has encountered this problem. We didn't encounter any of these problems with taxi drivers in Shanghai or Tokyo. What a shame that these drivers bring to such a culturally rich city.
Unique Suggestions: Look for the official taxis. The more reliable one that we would recommend is the white and yellow taxis. They are clean and air conditioned.
Fun Alternatives: Subway is another good alternative to get around but avoid during peak hours since they get very crowded.
The three wheel rickshaws/bikes/etc are a complete ripoff. Avoid the 1Y charge to get into the Forbidden City. They will take you a long about way and charge you an extreme amount. Same goes for the rides to your hotel. Not sure why but no taxi would take me so I elected to use one of the 3 wheel jobs after negotiating a price. On arrival the price was long gone and a large arguement ensued. Avoid at all costs, it could cost you 20x what a taxi would.
Unique Suggestions: Find a taxi and be patient. Whatever you do avoid the 3 wheel money pits
I just got back from Beijing two days ago and noticed many taxi drivers are trying to keep the change after payment. They simply act dumb or pretend not to understand you. I had to be forceful to get them to give me my money. They will try to keep any amount. I gave one driver 100RMB for a 45RMB ride and he wanted to keep the change!
Unique Suggestions: There is no tipping for taxi rides in China!!!
Fun Alternatives: You should bring smaller bills so that you can give the driver the exact amount.
As soon as u get off a taxi, the rickshaw guys come after you and corner you to get in and say that its only for RMB3 per ride. Then they get you over to a part of Tiananmen Square when u can't get over the fencing or call for help and demand RMB300. I paid RMB60 fearing for our life. We just got off the plane that morning and thought it would be easier if we took the ride and got a lousy experience in return.
Unique Suggestions: Dont ride in any or them. China should be ashamed of people like this and should round them up and give them regular beatiings or shoot them! The olympics is just around the corner, China, do something!!!
My wife and I finished our tour of Forbidden City and we wanted to have lunch at a restaurant that we'd been to before. We were just outside the gates of Forbidden City where a number of taxis and bicycle pedicabs were clustered. A taxi driver shook his head when we showed him the card for the restaurant, but a pedicab driver quickly offered to take us. We figured maybe too short a trip to interest the taxi driver so we agreed to ride the pedicab. I asked "How much?" and he said "three monies". Being a little too trusting and thinking this was probably 30 RMB, I agreed and off we went. Very soon another pedicab, obviously colaborating with our driver, came along side and shouted something we didn't understand. Our driver said that there was too much weight load, and one of use needed to ride with the other driver, whose passenger bench was empty. My wife and I are both average size and weight. Sensing a setup, we immediately said no way. Our driver continued down a couple of streets and then into a series of local alleys. Then he stops and says our destination is just beyond the wall where he'd stopped. His nice demeanor suddenly turned beligerant as he demandes an outragous sum. We refused and offered the 30 RMB. Then he pulls out a printed card that had a fee of 300 RMB ($39) listed. My wife sticks the 30 RMB in his shirt pocket and we walk off. As soon as we round the corner we realize that we're nowhere near our destination and that he'd simply dumped us.
We realized that this was a prearranged scam from the start. We'd used pedicabs several times before and none were a good experience. This ride finally taught us to avoid them altogether, at least as a mode of transportation. The pedicab tour of the houtongs in the Houhai area is the only exception, but for transportation in the city use a taxi. We quickly discovered that they are extremely cheap ($2-5) for most destinations within Beijing. A 40 minute ride across town during rush hour was our most expensive fare within Beijing, and it was 60 RMB ($8)!!!
Unique Suggestions: Except for a houtong tour, don't use a pedicab. Use a taxi - they are extremely cheap!
We arrived at the central train station and knew our hotel was not far away. We asked the taxi driver how much to hotel: his response 200 Yuan.
No-one else wanted to take us to hotel so we caught the subway and then walked in 3 degrees temperature but it only cost us 6 Yuan.
When you arrive at Beijing Capital Airport, ignore the touts who might offer you a ride into the city in their private car. They charge a ridiculous amount, about 300yuan for a normally 80yuan taxi ride. Get a cab from the queue.
Also, on your way out of Beijing, there are people at the departure area who pose as porters and who without your asking will grab your bag from the taxi driver and load them into their carts. The authorized porters wear uniforms, you pay 10yuan at the collectors counter, not to the porter, and they issue a receipt.
Taxi scammers will be on your case, as soon as you step out of the customs and you make your way out. The taxi people shouting for your attention are not honest drivers. The dishonest people you will identify in that they will approach you while you are walking somewhere and will tell you prices. The legal drivers do not tout for custom, so the best way to get an honest taxi driver is to go to the taxi queue at the airport.
A regular taxi drive to the city centre (around Tiananmen Square) should cost around CNY100. There is road toll costing CNY10, which you will be asked to pay too, and do insist on the toll receipt unless the driver gives it to you automatically.
To make the trip as smooth as possible, make sure you have the destination written in Chinese, and a phone number to call in case the driver does not know the place.
Unique Suggestions: When arriving, follow the exit signs with taxis on them. There will be drivers trying to get your attention as soon as you get out of the customs, but just say no thanks and walk towards the exit and the taxi signs.
When you come out, cross the first street and (most likely) to your left you will see an area that has been poled off for queueing. Most likely you will not be the only one queueing for a taxi so stand in line. When you get closer to the end, there is large (at least was when I was there) sign on a pillar to your left with typical fare prices for going to various big hotels in Beijing.
There will be lots of taxis with proper taxi signs, and a guard in a uniform will show you to one. If he does not follow you all the way to the car, be sure to hold on to your baggage until you reach the car, where the driver will put your bagage in the trunk.
Also be sure to take the brochure the guard will give you. He writes down the taxi ID number on the brochure, and the brochure itself contains information about taking taxis in Beijing, as well as a phone number to call in case you get into trouble. Make sure you have your destination address in Chinese. The guard will probably ask to have a look and then instruct the driver. The driver may also want to have a look, but will give it back to you once he does not need it.
As long as you follow the official signs and official guards, you will be fine. I find legal taxi drivers are honest. The authorities have been clamping down hard on dishonesty, so a mere gesture of writing down the driver ID number visible in the front window, complete with the driver's photo and name, will get dishonest legal drivers getting back to the straight and narrow.
Fun Alternatives: Bus transfer to the hotel, a personal pick-up...
If a taxi driver offers you a fixed fee to drive you from a tourist site such as the Summer Palace avoid them at all costs.
Unique Suggestions: If you decline their fixed fee they will say they will use their meter but in fact their meters have been tampered with so it actually costs a lot more than even their fixed fee. I paid about 60 yuan to go to the Summer Palace. Was offered 100 yuan to take me back. I thought it should cost about 80 yuan because it was peak hour traffic time. The meter read 236 yuan!!!!!!!
Fun Alternatives: Avoid the tricksters at all costs. Find a taxi not touting for business.