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!!
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.
Try and avoid taxis that are more than willing to offer you a ride from the airport to your hotel - they often overcharge and demand extra fees. If you need to take a taxi, get one from the official stand in front of the airport, left.
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
Rickshaw drivers tried to rip me off twice, first time by claiming he was to be paid in american dollars instead of the local currency Yuan. The second time I dealt with this before we left and agreed on the price in Yuan before we left. When we arrived at the hetel he anted to charge us double as ther were two of us in the rickshaw and he saidthe price was just for one
Unique Suggestions: Always get a price before you leave. Always get it in local currency, and always find out if it is per person.
Fun Alternatives: taxiis if possible, just make sure they turn the meter on when you get in or walking
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
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.
Bicycle rickshaw in Tiananmen Square. Offered to take two of us for a certain amount in RMB. When we got there he demanded the same figure in Dollars! I was very lucky to be with a Chinese companion who was both reasonably fluent in Manderin and very tough-minded! When the guy wouldn't accept her protestations that a figure had been agreed in RMB, she blew her top at him and launched into a pavement diatribe which I think included 'you are a disgrace to the Chinese race, you let all us Chinese down' and 'I am now going to ask this passer-by where the nearest police station is'.... Needless to say, the guy slunk away very quickly...
But, seriously, this was a one-off occurence. See my report on Tianjin for the more positive side.
If you ever decide to take the taxi, be aware that the driver could try to fix the meter so he can charge you more for the fare. I have heard of a few incidents when Taxi drivers have tried that trick on tourists in China. Since most of the signs will be in chinese characters they know that you'll be more focused on finding your way around town and therefore vulnerable to trickery.
I went with a Chinese Malaysian friend who despite the southern accent speak mandarin quite well. But we were cheated on taxi fare. The amount requested upon arrival was different from the amount thought to be agreed. So be careful.
Using a taxi in Beijing is very cheap, but be careful they can also cheat you or if they don't understand where you wanna go they might just take you somewhere and ask you to pay...sometimes I felt that drivers didn't even know how to read the map....best way is to write down the place you wanna go in chinese or ask somebody to do it
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.
There are a few type of taxi in Beijing, dont choose the red one, which they always not familiar of beijing road, or pretend to be not familiar with the road... they will keep on going around the place..
Unique Suggestions: If you face the this problem, just tell them off by saying, yesterday im only paying $$$, why today so expensive?.... and treaten them you will report to police.. then they will accept whatever price you tell them..
BUT DONT DO THIS ON OTHER PURPOSE..
Lookout for people "brokering" taxi services. They are not licenced taxis and you will pay too much. Real taxis have state issued plaques attached to the cars. Ask to airport personel where to catch a licenced taxi. I payed $45 for a ride from the airport the the hotel downtown. I later rented a taxi for the entire day for $20 through the hotel.
Fun Alternatives: Real taxis have state issued plaques attached to the cars and will show the fare class. Ask to airport personel where to catch a licenced taxi. I payed $45 for a ride from the airport the the hotel downtown. I later rented a taxi for the entire day for $20 through the hotel.