Not really dangerous but a culture shock. Firstly taxi drivers (if you get one from Beijng Airport ) if they know your are foreign, will try and be very helpful and carry your bags to their car in order to make you feel welcome. Then they will try and make you pay an extortinate amount from the airport to town ( I was asked to pay €150 which is ten times the normal price, or the equivalent in Yuan, his selling point being that he and his partner worked very hard, had a nice cab and brought my bags to it). The solution to deal with this is to get out of the car and take your bags, and to be EXTREMELY persistant, along with telling them that they are a digrace to their nation if they refuse to listen or acquiese. This way the potential loss of a client is something they wish to avoid as they lose your far and lose face, thus willing to make concessions and tip the balance in your favour. I am happy to pay about €1.50 per mile and its about 10 miles from the airport to the city so bargain below that until they come up to the total.
Also on my trip into the city my cab driver was zipping back and forth between ONCOMING traffic, so ensure your nerves are strengthened up. You wont get killed, but you might feel close to your maker!
I live in the east part of the city which is not far to /from airport. This makes me feel bad whenever I call taxi from airport , this distance is considered by taxi driver "too short" , I am un-welcomed guest to these taxi drivers (I understand that they may queue at airport for several hours). Whenever I get on taxi,the driver may show bad face or hint me that I should give a bit more than the taximeter shows.
The worst experience I got with these taxi is , the guy open the window of the car while we were driving on express way with outside temperature -5!
I hope they will not treat our dearest "travellers" in the way they treat me!
Normally the taxi fee should not exceed RMB100(depends on the place you stay) .You can verify with hotel guard or police in case you feel you are over-charged . Be sure to get receipt .
I would say taxi in Beijing is quite cheap respect other places of the world. Most of the taxi driver are reliable (except those at airport) .Feel free taking taxi.
Attention:Never bargain with those "non-license car " driver at airport who may meet you when you walk out from the arrival hall! Always follow the taxi queue!
Rickshaws/Pedicabs, whatever you want to call them - little carts you sit in with someone bicycling. I'm throwing this one in for my mother's sake, who warned me at least 20 times before I left not to ride in one but I did anyway once. Nothing tragic happened and I felt safe although like a bit of a jerk, westerner sitting with some chinese man carting me around. I did it at a subway stop because I couldn't find a market and this guy wouldn't give me directions to the market I wanted to go to unless I rode in it. Be sure to negotiate the price ahead of time - like so many things it seems to magically increase.
Taxis! Make sure that you have a registered taxi. My friends and I ended up in one taxi that had a meter that was 'broken'. This malfunction caused the kilometer reading to jump from 0.1-1.0 km for every 0.1 km. Needless to say, that would have been a pricey ride, as our 12 km ride took us across 60 km, according to the meter! Luckily, we refused to pay and the guy sped off...
At the airport when you leave customs and enter China you will immediately be asked if you need a ride to your hotel (especially if you don't look Chinese). These people are what might be considered gypsy cab drivers. Basically they're not 'official' cab drivers and they will most likely try to rip you off by charging you too much for the ride. The real cab drivers might even try to charge you a little extra or make you pay for the toll on the toll road. Be careful. It's a good idea to get an idea of what you should expect to pay for the cab ride from your hotel. Use that as a base and be prepared to pay a bit more. You will also want to have the hotel address or even directions written in Chinese as most cab drivers speak little to no English. Many Hotels offer shuttles or will send a car to pick you up at the airport. A car from the hotel may cost a bit more than a normal cab ride but may be less than getting ripped off. The nice thing is that you don't have to worry.