Hailing a taxi in Beijing might be challenging. There are plenty passing by when you do not need them, but like in all capital cities getting a cab in Beijing on a weekend evening can be tricky. There is a Chinese version of Uber DiDi, but it is important to speak or at least to understand Chinese to use it. Nevertheles you can starting using it when you are more familiar with Chinese habits.
So taxis. If the car has a flashing red lamp, it is empty. Stop it and get inside. If you start asking the driver something while standing outside the car, most likely taxi will just leave. Watch to make sure that the driver switches on the meter. A ride in a taxi is rather affordable. First 3 km in Beijing cost 13 RMB – less than 2 euros.
The drivers can be difficult. They do not speak or understand English. Words that are similar in many languages – a hotel, a cafe sound different in Chinese. Tourists have to be well equipped with the cards of addresses of their destinations in Chinese. That helps in some cases. Sometimes the driver says : “I don’ t know” in Chinese and starts looking for the information in two GPS in the car or starts calling colleagues. Beijing is too big for taxi drivers to know it well. Many of them are not locals. So my advice would be to ask a bellboy in a hotel, a waiter in a restaurant or an English – speaking Chinese person to help to explain to the driver where you need to go. Otherwise your trip might take a long time…
One very practical tip – carry notes that are smaller than 100 RMB. Lately there are too many stories when a taxi driver pretends that the banknote he got from you is fake and quickly changes to a fake one before returning. In some instances foreigners collected quite a few of fake ones. If you face this situation, do not accept the money back and shout that you will call the police. Usually it works.