Wandering Around Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

As you’re wandering around Shanghai sometimes it’s useful to be able to request a taxi to your current location, or sometimes you may be trying to get a taxi at one of those pesky locations or times when it seems like everyone around you is also trying to get a taxi. Two taxi apps have recently become quite popular. They both use GPS to automatically detect where you are, you then type in where you want to go, and click the button to request a taxi. The integration of GPS and a map allows you to see where the taxi is (and an estimate of how long it will take it to get to you). Since the taxi knows where you’re going when they accept your request there’s no more finally flagging down a taxi and telling it where to go, only to have them wave no at your face having decided that it’s not in their direction, that it’s too far, or that it’s not far enough, and drive away.

The (possible) downside is that the app is all in Chinese. But not to worry! It’s pretty intuitive, especially after I give you an overview of the basics. You can also use other apps like Shanghai Taxi Guide or HiShanghai to copy and paste the Chinese characters for where you want to go into the taxi app. Alternatively you can have a friend who can type Chinese put locations you frequent into a note for you to copy/paste from later.

Both Apps also offer the ability to schedule a taxi for that day or the next, and to offer a tip at busy times to encourage a taxi to chose you over someone else.

I’ve come to LOVE these apps, and have had to give a quick tutorial to many friends after making them download it. Hopefully the following will give you enough to get you started and use it for at least it’s basic functionality. If you know even basic Chinese for where you live you’ll be fine. 🙂


“滴滴打车” (Didi Dache)

Search the Chinese in the App store to download. The first time, to set it up click on the person in the top left of your screen, you’ll have to enter your phone number (so that when you request a taxi they can contact you if there are questions or you’re not outside when they arrive), and enter a texted pin number for confirmation. (#2, #3). Enter your number where it says “手机号“. After you have entered your phone number the button to the right should turn orange. Click it, and wait for the password to be sent to you via SMS. After receiving the 4-digit code, enter it into the box below where you entered your phone number. Also be sure to allow the app to share you’re location by clicking “好“ at the prompt, this will make is so that GPS can automatically detect and share your location with the taxi driver, and you won’t have to type it in each time (although you will most likely have to confirm your location with the taxi driver after requesting the taxi).


If you need to change your automatically detected location tap on the words just above the blue dot that say “我从…”. You will be taken to a screen where you can move your dot, or type in the exact address of your current location.

(#4-#7) The bottom space asks you where you want to go (#4, #5). If you click on the microphone you can send a voice message in Chinese saying where you want to go, or you can tap on the space to type/paste in your destination in Chinese. After you enter a location you will see the screen in #7, tap the orange button at the bottom to confirm that you want to request a taxi.

You will see a number start counting up in the window and little taxi icons all over the map showing you the location of nearby taxi’s with the app. The number shows you how many taxi’s have been sent your request. Once a taxi has accepted your request their license plate number, and a phone icon that allows you to call them will appear on your screen. All taxi icons besides the one that has accepted your request will disappear and you’ll be able to see the taxi as it comes to get you, as well as an estimated time of arrival.


“快的打车” (KuaiDe Dache)

KuaiDe DaChe is very similar to DiDi DaChe. When you first download the app you’ll also be asked to share your location, and then set up the app by entering in your phone number and entering a pin sent to you via SMS. Unlike DidiDaChe after you do the phone number verification on the next screen you’ll need to enter a name (you may even be able to hit enter without entering anything, I’ve never had a taxi driver use the name I entered).


Requesting a taxi is pretty much the same.

1. Hit the green button “现在用车“ to request a taxi. If you click the orange button to the right of this, you’ll be given the option to reserve a taxi for a specific time up to one day in advance. To change your location tap on the words next to the blue location icon, and you’ll be given the option to type in a specific location, or one different from your automatically detected GPS location.

2. After clicking the green button, you’ll be taken to screen #2. Here you need to type in where you want to go.

3. Once your current location and your destination are correct click the green button seen on #3.

Just like DidiDaChe you’ll see taxi icons for all taxi’s with the app in your vicinity and a number counting up showing how many taxi’s have been sent your request. Once a taxi has accepted your request their plate number and an icon to call them will show up on your screen. You’ll be able to watch the taxi make it’s way toward you on the map, and see an estimated time of arrival. 

4. If you click on the three horizontal lines at the top left of your screen you’ll see the menu in screen #4. Tapping on the crown will take you to your profile (name, phone number, etc). The first item on the list will bring up a history of all previous taxi’s you have taken, their license plate numbers, and a way to call them—this is super useful if you forget anything in the taxi.

That’s it! Now you know why so many taxi’s pass you even though their light is on (they’re probably going to pick up someone with one of these apps) or why you’ll see so many people on street corners using their phones to get a taxi. If you’re a foreigner who uses this app you’ll also earn some street cred with the taxi drivers as apparently there still aren’t many foreigners using this app. The other plus side, using these apps doesn’t add the 4rmb that is added if you call the taxi company and request a taxi! What can I say, I’m cheap. 🙂

If you want even more information, this site, has in depth “How To’s” for both Apps. While the how to’s are a bit out of date, the overall functionality is still the same and they might help to explain some of the extra buttons that I haven’t, or other more complicated ways you can utilize these apps. Look down the list for “[PPT] Tutorial Didi Taxi App” and “[PPT] Taxi App Kuaidi DaChe.”

Happy Wandering!

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