2016-04-11newbie

Taking a Taxi in China

Taking a taxi is not as expensive in China as in many Western countries. For example, in Beijing, the 起步价 [qǐ bù jià] (starting price) for a taxi ride is around 14 yuan, and then 2.3 yuan per kilometer. So whenever you want to go somewhere, you can choose to take a taxi.

In this lesson we will learn some taxi related words and how to give directions to the driver.

Taxi in Chinese is 出租车 [chū zū chē] or 的士 [dī shì]. So, to “take a taxi” is 打车 [dǎ chē] or 打的 [dǎ dī].

Hover over any word to show translation
jī chǎng
机场
機場
airport
nà'r
那儿
那兒
there, over there
kěn dìng
肯定
肯定
surely, certainly
yǒu
to have, there is
chū zū chē
出租车
出租車
taxi
 
wǒ men
我们
我們
we, us
dǎ chē
打车
打車
to take a taxi
huí qù
回去
回去
to return, to go back
ba
(modal particle indicating suggestion or surmise), ...OK?
 
zhè
this, these
ge
classifier for people or objects in general
dì fang
地方
地方
area, place
dī shì
的士
的士
taxi (loanword)
hěn
quite, very
shǎo
few, seldom
 
xiǎng yào
想要
想要
to want to, to feel like
dǎ dī
打的
打的
to take a taxi
hěn
quite, very
nán
difficult
de
(used to form a nominal expression)
 

There are surely taxis here at the airport. Let's take a taxi back.
There are very few taxis in this area. It will be very difficult if you want one.

Character set
Pinyin

There are mainly three methods for finding a taxi. The simplest way is to wave your hand when a taxi passes by in the street. If it’s a 空车 [kōng chē](empty car), it will stop for you. If there are no taxis passing by where you are, you can call the taxi company and ask for a taxi, but this requires that you know the phone number for the taxi company. If you don’t have the phone number close by, you may also use a taxi app to book a taxi. Some of the popular taxi booking apps in China are: 滴滴出行, 快的打车, and 优步Uber.

Now that you've entered the taxi, you have to let the 出租车司机[chū zū chē sī jī](taxi driver)where you want to go. In big cities like Beijng, Shanghai etc, some taxi driver may speak a little bit of English. In a lot of cities, however, they cannot, so this next sentence is important.

Hover over any word to show translation
shī fu
师傅
師傅
master, respectful form of address for older men
 
I, me
yào
to want, to ask for
to go, to go to (a place)
wǔ dōng lù
武东路
武東路
Wu Dong Street
 

Driver, I want to go to Wudong Road.

Character set
Pinyin

师傅 is a respectful way of addressing a skilled worker. “我要去+place” is used to say where you want to go. Not so difficult, right? Here are some common places you might want to go.

  • 机场 [jī chǎng]- airport
  • 火车站 [huǒ chē zhàn]- train station
  • 汽车站 [qì chē zhàn]- bus station
  • 宾馆 [bīn guǎn]- hotel
  • 百货大楼 [bǎi huò dà lóu]- department
  • 公园 [gōng yuán]- park

If the driver knows the way, your work is done here. But in a lot of big cities, sometimes even the driver does not know how to get everywhere. In that case, the driver may ask you:

Hover over any word to show translation
bù hǎo yì si
不好意思
不好意思
to feel embarrassed, to be sorry (for inconveniencing sb)
 
nà li
那里
那裡
there, that place
I, me
(negative prefix), not
tài
too (much), very
shóu
familiar, skilled
 
dào
to arrive
le
(completed action marker)
that, those
fù jìn
附近
附近
(in the) vicinity, nearby
you (informal)
kě yǐ
可以
可以
can, may
gěi
to do sth (for sb), (passive particle)
I, me
zhǐ lù
指路
指路
to give directions
ma
(question particle for "yes-no" questions)
 

I'm sorry, I am not familiar with that area. Can you show me the way when we are nearby?

Character set
Pinyin

If you know how to get there, you can respond like this:

Hover over any word to show translation
hǎo de
好的
好的
ok, good
 
méi guān xi
没关系
沒關係
it doesn't matter
 
I, me
zhī dào
知道
知道
to know
road, way
 
I, me
gěi
for the benefit of, to give
you (informal)
zhǐ lù
指路
指路
to give directions
 
xiàn zài
现在
現在
now, at present
zuǒ
left
zhuǎn
to turn
 
⋯⋯
rán hòu
然后
然後
then (afterwards)
yòu
right
zhuǎn
to turn
 
⋯⋯
yì zhí
一直
一直
straight (in a straight line)
zǒu
to go
 
⋯⋯
tíng
to stop, to halt
zhè lǐ
这里
這裡
here
 

That's ok, I know the way. I'll give you directions. Take a left here... Then right... Go straight... Stop here.

Character set
Pinyin

Turn left / Turn right

左转/右转 [zuó zhuǎn / yòu zhuǎn] are often used to give directions, and you may also use 拐 [guǎi] instead of 转 — 左拐/右拐 [zuó guǎi / yòu guǎi]. You can also put “往 [wǎng]” in front of these words — 往左(拐)/ 往右(拐) [wǎng zuó guǎi / wǎng yòu guǎi].
The meaning of 往 [wǎng] is similar to the English ”towards”.

  • 往东/西/南/北 走 [wǎng dōng/xī/nán/běi zǒu]- towards east/west/south/north
  • 前面第一个路口右拐 [qián miàn dì yī ge lù kǒu yòu zhuǎn]- turn right at the first crossing
  • 第二个十字路口左转 [dì èr ge shí zì lù kǒu zuǒ zhuǎn]- turn left at the second crossing

If you don’t know the way, you can reply like this:

Hover over any word to show translation
bù hǎo yì si
不好意思
不好意思
to be sorry (for inconveniencing sb), to feel embarrassed
 
I, me
also, too
(negative prefix), not
zhī dào
知道
知道
to know
zěn me
怎么
怎麼
how
zǒu
to go
 
you (informal)
kě yǐ
可以
可以
can, able to
kāi
to open, to start
dǎo háng
导航
導航
navigation
ma
(question particle for "yes-no" questions)
 
bù hǎo yì si
不好意思
不好意思
to be sorry (for inconveniencing sb), to feel embarrassed
 
I, me
gāng
just, barely
dào
to arrive
 
duì
towards, at
zhè‘r
这儿
這兒
here
(negative prefix), not
shóu xī
熟悉
熟悉
to be familiar with, to know well
 
yào bu
要不
要不
otherwise, how about...?
I, me
zài
again, once more
to hit, to take
bié
other, another
de
(used after an attribute)
chū zū chē
出租车
出租車
taxi
ba
吧。
吧。
(modal particle indicating suggestion or surmise), ...OK?

I'm sorry, I don't know how to go there either. Can you use the car navigator?
I'm sorry, I just got here. I'm not too familiar around here. How about I go get a different taxi.

Character set
Pinyin

Now you can communicate with the taxi driver! Enjoy your trip in China!