All around the world, people rarely make a phone call to reserve a taxi anymore. In many cities you can still stand in the road and raise your hand to get a taxi. However, with the success of ride sharing companies and apps, most people use their phone to get a taxi. China is no different.
The main app people use in China to get a taxi is Didi. It looks and works a lot like Uber and for a good reason: after Uber lost 2 billion dollars in 2 years in China, Didi acquired their business. Just like other ride sharing services, the Didi app uses your location to notify drivers where you need to be picked up. You enter your location (in English or Chinese depending which app you use), choose a class of service from shared ride to taxi to fancy car, and the app tells you how long you need to wait. You can track your ride on the app's map and when it's done, you pay with your digital wallet, transportation card, or cash.
Taxis in China are very cheap compared to Europe and North America. In the major cities, the starting fare is approximately 15RMB (2.50USD) and only 2-3RMB per kilometer. It's very convenient and cheap to take a taxi unless you need to travel during rush hour. If the subway gets you where you need to go, it will probably be faster than a car and definitely cheaper at approximately 4RMB per ride in Shanghai.
This article is part of our new online Chinese course. An efficient way to learn Chinese language for working and living in China.