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If you find a good /honest taxi driver and need to make an extended journey, try to book them for the whole day at a flat fee off the meter. For normal journeys within the city this is not necessary. All taxis are metered and fares are 2rmb per km with a base rate 10rmb for the first 3km. Journeys in excess of 15km attract a rate of 3rmb per km for that portion above 15km. Currently (Mar 2013) there is a 3rmb fuel surcharge added to all fares above 3km. Waiting time, when the taxi is travelling at less than 12km/ph, is calculated at the relevant cost of travelling 1km for every 5 minutes accumulated wait. Night rates (11pm - 5am) are 20% higher with a base rate of 11rmb.
From the airport:
Do not make contact with taxi touts at the airport (sometimes they hang around at the International Arrivals exit), or anywhere else for that matter. Go straight to the taxi queue; this is clearly signed - directly outside Terminals 1 & 2, and outside the basement level of Terminal 3. Do not pay the fare prior to reaching your hotel. There are scams whereby you buy a "ticket" to a taxi that will take you to the hotel. There have also been reports of doctored meters, though this deception appears to be rare. Nevertheless, it is wise to have some idea of normal charges, as outlined above. Fares from airport to downtown hotels cost between 70 - 140rmb, one toll fee (if applicable) inclusive for which there is a separate receipt, with a ride to the Wangfujing area generally in the region of 90 - 110rmb (daytime rate). Journey times vary greatly depending on the time of day and traffic conditions. In the small hours you may be lucky enough to reach your destination in a little over half an hour; during rush hours you might easily add an extra hour to get wherever you're going.
Insist the driver drops you off at the main entrance of the hotel and not on the street. Most hotels have entrance security cameras capturing all taxis' numbers, if not staff as well. Cheats will try to drop you off on the street to avoid being detected and have been known to switch fake bills for the real ones you give them and then demand another bill. Some people have reportedly parted with numerous bills before one was accepted, thus ending up with a pocketful of returned fakes!
Before boarding a taxi, if you have not already brought the details with you, go to the help desk or approach any hotel's airport staffers and get the hotel's name written in Chinese so that the driver will know where to go - you cannot rely on the taxi-dispatchers to do this. It is also a good idea to have the hotel's telephone number in case the cabbie needs to check with them. There have been reports of people in larger groups being directed towards mini-vans at the taxi rank. It is unclear whether these are actually licensed cabs, but it does seem to be the case that they are out to make a quick buck. If you are directed to these vans, you can (and perhaps should) refuse them and take two (or more) ordinary cabs instead. Upon arrival at your hotel, you should be given separate receipts for the taxi fare, the road toll (if applicable) and the fuel surcharge.
Be aware that many--if not most--of the taxi drivers do not speak English. Have someone who speaks the language write your destination down so that you can show it to the driver. It is often helpful to get the doorman at your hotel (assuming he speaks English and you can communicate with him) to explain to the driver where you wish to go, especially if it is not one of the more popular tourist locations. Always carry a card with the name of your hotel with you so you can get back. To overcome difficulties with Chinese language there are a number of resources and applications that can be used to help in getting from A to B. Aside from the help that can be obtained from your accommodation, there are many general phrase books/city guides available, as well as some specifically produced for taxi journeys: http://www.immersionguides.com/produc... Google has a translation function in which you can successfully type in major (and some not so major) attractions and make your own crib-sheet, for example: http://translate.google.com/#en|zh-CN| and others have reported using applications on their mobile phones and iPods to get effective instant translations. Using a translation software for the name of places or street names is rarely correct. Better to find a reliable source. You can find most places here: http://www.ebeijing.gov.cn/DIY/data.htm
Tipping is not necessary or expected. It helps to have small bills, since taxi drivers will sometimes not have enough change for a 100 yuan bill, especially for shorter city-hops that may well be less than 30rmb. Remember that drivers should always use the meter unless YOU say otherwise. You can say "Da Biao" in Chinese, to mean 'turn on the meter', if necessary. Official taxis are very easy to spot with their two-toned livery and big 'taxi' sign on the roof. There are still a few older black taxis, though. In fact, many new taxis are all-black and should not be confused with 'illegal taxis' which are colloquially referred to as 'black cars'. All genuine taxis have number plates beginning with 京B and will display the driver's license number and photo ID on the passenger side dashboard in addition to having the company's name printed on both front doors. Also, the tarriff is properly displayed in a red oval sticker on the rear door windows. Always ask for a receipt, or "Fa Piao" in Chinese, which is printed directly from the meter, which should also be clearly visible. If you have any problem, use the information on the receipt to report lost property, for example, or as proof to lodge a complaint via your hotel's concierge. If a driver cannot or will not provide a receipt from the meter you are not obliged to pay the fare. However, it is highly unlikely this would happen unless you seriously suspect the meter has been doctored and you are being overcharged. Do not accept handwritten or 'pre-prepared' or old receipts. Separate receipts should be provided for roll tolls, fuel surcharge, parking fees etc.
Sometimes the taxi drivers are reluctant to take you to the metro station so get a nearby address or even better, walk into a shop or hotel nearby and grab a business card and use it as a taxi card. At other times, if traffic is particularly bad, they may actually suggest you use the subway instead. You may also occasionally encounter drivers who are finishing their shift and don't want to go in your direction.There are plenty of taxis in Beijing and if you are unfortunate in meeting uncooperative drivers simply move on to another. It is also advisable to know if you have subway or bus options available in case of unexpected difficulties in getting a cab. See the separate article on Public Transportation for further info: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g29...
To drive any vehicle a Chinese driving licence is required so do not expect to be self-touring. Private drivers can be arranged in advance either through your hotel or private guide or independently. Many advertise their services in the classifieds such as http://www.thebeijinger.com/classifie... or you can use a search engine for other services or take advantage of services provided by local tour companies. These services are often discussed in forum posts and it is advisable to search through or inquire thereon for recommendations. Do note that such services are often privately arranged and that this type of enterprise is largely unregulated. There have been numerous breaches of Tripadvisor's rules about self-promotion, advertising or solicitation concerning forum posts by drivers, guides and tour company representatives and it is advisable to scrutinise carefully any services that are recommended.