Car sharing services in China: How to use car sharing services in China

Let’s assume you followed through with your long held dream to teach English in China. Now in China, you realize that some things are a bit different. For example, your Uber app doesn’t work and you wonder how to hail a bike.

In China, a lot of widely used Western apps, such as Uber or Tinder, are not available. So, what do you do when you want to use a car-sharing service as you are used to at home, or do you need to use taxis? But the lack of Chinese might deter some of the drivers to pick up a foreigner, especially during peak hours.

DiDi or DiDi chuxing as it’s known in China is the top choice for car-sharing services for Chinese. ‘Didi’ in Chinese sounds like a horn when a car is approaching to pick you up.

Basically, it is the Chinese version of ‘Uber’, just a bit more powerful. According to Wikipedia, you can hail official taxis and private cars, you can share a ride, get a bicycle, it’s an on-demand delivery service, an automobile service (sales, leasing, financing, maintenance, etc) and a co-development service with automakers. Probably, by the time you are reading this, they have added some other services as well.

As an interesting side fact, DiDi bought the Chinese Uber in 2016 for a miserly US$ 35 billion.

How to use car-sharing app DiDiDiDi chuxing

So, without further ado: Here we explain to you how to use the Chinese car-sharing app DiDi.

First, you need to download it from your app store and choose English in the language settings. In order to register an account, you need a Chinese telephone number.


Choose your car

Didi services

Once you have registered, there are four options for rides: express, taxi, premier and luxe.

Easy steps:

  1. Confirm your pick-up location
  2. Enter your destination in English or Chinese
  3. Contact the driver if needed: Tap the message icon to start instant messaging which comes handy with auto-translation in English and Chinese
  4. Payment: after finishing your booking, there are various payment methods including Alipay, WeChat Pay, and international credit/debit cards

Get your car

DiDi location serviceHere is an example: If you are a TEFL teacher in Chengdu and want to go from Sichuan University to Tianfu Square, the cheapest way is to choose an Express car. After you have entered your pick-up location and destination, you will see the estimated price for this trip (e.g. 17RMB).

Prices vary depending on the time of the day as well as the traffic conditions. The red line in the picture below means the road is currently very crowded. Yellow means slight congestion and green means smooth traffic. You might be familiar with the color codes from Google maps. Also, there is a reminder about how long you have to wait before Didi can find a driver to pick you up. This is quite useful as you may estimate your waiting time and get ready for the pick-up location.

During peak hours and/or location, it might take some time for a car to arrive. During morning rush hour, it could be easily more than 30 minutes! So, it is better to check early about your journey so you do not get late to your appointment. BTW, please make sure you are able to arrive at your pick-up location within three minutes after the driver’s arrival. If you are late, Didi will charge an extra waiting time. Car sharing services in China is not that different to Western equivalents.

Safety DiDi safety feature

In terms of safety, DiDi takes multiple steps to ensure you get support and feel safe. DiDi will record your trip (the texting history with your driver) in case there is any problem. There is also a safety center section on the main page. Here, you can find help and support if an emergency has happened. See the picture on the right side.

Customer services

On your account page, you will find a review section for each booking. Your review for each drive is very important as this can and will affect their order quantity. Usually, the customer service of DiDi is good enough to help with most of the problems.

The review section allows you to give comments and details whether the car was clean, how the drive was in general; if you could smell any smoke; if the driver was late; if the driver found the right pick-up location and destination without any trouble; if the service was no good, etc. This helps Didi to get your feedback and to improve the service and as well make sure that you have a pleasant and easy ride.

Price & Discounts

Didi disount

Everyone likes discounts, not just English teachers in China. The price for the express service is reasonable. It cost almost the same as a taxi but it offers better much better service. If you are planning to go to the airport, just make a reservation with Didi. Also, Didi has regular discounts and festival discounts to make your rides even cheaper.

There are regular discounts every week through group purchases as well. Usually, you can start a discount package on Monday and invite at least five friends through WeChat to join you to pay one yuan and get a discount. This package contains several vouchers for a 70% discount for the express service and a 60% discount for the premier car service. They are valid for one week. So, if you are planning some rides or have a regular commute with Didi within a week, this would be a very cost-effective package for you.

If you have plans to go to the airport or other holiday plans, it is good to consider Golden Week Coupons. This could give you a discount of up to 60RMB. This Coupon Pack includes discounts on two airport trips, two-holiday trips, and two post-holiday trips. Simply, invite your friends to join your group purchase and the coupons will be placed on your wallet page. This is also valid for one week, so it is quite flexible and easy.

Payment methods

Password-free payment is a quick payment method launched by Didi and third-party payment channels. Once enabled, Didi passengers may enjoy quick payment service with less than 500 RMB for each transaction.

Here are some FQA’s about payment.

  Didi car sharing


In China, DiDi covers more than 400 cities and counting. Most cities have a starting fare for taxis of 6RMB, and DiDi does the same. If you are heading to small towns nearby and you are not sure how to use the public transportation, or you have two or three friends to go with you together, then DiDi could also be a good alternative. No matter if you are heading to some ancient towns like Lijiang, or scenic places like Lhasa, Tibet or Turpan, Xinjiang, you will find Didi there. Also, if you are traveling in a group of 6, for example, all you TEFL teacher colleagues, simply enter your destination and right slide to select ‘Business Van-6-Seater’ under the premier service section.

English service

To make it easier with English-speaking customers, DiDi is now expanding its English services on WeChat. If you haven’t Didi’s English version, just open your WeChat, go to contacts, and search ‘DiDiEN’ to follow their official WeChat account. And what’s even better – you can get 15% off of an express ride and 15% off of a premier ride! The WeChat account helps you stay tuned for tips, games, ride coupons and more.

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