For visitors (foreigners), taxis (出租车 ChūZūChē) in China are a relatively safe and inexpensive method of transportation. Different cities offer different fares, with Shanghai and Beijing unsurprisingly topping the charts. Shanghai taxis have a 14 RMB starting fee, while Beijing chargers 13 RMB for the first three kilometres, but with the additional one-kuai (块 Kuài – “piece”, “dollar”, “buck”) gas fee, which takes you to the same price as Shanghai. The price for each additional kilometre is 2.3 RMB in Beijing and 2.4 RMB in Shanghai. For a 10 km trip, in Beijing you would thus have to pay 30.1 RMB and 30.8 RMB in Shanghai – excluding the waiting time fee – (for more information about your city, you can check this link). Still, I’m not complaining, I don’t know about you, but this is still much much cheaper than where I come from.
The drivers usually don’t speak a lot of English, but, curious beings as they are, they offer a good companionship during your first tries of speaking out in your rudimental Chinese. You can start your ride by first greeting the driver, 师傅 (ShīFu) or “master” in this case. He (or she) will greet you back, by possibly saying something in the lines of: 你好，到哪里？(Nǐ Hǎo, Dào NǎLi?), “Hi, where to”? Here, you are supposed to provide an address in the form of an intersection (路口 LùKǒu), so XX路, XX路 (Lù being “the street”)
Depending on the confidence of your answer and the general disposition of the Shifu, this will then lead to a more “open discussion”. The Shifu might first want to break the ice by complementing you on your mad Chinese skills with: 你汉语说得非常好！(Nǐ HànYǔ Shuō De FēiCháng Hǎo!). So that is done and, of course, like any proper student of Chinese, you are now blushing in your back seat, with a mouthful of humble 哪里哪里 (NǎLi, NǎLi) – “oh, where did you get that idea from, you silly?”
Stage two, Shifu now attacks you with an arsenal of questions ranging from world economy (boy, they did like to discuss financial crisis) and history, to the state of Chinese football (reserved for male audiences) and the fact that you are mistreating your parents, since you are so far away and failing to take care of them. This last one is usually preached by the more “senior” level drivers.
Your level of comprehension and general involvement in the conversation are irrelevant at this point and you might get away with a couple of gentle grunts in the form of 嗯 (Ǹg) thrown in at the appropriate intervals. But, lucky for you, you have arrived at your destination, it’s time to focus now and utter those crucial final instructions. If you want to say, “stop at the intersection”, you can go with (by now hopefully familiar): 路口停车 (LùKǒu TíngChē)”. If, instead, you’d prefer to stop at the side of the road, you can instruct the Shifu like so: 旁边停车 (PángBiān TíngChē) “stop at the side”.
Good, almost there. It’s now time for the financial transaction to take place, usually initiated by the Shifu with the following words: 现金，刷卡？ (XiànJīn, ShuāKǎ?) “cash or card? One final inspection that you’ve got all your things with you (there’s also a sticker on the door – you know, the one with the horse – reminding you to do the same), and you’re out of there.