As online payment setting the trend in China, Nevigating apps such as Alipay (and / or WeChat Wallet), Taobao and Didi have become instrumental in living in China. Just like Uber, Didi is a national app which can be used across China. The user interface is quite easy once you learnt the basic steps.
Basic Chinese language skills are required to navigate the app - pick-up and drop-off locations need to be entered in Chinese, but the app has a GPS system which helps to show drivers the exact pick-up location; you will get a call from the driver to confirm the service once the pickup location is set.
Pro tip: Let the GPS system decide the pickup spot, stay where you are until the driver find you. Recognize your ride by the license plate number provided by the app.
The two most popular services provided by Didi are the normal taxi-hailing service, and the Uber-esque private driver service.
出租车 Normal Taxis
The option for normal taxis comes second on the tabs, marked 出租车. After you select it and input your pick-up and drop-off location, the app will show a rough estimate on how much the journey is likely to cost. You can also call a taxi on behalf of someone - if you click that, you'll get taken to a new page to fill in the passenger's name and mobile number.
Once you've gotten all the information filled in, click 呼叫出租车 (Call Taxi) and your request will be sent out. When a driver picks up your request, the screen will be updated with the name of the driver, the license plate, how far he is from you and appropximately how many minutes it'll take him to get to you. The map will show the driver's location in real time.
快车 Private Drivers
We generally use this option for shorter journeys and only in the day (simply because it's not as well-regulated as registered taxis and we've heard horror stories about passengers being robbed and / or killed). It's noticeably cheaper though, and Didi frequently does campaigns like 'RMB3 Weekends' or 'RMB7 off your second same-day journey'. You also have a car pool option which allows drivers to combine journeys and pick another passenger along the same route, but its normally only a mere few kuai cheaper.
As usual, once you click on 呼叫快车 (Call Private Driver), the app will send out your request and the screen will be updated the same way when a driver picks up your journey.
How to Pay
If you're calling a normal taxi, you can pay in cash when you've reached your destination. But if you want to use the private driver service, you'd have to link an online payment service to your account - either Alipay, Wechat Wallet or your bank card. Click the little figure on the top left hand corner, then select the second option - 钱包 (wallet) when the drop-down menu pops up.
Once you click 支付方式 (Method of Payment), you can choose which channel you prefer. You can also check the 免密支付 (Auto-pay without password) so that the amount is automatically deducted from your account the moment you reach your destination. If you don't check that option, you'll have to input your payment password after every journey.
Private driver journeys don't offer invoices on the spot, but don't worry, you can get them delivered to you. We generally hoard a sizeable amount of journeys before getting them delivered to our office all at once. The invoices will be marked not on the day of your journey, but on the day you apply for them to be delivered, which makes it really convenient if your company has a strict reimbursment process and doesn't accept outdated invoices.
Again, click on the little figure on the top left hand corner, select the second option 钱包 (wallet) on the drop-down menu, then click on the last option 发票与报销 (Invoices and Reimburments). This will take you to a page with all the journeys you've taken, simply check the ones you need an invoice of, then fill in your company name and the address you want them delivered to.
Here are some basic taxi Mandarin that might come in handy:
前面左转 (qianmian zuozhuan) / 前面右转 (qianmian youzhuan) | Turn left ahead / Turn right ahead
路口靠边停 (lukou kaobian ting) / 这里靠边停 (zheli kaobian ting) | Pull up at the side of the crossroad / Pull up at the side here
现金 (xianjin) | (Pay by) cash
我现在在 ABC 路口 (wo xianzai zai ABC lukou) | I am currently at ABC crossroad
先到 ABC 然后再去 EFG (xiandao ABC ranhou zaiqu EFG) | First go to ABC, then go to EFG