Learn how to use Didi like a local

September 5, 2016
Mar Diez

For all those who know and seen the Didi 滴滴出行 App (the Chinese version of Uber), but never had the chance to get through the jungle of Chinese characters. This app can be a lifesaver if you want to catch a taxi in a hurry or if you need one at an unusual time – like if your have to go to the airport at 2 AM. Not only is the app extremely convenient, but it can save you money over just hailing a taxi from the street.

Getting registered is pretty straight forward. You’ll need a phone number, a bank card (you can link your WeChat, or Aplipay 支付宝 account to pay), and your passport number. Registering should take you only a few minutes. Once you finish you’ll see this screen with the 7 main options across the top.

Didi Instruction


Mostly you need to pay attention to the first 4 options because these are likely what you’ll use the most. You can wipe or click the three (…) where the arrow is pointing to see options 6 and 7.

From left to right, the options are:

1. 快车 (kuai che) “express” – the cheapest option. The prices are set by the app and you pay through your phone. You can pay at your convenience within 24 hours (but you can’t get another taxi until you pay).

2. 出租车 (chu zu che) “taxi” – Use this to call a traditional taxi. You will be able to get a regular taxi and pay by cash according to the meter.

3. 顺风车 (shun feng che) “ride share” – You share the carpool with someone else.

4. 专车 (zhuan che) “special taxi” – VIP taxis.

5. 代驾 (dai jia) “substitute driver” – Call someone to drive your own car.

6. 试驾 (shi jia) “car rental”– Rent-a-car

7. 公交 (gong jiao) “public bus” – Different than the regular buses. These are coach buses that go longer distances than regular public bus (in the same city).


8. 现在 (xian zai) ‘now’

9. 预约 (yu yue) ‘book for later’

Now comes the tricky part. You need to enter the place you want to go (in Chinese). You can enter an exact address or just use a nearby landmark, like a SOHO or a well-known tower, stadium, or some other landmark. Once you start entering your destination, the app will help you out (just like searching online). To set the pick-up point you can move the green pin around. Sometimes you have to move it to a main road or another location before it allows you to order a taxi.


The first option 快车 (kuai che) is usually the cheapest, the main exception being during rush hour when some extra money is added to account for traffic. If you choose this option and put in your destination you will see something similar to this screen.

Didi Instruction


The orange number by the pick-up location is 分钟 (fen zhong – minutes), this is the amount of time it will take for the nearest taxi to reach you. At the bottom you have two options: The left option is 拼车 (pin che – carpool) and will be cheaper as you will likely be sharing with another person (or 3). The right option is 不拼车 (no carpool) and will be slightly more expensive.


The second option is 出租车 (chu zu che – taxi) and will get you a regular taxi, sparing you the hassle of attempting to call a taxi the old fashioned way. If you choose this option, you will pay the fare by the meter in the taxi.


Didi Instruction


For the third option 顺风车 (shun feng che – carpool) you need to reserve a ride for the future. This is a car pool only option where you’ll hitch a ride with someone as they travel their regular route (i.e. from work to home or vice versa). This takes a little more knowledge of the Chinese language.


The fourth option, 专车 (zhuan che – special taxi) is for those that want to ride and arrive in style. Inside this option you have 3 additional options displayed at the bottom.

  1. 舒适性 (shu shi xing) cozy car
  2. 七座商务 (qi zuo shang wu) 7- person commercial car
  3. 豪华型 (hao hua xing) deluxe model

Didi Instruction


Sometimes with a cozy car, and almost always with the deluxe models the driver will get out and open the door for you. Deluxe models are … well… deluxe: They are sometimes Mercedes, Lexus or other high end Audi or Volkswagen models. You can see the price for the ‘deluxe’ car is twice as much as the ‘cozy’ cars.


Once you’ve made the appropriate selections press the orange bar at the bottom to order the taxi.


The fifth option, 代驾 (dai jia – substitute driver) can’t be used by many expats. Let’s say you go out to the bar on Friday and you drove your car, upon leaving the club you realize that you are much to inebriate to drive. You can use this option to have someone drive your own car (and you) home. But Chinese skills required!

The sixth option is 试驾 (shi jia – test car). Again, this one can’t be used by most expats: it’s for car rentals.

The seventh option is 公交 (gong jiao – bus). Bus routes are created by Didi when a group of 50 or more people request a specific route. You can also find previously established routes by selecting this option. Didi gives you bus route options based on your current location. The white circles along the route present stops where you can get off the bus.

Didi instruction



Unfortunately, like you just found out, learning how to use the Didi app is just half the battle: You’ve also got to communicate with the driver in Chinese!

It’s very simple once you know what to expect.


Driver: 您好,您刚刚(刚才)叫了滴滴吗?
Nin hao, nin ganggang (gangcai) jiao le Didi ma?
Hello, did you just (just now) call Didi?

You: 对. Dui

Driver: 您在定位的位置吗?
Nin zai ding wei de weizhi ma?
Are you at the location on the map?

You: 对,是。Dui, shi.

Driver: 我一分钟(马上/一会儿)就到。
Wo yi fengzhong (ma shang/ yihuir) jiu dao.
I’ll be there in one (a few) minutes.


The first few times you use Didi it will probably be challenging and maybe even frustrating. But the key is to not give up! It will surely get easier with time as you learn more Chinese and become more comfortable listening and speaking the language.

Key vocabulary:

Yin hang (Bank)
Jiu dian (Hotel)
Xue xiao (School)
Fan dian (Restaurant)
Zai lu kou (On the corner)
Ma lu dui mian (Across the street)

Wo zai ding wei de weizhi. (I am at the location on the map)


Give directions:

Take a right (you guai)
Take a left (zuo guai)
Go further (zhi zou)
Turn left after the second light (liang ge hong lü deng hou, zuo guai)
Take a right at this light (zhe ge hong lü deng, you guai)
Please stop here (qing ting che)
Turn around/ U-turn (diao tou)


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This article was originally published at PandaGuidesOfficial.


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