It’s an unfortunate Beijing reality but I’ve probably spent more time waiting for cabs that’ll never come, and haggling with black cab drivers over unreasonable prices, than I’ve spent in a cab. Maybe it’s because I live in Shunyi but most legitimate cab drivers won’t take me and black cabs use it as an opportunity to quote outrageous prices. So I’ve found two alternative ways to get around Beijing. Part two of this two-part blog post is about Dididache. You can find part one about Yidaoyongche here.
Dididache bridges the gap between people waiting for legitimate cabs and cabs looking for passengers. The app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone operating systems, and only requires a Chinese phone number to register.
Like Yidaoyongche, this app allows you to request a ride in real time or book one in advance.
Booking in real-time: Type your destination into the search box at the bottom of the screen, or allow the app to access your microphone and say the address into the mic. I confess that I’ve never used the microphone because I’m terrified that my accent will cause confusion. The app remembers past destinations so you can select yours from a list.
Dididache also allows you to offer a tip of RMB 5 or more to incentivize a driver to come get you. I’d do this if you’re going to a far-flung part of Beijing or if there aren’t that many cabs in your area.
Booking in advance: Hit the button on the bottom right of the screen to call a cab in advance. The process is the same as above; you type in your location and your destination, then set the pickup time and date. The shortest lead time option available is 15 minutes and the options only come in 15 minute increments. However, you can book a cab at any hour of the day; if you’re planning to travel at a really awful time (like holidays or rush hour), I’d book far in advance.
I’ve had more success with booking in advance because most drivers hate Shunyi and don’t like going there just to pick up a fare. At least if I give the driver advance notice, he can plan to work around the airport, then come pick me up. Or, if they live nearby, they can take me into the city and make some money on their commute.
Payment: Dididache is just a cab calling service, so expect to pay cash according to the meter. However, if you somehow have access to WeChat payment, you can link it to your Dididache account for a discount on your ride. The driver gets a bonus as well, keeping both sides happy. I hear you can set up WeChat payment without a Chinese ID or credit card, but I haven’t tried it myself.
Overall: I find that Dididache is sometimes worse than hailing a cab off the street, especially if you’re not planning on tipping. At least in a real cab, I can obnoxiously get in before telling the driver where I’m going, making it hard for them to refuse me.
Heather Budimulia is a rising college sophomore, beijingkids’ intern and 北京人in progress. Though originally from Singapore, she spent a decade in Beijing and since she learned to bake and fell in love with publication there, considers it her home. When not in the office or storing sleep for college, she’ll probably be in a coffee shop with a good book, her journal or a stranger (or all three).