Order a Ride: How the Didi App Changed Travel in China!

Chinese General didi

There is one thing that almost all Mandarin Chinese language students here in China have in common: we don’t have our own personal cars. Owing a car in China and being licensed to drive is a complicated and expensive process.

Plus, the public transportation such as trains, buses, and even bicycle-sharing is great!

For the most part, you won’t need a car when you’re in China.

However, there are times that it would be faster or more convenient to hop in the back of a car than wait for a bus.

For those trips to the grocery store or airport, my fellow students and I now prefer to use a car-sharing and taxi ordering app rather than hailing a taxi on the street.

It’s more reliable, honest, safe and convenient for us to use our phones rather than take a chance with a random taxi driver.

There is one app that we all use. It’s now considered to be the most-used ride-sharing app in the world: “滴滴出行 (Dīdī chūxíng) Didi Chuxing”.

Didi Chuxing is an application where taxis, private cars and designated drivers can be hired via smartphone. Didi carries 20 million rides per day, or seven billion rides per year.

There are over 450 million registered users in China. These numbers are far higher than any other car service app in the world!

I recommend that foreign travelers, students and workers alike use the Didi app when traveling in China as it’s simple and affordable.

In today’s lesson, I will help you get the app set up and some useful Mandarin Chinese expressions that will benefit your communication with the driver.

There Are 4 Steps That You Need to Know and Go Through When Using the Didi App:
Step 1: This part is easy; “安装 (Ānzhuāng) install” the Didi app onto your mobile device!

You just need to search for this app in your App store and download it to your phone.

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Step 2: “注册 (Zhù cè) Sign up” and create your account.

For this, you will need a phone number. You may want to read my previous article on buying a SIM card in China.

Once you’ve got your phone number set up: Open the Didi app → sign up now → fill your mobile number→ fill in the verification code they send you→ Start!

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In this procedure, there are some common Chinese phrases you need to learn. They can help you become familiar with this Chinese version of the app.

You don’t need to worry that you will misunderstand the process, that you can’t recognize Chinese characters when you use the Didi app in China.

New words:
1. 注册 (Zhùcè) = Sign up

Nǐ zhùcè zhànghào le ma?
你  注册      账号     了 吗?
Have you signed up your account?

2. 手机号 (Shǒujī hào) = Phone number

Nǐ de shǒujīhào shì shénme?
你 的     手机号    是   什么?
What’s your phone number?

3. 验证码 (Yànzhèng mǎ): Verification code

Wǒ kěyǐ kàn yí xià nín de yànzhèngmǎ ma?
我  可以  看 一 下  您  的      验证码      吗?
May I check your verification code?

Step 3: 叫车 (Jiàochē) Call the taxi

Once you’ve activated your Didi account, you can call the taxi.

In addition to taxis, you can call private cars or rideshares as well. Throughout China, there are numerous private car drivers signed up as drivers on Didi platforms.

You can call them to pick you up. Usually, you just need 2-3 minutes or less to find the nearest available car to hire.

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Common car types on Didi:
• 滴滴快车 (Dīdī kuàichē): Didi Express.

DiDi Express provides individual and pooled rides for all income groups.

A carpooling service can help you save money, but may use more time getting to your destination.

If your time is limited, you can choose a personal service. Usually, Didi Express drivers are private drivers. This is the difference from Didi taxis.

• 滴滴出租车 (Dīdī chūzū chē): Didi Taxi.

Didi Taxis are the same as the taxi that you hail from the road. They charge you depending on distance and time spent in transit. Instead of dangerously standing on the side of the road, you just need to order online via your phone.

• 滴滴专车 (Dīdī zhuānchē): Didi Premier.

Didi Premier offers a higher-end premier mobility experience with luxury vehicles and drivers trained to the highest service standards. The car is more spacious and new. Drivers will offer you something to drink during the ride and provide tissues and other necessities.

Of course, this type of ride is more expensive.

• 滴滴顺风车 (Dīdī shùnfēng chē): Didi Hitch.

Didi Hitch is a social carpooling service that helps commuters save money, make friends and help conserve energy.

Step 4: 支付车费 (Zhīfù chēfèi) Pay for the ride

When you arrive at your destination, the driver will send this transaction order to your Didi account. You just need to confirm the cost and choose a payment method to complete the transaction.

You have three methods with which to pay:

微信支付 (Wēixìn zhīfù): WeChat Pay

支付宝支付 (Zhīfùbǎo zhīfù): Alipay

QQ钱包支付 (Qiánbāo zhīfù): QQ wallet pay (very few drivers use this service)

You can learn more about mobile payment options in China with our full lesson here.

If you plan to take a taxi with Didi in China, make sure you already have a WeChat account or Alipay account from which to make payment.

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So, now you know the essential way that Chinese and foreigners are now getting around Chinese cities conveniently and affordably. Be sure to familiarize yourself with this app and its setup when you travel to China!


1. Before ordering a Didi taxi in China, you must ____.
Please choose the best answer.

A. 申请银行卡 (Shēnqǐng yínháng kǎ)

B. 支付车费 (Zhīfù chēfèi)

C. 注册滴滴账号 (Zhùcè dīdī zhànghào)

―Written by Elena Trevino―

Elena Trevino is a Mandarin Chinese student in Beijing studying the language to get a head start in international trade. She is most interested in seeing how Mandarin is affecting the fashion industry throughout the world as Chinese shoppers are now such a large factor. She is frequently attending fashion industry events in Beijing and throughout China.

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