Advance Guide to Using Didi in China 2020
What is Didi?
Didi is simply the Chinese version of Uber (aka Uber China) if you are unfamiliar with Uber than you must have been living under a rock for the past few years. Both Didi and Uber are ride-hailing apps that allow users to order a ride from there smartphone devices. Since there is no Uber in China, Didi is now the most popular ride-hailing app in China. In order to use Didi, you must have a cell phone number with a data plan preferably a Chinese cell phone number with a data plan if you are in China.
How does Didi work for a foreigner? There are two versions of the Didi APP in China, the most foreign-friendly version is the English version which this guide is not going to explain to you. Today, I will try to explain to you how to safely use the Chinese Didi APP. Now let us examine what we can use the Chinese Version of Didi for?
How to Use Didi in China?
Didi’s main purpose is for ride-hailing to help you go from one location to another, however, you must know the address of your destination first. The app provides many different methods of transport which we will show in the list below. At the time of writing this many options provided by Didi App are not available for every city in China.
When you first open Didi the app will ask you to set up an account. Make sure you have an active Chinese Cellphone Number with a data plan. You can use WeChat pay so ensure that you have sufficient funds in your WeChat Balance.
Once you have an account linked with your Chinese phone number, You will have to select the city you are currently in right now. We have highlighted this option for you so please make sure you know how to write the name of the Chinese city you are in, in Chinese.
The text highlighted in RED is where you select the Chinese city you are currently in.
The text highlighted in GREEN is for selecting your ride right now.
The text highlighted in BLUE is for scheduling a ride or pick up at a later time or date.
The text highlighted in ORANGE is for selecting your current location, where the driver can come pick you up.
The text highlighted in PURPLE is for selecting your destination, where you would like the driver to drop you off. Make sure you have the Chinese address of your destination written in Chinese.
Using Didi in China
The Tabs on your Didi APP may be different than the images shown below as Didi changes the layout based on the city you select.
- The first tab is the Express 快车 Option, all drivers that drive for Didi under the Express option should have a GPS tracker similar to the ones inside a taxi. After filling in the destination and selecting your vehicle method, click the large black and white text 呼叫快车 meaning Call Private Car to place your order.
Within the Express Option, there are 4 options. From left to right, the first option is to call a taxi and express car at the same time. The second option is to carpool and share a car with others. The third option is to request a private express car. The fourth option is for requesting an express private car with an experienced driver at a higher fee.
- The second tab is the Public Transit 公交 Option
The text highlighted in ORANGE represents Search or Measure a route. The text highlighted in BLACK represents Real-Time Tracking of Public Transit. The text highlighted in GREEN represents From and the text highlighted in BLUE represents To. The text circled in RED represents check public bus stop locations, the text circled in PURPLE represents traffic congestion. Final the text circled in PINK is a map of the city’s metro system.
- The third tab is the 礼橙专车 Premier Option, this option is exactly like the Express option except the drivers are more professional. Ideally, they will open your car door and provide water in the car. This option is for those looking for a more professional experience.
There are 3 options in the Premier Service, the first option is the cheapest and provides a black sedan. The second option provides a Van for multiple passengers. The final option is also a sedan however usually a high-end model luxury sedan.
- The fourth tab is 安全意识 a safety advertisement so no need to worry about it.
- The fifth tab is the 出租车 call a Taxi Service
This option is fairly straightforward as you call a taxi to your current location via the Didi APP.
- The sixth tab is the 代驾 Substitute Driver service which requests a driver to come to pick up your personal vehicle and drive it home.
This option is often used in China by car owners who are drunk or had some alcohol and needs their cars to be driven back home by another driver.
- The seventh tab is related to the recently closed service 顺风车 Ride Sharing which had a lot of safety issues (I would not recommend using this option)
This option is not recommended as there have been quite a few scandals involving this option. Therefore as of writing this guide, I suggest avoiding using this option.
- The eighth tab is for purchasing 二手车 Second-hand Vehicles.
This is Didi’s attempt at gaining market share in the auto trading industry via its app, I would not suggest using this as a foreigner.
- The ninth tab is 豪华车 Didi Luxe which is only available in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. This is Didi’s Premium Chauffeur Service.
This option is Didi’s Luxury service which I personally have not yet experienced. From the looks of the features and functionalities, it seems to offer a variety of luxury sedans at a premium price. Will update this guide when I visit Shanghai or Shenzhen in the future and try this service.
- The tenth tab is 单车 Bike Rental Service which in Chongqing nobody uses since its a city surrounded by mountains so I switched the city to Shanghai instead as an example.
Simply scan the QR code on the bike using the Didi APP to unlock the bike for usage.
- The final tab is renting a vehicle for personal driving.
You can rent a car using this service both inland and overseas however you must have a valid Chinese driver license. I will explain this process in a future post as it is more complex.
Using Didi as a foreigner
If you are lazy like me and can speak a little Chinese you can use Didi’s ride-sharing Express service to send packages to someone you don’t have time to deliver to personally. Sometimes when my aunt needs something urgently, I may use Didi’s ride-sharing option and ask the driver to deliver the package to my aunt.
To reach the settings option, click the black human icon in the top left corner of the screen.
Next click the red highlighted area and you will enter the personal account review section of the Didi APP.
Within the Didi APP, there are different level rankings for its users. Users are rewarded for using the APP, the more you use Didi the higher ranking your account will become. There are 5 ranks within the Didi APP for its users, at each rank, new rewards are unlocked.
Circled in RED from top to bottom and left to right.
- The first reward is the Points System which allows your account to collect points.
- The second reward is Birthday Envelopes which sends you a red pocket (free money) on your birthday.
- The third reward is VIP Service which provides 24 hours support.
- The fourth reward is Discount Special which offers promotions and discounts.
- The fifth reward is the Free Startup which eliminates the start-up fee for your rides.
- The sixth reward is the Express Queue which allows you to skip the queue/line during peak/rush hours.
Circled in GREEN are the 5 ranks available, from left to right
- Silver Rank, This is the lowest rank achieved at 10 points
- Gold Rank, This is the second lowest rank achieved at 50 points
- White Gold Rank, This is the third rank achieved at 200 points
- Diamond Rank, This is the second highest rank achieved at 600 points
- Black Gold Rank, This is the highest rank achieved at 1500 points
Please keep in mind that these ranks will reset after each season, there are 4 seasons in a year, therefore, they will reset 4 times per year.
You can also purchase these ranks via prepaid coupons by buying ride coupons in advance.
I hope you found this guide to using the Chinese Didi App useful if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below.