Nowadays, a lot of savvy locals are choosing Uber as a cheaper alternative to hailing a regular cab. But for those of us foreigners who don’t yet have Alipay set up, the DiDi Dache (滴滴打车) function on Wechat is an excellent alternative to Uber.
1. Link your bank card to your WeChat account
You can link your Chinese bank card to your WeChat by clicking on ‘Me’, ‘Wallet’ then ‘Bank card’ in WeChat. This theoretically simple process is made slightly more complicated for foreigners, who have to ensure their names are entered in EXACTLY the same way as your bank has entered them into their system (e.g. JOHN SMITH, John Smith, Smith John or SMITH JOHN). The simplest thing to do is to visit your bank and ask them for a print-out with your information.
Once you have that information, the rest should be fairly straight-forward. Click on ‘add a card’ and fill out your card number and name, exactly as it appears on your bank documents. Under ‘ID type’, choose ‘passport’ then fill out your passport number and phone number. You will then have to verify your phone number by entering in the code that WeChat sends you.
You will then have to choose a security password, which you will enter each time you make a payment using WeChat wallet.
You’re now set to use all the functions on WeChat wallet, including transferring money to friends and booking taxis.
2. Open Didi Dache through WeChat
There is a separate DiDi Dache App that you can download. Anyway I prefer to use the same feature incorporated in WeChat for the convenience of language.
A. Open WeChat.
B. Press the ‘Me’ button at the bottom of the screen, then click on ‘Wallet’.
C. You will see the main Wallet options screen. Scroll down and click on ‘Order Taxi’.
3. Choose your location, destination and type of car
Unfortunately, from here the app is only available in Chinese.
A. Choose your start location. There is usually a pop-up asking you if you want Didi Dache to use your current location.
B. Choose the type of car you want:
• Regular taxi (出租车) – you pay in cash at the end of your journey, just like an ordinary taxi, but there’s an option on WeChat Didi Dache to offer a tip, which means you can get a taxi during rush hour.
• Private driver (快车), basically the same as the cheaper UberX service – these are by far the cheapest option, and my personal favorite. You pay electronically at the end of your journey using WeChat Wallet.
• Special car (专车) – this resembles UberBlack, and is a much more expensive service.
C. Call a car (the big yellow button at the bottom, 叫...车)
D. Phone verification:
• The first time you use Didi Dache, you will have to enter your phone number (in the box marked 电话号码), then press ‘验证’ and type in the verification code DiDi send you via SMS (in the box marked 验证码). Finally click ‘开始’and you will be redirected to step E below.
• This is so the driver can call you when they are at your location.
E. Wait while DiDi calls a car for you:
• The big number in the circle in the middle represents the number of cars that have received your request. If you wait too long and no cars have received your request, you should consider offering a tip (the yellow slider, 小费).
• Press the big button at the bottom if you need to cancel your call.
• Eventually a driver’s name card will show up, telling you how far away they are (X.X公里) and roughly how long it should take for them to reach you (XX分钟). It will also tell you the last four letters/numbers of the driver’s registration plate.
• You will probably get a call from the driver asking for directions, so look out for an obvious landmark and make sure you know how to say the name of the street you’re standing on.
Happy Didi Dache-ing!