The Uber China App Workaround is part of The Year of the Monkey Trip Report which covers the following places:
- New York, New York
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Jakarta, Indonesia
- Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
- Guangzhou, China
- Hong Kong
- Shenzhen, China
- Sanya, China
Each time I go to China, I am reminded of Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday. “You know when you get old in life things get taken from you. That’s, that’s part of life.” Each time I visit China, something also gets taken from me. Besides the lack of a VPN at some hotels, an increasing number of American apps are blocked in China. There are workarounds to access Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram , but it is impossible to use an American Uber account.
In order to use Uber China, you must have a Chinese bank account. Good luck explaining to Uncle Sam that the reason you have a Chinese bank is strictly for a ride share program. The alternative is to download the Chinese version of Uber called Didi (Chinese for little brother and something else when used in slang form). That’s the easy part. The hard part is doing the following which may be worthwhile if you are visiting China for an extended duration.
- Activate Didi.
- Download WeChat, China’s better version of WhatsApp.
- Find a Chinese friend.
- Get that friend to send you a Red Packet, a Venmo feature built into WeChat.
- Open your DiDi app and input the Chinese address of where you are and where you are going.
- Pay the driver with WeChat.
Obviously, this may not be practical for many people for many reasons. You will need a phone that has international data. You will need a friend to fund your account. And, you will need to know some Chinese. Other than that, you’re golden!
Taxis in China are very cheap compared to the US so it may be more practical to take a cab instead of following these steps, but sometimes the Chinese driver likes to take the scenic route or sometimes the driver genuinely cannot understand where you want to go. For these reasons, China is on my list of Worst Places to Hail a Cab as articulated in this anecdote.