Uber in China is now closed to foreign visitors, with business travellers and tourists alike unable to order rides in any Chinese city, including major destinations such as Beijing and Shanghai.
When selecting a Chinese pick-up address in the normal Uber app, foreigners are simply logged off – and if you log back in and try the same, you’ll be logged off again.
Following a merger between Uber’s Chinese arm and local ridesharing competitor Didi, the only way you can now order a ride is to download the separate Uber China smartphone app: but which is only available in Chinese (below) – not English – and which doesn’t accept any foreign credit cards.
To even get to that screen, you’ll also need to have a local Chinese mobile phone number: which means travellers roaming under their current SIM, including those who can understand Chinese and happen to have a local payment card, won’t be able to register without a local number, too.
CNN Money reports that Uber and Didi are working to enable international credit card payments, with a roaming-friendly English version of the Uber China app planned for “early next year”.
Until then, business travellers will need to make alternative travel arrangements, such as booking cars through Chinese hotels or taking local taxis: and if you’re taking a taxi from the airport, always hire one from an established rank – never from an unlicensed ‘taxi tout’ at the terminal.