Best Taxi Apps in Asia
If you are a frequent business traveler to Asia, you will be familiar with ride-hailing apps like Grab, Go-Jek, and Didi. You also probably noticed that you can’t hail an Uber anymore in many Asian cities.
Uber sold its business in Southeast Asia to Singapore-based rival Grab in 2018. Grab took over Uber’s operations in eight countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
If you can’t hail an Uber anymore and you are on an extended business trip, what taxi apps can get you a ride in Asia’s largest cities?
Taxi apps available in several Asian cities
Singapore-based Grab operates in eight South East Asian countries serving 336 cities in these regions. The Grab taxi app has been downloaded more than 152 million times!
Grab is much more than a ride-hailing app. In addition to offering different rides, Grab also offers a range of consumer services like on-demand delivery of parcels through GrabExpress, payments with GrabPay and on-demand food delivery through GrabFood.
Grab Car is a great service, it entails an online car booking service, which brings the nearest driver to you without you having to negotiate the fare. Grab is the dominant service in south-east Asia with its easy and safe taxi booking options.
Grab provides different transportation options at different price ranges to suit every pocket, including GrabTaxi, GrabShare, GrabHitch, GrabBike, GrabFamily, etc. The company also offers different payment options, including cash, credit and Grab credits, which helps it to appeal to all sectors of the population.
Grab is a good choice for business travel, especially if you are planning a trip that will include several Asian countries. Grab also has a company account feature so you do not have to foot the bill.
Go-Jek is Grab’s major rival. The Indonesian venture operates in more than 50 cities across Southeast Asia having opened operations in Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand.
Go-Jek has its eyes set on expansion in Asia but with expansion plans running into roadblocks in the Philippines.
It is the first unicorn company and also the first "decacorn" company in Indonesia. A decacorn is worth a whopping US$10-billion. Go-Jek is the only company in Southeast Asia that is included in Fortune's 50 Companies That Changed the World in 2017.
This giant was founded in 2010 with 20 motorbike drivers. This number has grown to more than 1 million drivers who monthly conduct a mind-blowing 100 million transactions involving 25 million customers.
Go-Jek was founded by Indonesian Nadiem Makarim, who as an ojek (motorcycle taxi in Indonesia) user, noticed that ojek drivers spend most of their time waiting for customers, while customers spend their time waiting for a ride. He founded Go-Jek to solve this problem.
Go-Jek is much more than a ride-hailing app. Users can access 18 on-demand services from the same app. The 18 on-demand services include Go-Mart (grocery shopping), Go-Clean (housecleaning), Go-Glam (hairstyling and makeovers), and Go-Massage, Go-Jek claims and Go-Pay to mention a few.
Some market observers predict that Go-Jek will become the dominant player in Southeast Asia. Already, in the first six months of operating in Singapore Go-Jek achieved 10 million completed trips in the city-state.
If your business travel takes you to Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, or Thailand, you won’t go wrong if you download this ride-hailing app on your phone.
Best ride-hailing app in other Asian Cities
Best Taxi Apps in Hong Kong
Be forewarned, most taxi drivers, regardless of the company they drive for, don’t like to make cross-harbor rides or travel short distances.
A recent survey found HKTaxi to be the most reliable taxi app in Hong Kong with customers getting confirmed bookings almost all the time. HKTaxi app is available in Chinese and English. The app lets you find the nearest driver, which shouldn’t be too difficult as there are 50,000 registered HKTaxi drivers in Hong Kong.
Uber has previously been outlawed by local authorities, but the company continues to operate all over the city. So, if you’re used to hailing an Uber where you live, you might want to try one in Hong Kong as well, however, drivers from other taxi companies will far outnumber them.
Journeys by Uber are less than 1% of almost 27 million taxi rides taken in the city every month. However, a recent experiment found that Uber was the quickest to respond to a request but was more expensive than Fly Taxi.
Uber has launched a new service, Uber Flash in partnership with Hong Kong’s taxi companies, registering more than 180,000 rides over its first month in operation.
You can also try Fly Travel. Fly travel says it has 50,000 drivers in Hong Kong. You might find that Fly Taxi is more affordable than Uber, especially during peak times.
The app is available in both Chinese and English.
You can use eTaxi to hail red, green or blue taxis in urban areas, the New Territories and Lantau Island. E-Taxi is a venture by the Hong Kong Taxi Council to compete with established ride-hailing apps like Uber.
eTaxi has so far signed up about 4,000 drivers, according to the South China Morning Post and allows user to pay via Octopus Card.
DiDi Hong Kong
In 2018 DiDi Hong Kong launched its new app in Hong Kong, which is an upgraded version of Kuaidi Taxi. The ride-hailing giant covers the whole of mainland China and is often called the “Uber of China”. Around 20,000 of Hong Kong’s taxi drivers work with DiDi. The app lets users order rides, set up a carpool, hire a designated driver, or find a car for people with disabilities.
DiDi taxis accept payments by Visa, Mastercard or American Express on its mobile app. A great feature for visitors on business travel is the English interface, which sends a message in Chinese to drivers.
Best Taxi Apps in Singapore
The most popular options in Singapore are Grab and Go-Jek, so if you are using those already you are good to go! However, there are also other good options to try.
With this taxi app, customers can choose to take a ride which goes by the meter or take a ride with an upfront fare. A perk of using the ComfortDelgro app is that it allows riders to add extra stops at $5 each. The booking app has been upgraded with a new look and new features. Amongst other features, you can sync your Google calendar to the app for booking reminders.
Ryde is a combined carpooling and ride hailing app. The private care service (RydeX) allows you to schedule your ride up to 7 days beforehand and shows you the total amount you need to pay before you book the trip.
An added benefit is that ERP charges are included, so you won’t get a surprise at the end of your trip. The Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system is an electronic toll collection scheme adopted in Singapore to manage traffic by way of road pricing.
You can carpool or book taxis directly from the Ryde app. Carpool is a cheaper option than hiring a private car, but more convenient than crowded public transport. Ryde also has a social platform that lets commuters make contact with each other.
Best Taxi Apps in Tokyo and Japan
LINE Taxi operates in 90 cities across Japan. Line Taxi is the product of the company also owns Line, the messaging app that’s popular in Japan, Taiwan and some other countries in Asia. A Line Taxi can be ordered within Line messenger. The app is Japanese though, and doesn’t offer any English translation. Also, payment has to be made through Line Pay, so you'll need a Japanese phone number and credit card.
Uber has a relatively small fleet operating in Tokyo. Drivers often speak reasonably good English, which is a boon for foreign visitors. Also, with Uber the transaction is cashless, and Uber does not charge extra between 22:00 and 5:00, which is great for the many late night outings during business trips.
Japan Taxi uses GPS to find a taxi company near you to call for one of their taxis. JapanTaxi a great taxi app. It’s straightforward to use and so is paying the fare. Payment options include credit cards, Apple Pay, JapanTaxi Wallet, as well as others. You can pay online when you order your taxi. You can link your payment method to your JapanTaxi account to pay for your taxi.
Best Taxi Apps in Seoul
There are many taxis in Seoul and it’s easy to hail a ride. Ride hailing apps have been met with stiff resistance from local cabbies, with one even setting himself on fire in protest in a tragic incident.
As far as ordering a taxi on your phone is concerned, Kakao T represents the best option in Seoul and the app now has an English version.
The app offers many interesting features such as the ability to rent a designated driver to drive your personal car, very handy after those Soju drinking sessions that Koreans are infamous for. Kakao T also offers car pooling, can help you find a parking spot, and offers more luxurious cars if you want to splurge.
Best Taxi Apps in Taipei & Taiwan
Compared to other countries, ride hailing apps have not been a run-away success in Taiwan. Uber is now the only one still operating, although unclear for how much longer as regulators are increasing pressure to operate with a license. Instead, many apps in Taiwan are focused on making it easier to hail a regular cab rather than finding you a car.
This ride-hailing app allows you to hail cabs from regular taxi drivers that have signed up to the platform. Based on your needs, you can order taxis with specific features, including pet-friendly, female driver, English or Japanese Speaking drivers, tourist guides and no smoking.
Uber allows you to calculate your rates and have them charged by credit card. The app works like anywhere else - when you’re ready to go, open the app and enter your destination, choose the ride option you need and confirm by tapping ‘Request’. There are around 3 million registered Uber users and more than 10,000 Uber drivers in Taiwan. Customers can choose any of the following Uber services, including Uber X, Uber Black, Uber Taxi and Uber Eats.
Best Taxi Apps in Manila & Philippines
In Manila, Grab is by far the dominant player since Uber exited the market after being acquired by Grab in 2018. Go-Jek is trying to enter the market but have been unable to get a local license to date.
The limited competition has led to significantly higher prices and it difficulties getting a car during the morning and afternoon rush hour. If you need to get a car in Manila during rush hour make sure to plan ahead and provide enough time for 20-30 minutes of waiting for a ride.
GrabCar in the Philippines is simple to use and the same as in other markets. All you have to do is input your pick up and drop off locations. The app automatically calculates the fare and you can pay with cash or credit card.
The fare between destinations is fixed regardless of route or trip duration. Travelers can choose a GrabCar (Sedan) or a GrabCar+ (Premium vehicles), although the vehicles are typically not very luxurious. The app also allows you to share your ride details with friends, which is a safety element many users appreciate.
Hailing a MiCab is easy. Simply enter your pick-up point and destination point, and tap “Get Micab”. Commuters can share their ride details with family, friends and colleagues for safety. The company claims that it’s "the easiest and fastest way to get a cab" and states that it charges users no booking fees or surge charges.
If you are traveling outside Manila this can be a good option as MiCab is available in Cebu, Bacolod, Baguio, and Iloilo.
For the slightly more adventurous traveler or someone in a rush Angkas is an interesting alternative. Angkas is a motorcycle booking platform that functions both as a bike-hailing platform and a delivery service for packages.
Best Taxi Apps in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia
With the proximity to Singapore, it should come as no surprise that Malaysia and KL is a Grab market. Uber exited the market at the same time as it sold its South East Asian business to Grab. Competition is expected to increase again soon with Go-jek being rumored to be entering Malaysia.
Grab Taxi or MyTeksi is readily available in Kuala Lumpur and other large cities in Malaysia. The app gives commuters a number of options: GrabTaxi (budget or premium taxi), GrabCar (on-demand chauffeur service), GrabBike (on-demand motorbike service) and GrabExpress (delivery services for documents, gifts and parcels).
Best Taxi Apps in Jakarta and Indonesia
The two major players in Indonesia are Go-Jek and Grab. They offer far more than just a taxi ride; their services include offer food delivery, many payment options, wide food delivery options and many more services. Go-Jek is the most popular app, being used by the majority the population. Interestingly, Indonesian commuters are not loyal to one taxi app. Many (46 %) say they have two ride-hailing applications installed on their smartphones and 23 % has three applications installed.
Blue bird is the original innovator in the Indonesia taxi market and was the first Taxi company to operate metered cabs. It even launched a blackberry based reservation application back in 2011 around the same time Uber was launching its first product.
The Blue Bird app allows users to pre-order fixed price taxis and pay without cash. You can share your trip with friends and provide instructions to your driver in app.
Although the app has been downloaded 1M+ times this is dwarfed by the 50M+ Go-Jek downloads and the traditional taxi companies like Blue Bird are struggling to compete with these new entrants.
Best Taxi Apps in Shanghai
Didi is the dominant ride-hailing service in China. Didi Chuxing acquired Uber China in 2016. The Didi app is very convenient to use and has an English version for visitors to China and expats who live and work in the country. As in other Asian cities, there is a fixed price for the first few kilometers, and then the price will go up by a certain amount per extra kilometer. You can pay your fare with your WeChat Wallet if you have one.
DiDi provides the following services: DiDi Taxi – Get a cab easily; DiDi Express – Enjoy a convenient and affordable ride; DiDi Premier – Ride in a premium vehicle with professional driver’s service; DiDi Luxe, for comfort and luxury in a premium lounge on wheels.
The best taxi app in Asia?
So there you have it! An overview of some of the leading ride hailing apps in Asia. Just to be clear, this post doesn’t cover all available taxi apps in Asia. Instead, we focused on ones that also have an English interface for foreigners, especially helpful for business travel in the region.
Now on to you! Which one is your favorite to use?