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Sitting in the front passenger seat of taxis is acceptable; some taxis even mount the taxi meter down by the gearbox, where you can only see it from the front seat. Be warned that drivers may start smoking without asking by just opening their window and lighting up. In some cities it is also common for drivers to try and pick up multiple passengers if their destinations are in the same general direction. Each passenger pays full fare but it saves the time of waiting for an empty cab at rush hour.
Outside of Beijing and Shanghai, it is difficult to find an English-speaking cabbie. Saying the destination's name in [[Chinese phrasebook|Mandarin]], but with your native pronunciation, may not be understood. Therefore, it is advisable have the destination written. Chinese characters are better for this than a romanized (pinyin) version, as many drivers cannot read pinyin, and the same pinyin may correspond to different characters. Get business cards for your hotel, and for restaurants you like, to show taxi drivers. Equip yourself with a sound-tracked guide to conversation in Chinese. Such tools can be easily found on the Internet in different languages. Through your cell phone, your Chinese friends can state the destination to the driver
In some cities, taxi companies use a star-rating system for drivers, ranging from 0 to 5, displayed on the driver's name-plate, on the dashboard in front of the passenger seat. While no or few stars do not necessarily indicate a bad driver, many stars tend to indicate good knowledge of the city, and willingness to take you to where you ask by the shortest way. Another indicator of the driver's ability can be found on the same name-plate - the driver's ID number. A small number indicates a long on the job and, most likely, good knowledge of the city. If you feel you are being cheated, get out the car and write down the license plate number and if you speak some Chinese (or have a good phrasebook) threaten to report the driver to the city or the taxi company. Most drivers are honest and fares are reasonable, but dishonest drivers will try to use visitors' lack of Chinese skills to their advantage.