DiDi vs Grab: Familiar app, but different experiences

DiDi vs Grab: Familiar app, but different experiences

DiDi: Orange Grab: Green
DiDi and Grab are both ride sharing apps that drove Uber out of Asia, but the user experience has evolved to fit the needs of local people.
I have been riding DiDi in Shanghai for the past six months to get from places to places.
For the past weeks, I traveled to Thailand and tried out Grab. The user interface felt so familiar, but the experience felt completely different.

The Driver

Ride sharing app would be pointless if there are no drivers to pick you up. Therefore, 90% of the user experience depends on the driver.


The driver are required to be quiet and not disrupt the passenger unless the passenger asked.
The driver usually has an irritated face because of the awful traffic in Shanghai.
Travel Tip:
DiDi rating goes both way from passenger to driver and driver to passenger. Higher rating of the passenger gets matched with better driver.
It’s tough for new user to get a superb driver in the beginning, so if you’re only staying in China for short-term, find a reliable Chinese friend to hail DiDi for you. (Assuming that friend has a good track record with DiDi).


The driver are more upbeat. We made friend with one of the Grab driver, because she was being extra helpful and telling us what’s fun in Thailand. One of the car even decorated the ceiling with LED lights to look like stars.
The traffic in Bangkok is awful too, but the drivers are patient and calm.
Travel Tip:
The driver we met in Thailand helped us to buy tickets for the aquarium. We know the price is legit because we looked it up online beforehand. There are great opportunities to make friends, just make sure you do some research for the price related stuff.

The Rides

These are the services that are provided by DiDi and Grab. Note that this is only for China and Thailand. Same apps outside of these countries might offer more or less of the same services.


Offers Express, Luxury, Select, Taxi, Hitch, Bus, Designated Driver, Bike sharing with off, Car Rental.
Personally, I have only used DiDi Express. Although there are exceptions when it’s the rush hour or if your location is far into the rural area, It’s the quickest way to hail a ride.
Designated Driver is something unique to the China market, because of the drinking culture after work. You can drive to a restaurant, get hammered, then call a designated driver through DiDi to drive you home.


Offers JustGrab, GrabCar, GrabBike(Delivery), GrabBike(Win), GrabTaxi, GrabCar Plus.
The biggest difference will be that Thailand has a large number of motorcycles as opposed to China that has a large number of electric scooters.
During my travel, I saw a fleet of bike riders wearing orange vest with different number. They would wave at you and say, “Taxi?” and then point to their bike as Tuk Tuk driver would do, but I guess Grab only work with motorcycle taxi, not Tuk Tuk.
You can also order food and have it delivered to you. Compared to China, you would have to use a different app to order food delivery.

The Payment

This number is based on the rides that I took. Price can fluctuate based on exchange rate and market demands.
Paying with Alipay or WeChat pay straight from your phone.
Travel Tip: DiDi has been known to be difficultwhen trying to pay with non-Chinese credit card.
I was surprised that you can choose to pay with cash, which means Grab doesn’t take any commission from the driver.
But at the same time,
You can also pay with Alipay. Chinese tourists have a heavy influence in Thailand.
Travel Tip: Thai people don’t pay tips. Some drivers in Thailand are used to foreigners paying tips. Tuk Tuk are fun to ride, but the price are opaque.
All in all, Grab feels like DiDi because DiDi had invested money and technology into Grab. If you’re interested, you can read more on wikipedia about DiDi or Grab.
Just remember to be safe when you’re traveling. If you’re a girl, I wouldn’t recommend taking DiDi or Grab alone at night. If you have to, contact a friend before getting on the car to deter any bad intention from the driver.
Thanks for reading. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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