October 20, 2018


Top 10 apps you need for living in China



1. Communication: WeChat (微信)

The app to rule them all, WeChat is the very definition of indispensable in China. This is where you will connect with your friends, communicate with your boss (forget emails), make business deals, flirt, and much more. Just don’t expect too much privacy!

WeChat also makes shopping easier. Its wallet function, WeChat Pay, is so widespread that many are already speculating that China could go completely cashless. You can even use it to pay your bus fare or while traveling abroad.

Unfortunately, the mini apps WeChat are so well known for do not work so well in the English version, but the app has other great features, including a myriad of subscription accounts to keep you updated on events and news. Go forth into the world and scan those QR codes!

 Available in English


2.Buying anything you could possibly want: Taobao (淘宝)/JD.com(京东)

The king of shopping in China, its majesty Taobao, offers everything from fully functional airplanes to temporary boyfriends. One awesome feature Taobao offers is image search. Just take a photo of the product you want, upload it on the app and give a snarky laugh to the lady at the market who wanted to sell you the same item for a triple price.

While Taobao mostly connects resellers and customers, it’s sister site Tmall hosts brand’s official online stores which is why it is a better solution for searching authentic products. For quality electronics, check out JD’s app.

 Available in English


3. Calling a car: DiDi (滴滴出行)

Your plan for staying home forever failed? Worry not, DiDi has your back. The ride-hailing app that swallowed Uber China offers regular taxis, a private car service called Premier, and the Express option for carpooling.

 Available in English


4. Renting a bike: Mobike (摩拜单车)/ofo (小黄车)

So you tried to get a taxi and got stuck in one of those traffic jams of epic proportions for which Chinese cities are known. Enter bike rental apps. Mobike and ofo are the biggest players on the market but there are many other options such as Bluegogo and these dazzling golden bikes equipped with phone charging.

Ofo’s partnership with DiDi means that users can also search for bikes using DiDi’s app. Mobike has a similar deal with a ride-hailing company called Shouqi (首汽租车) but the cities covered by the partnership is still limited. The company also has a mini app integrated with WeChat’s wallet.

Mobike Available in English


5. Paying for stuff: Alipay (支付宝)

To use all of most of these great apps, you will need to set up your Alipay wallet. The difference between Alipay and its arch-nemesis WeChat Pay is that the former one is a standalone app. Among other features, Alipay offers bill payments, hospital registration, and even international money transfers. Unfortunately, the last option is available only to Chinese nationals or foreigners with a Chinese green card.

Alipay also comes with integrated services like Taobao, Airbnb, and Uber and right now it is testing its own mini-apps.

Available in English


6. Takeout delivery: Ele.me (饿了么)/Meituan(美团外卖)

We’ve got your communication needs settled, now it’s time for some food. Food delivery in China is an impressively dynamic and tech-driven industry which means that users have a variety of choices. Both Ele.me and Meituan offer supermarket delivery (京东到家 is great for that, too)—you will never have to leave your home again!


7. Travelling: Ctrip(携程)/ Qunar (去哪儿)

China has so many great places to visit, your bucket list is likely to continually expand. To help you find the best prices for train and plane tickets both for China and abroad, check out Ctrip and Qunar. The apps are practically identical which could be explained by the fact that the two companies are actually partners. Both of them work with Airbnb’s biggest rival in China Tujia.

Thanks to its flight tracking feature Fliggy (飞猪) is a great app for frequent travelers which are far too familiar with China’s infamous plane delays.

Available in English: Yes for Ctrip only the website


8. Pleco Chinese Dictionary

While living and exploring China, you may find yourself in a rural city needing to ask where the bathroom is.  Having the Pleco Chinese Dictionary app is a must have while in China.  You are able to tap in English text and it will automatically translate it to Chinese.  The app will then translate it for you and even give you a recording of the phrase your typed in.  This app will be one of your favorite apps while living and exploring China.  Also a great app to really start learning the Chinese language on your own.

Available in English


9. Waygo: Instant Chinese-English translation

Nothing can be more challenging than living in China when you lack basic understanding of the Chinese language. But with Waygo already installed in your smartphone, then life can be easier while living in China. This app is basically a visual translator designed to translate Chinese characters into English by simply hovering your smartphone over the Chinese characters you are clueless about.

While the Waygo app may not know all the Chinese characters, it however does an excellent job when it comes to translating nearly all the main characters in the Chinese language. The beauty of this app is that it can work offline and thus you don’t need internet connection to use it effectively. Again, it is user friendly and compatible with almost all types of smartphones.  You will want this app to help you order food.

Available in English


10. VPN

While there can be no denying that traveling in China can be a great experience, it is nevertheless impossible to share your experiences with your family and friends through social media. In China, social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook , Snapchat and Instagram among others aren’t usable.

Therefore, the VPN app comes in handy when traveling or living in this country. This app is specially designed to prevent third parties from limiting or monitoring your access to the web. VPN is one of the best apps for China. In addition, it can be easily downloaded onto nearly all types of smartphones. However, it is always good to download in onto your phone prior to traveling to China since you may experience problems when downloading it and setting it up within the country.

Usually Available in English


These Apps Can Really Enhance Your Experience in China!

Apps are increasingly changing how people live and travel, especially in China. Installing the right apps on your smartphone while traveling or living in China can help eliminate challenges associated with traveling and living in this country. That is why you should have these 10 apps mentioned here along with others in case you are thinking of traveling or living in China.

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