10 Must-Have Apps for Living in China

5 essential apps to get you through in China

Getting ready for your China trip? Not until you’ve downloaded these apps on your phone!

Due to the internet firewalls, China has very different systems. Simply bringing your app usage habit from home to China can sometimes lead to frustrations.

So, there we go: the 10 must-have apps for living in China, once you get used to using them, you might find it difficult to adjust back!  

WeChat   

WeChat is an amazing communication app. In 2018, it has a shockingly huge number of 1.08 billion worldwide monthly active users!

In fact, most businesses over there use it to communicate with their employees. 

With WeChat, you can do basically everything. You can text, video chat, call people that you know. You can share pictures and your thoughts with your friends on your moments page. Even pay for items using WeChat Wallet!

For expats in China, the best part is that your family and friends can also download WeChat, and you can stay in touch with everyone that way. And it’s free of charge. 

With the rising popularity and integrations of this app, people nowadays use it for hailing a Didi taxi, paying for restaurant bills etc..

Didi  

apps in china - didi taxi

In China, hailing a taxi is as easy as using the Didi app. You can still raise your hand up to hail one in China, but it is much easier and faster to utilize this app.

The first thing you need to do is download the app to your phone and create an account. Same with Uber, you will be required to enter a payment method before finalizing your account. You can use WeChat Wallet, Alipay, QQ Wallet, a bank card, or an international credit card. You can even request a specific type of car from their express, taxi, premier, and luxe options. Simply wait for your taxi to arrive and then pay when you reach your destination.

Taobao   

apps in China - taobao online shopping

Taobao is China’s largest online marketplace. It’s a perfect online resource for all your purchasing needs. While you can use their website, the app will make shopping a breeze wherever you are!  

If you know exactly what item you are looking for, you can enter that into the search bar. However, if you are not quite sure what you need or want, a simple keyword search should provide you with enough products to determine exactly what item to purchase.

Feel free to check out any item’s reviews at the bottom of the page, or simply contact the seller with any questions that you may have. Chinese merchandisers are famous for their speedy response time!  

Ele.met

apps in China - eleme food delivery

The locals in China love to use their smartphones to do just about anything, and that includes ordering food for delivery.  

This app will allow you to order from any nearby restaurant and have your food delivered in no time at all!  

You can choose the restaurant that you want, select your meal, and then pay for your food. As you are waiting for your delivery, you can check the location of your food via the app. Isn’t that cool? 

VPN apps 

VPN app

It is going to be necessary for you to have VPN apps on your phone. We recommend having at least a couple of them, as some get blocked or stop working every once in a while.  

These VPNs will allow you to access the sites that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to while in China. Sites such as Facebook, Google, or YouTube. VPNs can also ensure that the information you are requesting does not fall into the wrong hands.  

Google Translate

apps in China - google translate

I know, it seems a little crazy to choose a google app. Trust me, this one is worth setting up before arriving (or with the help of your VPN).

Having multiple language apps on hand to cross check is great, but Google has the best overall package. The languages are downloadable, so even when you don’t have internet or don’t want to turn on your VPN, it still works perfectly.

This app is also the best way to have meaningful conversations with non-English speakers. While the conversation function is useful, the reverse translate function is what makes the app the best.

It’s possible to have extensive conversations through google translate that are facilitated strongly by the ability to double check your work through reverse translate.

Alipay / Zhifubao

apps in China - alipay/zhifubao

Alipay is primarily used as a payment service, like your WeChat wallet. Having both can be useful in different situations. Some regions even prefer Alipay, with more shops taking it instead of WeChat.

Landlords may ask to be paid rent through Alipay, since it is easy to transfer directly to their bank account.

Some apps and websites like taobao can only use Alipay, so you’ll find that having this as a payment option is especially useful.

Baidu Maps

apps in China - baidu maps

Apple maps may work, but Baidu maps is the most accurate for China and has better functionality.

Don’t bother with Google Maps, because even with a VPN, it’s incredibly out of date. It will likely not even know about the most recent 6 or 7 metro lines that were built in your city.

Once you practice finding addresses in Chinese, this should be your go to for directions and transit info. Baidu Maps includes options for bike routes/times, and even the ability to opt between biking and walking times for the portion of your trip that gets you to the metro or bus stop.

Baidu Maps Google Play

Baidu Maps Apple Store

Mobike

apps in China - mobike

Mobike is amazing but controversial

Due to over-saturation of the market, the rise of bike-sharing in China led to massive bike graveyards and sidewalks that no longer had room for walking.

The theory behind it is great though – fewer cars and greenhouse emissions, you can park it anywhere, healthier than sitting on the metro, and cheaper than anything except walking. Plus the overcrowding is better managed now.

The prices have risen since its induction but it is still a worthwhile mode of transport.

Air Visual

apps in China - air visual

Fortunately, many major cities in China are starting to work toward meditating the pollution problem.

At this moment, having an app like Air Visual can give you up to date pollution radar. You can know how bad the smog is, whether you should wear a mask, run freely in the streets, or hide in your apartment sniffing in the air from your air purifier.

There are many other apps like this, so just make sure you have something to keep up to date with the air quality.

Living in China With Great Convenience

As you can see, life in China today is very convenient enabled by advanced technologies and hardworking Chinese people.

Get started trying out these ten apps mentioned above! It will make your life so much easier while living in China. In fact, you’ll get so used to it so much, that you might even have difficulty adjusting yourself once you go back home!    

More About China:

7 Must-Try Flavors: Discover The Most Authentic Chinese Food

7 Must-Know Online Chinese Translation Tools

The Ultimate China Travel Guide For Beginners 

14 Interesting Chinese Culture Facts 

8 Most Popular Chinese Festivals That Every Chinese Celebrates

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