Are you planning to go on a short trip to China, or considering living in China for long term? Either way, you would need to have the knowledge of using apps that are adapted in China, in order make the most of your stay or immerse yourself into living in the local Chinese way.
Not sure how? You can simply chill out, as here in this blog, I’m introducing you 16 must-have apps that you don’t want to miss out during your stay in China!
1. Maps: Baidu Maps (百度地图), Apple Maps
If you know some Chinese reading, then Baidu Maps is the perfect app. Its route planner leads you directly from one point to another, supported by an audio sound. Not only it shows various transport routes, but it also factors in real time traffic conditions, accurate waiting times and estimated length of time for a journey.
However, if your Chinese reading skill is not that strong, Apple Maps can be an alternative. Similar to Baidu Maps, Apple Maps helps you find different ways to your destination with spoken directions. Along the journey, it provides instant updates about traffic information, therefore helping to estimate your total amount of time needed to commute. Additionally, it has indexed categories, including ‘Food & drink’, ‘Shopping’, ‘Fun’, and ‘Travel’, which can suggest you the closest attractions, hotels, restaurants, banks and ATMs and more. This would greatly smoothen your travel plan.
2. Subway Map: MetroMan (地铁通)
With MetroMan, which works in all cities in China, it gives you the details of subway information. To navigate, first, pick your journey from your departure station to arrival station. second, pick the date and time, then, the app will show a choice of different routes for you, with all their estimated time for the journey, number of transfers, as well as fares. As such, you can simply pick the right route that matches your timeframe and budget, and set off!
3. Taxi: DIDi (滴滴出行)
For times, when you’re in a rush or seek for a more relaxed and convenient option, DiDi app is just the right pick for ordering a cab. The app comes with both Chinese and English versions, making non-Chinese speakers’ lives much easier. Similar to other taxi apps, you’d need to enter your pick-up location, and destination, and there, your driver will bring you to wherever you need.
4. Communication: Wechat (微信)
As many of you may already know, Wechat is the most widely used communication app across China. Apart from chatting with your friends and seeing their updates and posts in ‘Moments’, it has other features that practically help your daily activities, including Wechat Pay. With Wechat Pay, you can shop however you like, both in physical stores and online platforms. Moreover, you’re able to send and request money from friends!
If you’re looking to make new friends, Wechat’s ‘Shake’ function let you instantly interact and chat with people around your area. But of course, if you have no interest in knowing people nearby, feel free to turn off this feature.
5. Payment: Wechat Pay (微信支付), Alipay (支付宝)
Do you know the majority of people living in China use their smart phones to make payments in basically all situations, such as utility bills, shops, restaurants etc? It’s rare that young people would still carry a wallet or cash when going out nowadays.
To use Wechat Pay, which is already pre-installed in Wechat communication app, you can simply add your card details from Chinese or international banks, and you’re all set. To make payment, you may display your barcode from ‘Quick Pay’ option, which merchants will scan and payment will then be gone through!
Apart from Wechat Pay, another well-known mobile payment app includes Alipay, yet, at current stage, you’d need to have a Chinese bank card to do so.
6. Bicycle: Mobike (摩拜单车), Hellobike (哈罗单车)
Shared bikes are especially popular among China. Of various options, Mobike and Hellobike are the two most commonly used bikes. They’d need to bond with a payment method, before making fully refundable deposits, which could be either Wechat Pay, Alipay or proper Chinese bank cards.
Both Mobike and Hellobike require you to scan the QR code on the bike with the apps. It will then automatically be unlocked, and you can ride your way!
They two companies offer a couple models of bikes, catering for people with different needs, size, and heights.
7. Tour Guide: DianPing (大众点评)
Want to explore all amazing local places like a pro? DianPing is undoubtedly your choice! It’s just a Chinese version of Tripadvisor, and beyond that! It tells you a vast majority of places that Chinese people will visit, ranging from restaurants, movie theatres, hotels, shopping centres, to gyms, hospitals, learning centres, salons, karaoke, and all other services! Literally, you name it, it’s got it!
With ratings, photos and comments supplied by other customers, it helps you discover the hidden gem in China.
8. Travel Planner: Ctrip
When you’re in a big country like China, you might want to travel across cities, and that’s when Ctrip comes in to assist. With Ctrip, it acts as your personal travel agency, offering services like accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management.
So, if you’d like to view different options of train tickets and book online, you’d find Ctrip useful.
9. Online Shopping: Taobao (淘宝)
Everyone in China knows Taobao. It’s basically an upgraded version of Amazon. Why? It has more products, and much cheaper prices. Therefore, if you’re staying in China for good, you’ll absolutely need Taobao. In Taobao, you can actually find anything, from physical products to services. What’s more, you can interact the vendor directly and instantly, via Taobao’s chat messenger, so you would have better knowledge about the product before making the purchase.
10. Food Delivery: Waimai Meituan (美团外卖), Ele.me (饿了么), Baidu Waimai (百度外卖)
Food is one of the nicest part of China. If you’re planning to live in China, food delivery services are something cannot lack.
Waimai Meituan, Baidu Waimai and Ele.me are ones of the top food delivery apps used in China. Similar to all other food delivery apps, they offer you a list of food available to be delivered to your door, with an estimated arrival time.
But, how about you only want to have some snacks and beers that you can eat and drink while watching telly at home? Or how about you prefer to cook yourself a nice meal, and just found there’s not enough ingredients? Baidu Waimai and Ele.me have been impressively awesome to provide supermarket delivery! They’d arrive as soon as you’ve made your order. With such invincible food delivery apps, no one ever needs to leave their home again for food!
11. Group Buying: Meituan (美团)
Things in China is not inexpensive enough? How about buying through group buying sites? Meituan is the biggest group buying site in China, and includes all sorts of deals that save your pennies. Like other group buying sites, their deals cover basic things, such as dining experiences, hotel deals, movie tickets, business to consumer services, like home repairing services. Yet, on Meituan, you’ll also find business to business deals, such as corporate training workshops, home building materials, etc. With such a dynamic app, what else cannot be purchased cheap?