10 Apps You Will Definitely Need While Visiting China

Since there are approximately 2,000 websites and apps blocked in China.

China is one of the many places in Asia that was given a bad name by western media; however, it’s a very beautiful tourist destination. It features a unique mixture of modern cities like Tokyo and New York, while exuding beautifully preserved culture like Thailand or Brunei. It is a unique country splashed with colors of the future and beautiful hues of its past.

But before you travel to this lovely place, you need to know that there are approximately 2,000 websites and apps blocked in China. This means that normal mobile apps that you have been using when travelling to places might not really be available for use. No need to fret, however, as here’s a list of ten apps that are very important and useful for every traveler when visiting China.

1. Tencent QQ

Better known as QQ, Tencent QQ is an instant messaging software app that is commonly used in China. This app started as a computer application, and does not need mobile phone numbers to register. That is why this is a good messaging app to download for travellers who opt not to get temporary SIM cards.

2. WeChat

This is QQ’s number one competitor in China. While QQ is more widely used as a desktop application, WeChat gained its popularity as a popular mobile app, which it continues to be even to this day. Unlike QQ, WeChat can also be used as a form of sending payment between persons, like Venmo. If you go shopping around the city, you can do so without bringing cash and simply use WeChat to transfer money from one person to another.

3. Alipay

In case you’re not in need of an instant messaging app, or if you’re completely comfortable with QQ, you may also want to download Alipay. It is an online platform used widely in China and the greatest competitor to WeChat’s payment tool. Think of it as Paypal, but only that you are within the borders of China.

4. UC mobile browser

Some, if not all, Google products have been blocked in China. That means, if you are a heavy Google Chrome user, you have to temporarily switch to UC mobile browser. It was developed by a Chinese mobile Internet company and is widely used by locals given that its faster than any browsers available in the area.

5. Google Maps

Presently, Google Maps works without any issue. This is a great app to use when roaming around China, which will no doubt be a welcome for many travelers given how ubiquitous and popularity of the service around the world. And it definitely feels good to use an app that you are greatly familiar with especially when asking directions.

6. Pleco

As someone who wants to explore China, communicating with the locals might be a complete struggle. Pleco can help you when you cannot understand menus, signs and even simple conversations. It is a mobile app widely used to help translate English words to Chinese or vice versa. The best thing about this app is the ability to draw Chinese characters so you can check what is its English translation.

7. Uber

Sounds familiar, right? Yes! Uber is available in China. While riding the subway is the best form of transportation in China, for those who do not like to ride on the subway, there will always be an Uber driver available to pick you up from anywhere. And there’s no need to worry as it works exactly the same way as how you’ve been using the Uber app back home.

8. China Metro

Riding a subway could be such a challenge, but China Metro eases your worries. It is the largest subway map in China. You will not be lost looking for the subway in huge cities or even in the smallest ones. The best thing about this subway map is it includes countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong. So, if you’re planning to travel off the mainland by subway, download this app!

9. Dianping

Looking for a good place to eat? Dianping can help you with that. It is a restaurant review platform to help you decide where you want to fill up your hungry tummies. It’s very similar to Yelp and Dianping works in the same way. As a matter of fact, people call it the “Yelp of China.”

10. City Weekend Beijing/Shanghai

Nothing can feel more comfortable than knowing other expats are in your area. Get the latest news through City Weekend, which is a magazine powered by experts and expatriates. It provides entertainment news and updates and it even provides suggestions to find the latest restaurant hot spots, bars, and events you need to try.

There are just a handful of apps that you might want to use when you are in China. However, the list consists of what is normally downloaded to help travellers and tourists have the best possible experience in the country. Beyond all the apps, the best way to enjoy a truly enriching experience in China is to travel with a fun and positive attitude. Enjoy!

Photos: unsplash.com

What’s your favorite app to use in China? Share with us in the comments.

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and Russia because they were all so different! St. Bart's was pretty amazing too (wink)!

Jetset Times in your inbox

Sign-up for our newsletter

By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Policy and European users agree to the data transfer policy.