Top 10 Essential Apps to have in China

  1. Pleco: This is one of the best Chinese-English dictionaries out there. It is filled with very helpful tools that can immensely facilitate your stay in China. Some of these useful features include handwriting recognition so you can draw characters you don’t know and voice recognition so you can get people to speak into it when you don’t understand what they’re saying. You can also download add-ons, like character flash cards that help you study on the go.
  2. Dianping: This is a great app for finding the best restaurants in town. It’s almost like a Chinese Yelp app. It comes in handy whenyou’re lost in the city looking for something fun to do. You can browse through nearby restaurants, coffee shops, cinemas, KTVs, etc. wherever you are. Each listing includes the address, contact info and a map so you can navigate your way around the city or show it to your taxi driver. The downside could be that it’s all in Chinese but that’s when the Pleco app can help.
  3. WeChat: This is one of the most popular free messaging services in China. The majority of people you meet will ask if you have a WeChat. Not only can you send messages but you can share pictures and videos with friends as well. WeChat also helps you connect with other people in your proximate area, which is great if you’re looking to socialize and connect with more people offline.
  4. Metroman Beijing/Shanghai: If you’re braving public transport this nifty little app is a must to help you navigate the Metro train system. All you have to do is type in your start and end point and let Metroman plan your trip.
  5. Google maps: Always a lifesaver, make sure to study it to plan your trips as it can save time looking lost in the streets.
  6. Air Quality China: This mobile app can check real time Air Quality Index (AQI) values of all major cities in China that are known for their air pollution problem. It can be updated automatically every 30 minutes using its widget.
  7. Taobao: Owned by the eCommerce titan Alibaba, is a shopping app as well as a web app that is similar to eBay and Amazon. It is one of the world’s top visited websites. You’re sure to find what you need here.
  8. City Weekend Beijing/Shanghai: This app allows users to browse venues as well as see and post reviews of them. It is similar to Dianping except that it’s directed more to expats as it was developed by China’s most popular expat magazine, City Weekend. It’s not just venues you can find here but the latest events that are happening in the ever fast changing city of Beijing and Shanghai.