So, you’re making the move to China, or popping over for a holiday? It may seem daunting, or exciting – and in reality, it is both of those things! So how do you prepare for your time in China?
We’ve compiled a list of Apps to set you up for both a short and long-term stay in China. Make sure to download them before you set off!
Easily the most important application for anyone in the Middle Kingdom. WeChat is not only a messaging platform, but is also a payment system, a taxi ordering service, a food ordering service and so much more! WeChat is the king of apps and is a sign of what will most likely start sweeping the world in years to come.
There’s really not much that is app can’t do and is a must-have for anyone wanting to communicate within China. It’s greatest feature (and also most dangerous for the financially irresponsible) is WeChat pay. Simply connect it to your Chinese ban account and start scanning. Anything from purchases in a big department store or even the roadside seller of chestnuts, everyone will have a QR code that you can send money through. I have even seen a beggar with his own QR code! What a time to be alive!
Food is an essential part of life, however, sometimes you just don’t want to leave the comfort of your home. While in the west pizza delivery is commonplace along with a few other fast food places that have begun delivering, in China everything can be delivered. With cheap delivery fees and an inexhaustible range of restaurants to choose from, baiduwaimai will make your life easy and will be your best friend when the pollution sets in and you don’t want to leave the house.
Our favorite feature is not just ordering from restaurants, it is the ability to also do your grocery shopping on this app. Fresh fruit, vegetables, wine, bread, toothpaste. When we said anything could be delivered we weren’t exaggerating.
Although the major cities of China have some of the most amazing subway systems in the world, sometimes you just want to enjoy the fresh (!) air. Howe, er sometimes that distance is just that bit too far to walk. Ofo is a bicycle rental app that allows you to pick up a bike randomly off the street ride to your location and leave it there. The sheer number of these bikes (especially in a city like Beijing) means that you are most likely never more than 5 metres away from one. Just scan and ride to your destination!
Not just useful in China, but also useful in other metropolises worldwide, Metroman is your guide to the subway. With large confusing subway systems in many of China’s cities, Metroman will show how to get from A to B with the most convenient route. One download and you have access to every metro system in China. Just select your city and start your journey!
Baidu Maps 百度地图
Due to the inaccessibility of Google in China, Baidu Maps reigns supreme. This is essentially the Google maps of China, however it is more up to date and has more information than Google can provide.
A must-have for the Chinese learner! Long gone are the days when people had to use two types of dictionaries to find a character when studying Mandarin. Pleco allows you to look up characters and words in Chinese with absolutely simplicity. There are even features that allow you to use your camera to analyse a character and obtain its meaning. I know I’ve already said this once, but I must reiterate, “What a time to be alive!”.
Didi da che 嘀嘀打车
China’s answer to Uber. Well, kind of. Uber did try and come into China, however a deal was struck with Didi Da Che which existed long before Uber came onto the scene. This is absolutely mandatory if you are to get around cities late at night when the metro has shut down. You can call private cars and metred taxis, even ordering them well in advance for when you need to get to the airport at all hours in the morning. If you’ve ever tried to hail a taxi on the streets of Shanghai or Beijing on a Friday night, you’ll understand why this app is necessary.
Dazhong dianping 大众点评
The Urbanspoon of China! This is a great app for food enthusiasts looking for good recommendations close by or for those searching for a certain type of cuisine. Useful all throughout China, this app will make you seem like local when friends visit as you take them to the best eateries available.