10 Must-Have Apps For China
China is a country with not only a different culture to the Western one, but it also provides different surroundings and different places to discover. Here is 10 must-have apps we’d like to recommend to you if you visit China.
1) A VPN (Virtual Private Network), e.g. ExpressVPN
A VPN helps you to get internet access through servers which are in another country. Since Google, Facebook, WhatsApp & co. are blocked in China, a VPN is mandatory if you want to share your experience abroad with your friends back home. One VPN provider which works in the Middle Kingdom (as China is also known) is called ExpressVPN.
2) WeChat 微信 available in English, German & other languages
WeChat is an instant messenger used by almost every Chinese with much more features than for example WhatsApp. You can not only chat with friends and colleagues or post some photos in your moments, but also scan QR-Codes, play games and even pay with WeChat once you have connected your bank account to it. All these features and much more are combined in only one app and the method of cashless payment is very secure and convenient. The payment with WeChat Pay is very easy and you only have to scan a QR-Code provided by the merchant. Another way is that the merchant will scan a barcode provided by your WeChat and the amount of money will automatically be transferred from your bank account to the merchant’s WeChat Pay account.
If you want to stay in touch with your new Chinese business partners or friends, WeChat is definitely the app to have.
3) Alipay 支付宝 available in English
Let us take a look on another app for cashless payment. Alipay still has a little bit more market share than its competitor WeChat Pay because it is provided by the Alibaba Group. Alibaba also runs the biggest online platforms in China (Tmall, Taobao) and only accepts Alipay as a mobile payment function. It basically works in the same way WeChat Pay does but you can also invest money through a feature and can get a credibility score based on your previous payment behavior. If you want to run a flagship store on one of those platforms with AsiaAssist, we will also help you to open up an Alipay account for you!
4) Pleco available in English
Pleco seems to be the best translator when it comes to English-Chinese translations. We all know that Google translate does not always translate the text correctly but with Pleco, you can be sure that the correct meaning is translated and each word is explained carefully. Furthermore, you can write (draw) the Chinese characters in case you do not know the pinyin-transcription. If you purchase the premium version, you can also take a picture of a Chinese text and Pleco will help you to translate it if you click on the Chinese characters.
5) ELeMe 饿了么
Do you feel hungry? Do you need shampoo? In case that this might happen – although it is very unlikely to feel hungry in China since you can get food everywhere – you can order food or any kinds of groceries via ELeMe. The delivery man will come on his motorbike wherever you are and will deliver your purchased products or food. Although this app is not available in English yet, you just need a Chinese mobile phone number and some money on WeChat Pay, Alipay or a registered bank account. And then you can easily order anything from anywhere.
6) Mobike 摩拜单车 or Ofo 小黄车, available in Englis
Do you want to explore the city conveniently? Do you just want to go to the next supermarket without spending a lot of time on it? Then ride a bike! There are plenty of green, yellow, red or blue shared bikes in Chinese cities. All you need is an account on either Mobike or Ofo which are the two main providers for shared bikes. Luckily, the app is also available in English and it is very easy to use. You only have to pay a deposit which will be refund once you click on the refund button.And in the case of Mobike, you can either pay 1 RMB per ride (around 15ct) or 20 RMB for a monthly membership with free rides included.
After that, you just have to scan the QR-code of one of the bikes around you and after a few seconds, the lock will open so that you can enjoy your ride.
Download the app, open your bike and explore the city!
7) DiDi ChuXing 滴滴出行 available in English
Taking a taxi is quite easy in China but sometimes it is cheaper, or more convenient, to just call a ‘DiDi car’. These drivers do not work for a taxi company but drive around in their private cars during their free time – the Chinese version of Uber. Using this app, you can choose your pick up location and your desired destination and usually within a couple of minutes one of those private drivers will pick you up! Since DiDi ChuXing is also available in English you can easily show the driver your destination and do not have to explain it to a non-English-speaking driver. Moreover, you can follow the route on your mobile phone to make sure that the driver does not take a detour.
The only disadvantage is that you can only pay online and not cash. So you need WeChat Pay or Alipay.
8) GaoDe DiTu 高德地图
Since GoogleMaps does not work in China without a VPN, you should better be safe than sorry – and install a Chinese map on your mobile phone. Although GaoDe is not available in English you can fill in the English address and the map will guide you there! You just need some patience at the beginning in order to find out what ‘by taxi’, ‘by car’, ‘by public transportation’, ‘by bike’ and ‘by foot’ are. Hang in there, AsiaAssist believes in you! And: GaoDe can define your position very accurately. So you do not have to be afraid of getting lost.
9) CTrip available in English, German & other languages
CTrip helps you to buy and book hotels, plane tickets and train tickets online and it is available in various languages which makes it very easy to handle. Furthermore, you can also pay with your European credit card so that you do not necessarily need a Chinese bank account! Booking through CTrip is fast, convenient and safe but also, especially for plane tickets, a bit more expensive than booking on the airline’s website or other websites. The handling is definitely good and the biggest advantage of this app. And saving time is an important thing in this fast-moving world.
10) Taobao 淘宝网
Taobao is one of the Alibaba platforms and is comparable to ebay. There is nothing you cannot find on Taobao and it is often much cheaper than buying in offline stores. However, the quality is not always high standard and you should only buy products from merchants who have good feedback to make sure that you will get a satisfying product.
Your order will be delivered to you within a couple of hours or days which is very convenient. If you prefer to buy more high quality products, you can check out Tmall.com which is also one of Alibaba’s platforms and focuses on B2C business.