Turbocharge your experience in China by adding these apps to your arsenal. If you haven’t noticed already people in China’s lives are dominated by their mobile phones, from mobile payments to transport, your mobile phone can be used to do almost anything here in China.
Furthermore, the best way to access all the best features in China is through mobile apps and there are plenty to choose from. Below we have compiled the top must-have apps in while living in China.
Communication and Services
What would a list of Chinese Apps be without mentioning WeChat. You are likely to have heard of this app and you are most likely already using it. With its main function as a messaging and calling tool, this app offers so much more than just that. While you might not need another app for any form of communication among friends and colleagues, WeChat’s Groups function is where this app really comes alive.
WeChatPay & AliPay
WeChat also allows you to make payments on almost anywhere from large shopping centers to international chains and even your local street vendor. This and Alipay (支付宝) “zhifubao”, are the only payment apps that Chinese people need and payments can be used by just scanning a QR code. Also, you can very easily send and receive money between your contacts in which will be deposited into your “WeChat Wallet”. Did you know that you can also pay for things such as your phone bill and utilities using WeChat?
Also, did you know that through WeChat you have access to many other features such as booking Rail & Flights, Hotels, Movie Tickets, Ride-Hailing, and more. To access them just go to your profile and select the WeChat Pay option as you normally do when making a payment. Then, just scroll down and you will notice different options such as the ones shown in the image below.
Welcome to China’s answer to Uber with the app completely dominating the ride-hailing market in China. With this app, you can either use your phone to hail a DiDi driver or hail an official city taxi for you, or you can reserve a car for a specific time. The drivers are rated which provides a level of accountability which you can trust.
DiDi – English
Don’t worry if your Chinese isn’t that strong as you can use English names of places or show the driver the location, they all use navigation, so you don’t have to worry about giving directions. It will also be able to sync with your WeChat account and select automatic payments for ultimate ease, with functions such as the app being able to remember where you tend to go at certain times or on certain days and suggest the location for you.
For navigation, Baidu Maps is the equivalent of Google maps in china. Offering far better insight and knowledge into all of the streets and city networks, Baidu maps also provide the times and routes by bus, subway, bike and more. Despite the app being in Chinese, its user-friendly interface is still simple to use and can help you get familiar with Chinese names of places.
Train and Flight Bookings
C-Trip – 携程旅游
If you are looking to go slightly further and book yourself some train and plane tickets then this app is perfect for you, and even better, they have stopped charging fees for train tickets.
Food and Drink Delivery
If you are familiar with apps like Uber Eats or Deliveroo in Europe and the US then look no further than to these Chinese equivalents. You have probably seen a lot of food delivery guys rushing around the city, these are known as ‘Waimai guys’. In Modern Day China, you can get whatever you want delivered to your door. Choose a restaurant from the app, select the food you want and pay with WeChat or Alipay, the app will remember your address and your order history, and you can even order things from a supermarket, including items for your kitchen or bathroom.
This coffee chain that started in 2018 is spreading around China at an astonishing pace and is taking Starbucks head on to be the Coffee King of China. Their storefronts are popping up everywhere in cities like Xi’an and Chengdu so they can offer faster, fresher service than any of their competitors. With their own app, they can cut out the Meituan middleman.
Improve Your Chinese Language
If you are looking to brush up on your Chinese knowledge and access to terminology, look no further than apps like Pleco. This app allows you to either write in the stroke order of Chinese characters and get a definition or even speak It into the app and it will convert this into the characters and provide you with the pinyin and definition.
Buying your groceries and other stuff has been aided by a number of apps to make your shopping experience better.
This is the Alibaba company’s new chain of mobile-forward supermarkets, filled with fresh meat and produce and lots of other snacks and surprises. What’s even better about these supermarkets is that they integrate the online shopping experience with an in-person one. This means you can shop for all your essential groceries from the comfort of your home, you can also use the Taobao app or the Hema app however they only take Alipay.
Alternatively, JD.com’s app Jingdon Dao Jia will fill the void nicely. Rather than focusing on one supermarket chain this provides access to a range of different supermarkets as well as smaller specialty shops like local fruit and produce markets.
Ever feel you are short for time and aren’t able to go out and complete an errand because you have an important work deadline approaching. Then look no further than the following apps:
This is china’s answer to task Rabbit, and UU drivers can be a very useful courier service, able to send and receive items between two locations such as collecting your keys or going to a store to get something for you. Your UU guy can also wait in line for you at the bank, at the hospital or even at restaurants, all for a small fee.
Ayi Bang 阿姨帮
These match users to works that can provide services they might need around the house such as cleaning or repairs. Costs will be incurred by the hour, but there is a staggering list of services on offer as well.
To finish this list of the top apps that you can’t live without in China we have provided a shortlist of additional apps that we believe might be useful.
Social Media – Weibo
This social media works similar to twitter and operations like a live feed.
Dating – TanTan
China’s equivalent to Tinder. Get swiping to find your match.
Photo Editing – Meitu
Get the perfect filter for your favorite selfies.
Air Quality Index – Plume
Make sure you are aware of the pollution levels wherever you are.
Entertainment – Douyin 抖音
Known as TikTok Outside of China, this app is one of the most downloaded apps in China providing hours of entertainment of user-made content.
You may have already heard about our ChengduExpat+ Mini-Program that can help you find what you are looking looking for in Chengdu. Our Mini-Program can be used to find almost everything from restaurants, bars, events, jobs, news, useful info and more. The ChengduExpat+ Mini-Program really has it all at your fingertips.
One of the coolest features of our Mini-Program is the search function. At the very top of the Home page is the Search Bar, here you can search for anything in the Mini-Program and you will be directed to the correct page. All searches are saved in My Searches, so you can access them again at any time.