1) Microsoft Translator
A must have especially if your Chinese is limited to Ni Hao and Xie Xie. You can translate over 60 languages with this app. Want to know the price of the dress displayed? Write in English and translate to Chinese. Also, record the shopkeeper’s response to translate it into English. Imagine you’re at a hotpot restaurant and you’re not sure what you’re ordering. Snap a picture of the menu and the app can translate all of it. All its features can also work offline if your preferred languages are downloaded in your phone.
Be it translation or learning, Pleco is one stop for all your Chinese query. It is not only a dictionary, it’s also a document reader as well as a live OCR with full screen handwriting input platform. It helps you communicate and learn Chinese while traveling.
In one word, it is the Swiss army knife of apps.
WeChat is a social media platform, messenger, free calling, payment, shopping, food delivery, utility, taxi booking, group buy, and many more apps all combined into one. If you have this app, you are sorted. The makers have smartly partnered with third parties to have everything under one banner; hence most of the features use Chinese as their language. But with Microsoft translator already installed you are safe. If you’re planning on travelling around China for a while, link you bank account card to your WeChat account and your adventures in the Middle Kingdom will be that much simpler. Local restaurants, taxis, vendors, etc all accept payment through WeChat. Theoretically, if you have WeChat, you don’t even need to carry cash around with you when you travel.
4) DiDi ChuXing
Calling a taxi has never been this easy in China. After the company acquired Uber, you can book a metered taxi, a private car, luxury private car, or pool car through their app. Moreover, it is also available in English. Just type the pick-up and destination address correctly and wait for the car. Though the drivers do call, it is still easier with helpful people around and their unique messaging system.
5) Apple Map
It is very useful as you can navigate even if you are offline. It uses the internal GPS on a device to track location. So you never have to get lost again. Just be sure to load your local map while you’ve still got WiFi.
Most of the cars in China use Autonavi with iPhone apps and now as it support the English language it has become a much convenient option.
Metroman is fantastic, covering 31 cities of China and seven more other countries. It shows exact time from one station to another and the easiest and fastest route. The list of stops on every line and the metro map makes it easier to remember the station names.
A bus is not the first choice for people visiting China. Unlike subways nothing is shown in English. Moreover you would never know how long you might have to wait for it.
This new app, Pandabus, has somehow sorted the scene. It is available in Chinese and English, but the stop names are inevitably in Chinese. It uses your phone’s GPS to track your location and then shows all buses in the area. It is advisable that you know the Chinese names of the stop/destination.
Covering cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu this app pinpoints food joints within 500m to 5,000m as per cuisines, neighborhoods or areas. You can also check ongoing promotions, soft launches and happy hours. They provide the addresses in both Chinese and English so that you can read or show the cab driver to take you to the place. The ratings and reviews are from real people so be assured that the pictures and the feedback are not posted by some ghostwriter.
This popular food delivery app is different because unlike other
food apps in China, the language is English and you can order foods from
non-Chinese restaurants in your locality. If you can read a bit of Chinese, we
recommend you to use a local food delivery app like (elema or Baidu Waimai)
because Sherpa’s will have less local food options and will be more expensive
than its Chinese competitors. But we do love their live support and customer service hotline.
C-trip also has English platform and is the popular travel booking site in China. In comparison to other travel sites, C-trip is the most lucrative option. It can easily help you book hotels, train, flights, cruises and even plan whole vacations all in one. Sign up for their newsletter and they’ll notify you when they’ve got special promotions happening throughout the year.
This is nothing less than a lifeline. Even if you have forgotten your wallet at home, need not worry! Alipay lets you buy anything and everything, being the widest payment option available throughout the country. The only issue is that you might need help from your Chinese friend the first time you sign up as the app is in Chinese ad you need to have a Chinese bank account.
Recently Alipay has been overseas as well, especially in places where Chinese tourists frequent.
Remember, there is no YouTube here so how could you catch your favorite shows or series? Need not worry you have Youku in China and it streams many international shows and movies.
Taobao means ‘takeaway’ in Chinese and this platform does help you to get delivered anything you want. Be it clothes, home décor, ceramic products, pets, computer, grocery even real helicopters. You can get them much cheaper than in normal stores. However always remember to check the reviews before ordering as it primarily facilitates C2C platform where small businesses, individual entrepreneurs enlist their product; if an offer is to too good to be true, then probably it is. Every year November 11 is considered the biggest shopping day in China. This retail event is now nearly four times larger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two biggest shopping days in the U.S.
It is a B2C platform from Taobao which is an independent web domain that differentiates listings by its merchants who are either brand owner or authorized distributors thus removing the scope of shoddy and fake products reaching the customers. On each seller’s page, you can see certificates of quality and compliance.
It is one of the two largest B2C online retailers in China by transaction volume and revenue and the biggest competitor to T-mall. Listed as a Fortune Global 500 company, they are well known for selling branded and quality electronics items online. Not only camera, phone but any electronic items can be found on the platform. They are known to possess world's largest drone delivery system. Also, did you know they are the third largest internet company by revenue?
17) Meituan Dianping
This brand had become the world’s fourth-most valuable startup putting itself ahead of Airbnb and Space X. This app offers many things together - restaurant reviews, discounted deals to the consumer on group buying, sells groceries, sells movie tickets, etc. It’s like a combination of Groupon and Yelp.
18) Waimai by Meituan
If you are a foodie but and mostly depend on deliveries, then download Waimai. Whichever city you are in this app is bound to work. The app is in Chinese but covers maximum restaurants and food joints. Moreover, they also provide the picture of the dishes on the menu that gives an idea of the recipe even if you cannot read Chinese.