Aside from being the most populous country on earth, China has also become one of the top tourist destinations. Whether you’re headed there for a few weeks of adventuring or if you’ve decided to move across the globe, you need to be prepared.
If you want to have an excellent experience in China, from communicating with locals to posting your adventures to social media, then check out this list.
1) Translation Essential: WayGo
You’ll quickly notice that Google Translate is non-functional once you pop in your Chinese sim card. Fortunately, you can use WayGo, which is an incredible visual translation app that works offline. This means you’ll be able to use it to translate key things like menus, road signs, and more no matter where you go. Just pass your phone camera over the Chinese character, and it will be translated into English. As a bonus, it also works for Korean and Japanese if you’re planning an extended trip across Asia.
2) China’s Uber: Didi
Didi Chuxing, or “Di Di” as the locals call it, is China’s version of Uber. This ride-hailing app is an essential particularly in megacities like Beijing and Shanghai where even the best cab drivers can get confused by complex addresses.
The app is in Chinese and English. Its interface is similar to Uber’s so it will feel familiar. You’ll likewise be able to choose between local equivalents of “Express” and “Deluxe.”
Finally, the app features an instant translation feature so you can communicate with your driver. And the more rides you take, the more points you get to unlock discounts and more!
You’ll find that most of your favorite messaging apps particularly Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, don’t work in China. China’s messaging service of choice is WeChat. You’ll quickly be converted over because WeChat features a whole range of additional features that Messenger doesn’t have.
Aside from having a hilarious collection of unique GIFs, you can use the app for nearly everything. This includes using it to pay street food vendors, ordering groceries, and even using it as a social network. The only difficulty you’ll have is switching back after you leave the country.
4) Access Your Favorite Content with NordVPN
Let’s face it—there’s a Chinese version of nearly every app that we love. However, not being able to access your Gmail or post to Instagram is likely going to get annoying. This is why you are going to need a VPN app while in China. “What is a VPN?” you might ask. It allows you to connect to a third party server, which then connects to wherever you want to go.
With NordVPN (https://nordvpn.com/what-is-a-vpn/), your connection is encrypted and anonymized. This allows you to bypass restrictions and choose a server located in a huge number of countries. With this, you’ll not only be able to upload your selfies to Facebook, but also watch all of your favorite Netflix shows.
5) Get Around with Ease: Baidu Maps
Chinese cities are massive. If you are looking for a particular restaurant, shop, or cafe, you don’t have the luxury of using Google Maps. Fortunately, you can use Baidu Maps.
The app has everything you need to find your way around town and many helpful features. You can even use a 3D map search option, which will allow you to see exactly where you are from any height. For example, you can drop the pin on the 40th floor of the Sheraton Shanghai and get the exact same view. Not only this, you’ll have access to different public transportation routes, arrival times for buses and subways, and a unique “heat map” which shows you exactly how busy certain parts of the city are.
Bonus: XE Currency
So this isn’t a China-specific app, but it’s a must-have for any globetrotter. XE Currency consistently ranks as the top app-based currency converter because of its live exchange rates. You can also track changes over time and calculate differences you might be getting at exchange booths or the ATM. The app updates automatically so you always have the live rate making sure you get a fair exchange.
The Best Apps for Getting Around China
With its bustling cities, exciting culture, and wonderful food, China makes for an excellent vacation destination. So if you really want to make the most out of your trip, be sure to download these essential apps so your stay is as comfortable as possible. Bon Voyage!