China has experienced changes and growth ever since they open its doors to the world. Many tourists around the world travelled all the way here to experience the culture and the rich history. Beijing, formerly known as Peking is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. And with that, I travelled to Beijing for a short weekend trip to discover this city recently.
However, there are many websites and mobile apps are being blocked in China (Websites and apps include Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and many others).
Thus, here are 8 handy apps that you need to download before you ready for China. Hope this is useful for those who are travelling to China soon.
1. Baidu Maps (百度)
You can’t access google map in China so download Baidu app to prevent you from losing your way in Beijing. I was quite impressed with the app as it has the search with a 3D options.It is updated with pin drops, public transport routes, traffic conditions and cool heat map function. The waiting times for the public transports are available as well. And the best part is that you can use it offline as well. This is very informative and extremely helpful to navigate the place accurately.
2. WeChat (微信)
People in China communicate using Wechat App. Thus, Whatsapp is impossible to connect when you are in China. WeChat here is very powerful as it serves as a communication app and also a mobile payment as well. Be sure to download this app so that you can communicate with your family or friends.
As for the mobile payment function, China has long implemented mobile wallets. You will notice barcodes everywhere and people are scanning it and use WeChat Pay as the payment method. Nevertheless, they do accept cash payment if you are not comfortable using WeChat Pay as your mode of payment. I only use it for communication purpose.
3. VPN Service
VPN service is required to break the “Great Firewall” in China. Otherwise, you are unable to get access to websites like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Gmail and many more. VPN works as a secure encrypted channel or connection to another network over the internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes. It basically ‘tricks’ the network into thinking that you are surfing the net from a different country. There are quite a few VPN apps and I downloaded free version ones- Turbo VPN. Other app like Betternet is also free as well. You can do some research which VPN apps to download before you travel to China because some VPN maybe no longer valid by the time you want to use. So, do some research beforehand!
4. Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行)
Didi Chuxing is like China’s own version of Grab. The app is available in Chinese and English and it has the similar user interface like Grab App. The best part is that the app allows you to connect to WeChat for communication purpose. Thus, it is not necessary to have local number to key in the details as long as you have an account with WeChat. The app also has options from “Express” to “Luxe” and it shows the driver’s profile and also information.
Apart from this, the app also helps to ease the communication barrier as it offers instant translation feature that allows users to type in English and driver can receive in Chinese version. So cool, right? And we ‘didi’ most of the time during the trip and the price is quite reasonable.
5. Da Zhong Dian Ping (大众点评)
While we have Chope, Hungrygowhere, Eatigo and many more apps to search for food, China has this dining app called Dian Ping. This app is a platform for users to generate reviews and recommendation of dining places in China. It comes with location, budget, popularity and many more other features. And each listing provides information such as address, opening hours, contact numbers and also online reservation. I think it is helpful for those who are seeking for particular cuisines or preferences.
6. Metro China Subway
If you are travelling using public transport system in China, please download Metro China Subway. The best part of the app is that it is available in English. You get to see the overall different subway lines and obtaining travelling information when you key in your start and end destination. It comes handy when you are using their public transport system for FREE and EASY travel. The app also displays nearby dining, hotels and many others.
7. Air Matters
Air pollution in China can be very bad. It can hit extreme levels especially like Beijing city. Inhaling polluted air is totally not good for health. So, pack your masks along when you travel to China. And with this, Air Matters app comes in handy. It allows you to get real time information on the pollution index.
A life saver app is suitable for travellers who face difficulties in language barrier in China. This translator app is an offline visual translation application for users to translate the street signs, menu items and many more.
All you need to do is to simply wave your camera over the Chinese characters and it will instantly help to translate Chinese to English.
Hope this comes helpful for you guys! Do share what other apps that we need to download before travelling to China. Oh ya.. make sure you download all the apps before you reach China because you cannot do it in China!
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