The 5 Best Apps for Tourists in Shanghai

In this day and age, there is no need to weigh down your suitcase with guide books and dictionaries, all you need is the smartphone in your pocket. We have compiled a list of the 5 most useful and navigable apps for travelers to Shanghai, which can be operated by even the most inept of technosaurs. The following apps are available for both Apple and Android devices, and most of them are free.


Pleco is a nifty English-Chinese translation app that helps break the language barrier, compiled from over a dozen of the world's best English-Chinese dictionaries. One of the standout features of this app is its character recognition capability. You can take photos of Chinese characters and it will identify them in the image and translate them for you. Pleco also has a flashcard feature, and audio pronunciation. You're not going to be able to debate Confucianism with anyone, but at least it will help you get by and make sure you don't go and call anyone's mother a horse.

Shanghai Taxi Guide

If you have been to China before then you will probably be familiar with the scenario where you are in the back of a taxi repeating over and over to the driver your intended address as he stares blankly back at you in the rearview mirror, only to turf you out when his patience expires. This app solves that problem. You type in English where you want to go, or choose from a list of over 3,000 venues, and the Shanghai Taxi Guide displays the address in large bold Chinese characters so that you can show the taxi driver exactly where you want to go. The app is available offline so users can avoid roaming charges. $9.99 to download.

City Fu

This app, developed by City Weekend, provides comprehensive database of over 13,000 city listings in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou that keeps you up to date with the best places to eat, drink, see, and do activites. It features maps, City Weekend readers' reviews, addresses and contact details. The added benefit is that, unlike similar apps, it works offline so users can avoid exorbitant international tariffs, and is regularly updated with information on the latest venues.


Unlike so many other social media platforms in China, Wechat is entirely original. It is fast becoming the most popular social media app in China, gaining 300 million subscribers in the 2 1/2 years since its inception. If you want to stay in contact with people you meet when you are in China, then this is the app to do it. You can send text messages, short voice messages, edit and post photos to your contacts along with a number of other novel functions that allow you to connect with other users randomly.

Explore Shanghai

The Explore Shanghai app makes traversing the city by metro easy, it calculates the route you need to take, the train times, how long the journey will be as well as the ticket price. Best of all, the app uses your device's GPS to find your nearest subway stop. $1.99 to download.

With these apps in your arsenal, your trip to China will be all the more enjoyable and painless.  Armed with these, you can make the most of you time in Shanghai without having to worry about it ending in disappointment or disaster.

China Highlights is Smartphone Friendly

The mobile version has been online since 2011, so you can see all our Shanghai and other China information at your convenience while travelling with your smartphone.

Our best-selling tour includes Shanghai and comes with free portable Wi-Fi rental, as do many of our China tours, so you can get online with your smartphone ANYWHERE in China.

Questions and Answers About The 5 Best Apps for Tourists in Shanghai

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Hi, I'm Kit Onslow Smith
I updated this article on April 9, 2014
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