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Apps are revolutionizing the way we travel, and nowhere is this more true than China. Downloading these apps before you get to China can make everything a whole lot easier, as it alleviates problems with the language and can help you get your bearings quicker.
That's why we've listed the top 15 most useful China apps for travelers, whether it be language, directions, traveling, taxis, keeping access to your social media, or restaurants.
You won't get very far in China without a VPN these days, as apps such as WhatsApp, anything Google (Google mail accounts, Google docs), Instagram, Facebook and Twitter all require a VPN for use.
We've listed the best free and paid VPNs so that you can start your trip prepared!
In terms of getting to terms with the Chinese language, Pleco is one of the best language-learning apps, and will also save your time if you can't read things such as menus, signs, or can't translate a tourist attraction name into Chinese.
A great beginners' language app with sets of key phrases for the most important parts of traveling. Greetings, general conversation, numbers, directions and places, transportation, eating out, and emergency are all included in the free version.
If you want to take your Chinese learning to the next level, consider paying $4.99 for the upgraded version which also includes vocab lists for time and date, accommodation, shopping, colors, regions and towns, countries, tourist attractions, family, dating, feeling sick, and more.
Google Maps is the best comprehensive maps service throughout China, as it is fully available in English and makes it easy to navigate around even if you don't speak the language.
Now google, facebook, twitter, youtube, and instgram have been blocked by China firewall. You'd better get a VPN before departure. See the Best VPNs for Use in China (Free and Paid).
A travel guide with listings for popular tourist attractions throughout the country, including addresses, pictures, locations on the map, and other peoples comments on each of the popular tourist sites.
Great for pre-planning or while you're on the road as this app can be used offline too, which is perfect if you're traveling without much access to Internet.
We've designed an app to connect mobile users with our acclaimed English-language China train service, making it easier for foreign travelers in China to book train tickets.
Read more about it here, including information on how to download it.
Even more conveniently, it also has information for Singapore, Hong Kong and Taipei if you're traveling off the mainland.
Since Uber was taken off the market, a local equivalent called DiDi ChuXing has taken over the car-sharing market. Similarly with Uber, drivers will be eager to please and get you to your location for a good rating.
The vast amount of Wi-Fi around the country in hotels and restaurants means that even without 3G or a Chinese SIM you'll be able to request a car, and the driver will be able to find you based on the pin you have dropped at your location. The chat function in-app also means you can chat with your driver through a translation service in real time.
Payment gets taken off your international card as per usual, it's very simple and the same price as normal taxis.
Taxi! China is the best way to ensure that you have important information to pass onto taxi drivers throughout the country about your hotel, the locations you want to go to, and can flawlessly communicate with them.
It has lists of important phrases and phone numbers so that you'll never be caught off-guard or lost.
The bike-sharing economy is taking the world by storm, and the revolution started in China! MoBike is one of the many apps that you can easily download and catch a shared bike ride on. Bikes are found throughout most Chinese cities, on pretty much every street corner.
First few rides are free, and from there on you'll pay CNY1 per ride. You do have to put down a CNY200 deposit but you can get this back.
WeChat is the most popular messaging service in China, and is great if you're meeting people in China and want to stay in touch. Even in cases where you, for example, meet a lovely taxi driver and want to keep his contact in case you need him to drive you around the next day, WeChat is the best way to do this.
You can send text and voice messages, and call people for free if you're both connected to either Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G. It can also be used to pay for things by QR code.
If you're considering doing a lot of traveling by air in China, Flight Radar may actually have more information than the airport when it comes to delays and actual flight times.
Prepare by getting this app, and you won't regret it in case something unexpected happens while you're at the airport. Also great for those with a special interest in airplanes!
The main restaurant review site in China also has an app: Dianping. It is perfect for finding out which restaurants nearby have good ratings from other customers.
Although not all reviews are available in English, the basic information is, and the Chinese address makes it convenient to ask people how to get there (for example taxi drivers, just hand them the dianping review for wherever you want to go, or people on the street if you are lost).
Airbnb is not only changing the way people travel in the West, but also in China. On Airbnb you will find a wide array of accommodation throughout the entire country, including some very unique spots near the Great Wall of China, for example.
Most Airbnb hosts signed up in China do speak English, and you'll also find that many of them are actually foreigners living in China with a unique view of the country to share.
If you're worried about traveling in China as a result of increased coverage of its air pollution issues, it can be worth downloading AirVisual ahead of your trip. The app shows real-time air pollution levels as measured at different points in the country, with an estimation for the next few days. This can be useful if you're traveling with someone who has a weaker respiratory system.
The app's coverage isn't limited to China though, you might be surprised that your hometown is more polluted than you thought.
Our tours will guide you as much or as little as you need, so you won't even need to use any of these apps if we guide you through China, as we'll take care of it all.
To get in touch with us about organizing a tour, all you have to do is contact us through this form and tell us more about how many people are traveling, and where you'd like to go.