We have recently travelled to China and found that there are several apps that you definitely cannot do without when you’re travelling in the country as a tourist! We want to share these apps with you to help make your travel to the beautiful a lot easier and comfortable.
If you’ve missed out on our travels to China, you can find them here!
Baidu Maps – Navigation
We in the western world are very used to using Google Maps to navigate around cities. Even though Google Maps does work in China, it’s not as well mapped as compared to Baidu Maps. Upon comparison when we were there, we found that Google Maps were not as accurate and it was often missing some streets or roads in real life. One disadvantage of Baidu Maps is that it’s only in Chinese. So if you can get past that, it’ll definitely be a lot better to use Baidu Maps than Google Maps in the country.
Didi Chuxing – Ride Sharing
There is no Uber or Grab in the country. Instead, it’s served by Didi. It’s very convenient and affordable to travel around cities, especially the smaller ones in Didi. It has an English version and allows us, foreigners, to use our foreign cards for payments.
You have to download WeChat if you’re visiting China. It’s the Super App that does everything. Most Chinese communicate through WeChat, so if you’re communicating with your Airbnb hosts, or making new friends in China, you’ll definitely need this app. Some restaurants will also require you to use the app to place your orders! They might also give you discounts or promotions for scanning their restaurant’s QR codes.
As we all know, China is almost entirely cashless. From our experience, it’s very difficult to travel around the country using just cash. Some places will not even accept cash and only allow you to send them money through cashless means. It is also very convenient to use Alipay to send or receive money from one another in the country. Through the Alipay app, you can top up your prepaid card value and even purchase high-speed rail tickets.
Until very recently, there was no way for foreigners to use digital payment options as they all required Chinese bank accounts for verification. Fortunately, the Chinese government recently just came up with new functionality in AliPay called AliTour pass which allows foreigners like us to top up our AliPay account.
Hotel / Accommodation
We highly recommend using Trip to book your accommodations in China. Although many other international OTAs such as Booking.com and Agoda has properties in the country, they do not have as many options as Trip. They are also often more expensive than those offered on Trip. Make sure to download the international Trip app instead of the domestic Ctrip app as there are many hotels on Ctrip that only serve domestic guests.
If you’re travelling to China, you’ll definitely need to have VPN installed on your devices before entering the country. Imagine Facebook, Instagram, Google services all not working when you’re in the country. A VPN connection will help you circumvent this problem. There are a ton of VPN options available out there in the market. The one that we used was Windscribe. It worked perfectly in the country even in remote places in Deqen where internet connections were spotty.
We decided to use Windscribe as opposed to the other VPN providers as it provides a free monthly 10GB limit with 10 servers to choose from. You can sign up using our affiliate link here: https://secure.link/XSy5w8os
This is the number 1 food delivery service in the country. Walking on the streets, you will see an incredible number of yellow Meituan delivery riders on their electric scooters. Food options on the app are very affordable and vast. We highly recommend using this when you’re too lazy or tired to leave your comfortable hotel room for food.
This is an alternative to the Meituan app. It offers some discount for signing up so might be a good option to try this app out.