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5 Apps You’ll Want When Traveling to China

Traveling to China as a tourist is easier now than at any point in recent history. The culprit? That shiny smartphone most likely nested on your pinkie right now.


Language barriers? Nullified. Hailing a cab during a torrential downpour?Nope. Here are the 5 apps you’ll want before your next trip to China.


1. WeChat


With over 800m monthly active users in China alone, WeChat is the undisputed G.O.A.T. of China’s mobile and desktop application ecosystem. Social media, mobile payments, e-commerce and instant messaging are just a few of the features that make this one of the world’s most popular applications. Whether you’re in China for one day or three months, make sure to download and familiarize yourself with WeChat before you arrive.


2. Google Translate


What’s better than communicating with someone in a foreign language? Not having to pay to learn the basics. Google’s free app allows travelers to download entire languages for offline use, so you can ask, “Where are the best dumplings?” with relative ease and confidence. And if you’re too embarrassed to say it out-loud, have the app speak for you. Other features include:

  • Voice-based conversations, translated in real-time
  • Star your favorite translations
  • Ability to hand-write (scribble) difficult words, characters or phrases
  • Translation via OCR (Optical Character Recognition)


3. Air Matters


The smog pollution in China is bad. Really, really, bad. And if you’re traveling with an infant, this app could be a lifesaver, literally.

Air Matters gives travelers the Air Quality Index (AQI) of your current location or the nearest metropolitan area. Use this service to determine how long you’d like to spend outside for any given day.


4. Uber


No need to explain much. You’ve almost certainly used Uber before and you’re almost certainly aware of it’s benefits. Uber in China comes with an English interface and allows for the use of an international credit card. The cheapest option is “People’s Uber” and the most expensive is “Uber Black.”

At the time of writing, Uber’s network in China covers: Chengdu, Foshan, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Jinan, Macau, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Guiyang, Tianjin, Wuhan, Yantai, Beijing, Chongqing, Dalian, Nanjing, Ningbo, Shanghai, Suzhou and Xi’an.


5. Betternet


Heads up millennials, this next sentence might hurt. Neither Facebook nor Instagram nor Twitter nor Google nor YouTube are permitted in China. If you’re there long term, you’ll definitely want to pay for a stronger, more secure VPN service, but Betternet’s a completely a free VPN that’ll get the job done.