7 Must-Have Apps for Your Trip to China in 2023

Traveling to China can be an exciting and enriching experience, but navigating a foreign country can also present challenges. Thankfully, there are several essential apps that can make your trip to China smoother and more enjoyable. Today we will introduce a range of must-have apps for travelers to China in 2023 and provide instructions on how to use them effectively. And hey, there’s a special bonus – we’re throwing in practical Chinese phrases so you can have a wholesome experience on your journey.

1.Social App
In 2023, WeChat stands as more than just a messaging app – it’s an indispensable lifeline for foreigners exploring China. Bringing together communication, social networking, and mobile payments, WeChat offers a solution that simplifies every aspect of your journey. Beyond chats, WeChat’s mobile payment feature revolutionizes transactions, enabling you to navigate markets, eat out, and move around by simply scanning a QR code. How cool is that? Now for some real-world applications, here is a quick way you can ask a Chinese person for help setting up WeChat for payments:
Qǐngwèn zěnme shèzhì wǒ de wēixìn qiánbāo?
Excuse me, how do I set up my WeChat wallet?

Nǐ xūyào xiàzài bìng zhùcè wēixìn zhànghào. Ránhòu, zài shèzhì zhōng bǎngdìng nǐ de yínhángkǎ huò xìnyòngkǎ. Zuìhòu, nǐ jiù kěyǐ shǐyòng wēixìn zhīfùle!
You need to download and register a WeChat account. Then, in the settings, link your bank card or credit card. Finally, you’ll be able to use WeChat Pay!

2.Payment Apps
Alipay is more than just a conventional payment app. It enables you to navigate transactions effortlessly, eliminating the need for physical currency. With the power to scan QR codes, manage digital wallets, and even indulge in street food, Alipay ensures that you can savor the flavors of China without worrying about cash on hand. The app also allows you to add friends, send messages and includes numerous financial mini programs. An example of a quick way to ask if a store accepts Alipay would be:
Zhè jiā diàn kěyǐ yòng Zhīfùbǎo fùkuǎn ma?
Can I pay with Alipay at this store?

Nǐ zhǐ xūyào dǎkāi Zhīfùbǎo, sǎomiáo zhèlǐ de èrwéimǎ, ránhòu shūrù fùkuǎn jīn’é jiù kěyi le.
You just need to open Alipay, scan the QR code here, and then input the payment amount.

3.Navigation and Transport Apps
If you plan to get around and explore all the beautiful sights and attractions that the country has to offer, navigation apps like Baidu Maps will become indispensable. Baidu Maps is a super-app that allows you to input locations, decode bus routes, and request ride-hailing services with precision. Here is a simple way to ask for help from a local:
Wǒ xiǎng yòng Bǎidù dìtú qù [mùdì dì], néng bāng wǒ zhǎo tiáo lùxiàn ma?
我想用百度地图去 [目的地],能帮我找条路线吗?
I’d like to use Baidu Maps to go to [destination]. Can you help me find a route?

4.Tourism and Cultural Experience Apps
Getting around the country can be tricky, which is why we recommend downloading ‘Xiaohongshu’. This app is a treasure trove of travel advice, local insights, and hidden gems recommended by locals. With Xiaohongshu, you can explore unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations, read reviews, and get insider tips on the best places to visit. It’s like having a personal travel guide in your pocket, helping you make the most of your trip and discover authentic experiences that you won’t find in guidebooks. Below is a simple way to ask a local for help using Xiaohongshu:
Wǒ shì dì yī cì shǐyòng Xiǎohóngshū, qǐngwèn zěn me zhùcè zhànghào?
This is my first time using Xiaohongshu. Could you please tell me how to register an account?

5.Travel Planning and Booking Apps
Navigating the country and planning your trips can be made much easier with the Ctrip app. This app is a comprehensive travel platform that allows you to book accommodations, plan itineraries, and purchase tickets for flights, trains, and attractions. Whether you’re looking for a hotel, arranging transportation, or securing tickets to popular tourist sites, Ctrip has got you covered. With its user-friendly interface and extensive options, Ctrip simplifies the travel planning process and ensures a smooth journey throughout your stay in China. Here’s an example sentence showcasing the convenience of using Ctrip:
Wǒ yòng xiéchéng yùdìngle yī jiā Běijīng shì zhōngxīn de jiǔdiàn, fēicháng fāngbiàn.
I booked a hotel in the center of Beijing through Ctrip, and it was very convenient.

6.Microblogging and Social Media Apps
Weibo is a popular microblogging app in China that can be immensely helpful for international visitors. As a social media platform, Weibo allows users to connect with Chinese individuals, follow celebrities, and stay updated on the latest news and trends in the country. By creating an account on Weibo, you can access a wide range of information, including real-time news updates, travel tips, cultural insights, and popular events happening in China.
Weibo’s extensive user base provides a unique opportunity to engage with locals, ask questions, and seek recommendations. By following relevant accounts and hashtags, you can discover valuable resources such as language learning tips, city guides, and cultural experiences shared by other users. Additionally, Weibo’s direct messaging feature enables direct communication with Chinese users, facilitating language exchange, friendship building, and networking. Here’s an example sentence on how Weibo can enhance your travel experience:
Wǒ zài wēibó shàng guānzhùle yīxiē lǚxíng bózhǔ, tāmen fēnxiǎngle hěnduō yǒuyòng de lǚyóu gōnglüè hé měishí tuījiàn.
I follow some travel bloggers on Weibo, and they share a lot of useful travel tips and food recommendations.

7.Short Video and Entertainment Apps
TikTok is a widely popular short video app that can offer numerous benefits for exploring China. By using TikTok, you can gain insights into Chinese culture, language, and entertainment trends. The app provides a diverse range of content created by Chinese users, including language learning lessons, local cuisine tutorials, travel recommendations, and glimpses into everyday life in China.
TikTok’s algorithmic recommendation system ensures that you are exposed to a variety of content tailored to your interests. You can discover fascinating aspects of Chinese culture, learn about popular tourist destinations, and engage with local creators who share valuable insights and experiences. TikTok serves as a source of inspiration and entertainment, helping you immerse yourself in Chinese culture and stay connected with the local community. Here’s an example sentence highlighting the educational aspect of TikTok:
Tōng guò TikTok shàng de zhōng wén xué xí shì pín, wǒ xué dào le yī xiē yǒu yòng de zhōng wén duǎn yǔ hé cháng yòng biǎo dá.
By watching language learning videos on TikTok, I’ve learned some useful Chinese phrases and common expressions.

By utilizing these essential apps during your trip to China, you can enhance your travel experience, stay connected, and overcome language barriers. Remember to respect cultural norms, protect your personal information, and embrace responsible digital citizenship. And for an even more immersive experience, take advantage of the opportunity to claim your free one-on-one online Chinese lesson. This invaluable resource will empower you to communicate effectively with locals and delve deeper into the rich culture. Enjoy your journey in China with the help of these indispensable apps and the transformative benefits of a dedicated one-on-one online Chinese lesson!

You May Want to Learn More:
Should Pinyin be Your First Step when Start Learning Mandarin?
Decoding the Best Approach for Mandarin Newbies: In-Person or Online Classes?
Straight from a HSK Test Taker: 5 Winning Strategies

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