Top 20 Must Have Apps in China for Travellers and Expats

Looking for must have apps in China before your plane takes off?

We've rounded the 20+ best apps in China to make your China travel easier.

A simple guide of best apps that work in China for foreign  travelers. 

Visit all Apps in China

Some apps don’t work in China since they are blocked by the GFW. It is a must to use VPNs for China to access your Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter, etc.


Best VPN Apps for China

Best VPN For China

I personally tried many other VPNs, and finally decided to stay with ExpressVPN since it is the most reliable one.

When you are travelling to China, it is the best choice to ensure a stable connection to Facebook, Gmail, Youtube, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, ...

  • I can use it on up to 3 different devices at the same time.
  • One VPN client for all your devices.
  • 30-day money back guarantee.

Best Language Apps in China

Google Translate

Google Translate

While many Google services are blocked, Google Translate is working petty well in China. Thought it is not always 100% accurate, it is useful for looking up how to say simple sentences especially as it shows the Pinyin as well as the characters for Chinese.

Best Social Apps in China

Wechat (微信)

The ultimate all-in-one communication app, used for messaging, payments, and even hailing taxis.

This is the top one and recommended for you to get in touch of your local Chinese friends, or other expats in China. Nowadays, weChat ID is more popular than your phone number in China. This Chinese developed app has become one of the world’s most popular mobile messaging and social networking platform.

Send text, voice messages, photos, and make phone and video call to friends no matter where they are, for free. Users can post status and share photos and links on their “moments” timeline, through a feature similar to Instagram and Facebook.

With the huge active user base in China, WeChat has become a marketing platform with all kinds of possibilities. Enterprises are setting up official WeChat accounts to do wechat marketing.

Payoneer China

Scan to Follow SinoStep

Weibo 微博

This micro-blogging app is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter and is a good way to keep up to date with what’s going on in China. Since most content is in China, You may need to know some Chinese.



If you have a QQ number, then this official app from Tencent is the best way to use it online. Though Chinese people prefer using wechat now, most of them still use QQ as an alternative social solution and many QQ groups are still very active. People in China normally do not use Skype, WhatsApp, etc.

20 Must Have Apps for Travellers and Expats in China

20 Must Have Apps for Travellers and Expats in China

Best Maps and Navigation Apps in China

Google Maps 谷歌地图

Google Maps, Best Maps App in China

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. As for now, this google-powered service is blocked and cannot work in China without VPN.

Buy a Good VPN

so you don’t need to bother installing other Map Apps.

Autonavi Navigation 高德导航

Autonavi Navigation is China’s most popular in-car GPS with maps iPhone app. Now it supports English language.

Baidu Maps 百度地图

Baidu Maps

Since Google (and therefore Google Maps) is blocked in China, this is the best way to properly navigate around town. However, you need to be able to type in Chinese! The app works the same like Google Maps, which lets you calculate directions. However, Baidu Maps makes it possible to check accurate bus schedules and even shows you prices for taxis!

Apple Maps 苹果地图

Apple Maps

Apple Maps in China is becoming solid after IOS 9 released in 2015. And the map data is licensed from AutoNavi.

Best Transport Apps in China

Didi Chuxing 滴滴出行

Didi Chuxing

More widely available with bigger market share. Acquired Uber in 2016 and became stronger. It is integrated in WeChat and you can use WeChat payment to use the app.

Best Local Consumer Service Apps In China

Meituan 美团

A popular app for food delivery, group buying, and local services. 饿了么

Another popular food delivery app with a wide range of restaurant options.

Dianping 大众点评


Just like Yelp for China. Hundreds of restaurant reviews, including features like showing highly rated restaurants near you. This app offers you a similar service to Yelp! providing you with a range of reviews, descriptions and locations of restaurants, bars, accommodation around China. Dianping also has a feature that show highly rate restaurant around your current location.

Best Entertainment Apps In China

Youku 优酷


“Youku” offers you a great selection of Chinese, Korean and foreign dramas, movies and other TV shows for free!

iQIYI 爱奇艺

iQIYI (爱奇艺) - A video streaming app with a large selection of Chinese movies, TV shows, and other content.

Best Shopping Apps in China

Pinduoduo 拼多多

Taobao 淘宝


Taobao is one of the largest marketplaces in the world. You can buy anything and everything, from clothes and food to computer, pets and even real helicopters. The best part is that is normally cheaper than in the stores and you will have it shipped straight to your door, sometimes even on the same day you ordered it!

Tmall 天猫


Tmall is a trade site based on Tаоbао platform, operating on B2C system (business-to-consumer). Such trade model assumes the seller must be a legal entity (be an organization, an official manufacturer or a registered brand) offering their goods and services to end consumers – individuals. For opening a shop on Tmall, the legal entity needs to provide all appropriate documentations to confirm reliability, genuineness and the real fact of existence of the organization, company, manufacturer or brand. This approach eliminates the risk that an unscrupulous seller with products of dubious quality will trade on Tmall. Taobao guarantees that all goods on Tmall are official and authentic. On each seller’s page, you can see certificates of quality and compliance. Tmall has become one woman’s antidote to crowds, counterfeits and poor-quality products.

Best Travel Apps for China

Hotels in China, Air Flight Tickets For China

Ctrip 携程

A popular travel booking app for flights, hotels, and train tickets in China.

China Air Quality Index (AQI) (空气质量指数)

An app that monitors air quality in real-time across major Chinese cities.



is one of the world’s fastest-growing online hotel platforms. Today, Agoda offers hundreds of thousands of accommodation options around the globe with service and support in over 40 languages. Operations have been set up in Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Sydney, Hong Kong, and Budapest, and an additional presence can be found in major cities across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas.

a leading online accommodation booking website with properties ranging from international chains and all-inclusive resorts to local favorites and bed & breakfasts, together with all the information needed to book the perfect stay. Special apps for mobile phones and tablets can also be downloaded enabling customers to book on the go with access to 20,000 last minute deals. LP is an affiliate of Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE).

Deals of the Day in China


Booking B.V., part of the Priceline Group (Nasdaq: PCLN), owns and operates™, the world leader in booking accommodations online. Each day, over 1,200,000 room nights are reserved on The website and apps attract visitors from both the leisure and business sectors worldwide. Established in 1996, B.V. guarantees the best prices for every type of property, from small, family-run bed and breakfasts to executive apartments and five-star luxury suites. Truly international, is available in more than 40 languages, and offers 1,243,979 active properties in 227 countries and territories.

Now, It's Your Turn.

What Are Your Favorite Apps in China? 



6 thoughts on “Top 20 Must Have Apps in China for Travellers and Expats”

  1. I tried Didi before, but they only accept China bank card, a US bank issued credit card can not be used to call a car service . Any good taxi app you can recommend that accept a foreign bank credit card?

    1. Hi, Michael,
      Wechat now supports more International credit card, you can check whether your bank is included in their list.

      Another choice is Shenzhou 神州专车

      The fare is a little bit expensive and there are fewer cars, a car rental company with more standard services.

      Shenzhen supports Paypal, so you can use it directly.

      My personal experience is better with Shenzhen.

        1. There are different services under Didi Chuxing:
          If you are using English version, there are Express, Luxe, Premier, Taxi
          Technically, only Taxi is allowed to use Cash to pay for the service.
          Didi Chu Xing Services
          In real practice, you can give the driver some cash and ask him to help you deposit some money into your WePay or Alipay account and then you can pay. In this way, you can use all the services (Express, Luxe, Premier and Taxi)

          It is a good way to protect yourself from taking high price rides by some insatiable greedy drivers.

  2. If you need to buy train tickets in China, I would recommend China Train Booking app. This app is really helpful, and its customer service is excellent! No matter when you need help, you can contact them on the phone or Wechat. And no worry about the payment – they accept credit card, Paypal, Wechat, and Alipay. Super easy to use!

Leave a Comment

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top