Kendra Miller

China, the largest developing country, is at the forefront of technology, especially with electronic payments for purchasing most anything! China is a country dominated by technology that is used in the biggest cities and the smallest towns. As an expat and finding my way here in China, I'm here to share that it's never been easier to survive in China whether here as a tourist or teaching ESL and here for a short term. Here are seven apps you will learn to love and rely on during your time here.


how to use WECHAT in china

Honestly, I'm not sure what I ever did without this app.

“WeChat is my life”, is something often say to people back home. With this gem of an app you can pay your bills (even your rent and your much needed mobile phone), pay your friends (even split bills at a restaurant), you can buy plane and train tickets, you can buy those groceries you need using a QR code, and you can make calls and video chat with friends... the list goes on and on.


How to use alipay in china

Use this app for all things money.

The Alipay APP is part of the very successful Chinese Alibaba group of companies (think Ant Financial). With this APP you also pay bills and your rent and your utilities, you can buy tickets to movies and events. I top up my Alipay account with my monthly rent so that when the next quarter starts and I have to pay rent, I've already saved up enough to pay it! Perhaps most importantly (in my humble opinion) you can use the awesome online shopping APP called Taobao which requires an Alipay account (Hello, Alibaba).


how to use taobao to save mone

This is the single-most used app on my phone by a long shot. Think of everything you've ever wanted to buy and if that were all in one app. Things are inexpensive and usually delivered within two days of purchasing (move over, Amazon Prime!) The sale days are the best part, too; this year, the annual Chinese marketing day named “11.11” (November 11th and very similar to Black Friday in the US) sales topped over $38 BILLION on Taobao!


how to use meituan to order waimai

This is another app where you are able to purchase basically everything from food delivery, movie tickets, restaurant discounts...you name it is here on Meituan. Although the app is only in Chinese, it's so easy to navigate that it's not a problem at all.


how to use google translate to make life easier

Although Google is blocked in China, you can (before you arrive in China, or with a VPN) download the Chinese language on your Google translate app. This will allow you to be able to translate to and from Chinese while offline!


how to use maps to lead the right direction

The best offline maps app that every traveler needs, in my opinion. The app requires you to download places before you even start looking at the map so you'll always have them available offline as well! You can pin locations and save them to different folders sorting into whatever categories your heart desires.


how to use baidu maps in china

With no English option, this app will be one of your less-used but still quite valuable as you can show this map to a taxi driver and they will always take you where you want to go. I often double-check the directions Baidu gives me real-time with Apple Maps just to confirm I'm going where I need to.

Well, there you have it, seven very useful and a couple must-have apps for your time in China. These apps will ease your transition into life and living here as an expat in China, whether you are traveling here as a tourist or you've decided to become an ESL teacher.

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