Page 1


China Surviving Guide: The Must Have APPs for Shopping, Eating, Housing, Transportation, & Social Networking June 22, 2018 / By Wenting Li

You probably have heard that Google, Facebook and Twitter are banned in China, which means no Google Map, Youtube, or Instagram for your trip to China. But how to find direction without Google Map? How to get trip recommendations without YouTube? How to have fun without social media?! But don’t worry, Chinese people love social media just like everyone else in the world. Therefore, they created their own version of social media, and all kinds of APPs to make the life in China convenient and fun. Plus, no all American APPs are banned in China. Keep reading to find out what APPs to download before your trip to China.


Chinese people DO NOT carry cash or credit card anymore! All they need is just their smartphones, more specifically the super APP ------ WeChat. Almost all the shops, even farmer’s markets, people use WeChat to accept payment. Simply scan the QR code the merchant provides, and confirm your payment. Within the same APP, you can also order taxi, buy movie tickets, book train or flight tickets, etc. WeChat was not initially designed to be a digital wallet. It started as an online chatting tool, and evolved into a wellrounded social media platform, where you can send text, voice, video messages, share your moments, and subscribe to personal or business newsletters. If you only want to download one APP in China, download WeChat.

Alipay is the direct competitor with WeChat Wallet, which is also a popular digital wallet APP in China. Most Chinese have both APPs installed.

SHOPPING In China, e-commerce is huge! Many Chinese girls just cannot live without online shopping. Receiving packages is the highlight of their days.

TaoBao has all the products that you can think of. The mobile APP is very easy to use and just make people splurge anytime and anywhere. TMall and TaoBao belong to the same company, while TMall’s sellers are more reliable. is another e-commerce site / APP, which provides equally wide variety of products online. Compare to China’s local e-commerce, Amazon China is less popular. However, if you already have an amazon account, it’s more convenient for you to use Amazon in China.

EATING Food is important for Chinese. Younger generation of Chinese order takeout so much more than their parents. Because of the convenient APPs, you will find restaurants, which do not have much customers but are super busy preparing take outs.

Dianping is China’s version of Yelp. Meituan is similar to Groupon, but nowadays more specialized in food delivery. With this combo, you will find the best restaurants in China at ease.


Instead of Google Map, Chinese use GaoDe Map (left above) and BaiDu Map (right above). These two maps know China better than Apple Map. So grabbing one of them is a good choice for your trip in China.

If you are in the mood of getting a taxi, waving to taxi on the street is not a good option, since most taxi drivers are busy with their customers on Didi. A few years ago, there were still many options on taxi apps, but now the market is basically monopolized by Didi.


Douyin, also known as Tik Tok, is the most popular video APP in China. It’s different from YouTube and Snapchat, and is unique to China’s market. If you see someone dancing or doing weird stuff while recording videos in a mall or on the street, it’s most likely he/she is making video for Douyin. Popular Douyiner usually have 3M or 4M followers in this APP.

Weibo and WeChat are the most popular social media platforms in China. Almost everyone in China has their own Weibo, WeChat account. Internet influencers are most active on Weibo, where their followers can watch their videos and follow their updates. On WeChat, influencers would use WeChat newsletters to keep their fans updated.

MeituPic is an image editing APP, which has powerful face recognition technology. It’s a necessity for social media lovers. It provides filters, image enhance, beauty retouch, etc.


In terms of booking hotel, I would recommend using Airbnb China. Airbnb China is quite successful in taking over China’s market, and most Chinese are using it to lease or rent apartments and houses. Many people renovated their apartments with modern chic design to just attract more customers.

china surviving guide - the must have apps  

written by Wenting Li

china surviving guide - the must have apps  

written by Wenting Li