Useful Apps when visiting China
This article will be broken down into communication, language, getting around and hotels. I will not only list apps that are specific to your stay in Hainan but also list one’s that will be useful if you were to travel outside of Hainan
Some of the APPs listed will need connection to the internet, in China everywhere has WI-FI and asking for the WI-FI password at a location is perfectly acceptable and common
If you’re really stuck and need some Wi-Fi try these password
These passwords are quite common amongst coffee shops and restaurants. Feeling a little braver you could always ask
Qing wen Ni keyi gei wo Wi-Fi mi ma?
Excuse me, can you give me the Wi-Fi password?
WeChat is essentially What’s app but on steroids, it works by using your mobile phone’s data or WIFI. Covering all of it’s features will completely dominate the article, so I’ll stick to the ones which I think are useful for a tourist travelling to China.
Some of the WeChat features
If you already have friends in China before you arrive, then they probably have WeChat. Booking a tour here, the tour operator probably has WeChat. It is becoming more and more common here for people to use WeChat rather than email. Have family back home that you want to keep in contact with while you’re here then get them to download WeChat.
With WeChat you can:
Since arriving in China just over a little over 4 year’s now I have been using the APP Pleco, it has been a life saver numerous times. Pleco is also a great learning tool for studying Chinese. It is not so good at translating long sentences, for a few words or small sentences it works really well. Pleco can also be used offline and doesn’t need access to the internet
Have an IPad / IPhone then you can also use Siri, press and hold the home button of your device and say “Siri, translate __________” Siri will then ask you which language you want to translate into to.
This APP is amazing and It has been recently recommended to me by another member of the expat community living in Haikou. Through this APP you are able to quickly translate sentences from English to Chinese and Chinese to English. You can also take a photo of some text and the APP will translate it for you, see below (this is very useful when scanning menu's in a restaurant)
Maps will rely on Wi-Fi or data usage of mobile phone. Apple maps will also show your position when offline, providing you loaded it when using Wi-Fi or data in the first place
For the most part I use China map’s which is easy to use with just knowing a few of the basic’s. Look below for how to use it to find which bus to catch
Photo 1: map over view
Photo 2: Drop a pin on area you wish to go by long pressing screen with your finger #
Photo 3: Top left corner click the bus symbol and the bus number is shown below
Photo 4: Zoom into map, you may need to walk to the nearest bus station
If you have an Apple product, download the maps APP and this will also still work in China and allow you to search in English, you can also search for places of interest nearby
There are also offline maps on the APP store, see below. This can be used with no WiFi or data, the only downside is they don’t show too much detail, but they’re great for find the road’s and they will show you position in real time on the map. You can download one for every province of China, the one shown below is for Hainan
Metro man APP (Subway map)
If you will be visiting other provinces in China, other than Hainan, then chance’s are that they have a subway system. Using the subway can be quite confusing, but with Metro man, you’re able to view all subway stations and check the route before you get to the hectic subway station. There is also a map section on their which is useful for finding out where the subway exit will lead you
China trains is ticket booking APP, which you can book train tickets in English. I have never used the APP so I can’t really recommend using them. I would use the APP for finding the train times.
Feeling a little more daring then use the Chinese APP Qu na
This article is for people visiting China and if you want to use the train the easiest option would be to go to the train station and book the tickets yourself over the counter. There is an option to book your tickets online but it is in Chinese, that will be another post in the future (booking tickets online also requires you to collect them at the station)The APP below is useful, so that you can look at train times, how many tickets left and how long the train will take. It is all in Chinese but if you follow the guide below, you should be able to use it.
For me when travelling around, I will usually search in Chinese on Baidu to find a hotel and to be honest I have never booked a hotel through any of the APP’s below, I usually just use Agoda, to find the location of the hotels/hostels and then go there in person or then find it on Baidu. I understand travelling thousands of miles people want to be a little more prepared than that, so I did a little research through friends and found some APP’s that they use
Agoda - I like Agoda for the ability to use the map to search for hotels and the near me feature
If you have just visited China or an expat here, which App's do you find useful and have you used any of the above, leave a comment below