5 apps for comfortable trip to China – What the money – Medium
China is the most innovative country (jokes aside). You need just 5 apps to make your trip there comfortable (true on mid-2018).
1. Alipay (支付宝) and / or WeChat Pay (微信支付)
You can’t manage without wallets in China. And foreigners can use them too: Alipay has verification option through passport photo and a selfie. After verification goes through — ask a friend to send you money from his wallet account. For WeChat Pay you also need a friend to send you money, but verification also has a foreign bank card linking as an option. Yes, in both cases you’ll need that friend with money on his balance, no way around that.
2. Didi taxi (滴滴)
You can launch Didi from inside WeChat or Alipay, but it’s better to download its app. There are different versions of Didi on Android and iOS, and you can try and see which works for you as a foreigner. Didi allows linking bank cards issued in foreign countries. But you have to be careful. Not all car types actually allow money withdrawal from the linked card. It doesn’t work for ‘taxi’ type, at least. But works for ‘express’ type for sure. You can communicate with the taxi driver through the internal messenger. It translates his messages to you, and you messages to him automatically, and quite good. Chinese to English, and English to Chinese.
3. Baidu Maps （百度地图）
Baidu maps are great and greater than Google Maps themselves. For China they are irreplaceable. Maps trace the route for cards, public transport and walking. They do not work in offline, but you may cash their data in advance. The maps are so cool that they show very detailed information up to a certain store location within the shopping mall (sometimes in AR mode), and a certain subway station exit number.
4. WeChat (微信)
If you are on the business trip, WeChat is your business card. And a main communication tool in the country. Considering how powerful Chinese firewall is, your communication with colleagues during the trip will most likely happen just there. And even if your trip is not work-relation, WeChat will be used as the authorisation system in Wi-Fi networks.
5. Baidu Translate (Baidu 翻译)
This translator app’s main point is the camera that overlays the translated content on readable surface and translates real-time. This way you can read and translate menus, messages, any manual or advertisement. There are other apps that are just as good or better in quality, but usually they are paid, while Baidu Translate is free.
There are also Dianping and Eleme, Ofo and Mobike, Douyin and Taobao — but those are not essential for travellers, rather for those living in.