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Basic apps you need to make life in China easier

Updated: Feb 27, 2023


I know moving to a new country can be challenging at the beginning. As a person who lived in China for 7 years, I understand the struggle is real. Especially when you can't speak Chinese yet.


So, if you're moving to China, there are several apps that you may find useful. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  1. WeChat: WeChat is a must-have app in China, as it's widely used for messaging, voice, and video calls, making payments, and even booking taxis or flights. It's essentially an all-in-one app that can help you stay connected with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

  2. Alipay: Alipay is another popular mobile payment app in China, and it's used for everything from paying for groceries to booking travel tickets. You can also use it to pay for goods and services at physical stores and restaurants.

  3. Didi Chuxing: Didi Chuxing is China's version of Uber, and it's the largest ride-hailing app in the country. It's a convenient way to get around, especially if you're not familiar with the local transportation system.

  4. Baidu Maps: Baidu Maps is a navigation app that can help you get around China's cities. It's similar to Google Maps but tailored to the Chinese market and includes more localized information.

  5. Pleco: Pleco is a Chinese-English dictionary app that can help you translate Chinese characters and words. It also includes a flashcard system and other study tools to help you learn Chinese.

  6. VPN app: It's recommended to download a VPN app before moving to China, as many websites and services are blocked by the Great Firewall. VPN apps allow you to access these websites and services by masking your IP address.

  7. Taobao: Taobao is China's largest online shopping platform, and it's a great resource for purchasing everyday items, clothing, and other goods. It's similar to Amazon, but with a more localized selection of products.

  8. Meituan waimai: Food, lot's of it. Anytime, anywhere. Most cities have the Meituan food delivery service, you simply need to link it to your alipay or wechat account, set up an Meituan account (side note, make sure your address is accurate. The delivery driver might phone you if they can't get a hold of you. It can be challenging if you can't speak Chinese) select a restaurant and fill up your cart.

  9. Duolingo: Several excellent apps are available to learn Chinese, but one of the most highly recommended is Duolingo. The app is free and offers a gamified approach to learning, making it engaging and fun. With interactive lessons and daily challenges, users can practice reading, writing, listening, and speaking Mandarin Chinese. The app's AI-powered algorithm personalizes the learning experience to each user's proficiency level, providing immediate feedback on pronunciation and grammar. Duolingo includes a social feature where learners can connect with native speakers for conversational practice. Overall, Duolingo is a great choice for anyone looking to start or improve their Chinese language skills in a convenient and enjoyable way

Keep in mind that the availability of some apps may be limited in China due to internet restrictions. It's also recommended to download and set up these apps before arriving in China, as accessing them may be more difficult once you're there.


There is a wide variety of other amazing apps available to simplify life in China, it is a country of convenience after all. Do you have any other favourite apps in China? Comment below and let us know!

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