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Top Apps You'll Need To Survive In China

China is known for having an app for just about anything you can think of. Do you want someone to stand in line for you for a product you've been waiting for? There's an app for that! However if you're coming to China for the first time, then these apps I'm going to show you are the absolute essentials. You'll need to download them before coming here so your stay will run much smoother.

Some of them I'm sure you'll have heard of, but I'm going to explain how they work and how you can use them!

Undoubtedly the most important app you will download is a VPN. VPN stands for virtual private network, and it changes your IP address to one in a different country so you can access blocked sites. If it sounds illegal, it is, but it's known by the government and all foreigners use them, whether they come for school, work, or travel.

In China, apps and websites like the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even WhatsApp are blocked. If you try to connect to any of them, your page will just keep loading for years. However, if you connect to your VPN, you can browse anything that you did back home! It's easy enough but sometimes a pain in the behind!

You can get free VPN's or paid ones. I prefer free ones for now, and I use Turbo VPN and Psiphon Pro. The best paid one I have seen is Express VPN. One thing to note is that sometimes, around Chinese holidays or even just random days, the VPN connection will be so poor for a while. It passes but when it's there, it's super annoying!

Make sure you download this before you come, because it's going to be really hard to get one once you cross over into China!

WeChat (微信)
The next most important app is obviously WeChat. Think of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp all rolled into one. On top of that, imagine being able to buy plane tickets, order food, and pay for things in the shops all within the same app! I hope every single day that other countries begin using WeChat too because it makes life so much more convenient.

WeChat is how everyone communicates here (the WhatsApp element) and how they share what's going on in their lives (the social media element). If you set up your bank details to it too, you'll be able to pay for anything, either in the shops, a restaurant, or online. 

I use it to talk to my friends, ask my teachers questions if I have any, order food, check train tickets, and buy everything I need (and I mean everything, I don't carry cash anymore!). It has so many other features I don't use, like booking taxi's and paying bills but the fact that it's there is pretty amazing! I only wish there was a weather feature to be honest!

Definitely one to download if you're staying long-term! You'll absolutely need it to contact anyone you need!

The next most important app for those still learning Chinese like me is Pleco. Pleco is a dictionary that has translations for 99% of things you'll want to translate, either from Chinese to English, or vise versa.

You can draw the character out, search it up, and speak the word too. It's been so useful; if I don't know what to say or how, I type it up and show it to someone who can help!  

There are also options for you to create and save flashcards, which is super useful if you're learning the language! 

On a similar vein, Google Translate is also a great one to download if you want to translate small phrases too! Surprisingly, this one works without VPN!

Baidu (百度)
Baidu is what I'd say is the equivalent to Google. It can do anything Google can do, but what I use it for is translating screenshots on my phone.

I wouldn't say it's a necessity but I find it super useful for when I'm looking at something online and nothing is making sense. It's also great if my VPN connection is terrible that day.

A currency converter app
This one is self explanatory, if you want to convert prices, get a currency converter app! 

All of them work the same if you ask me so it doesn't really matter which one you choose. I like to convert currencies so I know how much money I'll be getting in Chinese Yuan. It's also nice to see how things compare back home!

My favorite map is definitely Amap. Google maps only works if you're connected with your VPN and none of the addresses are in Chinese.

It's best to download a Chinese map app because everything in real life will be in Chinese anyway. The app also gives me weather updates so I know if it's going to rain this week or not which is pretty cool!

Taobao (淘宝) or Pinduoduo (拼多多) 
Online shopping is a huge market in China and the most popular company is definitely Taobao. Think of eBay and Amazon combined. You can get anything and everything on there and their selection is huge. 

You can buy Chinese products, western products, fresh fruit and veg, electronics, just everything you need!

Pinduoduo is another popular shopping app and I prefer it to Taobao only because I can directly access it from WeChat and it's cheaper too. 

A few times a year all shopping apps have massive sales and I've been able to get some real bargains! I once bought a clothes rack for 15 yuan, approximately £1.60 and a handbag for 11 yuan, around £1.20! The quality is so good too. I know people have fears that the quality of these products won't be good, but I personally have never had that problem.

So those are the absolute essential apps I think you need if you're coming to China. Other people's lists may have different things, but for me and my daily life, I use these the most and they're brilliant!

I hope you enjoyed this post and I'll see you in the next one!