Useful apps and websites when traveling in China

This is a list of apps and sites that might help you when traveling around in China. We traveled there for two months and went through big cities as well as small villages. Please note that your patience will be tested when surfing/browsing as the connection speed can be frustratingly slow and this is the case in most places.

  • Express VPN (app): As you might know Google, Facebook, Twitter,… are blocked in China. You’ll therefore need a VPN service to access these platforms. 
  • Speak & translate (app): Most people do not speak or understand English. Using a translation program is really helpful. You’ll find written as well as audio translation in both Mandarin and Cantonese.
  •  Whatsapp (app): It is not blocked, so I was thankfully able to use it to connect with my family.
  •  Xe currency (app): This app is helpful when converting between different currencies.
  • WeChat (app): It’s one of the most popular apps in China. It offers a broad range of services (payment, messaging, wifi connection,…). To use it you’ll need a Chinese number.
  • Maps.me combined with Maps (apps): To get around in China I used mainly those two apps. Maps from Apple is more detailed than maps.me but I couldn’t use it offline and that’s where maps.me comes in handy.
  •  Booking.com and Airbnb (apps and sites): They helped us find the right accommodation in the different places we visited, in cities as well as in small villages. I felt that the offers were better on these platforms than Agoda and Hostelworld.
  •  Iqiy (app and site): Offers a large range of free video content. (Movies, music,…)
  • TripAdvisor (app and site): Helpful when you want to have an idea of what to do/see, where to eat/sleep, how to get to a specific location or how much you’ll need to pay for tickets,… 
  •  China DIY travel (website): If you want/need to travel by train, this is a reliable agency that works quickly. Train tickets get sold out rapidly especially during the holiday season. We also used their website to get the train timetable. https://www.china-diy-travel.com/en
  •  Wikitravel (website): You’ll find so much background information about the place you want to visit here as well as very useful transport information (how to get around).

I didn’t mention any cloud storage service for your pictures or videos, because the speed is so dreadful. It takes ages to upload a single image on the cloud. Unfortunately the only alternative for this is to bring an external hard disc and cross your fingers it won’t get stolen or lost.

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