You’re staying in China, but there’s just one problem: you don’t speak any Chinese.
Don’t worry. China has become a lot more English-friendly in recent years and knowing Chinese is no longer crucial for getting around. Here are 5 apps that you can use to survive in China without knowing Chinese:
1) Communication: WeChat
In China, WeChat is used for everything – and we mean everything. Its a fantastic app for networking and communication, featuring easy-to-make group chats, custom chat stickers, and email integration. Its most useful feature, however, is WeChat Pay. This integrated wallet allows you to send money to your WeChat friends and can be used to pay for things with a simple QR code scan at pretty much every business you’ll find in China.
2) Transportation: Mobike
China’s largest cities have been blessed with a convenience unlike any other: Mobike. These bright orange bikes with QR codes on their handlebars can be found on every curb in Chinese cities, and all that’s needed to rent one is the Mobike app. The app is available in English, but honestly, its interface is so simple you could get by using the Chinese version. You just scan the QR code on the bike, hop on, and start riding!
Just keep in mind some communities won’t let you bring your Mobike into their neighborhoods or parking lots. Once you’re done riding, just lock your bike at the nearest curb for someone else to use!
3) Transportation: DiDi
While you can get a good workout biking everywhere, you may just want to catch a taxi instead. DiDi’s got your covered with a fully English app available alongside their Chinese one. Like Uber and Lyft, you can call a taxi through the app to pick you up anywhere. Just watch out for China’s traffic – the gridlocks that can form are legendary.
4) Ordering Food: Jinshisong
While Chinese apps Ele.me and Baidu Waimai are popular apps for ordering food, they aren’t in English. Jinshisong, however, has an English client, so you can still order food delivered to you without any worry of a language barrier!
5) Translation: Pleco
While you can survive in China knowing only English, there may come times you need to translate something. In emergencies like these, Pleco comes to the rescue! Pleco is one of the best Chinese-English dictionary apps you can find, but what makes it really stand out is its unique set of translation tools. Its Screen Reader, for example, allows you to translate text in any app you have open on your phone. It also has paid add-ons you can install into the app like the Optical Character Reader, which allows you to point your camera at any characters you see and Pleco will automatically translate them for you.
You can also use WeChat’s new feature for OCR translation.
There you have it: five apps that are crucial for English speakers in China. If we missed your favorite app, let us know in the comments below!