Wechat is Life and Other Essential Phone Apps

This post is all about apps for my phone that I have found CRITICAL and mostly about WeChat…how China functions. WeChat is an app where you can message people, pay for almost anything and make posts like on Facebook. You will not find a person who doesn’t have Wechat. The messaging side is similar to WhatsApp where you can make free phone calls, however WhatsApp is blocked in China (without a VPN). In order to use the wallet feature, you really need a Chinese bank account which can be challenging to get in China for a foreigner without a work visa. You also need a local number, local address (not a hotels), your passport and sometimes your work contract. I use the back ICBC because it is internationally recognized and you can wire money to accounts back home. Also, there are branches everywhere and most have at least one person that speaks English. The wallet side of WeChat I assimilate with the popular app Venmo where you send money back and forth to people. China, especially major cities are moving away from cash.

If you want access to Facebook, google, social media and often basic news, you need a VPN to get around the great Chinese firewall. I found that Express VPN for the phone is the best and has been really effective for me. Of course a Vpn does malfunction every now and then, especially when an international meeting takes place in China and the VPN’s shut down.

This app, Shanghai metro has a great map of the whole metro system and all the lines to find your way around the city. You can search a specific station and it it will pinpoint it. If you upgrade to the paid version you can get routes and some other added features.

This will tell you the air quality of a specific location and let you know on a scale if it is good to extreme aka wear a mask and stay indoors. I have yet to wear a mask and seldom see people wearing them this time of the year. I have heard the air quality gets worse in the winter, but so fair it’s been great. When I announced that I was moving to China, a concern of myself and others was the air. It’s worse in northern China where the coal factories are. China has also made a huge effort to reduce pollution and I think it’s working slowly but surely.

This is kinda an obvious app, but as I adjust to the new currency it’s nice to have the specific calculations. For the most part the rule is divide by 7 converting rmb to usd.

While I haven’t had to use this app a ton, I like it because you can take a picture of a sign and it will translate it for you. It also has the sounds for phonetic pronunciation which is helpful with a language of tones.

DiDi is China’s version of Uber/Lift. While I haven’t had to use it yet, it is a cheap way to get a ride somewhere and has recently been made into an English version.

Other apps that I have yet to download but know I will be using is Taobao which is like amazon prime and you can get literally everything! Sherpas, which is food delivery that is more western. SIDE NOTE: everyone has food delivered because it is fast, inexpensive and allows you not to go out in the hot sun to get food. Eating out here is just as cheap if not cheaper than cooking at home often. However I hope to cook more often at home as I settle!

If anyone else has apps that they would recommend, I would love to know! These are the ones that I have using so far.

Now off to training! I will have my own class in a week of 6-8 little kiddos and am excited to wrap up training and get the ball rolling!

Till next post,


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