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8 Essential Apps for Travelling in China

China, it’s a dream for every traveller. You can’t be in love with the far east and not spend some days in this beautiful country. I’ve had the opportunity of spending two weeks there with some very good friends of mine back in 2016. During our stay in China we noticed that there’s some apps that you might need that are more importantly than others! Remember that in China there’s many services which are blocked. Such services include Facebook & Gmail. Being the tech geek I am I made sure to find a way around this. Here’s a list of the apps that my friends and I used while in China;

  1. Betternet

Betternet is a free VPN service that requires no registration and allows you to access almost any website in any country. (You can update your followers about your travels in China in real time on your various social media platforms!) It also protects by encrypting your private information from hackers when utilising public wifi hotspots. The app requires a stable wifi connection through a hotspot and cannot be used with mobile routers. With this app you will be able to make use of the blocked services!

  • Waygo

Waygo is a visual translator than scans foreign text (including Chinese) and automatically translates them into English even without an internet connection. It works best and is mostly used to translate restaurant menus and signages. The free trial version allows 10 free translations per day but for around €12 you will get unlimited translations for life. How’s that for cool!?


  • Pleco

Pleco is one of the most popular Chinese dictionary apps available. This useful app has handwriting recognition (a paid add-on), which would help those who don’t know how some Chinese words are pronounced. It’s not only useful for those visiting China but also for those who are interested in picking up the language.

  • WeChat

WeChat is a text and voice messaging communication service similar to WhatsApp and Telegram. It is primarily used on mobile but also available on web-based platforms such as OS and Windows at

  • TripAdvisor

Without any doubt, this app is important all over the world and not just in China. TripAdvisor is probably the most popular travel app in the world. With millions of reviews from fellow travellers including photos, opinions and even curated itineraries, it’s a good source of information regarding your travel destination. However, for the lesser known Chinese cities, TripAdvisor may have its limitations as they are lack tourist reviews.

  • CityMaps2Go

CityMaps2Go offers many city maps that are available offline. Just download your desired city map on an Internet connection and you’re good to go. It tracks your real time location using your GPS location to help you navigate through the streets easily. It also has the function for you to save locations of interest so that you can create your own-curated list.

  • China Air Quality Index

The China Air Quality Index app provides realtime information on the air quality and weather for the different cities in China. One can check the pollutant index, temperature, wind, humidity, visibility and other information as well as the forecast for the next 24 hours and the coming week. A nice function is the advice the app provides whether the weather is suitable for outdoor activity or if it’s necessary to wear masks…. and trust me, you’ll see millions of people wearing masks!

  • Learn Chinese

Learn Chinese is a simple and easy to use phrasebook especially for travellers who need to know and speak the basics. There are the necessary English phrases and their corresponding Chinese translations in audio for easy reference.

You might not use all these apps, but I certainly suggest that if you’re going to China you download these apps and have them available. It’s always better to have it not need it than to need it and not have it!