5 Must-Have Chinese Apps For Expats in China

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I discovered that living in China can be so much easier with the following 5 must-have apps! Shopping, navigation, language or entertainment – these Chinese apps are absolutely essential when living in China and every China expatriat should have them downloaded on their phone!


Taobao is China’s no. 1 online shop where you can buy everything your heart desires. Taobao Marketplace is one of the world’s top 10 most visited Websites and makes most of its profit on Chinese Singles Day (11/11), China’s biggest e-commerce sales day of the year, which is even larger than America’s Cyber Monday.

You can also shop on Taobao on your laptop or PC, however, shopping on your phone using the corresponding app has its advantages: daily deals. These special offers can be found at almost every hour and every day. You can save lots of RMBs when purchasing products directly on your phone!


Baidu Maps

Baidu Maps is probably the most important of all Chinese apps and I use it most often. Since Google (and therefore Google Maps) is blocked in China, this is the only way to properly navigate around town. The only disadvantage is that you need to be able to type in Chinese!

The app works the same like Google Maps, which lets you calculate directions. However, Baidu Maps makes it possible to check accurate bus schedules and even shows you prices for taxis!

Didi Dache

Speaking of taxis, didi dache is an app which works similar to Uber and Lyft. You are able to call taxi drivers nearest to you and make them to pick you up. During rush hour, taxi drivers might charge a small fee for picking you up but other than that it’s free!

Kt Dict

This dictionary is my favorite one to use. You can imput English, Pinyin or Chinese characters and it even speaks out the word for correct pronunciation. At the same time, you can select a master view of the single characters to practice the stroke order.

The dictionary offers a wide selection of words from specialized vocabulary to slang words.


If you live in China, I am sure you have seen lots of people watching dramas or movies on their smartphones on the bus or metro. They most likely used an app called “Youku”. This app offers you a great selection of Chinese, Korean and foreign dramas, movies and other TV shows for free!

Bonus: WeChat

Weixin, in English referred to as WeChat, is China’s most popular instant messaging app – but it’s far more than that! Today, Weixin enables you to send voice messages, execute marketing and even pay at a store or charge your phone credit! Every young Chinese has probably an account and is using the app daily.

 What app is your aboslute favorite?


Posted in ,


Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.


  1. R Zhao on January 4, 2015 at 4:46 am

    I have started using WeChat even though in the past year I’ve tried to more or less avoid social media (namely Facebook). It is really great for keeping connected to Chinese friends and also learning some pop culture and news about China. Everyone posts lots of articles on there.

    I am a huge fan of Taobao, though it’s a dangerous addiction! I haven’t heard of the dictionary you mention. I use plenco, which seems to be very popular among people studying Chinese, but I don’t really like it. I’ll download the one you mention and give it a try!

    Another app I use is Skritter. It’s pricey, but great for learning Chinese. One more I like is 书香云集 which has tons of books available for free download (both in English and Chinese).

    • Linda on January 4, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Awesome! I definitely gotta download 书香云集 ! Thanks Rosie!

      • R Zhao on January 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

        It’s great. . . I’ve found a lot of decent books to read on there!

    • Linda on January 4, 2015 at 7:12 am

      your baby boy William is so adorable! 🙂 <3

      • R Zhao on January 5, 2015 at 12:38 pm


  2. Daria on January 5, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Oh before I was using another dictionary it calls Pleco but that one you recommend it’s also great <3 I also agree Skitter is a great app to learn characters 🙂 LingLing Chinese is little bit childlish but also good app to help remembering Chinese words. When it comes to messaging app I prefer Taiwanesse Line more than WeChat but my Chinese friends told me sometimes there are some problems in Mainland China with using it ^^

    • Linda on January 5, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Yeah I tried Line too but didn’t really have any contacts on there! Interesting, didn’t know there were problems, but then again there’s lots of problems with Internet stuff in mainland so not surprising to hear 😀

  3. Diego on January 5, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Waygo to make photos to translate characters, i like Weibo app.

    • Linda on January 6, 2015 at 12:28 am

      thanks! i downloaded Waygo now! I had an app that also scans and translates the characters but it didn’t work at all! Let’s see how Waygo does 🙂 thanks

  4. Sarawackadoo on January 15, 2015 at 5:30 am

    I tried using Baidu maps, but everytime I input something into it in English it gives me a Beijing location. I have no idea if I’m doing something wrong (you think it would automatically pick up my location) or if it doesn’t support English locations (I know the entire app is in Chinese, but so is Taobao and I can search in English there!)… Consider me stumped.

    And WeChat should be number 1 on your list! It’s essential.

    • Linda on January 15, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Yeah, you should use Chinese with Baidu Maps! Taobao is no problem because it’s products and lots of sellers cater to foreigners in China but baidu maps works differently.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


안녕, I'm linda :)

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you find what you are looking for and return for more.

Follow Me

Where I am now

Cheongju, South Korea (2)

Linda Goes East Shop

Shop Korea-inspired home decor prints. Unique. Affordable. Korea.