Your Must-Have Apps when living in Beijing
China, while rich in history and tradition, has embraced technology and its conveniences faster than most developed countries in the West. With the tap of an app, you can pay your water bill, buy a new pair of shoes, order a car, and have dinner delivered without getting up off the couch. If you are new or moving to Beijing then take note of these must-have apps recommended by expat families at the International School of Beijing!
China's Super App. You name it – this app can do it! Available in English – WeChat is the number one app used in China. This is the way people communicate in China. Personally, and professionally – WeChat is used for messaging, phone or video calls, news, and most importantly their payment feature that is accepted EVERYWHERE: online, in stores and restaurants, and even in taxis. Leave your wallet at home - cash and cards are a thing of the past! Household and restaurant bills, clothes and groceries, movie tickets, food delivery, etc. can all be paid using a quick scan or tap of your "WeChat Wallet". If you want to stay connected in Beijing – download this app!
2. Air Visual
Air quality is a common concern for expat families when deciding to make the move to China's capital. Fortunately, the air quality has improved significantly in recent years with more "blue sky" days than not. Having an app like Air Visual provides hourly updates from both the Beijing government and the American embassy's air quality monitors.
China's answer to Uber. To many an expat’s delight, DiDi is now available in English and gives you the option of booking a regular car, van, luxury car, or a taxi. You can book immediately or reserve for later. They’ve even added a translation section to communicate with your driver and, as with most things in Beijing, payment is through WeChat (with the option to pay cash to actual taxi drivers).
Craving a burger? Pasta? Sherpas & Jin Shi Song are 2 food delivery apps with English interfaces. You can order a wide variety of Western and Chinese cuisines from restaurants in Beijing for a small delivery fee of 15 – 25 Yuan. And again, payment can be done via WeChat or in cash upon delivery. If you can read Chinese or up for a challenge - there are a number of other apps to choose from.
You may notice a spattering of orange bicycles across the city or in most cases piles of them everywhere. MoBike is a bike sharing app that allows you to pick up the nearest bike to your location and drop it wherever you like (within reason). Connected to your WeChat wallet – signing up for the app requires a deposit of 300 yuan. After selecting a bike, you are charged by distance or time. Prices vary from 0.5 – 1 yuan depending on how long you borrowed the bike. There are other competitor companies, but MoBike is the only one with an English interface.
6. BaoPals (TaoBao)
You've arrived in China and are looking for those cheap China deals people always talk about. While in-store can be more expensive than in the West – you can find anything on Taobao, China's Amazon, from knock offs to original goods – and for CHEAP! However, it can be hard to navigate because it is all in Chinese. BaoPals had the genius idea to translate the app, accept WeChat payment and make it foreign friendly!
Adjusting to life in Beijing can prove to be difficult at first. Download the ISB Beijing City Guide today and learn more about living in Beijing as an expat.
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