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Your smartphone is your best friend in China Edit

Life of an expat in China might be a bit difficult, especially for a beginner, but China, and especially Shanghai, is a place, where almost everything, from paying for vegetables from a street seller and talking to a landlord, who doesn't speak any English can be done with a help of your smartphone. Here is a list of must-have apps and some useful hacks on how to use them (2018).

How to use apps, if I can't read characters? Edit

Here is a trick:

  1. You need to install Google Translate and/or Baidu Translate (better both).
  2. For Android: install Universal Copy, iOS: Copy Text. These apps allows you to copy any content from any app (except web-pages), so you can paste it directly into your favorite translation app (video).
  3. If Google Translate app works in the background on your device, then whenever you copy any content, a small circle pops up on the screen. You can click this circle and see the translation immediately.

Transport and navigation Edit

Maps Edit

  • Baidu Map (Android/iOS). Only in Chinese, but thanks to tricks mentioned above, you can get where you need.
  • Amap. Some people find this app more convenient

Both apps a relatively similar

Bike sharing Edit

  • Ofo
  • Mobike

Taxi/car-hailing Edit

Uber was emerged with Didi in Febriary last year, so Uber doesn't work in Mainland China anymore.

  • 滴滴打车 (Didi) Android/iOS. The app has both, Chinese and English interface.
  • 美团打车 (Mei Tuan Da Che). Chinese only.

Metro Edit

  • metro大都会. Android/iOS. Allows you to pay on Shanghai metro using QR-code. Remember, you need to keep your bluetooth on. Also you need an Alipay account, which you can connect with the app in order to pay.
  • Metroman. Android/iOS. English/Chinese. A very convenient metro map app, which shows the best route from one station to another. Has
  • 花生地铁WiFi. This app allows you to connect to Shanghai Metro Wi-Fi. As almost all Chinese apps, you need a Chinese phone number to be able to use it.

Train / airplane / intercity bus tickets and schedule. Edit

  • Trains. There is a bunch of apps. The most convenient way is Trip.com (English), but you need to pay a small fee. Also you may try 12306.cn or even buy tickets via WeChat/Alipay (Chinese)
  • Airplane. Trip.com website or app (Android/iOS) is the most convenient option.
  • Intercity buses. Try 巴士管家. The bus ticket system is a bit tricky. For some routes, you can buy a ticket online, get a code and just present it at the check in. For other routes, you can buy a ticket online, but then still need to get it in a machine at the bus terminal. And another option, you can only check the timetable using the app, but can't buy the ticket. Then you need to go to the terminal and buy there. REMEMBER! It's very common, that you can only buy bus tickets from ticket office using cash! Consider it in advance before planning a trip.

Shopping Edit

Food and groceries delivery Edit

There are several services providing food delivery from shops and/or restaurants in Shanghai.

  • Ele.me (supermarkets/restaurants)
  • Mei Tuan (supermarkets/restaurants)
  • (He Ma) (groceries). The best thing about Hema is that they even deliver at night!
  • 每日优鲜 (groceries, only food)
  • Sherpa's
  • Fields
  • 1号店(yhd.com)

Online shopping Edit

  • Taobao
  • JD.com
  • Suning.com

Various (?) Edit

  • 大众点评 (Dianping) - similar to Google Reviews.
  • Bon App!
  • 秀动网 (showstart.com). Tickets for events in the city, especially live shows.