Most Useful Apps for Shanghai

Here’s a quick list we’ve compiled of apps that will make your life in Shanghai way easier. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments section.

  • WeChat: app used largely for chatting, can also use for video calls, payments, etc. The functionality is always improving
  • Alipay: used for mobile payments including in stores, online, can be linked to taobao, can pay your utilities and charge up your phone
  • Taobao: omg you buy anything on taobao. It’s difficult if you don’t have some Chinese language ability, but you can search for items you want to buy using image search.
  • Pleco: Amazing Chinese/English dictionary
  • Baidu Maps: Map app for when you get lost. Apple Maps and Google maps aren’t reliable options here.
  • Eleme: app for ordering takeout food. You need some Chinese language ability here, some restaurants include English descriptions on their in-app menus.
  • Dianping: This app is used to search for restaurants, gyms, grocery stores, etc. You can pretty much find anything on here and the listings include reviews.
  • Ctrip: English version of the app available, a travel app used for booking tickets, hotels, searching flights, etc.
  • QQ Music: Free online music streaming. Almost anything you’d want is available.
  • Bonapp: The Restaurant rating app for expats. The app has expanded to include gyms, schools, massage and some other service industries. App is all in English and includes reviews that are also usually in English
  • Daowei 到位: This app is only in Chinese. You can find anything you’d ever need on here – someone to fix your AC, cell phone repair, in home massage, manicures, laundry pickup, etc. You place the order in app and usually someone arrives within the hour to do whatever it is you need.
  • Sherpas: Expat oriented food delivery service. You can find a ton of Western/non-Chinese food options here (more than on Eleme), but the delivery is hella slow and way more expensive than Eleme. If you can wait 90 minutes for your food and you’re dying for Western food, then this is for you.
  • Epermarket: Best grocery delivery service in Shanghai. The prices are the most reasonable and they have the widest selection. You can do your shopping in app and if you order early enough in the day, you can get same day delivery.
  • Shanghai Metroman: English app used to search subway routes and time out your predicted travel. For each line transfer, I’d add 15 minutes to the time the app gives you.
  • Didi: taxi hailing app, now available in English. The customer service is even available in English.
  • Mobike: Shared bike App. Mobikes are the orange/white bikes and generally better quality than the bikes from the other ride share companies. Rides are cheap, usually 1-2 RMB.
  • VPN: Express is generally reliable, download before you get here or you’re gonna have a bad time.

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