chinese apps

Top 28 Chinese Apps You Must Download in 2024

No access to Google, YouTube, Facebook or Whatsapp in China? No problem!

The Great Firewall of China might prevent you from browsing your usual sites and platforms, but there are plenty of alternatives and essentials that will tide you over.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, moving here for study or work, learning Chinese or not, here’s a list of the 28 must-have Chinese apps that cover all the bases.


Daily Apps

1. WeChat chinese apps

Developer: Tencent

Monthly active users: Over 1.2 billion users

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

If there’s one app in this list that you can’t live without in China, it’s WeChat. Referred to locally as 微信 (wēi xìn), it’s your primary line of online communication with family, friends and coworkers.

WeChat has several in-app translation functions. Plus, it’s equipped with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology, meaning you can translate images of text scanned with your phone.

In addition to being the main form of online communication, it’s also an e-Wallet. WeChat Pay is one of the most popular methods of payment in China. If you select the “Pay” function, you can pay for utilities, phone bills and more.

2. Alipay chinese apps

Developer: Alibaba

Monthly active users: 711 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

If you’re staying in China for three months or less, Alipay or 支付宝 (zhī fù bǎo) is what you need.

Most Chinese e-Wallets require a Chinese phone number and a local bank account. But if you download the international version of Alipay, you can sign up with your regular number and connect an international bank card to the app.

Since only certain establishments accept foreign bank cards as a payment method, it’s better to be safe with Alipay than sorry.

Alipay also includes a health mini-program. Depending on what establishments you visit, you may be asked to present your health code for entry.

3. ExpressVPN chinese apps

Developer: Express VPN International

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Paid, free trial available

ExpressVPN will help you bypass the Great Firewall and let you browse the internet as you normally would. And if you’re an Android user, ExpressVPN will let you access the Google Play store.

While it might be pricier compared to similar apps, Chinese residents favor ExpressVPN because of its multi-platform capability, vast number of servers and overall speed.

Just remember that you need to download the app and follow these steps before you come to China.

4. Sogou Input chinese apps

Developer: Sogou

Monthly active users: 506 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free with paid premium options

Sogou Input or 搜狗输入法 (sōu gǒu shū rù fǎ) is an intuitive keyboard that makes Chinese typing a breeze.

You don’t have to worry about switching between the handwriting and pinyin keyboards built into your phone, as Sogou lets you do it all on one screen. There’s also voice input if you don’t feel like writing manually.

Other features include text prediction, a grammar checker, custom emojis and skins, stickers and GIFs.

In addition to Chinese, there are keyboards for English, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and French.

China Travel and Transportation

5. Ctrip chinese apps


Monthly Active users: Over 50 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

Although there are many apps and mini-programs for booking flights and hotels, Ctrip still manages to be the most popular method for travel planning.

Ctrip or 携程 (xié chéng) is the Chinese version of

Used by locals and foreigners alike, Ctrip accepts payment methods such as Chinese bank cards, WeChat Pay and Alipay. So it’s ideal for China-based foreigners who don’t have an international debit or credit card.

But if you’re a traveler with an international bank card, the standard app will make more sense for you.

6. China Train Booking chinese apps

Developer: China Highlights International Travel Service

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

Metropolises like Shanghai and Beijing conveniently have designated ticket booths for foreigners, but you might not be as lucky with Tier 2 and 3 cities.

Thankfully, foreigners have access to China Train Booking, an app for buying train tickets in English. So if you struggle to speak Mandarin or read Chinese, this is definitely what you need.

Even Tier 1 city dwellers will find this app useful since they can book their tickets ahead of time rather than arriving early at the station to wait for the next available train.

Also, note that train stations in China accept e-tickets.

7. Meituan chinese apps

Developer: Meituan

Monthly active users: Over 667 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

There are multiple options for hiring cars and taxis, such as Alipay. But for cheaper rides and extra discounts, 美团 (měi tuán) is where it’s at.

Meituan isn’t exclusively a ride-hailing app—it’s primarily a shopping app for local goods and services, and car hire is one of the features there.

While Meituan is exclusively in Chinese, you can follow this guide to make it easier for you to use.

You can search for your destination using pinyin, and I recommend saving your favorite destinations in your notes for easy copying and pasting.

8. MetroMan China chinese apps

Developer: Wuqiu Ping

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free with paid premium options

Shanghai and Beijing boast two of the world’s top 10 best metro networks. China’s subway systems in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities are extensive. So at some point during your stay, chances are you’ll be taking the subway.

If you have plans to explore a larger region, I recommend downloading the MetroMan China app, which contains subway maps for 43 cities. Using the app offline, you can look up fares and plan your route.

It’s also available in 11 languages, which is perfect for non-native English speakers.

Shopping Apps in China

9. Taobao

Developer: Alibaba

Monthly active users: 875 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

If you can’t live without the convenience of Amazon, 淘宝 (táo bǎo) has got you covered.

Taobao has tons of stores for international companies that have set up shop in China. Still, if you can’t find a specific brand or item, Taobao recommends a domestic—and often cheaper—alternative.

Note that everything on the app is in Chinese, with no in-app translation feature for chats. Be prepared to have your preferred translation app ready just in case the sellers need to communicate with you.

As an Alibaba app, you’ll need to sign up with an Alipay account.

10. Xiaohongshu (RED)

Developer: Xingin

Monthly active users: 158 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

Also known as “Little Red Book” in English, 小红书 (xiǎo hóng shū) is like a combination of Instagram, Pinterest and Amazon.

It was first introduced in 2014 as an e-commerce platform for fashion and luxury goods, but it has since grown into a content-sharing app where users can write posts and upload pictures and short clips to review, advertise and offer tips on products.

Naturally, this is where you’ll find lots of Chinese influencers. So if you’re interested in what products are trending or want to read honest reviews before you make any purchases, Xiaohongshu will come in handy.

11. Hema hema logo

Developer: Alibaba

Monthly active users: 6.83 billion

Available on: iOS | Xiaomi

Price: Free

盒马鲜生 (hé mǎ xiān shēng) or Hema is a cashless grocery chain that allows residents in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou to shop in-store with nothing more than their phones.

They also have the option to get their groceries delivered to their homes through Hema in as little as 30 minutes after checkout.

While shopping for domestic and imported items in their physical stores, you can also scan barcodes to discover the origin of products.

Since it’s owned by Alibaba, you’ll need an Alipay account for checkout.

Chinese Food and Restaurant Apps

12. Dianping chinese apps

Developer: Meituan

Monthly active users: 628.4 million

Available on: iOS

Price: Free

Known as 大众点评 (dà zhòng diǎn píng) in Chinese (which literally translates as “public reviews”), Dianping is China’s answer to Yelp.

In addition to restaurants and latest food trends, you’ll find information on businesses like hotels and entertainment venues. You’ll also see info on door-to-door services like babysitting and moving companies.

Besides seeing what’s popular among the locals, you can also use the app to make reservations, grab great deals, book hotel stays and purchase tickets to movies and special events. Just be aware that this app is entirely in Chinese.

13. chinese apps

Developer: Shanghai Rajax Information Technology Co., Ltd.

Monthly active users: 75 million

Available on: iOS | Xiaomi

Price: Free

Meaning “are you hungry?” in Chinese, 饿了么 (è le me) is the go-to food delivery app for locals and foreigners alike.

Even though the app is in Chinese, it’s not difficult to figure out how to use it since everything has pictures.

But if you still struggle after a while, you can access through the WeChat mini program. That way, you can use the WeChat translate function.

Discounts are automatically included on the order page and additional discounts can be found on the payment page. And besides food and drinks, you can also order groceries, medication and toiletries from participating stores and pharmacies.

14. Meituan Waimai chinese apps

Developer: Meituan

Monthly active users: 100 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

Although you’re spoiled for choice on, some restaurants deliver exclusively through Meituan Waimai or 美团外卖 (měi tuán wài mài).

Personally, I don’t use Meituan Waimai very often, but the app comes in handy when I want to order from places like Papa John’s.

You can always compare the discounts for restaurants that appear on both apps to get the best possible deal on your meal.

Note that Meituan Waimai is separate from Meituan (the ride-hailing app).

Meituan Waimai is also available as a WeChat mini program.

15. That’s chinese apps

Developer: China Intercontinental Press

Available on: iOS

Price: Free

Although this one’s more of a general lifestyle news and listings app, I mostly use That’s for finding brunch and holiday meal deals, food-related events and newcomers in the Shanghai F&B scene.

But That’s also keeps you updated on current affairs, new restaurants, weekend markets, school community news, travel inspiration and much more.

The best part is that everything is in English, although Chinese is included sporadically for names, addresses and such.

Originally a magazine for expat families in Shanghai, That’s has since expanded into multiple platforms and is now operating in various cities like Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Suzhou and Sanya.

Chinese Social Media

16. Weibo chinese apps

Developer: Sina Co.

Monthly active users: 584 million

Available on: iOS (intl. version) | iOS | Android

Price: Free

微博 (wēi bó) or Weibo is the mainland version of Facebook and Twitter. Whatever’s going on in the news or trending in online communities, you’ll find it there.

And like all social media platforms, Weibo is also used for seeing what your friends are up to.

While mostly used by native speakers, international celebrities and foreign brands also use Weibo to reach out to Chinese fans.

The original Chinese app has a translation feature to cater to non-Chinese users, but the English translations aren’t the best. Unless you know some Chinese, you might want to consider using the international version instead.

Chinese Media Apps

17. Bing chinese apps

Developer: Microsoft Co.

Monthly active users: Over 1 billion worldwide

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

With Google and Yahoo blocked in China, the Chinese rely on local alternatives Baidu and Sogou. But as popular as those two search engines are, they’re not foreigner-friendly.

Thankfully, Bing survived.

It was blocked temporarily and has since received a Chinese makeover (with censored search results), but the most important thing is that foreigners can use it in China without a VPN. 

Google is available once you’ve got your VPN on, but it’s good to have Bing as a backup search engine when your VPN is acting up.

18. Bilibili bilibili logo

Developer: Bilibili Inc.

Monthly active users: 332.6 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free

哔哩哔哩 (bì lī bì lī) or Bilibili has been dubbed as the YouTube of China. Many people also call it “ B站 (B zhàn), meaning “B-Station.”

It started as a video-sharing platform for anime, comics and gaming content, but it’s since grown to host broad-spectrum entertainment, from lifestyle videos to educational clips.

But unlike YouTube, Bilibili has a unique commentary feature that creates a sense of community while watching videos, where comments are displayed in real-time.

This allows people to have live conversations with others watching the same video. kugou logo

19. KuGou

Developer: KuGou Technology

Monthly active users: Over 308 million

Available on: iOS

Price: Free with paid premium options

Meaning “cool dog” in English, Kugou or 酷狗 (kù gǒu) has become one of the top three most popular music streaming apps in China. It allows you to listen to the radio and download and play songs, albums, podcasts and audiobooks from their massive library.

And if you love to sing along to your music, the lyrics conveniently appear on the screen, so you don’t have to manually search for them on your browser.

If you’re feeling brave, you can even live-stream your karaoke session!

20. iQIYI iqiyi logo

Developer: iQIYI Inc.

Monthly active users: 530 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free with paid premium options

Binge all your favorites Asian dramas and browse for new titles on iQIYI or 爱奇艺 (ài qí yì). With the library constantly updated, you’re guaranteed to find everything from the classics to the latest trending shows.

Some movies and episodes are available for download with only a free account!

And no worries if you can’t read Chinese. The international version of iQIYI offers multilingual support, allowing you to change the language setting from Mandarin to either English, other popular languages like Spanish or Southeast Asian options like Indonesian.

You can also upgrade to a premium account for exclusive content and ad-free video streaming.

21. Tencent Video chinese apps

Developer: Tencent

Monthly active users: Over 574 million

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free with paid premium content

If you want to go beyond Asian content, 腾讯视频 (téng xùn shì pín) or Tencent Video is the app for you. The library includes a mix of original productions, concerts and sports events.

In addition to Chinese dramas, variety shows and movies, you can also find Hollywood hits and international TV shows on the platform.

These videos can only be accessed with a premium account, but you can stream the first episode of a season for free. In addition to exclusive video content, a VIP account also lets you stream in HD.

Dictionary and Translation Apps

22. Baidu Translate

Developer: Baidu Inc. baidu translate logo

Available on: iOS

Price: Free with paid premium options

Known as 百度翻译 (bǎi dù fān yì) among locals, Baidu Translate offers the most accurate English-to-Chinese translation of all the apps. Numerous native speakers have relied on Baidu Translate alone to learn English and other popular languages.

It includes learning features like bilingual texts, vocabulary help for official exams, pronunciation guides and much more.

But if you aren’t a native or fluent Chinese speaker, the next best thing would be downloading Microsoft Translator.

23. Microsoft Translator

Developer: Microsoft chinese apps

Available on: Android

Price: Free

Microsoft Translate is for you if you want to translate between Chinese and other languages. It’s straightforward and user-friendly, with options for translating text, audio and pictures.

The latest update includes handy tools such as a phrasebook and a conversation function. And when verbal communication and translation functions fail, this chat feature allows you to have translated text conversations with native speakers who also use the app.

24. trainchinese chinese apps

Developer: trainchinese

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free with paid premium options

Trainchinese is a complete dictionary app that favors commonly used words to ensure you’re talking the way native speakers would.

You can switch between Simplified and Traditional Chinese and pick pinyin with tone marks or numbers. You can also use Zhuyin or the bopomofo system commonly used in Taiwan.

Trainchinese is packed with loads of other features, such as flashcards that include handwriting training. It also has OCR capabilities, which may provide you with more accurate English translation than WeChat or Microsoft Translator.

Apps for Learning Chinese

25. HSK Study and Exam – SuperTest chinese apps

Developer: Shanghai Yuxuan Information Technology

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free with paid premium options

The HSK or 汉语水平考试 (hàn yǔ shuǐ píng kǎo shì) is the official method for measuring Chinese proficiency, specifically your listening, reading and writing skills.

If you plan on taking the HSK, this app contains HSK vocabulary practice, mock exams and previously administered exams, all of which will be graded by teachers who provide corrections and detailed explanations.

Most importantly, it preps you for all six HSK levels. Believe it or not, most HSK apps only prep up to HSK 4 or 5.

26. HelloChinese chinese apps

Developer: HelloChinese Technology

Available on: iOS | Android

Price: Free with paid premium options

HelloChinese offers gamified lessons catered to complete beginners. The bite-sized lessons get you speaking right away by introducing commonly used words and phrases with the help of pinyin, native audio pronunciation, grammar and culture notes.

The lessons test you on your listening, reading, speaking and writing skills so that you have a well-rounded Chinese language education.

And if you want to study offline, HelloChinese courses can be downloaded so you can learn Mandarin anytime.

27. Ninchanese ninchanese logo

Developer: Nincha Languages

Available on: Android

Price: Free with paid premium options

Ninchanese is an excellent option for learners who are intermediate level and above.

Ninchanese is a gamified learning experience that aims to improve all language skills. On top of the interactive lessons, you can play and compete against fellow users. You can also chat to help you get used to typing in Chinese and see how natives talk to each other online.

Ninchanese also contains HSK content for levels 1 to 5 if you need extra help.

Although there isn’t an iOS app for Ninchanese, the website can still be accessed on Apple devices. Just make sure you visit Ninchanese via Google Chrome for the voice recognition feature.


You’ve made it to the end of the list!

Although it’s unlikely that you’ll need all 28 of these Chinese apps, it’s better to have all the information to prepare you for future adventures in China!

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