Best China eSIM & Essential Apps for Foreign Visitors in China


Traveling to China as a foreign visitor is an exciting and enriching experience. However, it is a challenge to navigate a country with a language barrier, unique cultural nuances and a complete government ban on apps that we’ve come to love and rely. In this blog post, we will discuss a few tips to get you connected more seamlessly and recommend apps that will be useful in China.


1. Alipay (or WeChat Pay)

China has rapidly turned from a cash society to a QR code payment system that runs almost entirely on mobile phones- leapfrogging the use of credit cards.

International customers can now link foreign-issued bank cards (VISA & Mastercard both accepted) to payment apps such as Alipay or WeChat Pay.

From paying for a quick snack to shopping in major department stores, paying with a QR code using Alipay or WeChat is expected (and in many cases, the only payment option) in China.

Download Alipay for Apple or Android


China eSIM

2. eSIM from Flash Global SIM

eSIMs issued by Flash Global SIM for foreign visitors are not restricted from essential apps such as Google, GMail, Instagram, Facebook, Spotify and a long list of sites. As such, all Flash Global SIM users are free to access the usually blocked apps without the need of pricey VPNs or free VPNs with unbearably slow internet speeds.

This feature alone makes eSIMs from Flash Global SIM a must buy before arriving to China.

Purchase China eSIM from Flash Global SIM here


3. Apple Map (or Amap for Android users)

While Flash Global SIM users are able to circumvent the government’s internet regulations, apps such as Google Maps are not updated and completely out-of-date. Google Maps users in China often find restaurants and business that has long closed down to still be listed and worse, new & operating subway lines not even showing up.

Apple Maps work relatively well and is up-to-date. For Android users, use Amap for maps in China with English labels and decent user interface.

Download Amap here


4. WeChat

To restrict touch points during Covid-19, China has rapidly sped up the digitalization process of all aspects of life- including something as simple as ordering food in a restaurant. It is now not uncommon for restaurants or even fast food chains like McDonald’s or KFC to ditch paper based/ touch screen menus in favor of displaying everything on the WeChat superapp.

Diners can expect to scan a QR code from their phones to get a seat on the table, view the menu, order the food and pay for the meal all in one single app. If there is only one app to download in China, it must be the WeChat app.

Download WeChat here for Apple or Android


5. Didi Chuxing and ExploreMetro

Often referred to as the “Uber of China”, Didi allows you to book rides effortlessly, whether it's a car, taxi, or even a bike. The app's English interface makes it user-friendly for foreign travelers, and it's the go-to option for safe and convenient transportation.

Alternatively, if you find yourself traveling more on the Chinese Metro, ExploreMetro provides detailed metro maps for major Chinese cities, including real-time updates, journey planning, and offline access. This app is a travel essential for seamlessly navigating China's metro networks.

Download Didi Chuxing for Apple or Android
ExploreMetro here for Apple or Android



With careful planning and a little pre-departure effort, we are confident these recommendations will make your journey smoother and more enjoyable. From navigating around, paying for purchases and more, you'll be well-equipped to embrace the wonders of China with confidence. Remember, technology is your best friend when exploring China!

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