Want to know the best apps for visiting Shanghai?
Travel apps can be hugely helpful when visiting Shanghai, for a variety of reasons. They can help you get about the city more easily, check out the best places to visit and quite importantly, allow you to access websites that are censored in China, such as Facebook and Google.
Here’s our guide to the best travel apps to download before visiting Shanghai.
1 – Shanghai Metro Map and Route Planner
This free app gives you access to an easy to use Shanghai Metro map as well as helping you to find the best way to get from A to B via its route planner.
Developed by mapway, I also use this company’s Tube Map app for getting around London, as I find the interface very user friendly. There are lots of Shanghai Metro apps out there to choose from, but personally I think this is the best of the lot.
2 – SmartShanghai app
SmartShanghai is a web magazine and city guide. It’s listings include over 16,000 restaurants, shops and bars, and it works offline.
It’s a great read and its events calendar helps you find out about any special events that are taking place during your visit.
3 – Shanghai –Travel Guide & Offline Map
The Shanghai Travel Guide is a nifty app that will help you discover some of the best things to do in the city. It includes an offline map and shows users some of the best spots around the city – recommended by authors from Fodor’s Travel and Marco Polo. You do need to upgrade to get the whole package though.
As well as English, it’s also available in German, French, Spanish and Italian.
4 – VPN Proxy Master
In China many of the large ‘western’ tech giants’ websites are banned – something that’s become known as the ‘Great Firewall of China’.
This means that when in Shanghai, you won’t be able to easily access sites like Google and Facebook when you jump on the WiFi. It is possible, however, if you download and use a VPN – a virtual private network. This is a piece of software that encrypts your Internet traffic and allows you to bypass censorship. You can find out more about VPNs by reading this handy guide.
There are many VPN apps you can download and use when in China, but the one I found best when in Shanghai was the app VPN Proxy Master. It wasn’t without fault, as the VPN would drop from time to time, but it was the most sturdy of those I tried out and was recommended to me by several local people I met.
5 – Google Translate
Yes, Google is one of the sites blocked by the ‘Great Firewall of China’ but if you use a VPN app then you can make the most out of the handy Google Translate app.
Language can be a bit of a barrier in Shanghai, especially in restaurants, so Google Translate can be really useful for reading menus and signs etc via your phone’s camera.
You can also use it to translate spoken and written Chinese to English and vice versa – we found this very handy in several situations.
6 – Shanghai Taxi Cards
Another time the language barrier can be an issue is when you’re trying to explain to your taxi driver where you want to go.
This app is the perfect solution to this problem – you type in where you want to go and the app turns this into mandarin, which your driver will be able to understand. It’s not a free app, but if you’re going to regularly be jumping in a taxi, could be worth considering…
Shanghai Taxi Cards costs £1.99 andis available for iOS.
7 – Trip Advisor
You find this app in any top list I make – Trip Advisor is like my travel bible! It’s absolutely brilliant when searching for places to stay before you travel and I use it as a way of finding out what places people do and don’t recommend visiting.
As a total foodie, my main use of Trip Advisor when I travel is to find out as much as I can about the best places to eat in a city. We used the app to find several really great restaurants in Shanghai, which we really enjoyed visiting, but as a picky eater it’s a great way to find out if a place serves the kind of food you’ll enjoy.