10 Must-Have Apps for New Families Adjusting to Shanghai

Meet your new lifelines

by SHFamily | Wed, October 04, 2017

By Harrison Liao

Moving to Shanghai can be a little overwhelming for expat families. With over 25 million people living here, skyscrapers that stretch for days and the liveliest of streets, it helps to have a smartphone optimized for Shanghai life. To do just that, we've compiled a list of apps we can't live without in this city.

1. WeChat

If there's one app you must have in Shanghai, it's WeChat. By now, you've probably heard of the gigantic social media hold that WeChat has over China, but if you're just moving here you might not know everything else the app offers: personal banking, a scan-and-pay service that just about every vendor accepts (rendering cash useless) and sweet deals for events and sales around the city.

2. Bon App!

If you're from the States, you might be used to using Yelp or TripAdvisor on the go to find restaurant reviews. In Shanghai, your best bet for a night out with the family is Bon App!, a restaurant review platform geared towards Western foodies and expats. If you're a bit more ambitious with your palette, try the app for locals Dianping, which offers a much broader selection of restaurant reviews.

3. Didi Da Che

Last year, Didi bought out Uber's China operations, meaning it is now the only way to call a taxi through your phone in Shanghai. During peak hours, you're going to need it since it becomes impossible to hail a ride, and makes for an easier taxi experience in general. All you have to do is give your current location and where you want to go, and the app will book the rest of your ride. You can even pay through the app if you have WeChat Pay or an Alipay account (another personal banking app).

4. Ayi Bang!

ayi bang

Apartments in Shanghai can become a bit of a mess, especially if you have kids. That's where Ayi Bang! comes in handy. It offers on-demand helpers and cleaners who come to give you place a good clean. They also provide pest control and more.

5. Baidu Maps

Shanghai has a ton for you and your family to explore, so if you're leaving the confines of your neighborhood, you'll need to be able to navigate the streets. Enter Baidu Maps, which is far more up-to-date with its listings and its location pin is a lot more accurate.

6. Baopals


Whilst not an app, this website is going to be your go-to for satisfying all online shopping needs. Baopals takes the fuss out of navigating TaoBao (China's digital megamall), as it provides an English language service for those looking to buy online. Plus, you can find just about anything on there.

7. Sherpas


For those nights you just want to stay in for dinner, and when the traffic is a bit too daunting on Yanggao Road, Sherpa's is your best bet to order in. They offer food delivery services from restaurants like Wagas, Masala Art, PizzaMarzano, Little Catch, Simply Thai and many many more. If you're more confident in your Chinese reading skills, go for the local Ele.ma app, which offers a broader selection of restaurants and a lower delivery fee.

8. YiHaoDian (YHD)

This English version of popular online hypermarket is a must for expats living in China. It has transformed the grocery buying expeirnece for millions of Chinese people, and now you can experience it for yourselves too. Aside from being a massive time-saver, they bring over 100,000 selected items – from fresh food to household necessities – that are delivered straight to your door in less than 24 hours!

9. Shanghai Metro

Navigating the city can be hard when you first arrive, and the last thing you want to do when out exploring with your family is get lost in the depths of the suburbs. This English Metro app for Shanghai will enable you to explore the city with ease, using one of the cheapest methods of transport around and will even calculate the time of your journey between stops.

10. MoBike / Ofo

Feeling more confident with your knowledge of the city streets? Hop on a Mobike and hire one of many shared bicycles that you see around the city. For a ¥300 deposit and less than ¥3 per ride, you'll breeze your way through the city and get to know the streets like the back of your hand.