Essential iPhone apps for traveling in Beijing
THE iPhone has revolutionized travel, and is invaluable in a city like Beijing. While English is fairly widely spoken, travelers still run into standard issues such as not knowing the layout of the city and not being able to communicate with taxi drivers. Travel apps help alleviate those problems, and can make your Beijing experience that much more enjoyable.
Beijing Taxi Guide
Even expats living in Beijing for years have trouble getting cabbies to take them where they want to be. The Beijing Taxi Guide app stores the Chinese characters for 3,000 locations in the city, so it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be able to find the spot you’re looking for. You can also create cards for friends’ private addresses and store them for future use. Another nice feature is the notes function, in which you can jot down your thoughts on your favorite — or least favorite — places in the city.
Explore Beijing Subway
The massive Beijing metro system can be a bit overwhelming, and Explore Beijing Subway will help you orient yourself wherever you are in the city. Not only does it include all subway lines and stops, it also connects to Google maps to show you whereabouts the stop is located, and all the station exits. This is particularly helpful, as it can be quite difficult to get your bearings once you come up from underground.
Beijing Air Quality
Unless you’re traveling during the narrow window of time in early fall when Beijing stays beautiful and relatively smog-free for more than a day at a time, you’ll probably experience the city’s notoriously bad pollution at some point during your vacation. The air quality app provides the daily ratings released from the U.S. embassy, and can be useful when deciding whether today is the day for wandering the Forbidden City or staying indoors at the National Museum.
Having quick access to translations from English to Chinese characters, both simplified and traditional, and pinyin can be extremely useful when trying to ask for directions, or even when ordering food. You can file your most frequently used searches, and set up the app for study purposes if you’re interested in learning a little Mandarin during your travels.
Beijing on a Budget
Created by Daniel McCrohan, Lonely Planet‘s Beijing expert, this app is chock full of great Beijing insights. This is a city that you can do either really cheaply or really expensively, and McCrohan’s app is a serious boon to those who fall into the former category. An excellent resource on food, drink, nightlife and sightseeing off the beaten path, this app will be invaluable for those looking to explore the city without breaking the bank.