From ordering spicy noodle soup at a Seoul street food stall to hunting out the coolest hot spots in Osaka, enjoying authentic travel experiences just got a whole lot easier thanks to a host of apps that make exploring new Asian destinations a breeze.
Much like the apps that help us book a teksi, figure out where to eat nearby, or figure out what’s fun to do on the weekend, download these apps to help you get around better as you take holidays in Asia.
Narrowing the Language Gap
Staring at your smartphone doesn’t have to be anti-social. In fact, with Google Translate it can make face-to-face communication a doddle. From Mandarin to Burmese, this clever phrasebook app covers 90 languages, offering a helping hand in hundreds of different travel situations from understanding road signs and asking directions to booking train tickets and shopping for designer threads. There’s even a two-way speech mode where the app works as a personal translator for you and whoever you might be talking to.
Order with Ease
Avoid culinary catastrophes – like ordering a meal you just can’t stomach – with Waygo. Simply open this food-themed app and scan menus written in Japanese, Chinese and Korean with your smartphone to decipher every dish. Once you are confident you know what’s going to be on your plate, you can get on with perfecting your ‘cheers!’ in the local language.
Navigate without a Problem
Get to know a city like the back of your hand with the help of your smartphone. Offline map company Ulmon covers hundreds of cities – making plotting a course to museums, galleries and restaurants simple.
As for taxis, smartphone-based service Uber operates in countries around the world, but to ensure the right address is plugged into the GPS use hoodhot travel. This navigation app has thousands of addresses in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing, Seoul and elsewhere written in local script.
Hoodhot Travel Taxi Card
Become a Public Transport Pro
Taxi services aside, to really live like a local you have to master a city’s public transport system. However, difficult-to-read maps and an unfamiliar alphabet can make getting from A to B a bit of a gamble. Ease the confusion with an app you have downloaded in advance.
With its itineraries, travel times and bilingual station names, the Shanghai Metro app can help plan trips around the Chinese city, while Trains allows you to master Tokyo’s multiple, maze-like subway lines.
Escape the Tourist Traps
Ditch that heavy guidebook and really get inside the skin of a city with the help of a local. Covering Cambodia, South Korea, Indonesia and The Philippines, playplanet might not be an app but its easy-to-use, mobile-responsive website can connect travellers with people offering authentic experiences in their hometown. Whatever you are looking for – from night walks in Bangkok’s frenetic Chinatown, to a tour of the local eateries at Seoul’s Hyehwa Filipino Market, to a bicycle tour of Manila – there are hundreds of activities on offer that you might never come across otherwise. Simply click to book.
And for travel tips and tailor-made tours, the Withlocals app allows travellers to text people in cities from Singapore to Sri Lanka to get a better idea of where to eat and what to visit.
Make New Friends
Whether you are with friends and loved ones or travelling solo, sharing a meal with a stranger can be an eye-opening experience – especially if the meal is served at their house.
Global community EatWith invites explorers to eat hosted meals at homes around the world – the site operates in more than 20 countries including China and Japan – allowing you to try ingredients and dishes you might not encounter back home. And when you get back, return the favour and feed hungry visitors to your city by downloading the EatWith for Hosts app.