Since moving to Beijing a month ago, my smartphone has proved to be tremendously helpful settling in, in China’s capital. I soon realized that I could navigate the city with my smartphone only and leave my wallet behind.
Here I’ve put together a photo essay illustrating a day in my life and how I went about accomplishing the various things I like to do.
To start my day, I ordered a car through Didi Chuxing, a ride-hailing service similar to Uber, right from my phone to get to my lunch destination — Nanluoguxiang.
I was lucky. My Didi express car picked me up within minutes.
Bonus tip: If you don’t get a response to your request for a Didi Express Car within 88 seconds, Didi will send you a 5 RMB (USD 0.78) coupon to use towards your bill.
Just like Uber, it was cashless payments with Didi. I had the option of using WeChat Payment, Alipay and QQ Wallet to settle the bill.
On my way to Nanluoguxiang, I picked out a Korean restaurant using the Meituan app, a group-buying website.
I ordered a Korean hotpot set for two directly from the Meituan app. Voila!
After lunch, I used Baidu maps to lead me to nearby tourist attraction, the Confucius Temple.
Bonus Tip: Just like Google Maps, Baidu Maps has voice-command navigation so you can put your phone away and put your earbuds on while walking there.
Upon arrival at the Confucius Temple, I fired up the 51 Daoyou app, which is a location-based audio tour guide app.
The audio guide app offers free standard audio tours and paid versions which are high-defintion.
After the tour, I decided to walk to a cafe at Wudaoying Hutong for some coffee.
This cafe takes Alipay which is one of China’s top two mobile payment systems.
Bonus tip: If your smartphone allows touch ID, you can use your fingerprint to pay with WeChat payment and Alipay instead of having to type your PIN.
While at the cafe, I browsed restaurant recommendations for dinner while using the Dianping app, which is similar to Yelp.
Besides looking up restaurant recommendations, I felt like watching a movie after dinner. Through the Maoyan app, I was able to see all the showtimes and movie theater locations, I also was able to buy a ticket directly from the app.
All in all, it’s possible to get by in China without cash as long as you’re all set up with mobile payments and have a few apps installed on your smartphone. So next time when you leave your wallet at home, don’t panic.
(With contributions from Stella Yu)