Eat, entertain, shop, move in China without wallet and with just a mobile phone

Published 30 September 2016


This is my regular Friday non data center post.


Last year, I was mainly splitting my time in Shanghai and Ma’anShan while also having to travel to other cities for work and leisure. I came back to Singapore early this year and it surprised me that I find it more convenient to live, eat, and move about in China than in Singapore.


There was a hurricane that will sweep through Shanghai during a weekend and I stayed home from Friday night and emerge on Monday morning. I relied on YiHaoDian(一号店), JingDong(京东), DianPing and E’LeMa (饿了吗literally translated meant are you hungry) app for groceries and cooked food delivery. So I did not need to step out of the door. Kudos to the delivery man.


I bought my air ticket, high speed train ticket, hotel accommodation, restaurant booking and payment all through my phone’s apps. My travel to and from work and in leisure are mostly through the DiDaPingChe (DiDa car sharing) or DiDi (taxi or private car or car sharing).


It was mentioned somewhere that everything a Chinese need to live, work, play, eat, travel, entertain are all available a tab away on their phone. It was really amazing.


In my recent 2-weeks trip to Wuxi, Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin, I did not fork out a credit card or cash (except for subway ticket, which I bought a refillable card for Beijing and Shanghai), I used the following apps:


For hotel/accommodation:

  • Ctrip(携程), Airbnb, JingJiang (锦江之星)


For travel:

  • DiDi (滴滴出行taxis), 12306 (for the high-speed train, I can even change the date/timing for free once online)


For restaurant:

  • DianPing (for booking and its linked to Wechat for payment with 2-8% discount), MeiTuan (美团,for 2-8% discount)


For movie:

  • MeiTuan(美团), DianPing(点评), Wangyi (网易)


For payment (in general)

  • Wechat payment, alipay


So it will help if you apply for a bank account (a one-time effort with passport and cash), and get a local phone card (this you have to do it at a main China Telecom/Unicom/Mobile shop with your passport), and load the abovementioned apps and you will be good to go in China.

Eat, entertain, shop, move in China without wallet and with just a mobile phone

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