Today I thought I’d share with you the apps that I have found most useful since living in Hong Kong. I have an Android phone so these are all Android apps, but most of them are available on Apple. I’ve provided links to download the apps from Google Play. These apps are mostly local to Hong Kong, and mostly free (with one exception). I’d recommend them to anyone who lives in Hong Kong or comes to visit!
I’ll start with the travel apps.
This is a bit of an obvious one, but I find Google Maps so useful! Not only is it great for figuring out where things are, but a recent upgrade included a journey planner which covers a great range of Hong Kong public transport information, including green minibuses! (I don’t think it has the red minibuses in but I’ve not checked). I use it all the time for finding the best way to get from A to B. However, be careful as occasionally it shows the closest bus stop as the crow flies and doesn’t take into account some of the sharp cliffs in Hong Kong – one of the first times I used it, it wanted me to scale a small mountain on foot!
Not a very sophisticated app but very useful for finding out where buses go and where bus stops are. You can search by location or route number. If you have GPS it can tell you when you are approaching the bus stop you want to get off at. Some bus routes have live bus information on the app, telling you when the next bus will arrive at your stop (but I think this is currently limited to Express and Airport buses). This app covers Citybus and First buses (mainly Hong Kong island).
Very similar to the Citybus app but covers the KMB buses, which mainly go on the Kowloon side.
I don’t use this app very often but if you’re not familiar with the Hong Kong MTR system this simple-to-use app would be useful for finding your way around. You can use it to find the best route between MTR stations and it will tell you the cost and roughly how long it will take. It also provides alerts when there is a major problem on the MTR system (although this is pretty rare).
This is quite a basic app but it does all it needs to, which is to give you the timetables for pretty much all the ferries in Hong Kong. It’ll also tell you when the next one is leaving so you can see if you’re going to make it in time!
This is the only non-free app on my list, but in my opinion it’s totally worth the money (which is only HK$7.70, approx. £0.60). It has a Cantonese translation of every street, large residential estate, major buildings and landmarks in Hong Kong, which is so useful when you come across a taxi driver who doesn’t speak English! It will give you both the address in characters and a phonetic version (if you’re brave enough to try and pronounce it – although when I’ve tried it seems to work well). It will also give you a ‘taxi card’ which has the address in large characters, filling the screen, so you can just show your phone to the taxi driver!
Ok, onto the non-travel apps…
This app from the Hong Kong Observatory is pretty much a staple. It’ll tell you weather predictions and much more, including a rain radar (so you can see if rain is coming) and storm track (so you can see if a typhoon is heading your way). One of its most useful features is that it tells you all the warnings issued by the Hong Kong Observatory so you can easily find out if a T8 signal has been hoisted and you get to stay home from work! Being Brits, we’re quite amused by the cold weather warning which pops up when the temperature is expected to go below 14degC – no unnecessary journeys, look after the elderly etc! (if that was the case in the UK, nothing would ever happen!)
This app provides information and reviews of a huge number of Hong Kong restaurants. Very useful for planning a meal out! The only downside is that most of the reviews are in Chinese, but there’s usually one or two in English to give you an idea of what other diners think.
Another straightforward app which tells you what’s on where in Hong Kong cinemas. A nice feature is that most of the cinemas have availability information on the app so you can see what seats are free on a particular showing. You can also book tickets to some of the cinemas through the app as well.
This app has information on all the official hiking paths in Hong Kong, divided into Family Walks, Nature Trails, Country Trails and Long Trails. You can also search for walks roughly by region. Whilst it’s a really useful app for finding out what walks are where (and also how to get to and from them), the information on each walk is pretty limited and the accompanying maps can be a little hard to read. Another minor annoyance (although not the app’s fault) is that some of the walks start in quite random places so you have to hike for a while just to get to the start of the walk!
This isn’t technically a Hong Kong app but I hadn’t come across this app until I came to Hong Kong. Everyone uses it here! It’s basically an internet based messaging system, so as long as you have wifi or mobile data you can send text messages for free. The app allows you to send a message to anyone in your contacts who also has Whatsapp on their phone. It’s really useful here because inter-network texts aren’t free (unlike in the UK) and you often don’t know which of your friends are on the same network as you! Being an expat abroad, it’s also useful for sending free messages to friends back home.
This Chinese dictionary app is more useful for people with a basic understanding of Chinese characters (i.e. not me, but my husband finds it really useful). You can type in English, pinyin or draw characters and the app will give you possible meanings. It’s mainly for Mandarin speakers but also has Cantonese pronunciations as well as both simplified and traditional characters, making it useful in Hong Kong or mainland China. It also has a flashcard feature to help you to learn Chinese characters if you wish.
So those are my favourite apps to use in Hong Kong. Do you agree? Do you have any other recommendations? I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!