So you’ve taken the big leap and moved to Hong Kong. Congratulations! Life here can be overwhelming and confusing at first. Thankfully, there are plenty of smartphone apps out there to make things easier. These essential apps will help you navigate the city, order food, find bars and restaurants, and even learn some Cantonese.
Cantonese by Nemo
Free (In-App Purchases)
If you’re intimidated by the prospect of picking up Cantonese, this app is for you. It contains basic Cantonese words and phrases organized into helpful categories, such as “Essential Phrases,” “Basic Questions,” “Food,” “Shopping,” “Money” and more. The app’s ingenious “speech studio” feature lets you record your voice and compare your pronunciation with a native speaker’s. Upgrade to the full version ($9.99 in the US App Store) to access all the material.
Hong Kong Taxi Translator
$0.99 in the U.S. App Store
Here’s a common problem for expats: You know the name of the place you want to go to, but only in English. This app is a lifesaver for non-Cantonese speakers who want to take taxis in Hong Kong. Search Hong Kong Taxi Translator’s database of names of streets, places, buildings, hotels, top sightseeing spots and more to find your destination’s Cantonese name and pronunciation. There’s also a helpful “Taxi Card” feature that displays any address in Chinese, which you can show to your driver.
In Hong Kong, heavy rain and thunderstorms can come and go suddenly, catching you off guard. This official weather app from the Hong Kong Observatory will help you stay prepared. It displays local temperatures, rain and typhoon information, and a nine day weather forecast. It will also alert you when the observatory puts out severe weather notices to the public.
Hong Kong Air Pollution
Let’s face it, Hong Kong’s air quality isn’t the best. This app lets you know more about the air you’re breathing by taking data from reporting stations around Hong Kong, running them through multiple pollution indexes from around the world, and telling you what means and what you should do. The indexes includes benchmarks put out by the WHO, as well as the EU, the UK and Australia.
We all need to eat, and if you live in Hong Kong, this app is absolutely essential. Made by the massively popular website OpenRice, it’s a directory to all the restaurants, bars, cafes, coffee shops, fast-food outlets and bakeries in the city. For each venue, you can access reviews, photos, opening times and other important details. Almost everyone in Hong Kong with a smartphone uses this app, so you can be rest assured that the crowdsourced information in it is up to date.
With Foodpanda, you can get food delivered right to your door with just a few taps. This food courier service lets you order food from hundreds of restaurants around the city. Delivery charges and minimums vary, but a $15 delivery charge and $80 minimum is most typical.
Deliveroo is Foodpanda’s main rival. Its selection of restaurants is slightly different, so it’s definitely useful to have both apps on hand. The app is very attractive, with a user-friendly design that lets you browse hundreds of restaurants and food photos. It also alerts you when your food is on the way. The minimum order is $85 and the delivery fee is $20.
Hong Kong’s clean, efficient subway system, the MTR, is sure to be a major part of your life. MTR Mobile gives highly accurate estimates of how long it takes to get from one station to another, which is sure to come in handy when planning trips. The app also lets you calculate ticket prices, find out which station exit to get out at, and much more.
Navigating the city’s array of public buses, trams and ferries can be an overwhelming task, especially as many buses and trams have overlapping routes. This essential app from the Transport Department does all that legwork for you. Just input your current location and destination, and the app will find all the possible routes you can take to get there, including details on fares and estimated travel time.
We’ve covered taxis, buses, trams and the subway, but to fully round out your transport options, you should download Uber if you haven’t already. With this app, you can request a car to pick you up at your location within minutes. The rate for UberX, the most affordable option, is comparable to that of local taxis.