Last updated on February 17th, 2023 at 10:36 am
This post may contain affiliate links meaning I might earn a small commission if you click on the link to make a purchase but it doesn’t cost you anything. Thanks for your support!
For every place you move to, there are certain apps you need to download to live like a local.
Here’s a list of apps to download while living in Hong Kong.
1) Hong Kong Apps – Food
a) Deliveroo and FoodPanda
Hong Kong has restaurants everywhere. If you want, you can go to a new restaurant every meal for the entire year without doing a repeat. That’s how many there are, to give you an idea.
But there comes a time when you feel like lounging at home and don’t want to leave your front door. Introverts can relate to this, am I right?
That’s when food delivery apps come into place.
They’re one of the best things invented, in my opinion.
The Hong Kong apps for food delivery here are Food Panda and Deliveroo (you might be familiar with Deliveroo if you’ve lived in the UK).
You might be thinking: which one is better?
Check out both companies. There will be different restaurants although some might overlap. Some restaurants are only exclusive to one company.
No need to change your clothes to eat delicious dim sum or pizza. Order food to your apartment while staying in your PJs.
Openrice is like Yelp in North America. You use this app to discover nearby restaurants and check out reviews written by customers.
ALL restaurants I’ve written about on my blog have been looked up on Openrice. I use this platform a lot.
Checking out customer photos is one of their best features. You might want to order something at a restaurant but when you look at a food picture online, you could very well change your mind and be like, ‘eh, this isn’t my cup of tea.’
It has happened many times before.
Some restaurants don’t have their own site so you can’t check out their menu. It is likely that a customer has taken at least taken ONE menu picture and posted it up on Openrice.
As a selective eater, this app will be your best friend.
All the information you need to know about a restaurant is available including opening hours, address, telephone number, etc.
You can even book a table at a restaurant there now.
2) Hong Kong Apps – Shopping
There are way too many apps to talk about when it comes to shopping in HK. I’ve narrowed it down to two apps because on there, you can buy basically whatever you want.
First up is Taobao.
Think of the Amazon equivalent here in China. That’s Taobao.
Although for die-hard Amazon fans, some sellers still ship to the city. It just takes longer than what you are used to. Also, the selection isn’t as great as Taobao.
It’s a must-have shopping app for anyone who lives in this country.
You can find things that are pretty cheap on there. Cheaper than a lot of things you buy in-store in Hong Kong. They have anything from furniture to beauty products like perfume to food. They even have luxury bags although it’s questionable how many people buy designer things on there.
People have said it’s too overwhelming on there because there’s so much to see. So much to buy.
The only thing I’ll say is to be prepared to fall into a rabbit hole once you get started. It’s very addicting and you’ll find yourself playing around with it a lot.
The downside is that you might have to wait for a while for your products to arrive in Hong Kong. The shipping process can take quite a bit of time.
If you’re in a rush to buy things, it’s probably best to skip Taobao.
Another important note is that everything is in Chinese. If you can’t read Chinese, ask a friend or family member who can.
Carousell is like eBay for several reasons.
- They sell used and new goods.
- There are professional sellers and then there are people like you and me buying and selling from the website (doesn’t it remind you of Vestiaire Collective?).
- You can also haggle prices. Some sellers are firm with those prices but once in a while, you’ll find a few that are a bit flexible with negotiating
There are also similarities to Taobao because you’ll find a ton of stuff there but there are also key differences.
Carousell is more user-friendly in English. Most sellers can write and understand English and Chinese whereas Taobao is only in Chinese.
There can be less of a wait since all sellers are in the same city. Taobao has sellers all across Mainland China. It can take some time to ship from one place to another. It’s usually pretty fast though.
There’s less selection on Carousell. When you’re in a hurry to buy something, I would probably recommend shopping from Carousell. Instead of waiting for the seller to send the item directly to your place, you can opt to meet them in person for the transaction (you usually meet in an MTR station).
Things to Remember About Carousell
There are several important notes about Carousell.
You usually have to ask a seller if that item is still in stock. They might still have the listing up but the item is sold already. It can be frustrating.
Once you find something you’re interested in, start a conversation with the seller making sure the item is still for sale.
Another thing about Carousell is that the price on a listing isn’t necessarily the final price.
The shipping fee is often not included.
If you want the item delivered to your house, choose SF Express. That means you pay for the shipping fee when the package arrives at your place. You can get a rough estimate of how much that costs by asking the seller.
Most importantly, always check out a seller’s review before buying from them. We’re not trying to be scammed over here!
3) Hong Kong Apps – Finance
PayMe is a local app that is like Venmo in the States. You connect your credit card, debit card, or bank account on the app in order to pay people.
Many sellers on Carousell use PayMe as a method of payment so they kind of go hand-in-hand.
You input their number into the app, how much you’re paying them, and your password. Voila! The money is sent to the party.
You don’t need much of their personal information. All you need is someone’s phone number.
This three-step process is extremely easy to use for all ages.
You’ll find yourself using this app also when you’re out with friends. It’s easier for one person to pay the whole bill and for others to wire the money to their account.
Too bad they only have this app here but other places have their own version of this.
Alipay is another finance-related app that a lot of Hong Kongers use.
You can connect your local credit card to your Taobao account. The other common option is to add money to your Alipay at your nearest convenience store.
I don’t recommend shopping from Taobao using your credit card because it costs more compared to using Alipay directly. There’s an extra fee added. The price difference isn’t too high; it’s usually about HKD 20-30 more but still!
It’s best to add money directly into your Alipay account and use that money for Taobao.
Other than Taobao, you can use Alipay while shopping or eating around the city.
You can use Alipay when you’re browsing affordable clothing stores or picking up some new stationery.
Downloading this app on your phone is convenient because you don’t have to grab your wallet.
You usually have your phone in your hands anyway. The store scans the payment QR code quickly and the transaction is done.
People usually associate Octopus cards with transportation (it’s what people use when they take the bus, ferry, or MTR) but they’re also great to use if you buying inexpensive items.
It beats carrying change around. You’ll see locals using their Octopus card to buy snacks and drinks at 7-eleven or at a vending machine.
Most people use octopus cards to pay at parking lots too.
4) Hong Kong Apps – Transportation
There’s a wide scope of transportation apps HK locals have on their phones so I’m going to talk about the most common ones.
a) MTR Mobile App
Hong Kong has one of the best subway systems in the world.
At almost any point in the city, you are near a subway station unless you are very far away. There’s even an HK Disneyland MTR station and an airport express line that takes you straight to these places.
For most lines, a train comes within minutes of each other. There’s never a long wait, making people love the subway system here.
Rush hour here gets real crazy. It’s beyond crowded.
When you’ve had a long day at work, at least you don’t have to worry about waiting for a long time for the next train.
The MTR Mobile App tells you the time when the next train will arrive and the best train routes to take to go to your desired location.
Citymapper is a trip planner app used in many global cities including Hong Kong.
Find out the best routes to get to your final destination.
This app mixes different public transports (ex. MTR and bus) to tell you what’s the fastest way to get to a place. It also tells you approximately how long the travel journey will take.
I love that Citymapper tells you when the next bus will arrive. It’s pretty accurate too. The MTR is extremely fast but waiting for a bus can longer. It’s super helpful knowing how much longer you have to wait for the next bus.
c) HK Taxi
HK Taxi is an app you use to call a cab. It’s a taxi-calling app great for English speakers.
You can usually flag a taxi down on the street when you’re out and about but for the times you can’t, HK taxi lets you order a cab and pay the fare all within the app.
When you’re over in North America, taking Ubers is pretty common. Over here in HK, while there is still some demand for it, it’s not as much.
There are a ton of transportation options like the MTR, tram, ferry, minibus, double-decker bus, and taxi. With all these ways, locals tend to use Uber less but it’s still available for those who like using Uber abroad.
If you already have the app on your phone, you might as well keep it.
5) Hong Kong Apps – Weather
Hong Kong weather can be unpredictable. There are no snow storms but we get typhoons and pretty intense rainstorms over here, especially in the summertime.
Locals use the Hong Kong Observatory app to be updated on weather warnings.
If it’s raining too heavily (there are three levels of rain: Yellow, Red, and Black. Black is the highest and that’s when school and work are cancelled), we need to be informed so we can go home safely before the weather conditions get too dangerous.
6) Hong Kong Apps – Communication
While we can always use text message to communicate, it can cost money depending on your monthly phone payment plan.
Whatsapp is the main method of messaging people on your phone. It’s free and anyone can use it no matter what kind of phone you have, unlike iMessage which is only for iPhone users.
You verify your number quickly and can start chatting and calling with friends and family. Most Hong Kongers have this app downloaded. I even use Whatsapp to talk to my friends and family abroad.
Final Notes – Best Apps for Hong Kong
You might have heard of some of these apps before while others are only for those who live in the city.
I use a majority of these apps myself (for some of them, I prefer to use their website but that’s only because I don’t have much phone storage left on my phone).
I highly recommend you download these from the app store as they will make your life more convenient.
If you found this guide helpful, pin it for later!