How to Setup and Use WeChat As a Traveler in China

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Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide of WeChat

WeChat is the most popular social network in China with over 900-million users at present. It’s the largest and most dominating social platform used in China. It’s the all-in-one app that forms the basis of your daily digital life in China. When you download and install this app on your smartphone, you have access to

  • media
  • online shops
  • developers
  • instant messaging

The Importance of WeChat in China

WeChat is one of the best travel Apps while traveling in China. If you plan to travel to China for whatever reason, you should know the importance of this app.

At a glance, WeChat looks like WhatsApp – another popular messaging app that lets people connect with their family and friends and send voice, video, image, and text updates. But WeChat is much more than WhatsApp. It comes with a lot of mini-programs to cover a person’s daily life. You can

  • provide invoice information
  • order food
  • pay for goods & services
  • do a lot more things

That’s why you need to learn how to set up and use WeChat when you plan to visit China for whatever reason.

Download WeChat

  • WeChat Download Android
  • WeChat Download for IOS

How to Set Up WeChat on Your Phone?

WeChat is mostly used for communication purposes in China. Having the app on your smartphone is an essential element of communication between you and your friends, family when you are in China.

The first step to setting up an account on WeChat is to download the app from Google Play Store or the app store depending on the type of your phone Android or iPhone.

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Once the app is installed on your smartphone, open the app and you will see the “Sign Up” button.

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Enter your phone number and the area code to sign up.

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Once you have entered the correct information, you will receive a verification code from WeChat. Type this code into the relevant box and press Submit.

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Now you need to fill in the other information to complete the sign-up process. Make sure you complete the profile so that your family and friends can recognize you. Once this information is entered, you will have a WeChat account ready to be used.

How to Add Contacts on WeChat?

Adding contacts to your WeChat account is important to communicate with them. To add your friends to your account, you should head to the main “Chats” page. There you will find a small Plus (+) mark on the upper righthand corner. Click on this + mark and you will find a menu with the “Add Contacts” symbol.

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Click on this symbol and you can search for your contacts in several ways. You can search for a friend by entering his or her phone number or WeChat ID in the space provided at the top of the screen.

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Another method is to add a friend by scanning a QR code from their phone. You need to select the “Scan QR Code” from the menu to do this. The next step is to position their QR Code in the square at the center of the screen. You can now add him or her as a contact.

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If your friends want to add you as a contact, you should select the “My QR Code” option from the menu. You will find this option in green color at the bottom of the scanning page.

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WeChat has a unique feature to add people nearby. In fact, you can just look around and become friends with people nearby. But you should be cautious when enabling this feature because people around you will be able to find you as well. They will be able to see your 10 latest images on the album.

To enable people nearby, you should tap on the “Discover” tab and select “People Nearby.” You will have access to the “People Nearby” page where you can start sending greetings to them. If he or she adds you, you become friends.

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Now that you have been able to add some contacts to your WeChat account, it is time to start chatting with them.

Typical Features You Will Use on WeChat

There are many essential features on WeChat that you will be using almost on a daily basis. Most of these features have become a way of life for Chinese users. The app cares for its users by simplifying many of their day to day tasks. That’s why WeChat has become so popular as a social network. Here are some of the most important features you can use on WeChat:

  1. Texting on WeChat
  2. Voice Messages
  3. Voice Calls
  4. Video Calls

1. Texting on WeChat

Texting is one of the most popular features of WeChat. Millions of users rely on this feature on a daily basis. This feature will let you send text messages, images, videos, and even audio clips to your family, friends, and business contacts. You can add multiple contacts to the chat with the Group Messaging feature of WeChat.

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Adding someone to your contact list on WeChat is quite easy. You can do it in a couple of ways.

  • You can use his or her phone number to add someone to your contact list. This can be done by entering the phone number of the contact or scanning their QR code.
  • If you want to add someone by his/her QR code, you should ask to see his/her “Profile QR Code” and scan it using your smartphone’s camera. You will see their user name appear on the screen when you do it successfully.

WeChat has a unique way of encouraging you to meet new contacts. It’s known as the “Shaking Feature.” To activate this feature, you need to open the WeChat app and shake your smartphone.

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The app will immediately search for someone who shook his/her device at the same time you shook the phone.

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Most probably, you will find a match, and you are given the option of messaging this person and starting a conversation. If you don’t like the newfound contact, you should shake your smartphone once again to find a new contact.

2. Voice Messages

WeChat provides a voice recording feature you record your messages. Instead of typing your message, you can use the in-built Voice Message feature to record your message. This feature has become popular with millions of users who use the app.

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For example, when you are in the middle of an important task, you may not have time to reply to an important message by way of typing the text. Rather than stopping what you are doing, you have the option of pressing the “hold to talk” button and replying to the message. When you have a lot to say and you don’t want to type all of it, this feature can come in handy.

3. Voice Calls

You can use WeChat to call your contacts just like calling with an ordinary phone. But WeChat won’t charge you anything to call anyone living in any part of the world.

You can easily take long-distance calls using WeChat and save a lot of money by calling your family and friends at home when you are walking the Great Wall of China. Just imagine how much money you will be able to save with this feature alone!

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4. Video Calls

Making a video call is another popular feature offered by WeChat. This feature is quite similar to Skype or Facetime. You can make a video call to anyone who is listed in your contact list. This feature is a great way to stay in touch with your family and friends oversees when you are in China. A video call offers more intimacy when calling a family member or friend compared to an ordinary phone call. That’s why you need to take advantage of this feature when you are using WeChat.

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How to Use WeChat Translation?

The WeChat Translation Feature is one of the most popular features of this app. You can use this feature to easily translate content to your preferred language.

Setting up Language in WeChat

Before you can use this feature, you need to set up the language in WeChat. It will use the language you set up when offering translation services.

If you set English as your language, you will be able to translate messages in any other language to English. To Set up your preferred language, open the WeChat app and tap on the “Me” tab. Now go to the “Settings” section.

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Tap on the “General” 

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Then click on “Language” option.

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Now choose your preferred language.

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There are three different ways of using the translation feature in WeChat for iPhone and Android.

  1. Translate In Individual Chat
  2. Translate In Group Chat
  3. Scan Documents And Translate Content

1. Translate in Individual Chat

The first thing you need to do is to open a chat with an individual contact. Press and hold the message and you will see a popup appearing with many options.

Tap the right-side arrow mark on this popup and select the “Translate” option. The app will translate this message to the language you set up in your language settings.

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2. Translate in Group Chat

This process is almost the same as individual chat. Go to the group chat you want to translate and tap and hold on the message until the popup appears.

Tap the right arrow of the popup to select the “Translate” option. The app will do the needful and translate the message to the language you set up. After the translation, the popup will show “Untranslate.” You can press this to remove the translation and show only the original message.

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3. Scan Documents and Translate Content

The app offers a great feature of scanning a document and translating its content. The translation will work both ways such as Chinese to English and English to Chinese. You can scan a document or image or select one that’s already on your phone for this purpose.

Open the app and tap on “Discover” and select “Scan” from the menu options. You will see both “Scan” and “Translate” options available at the bottom of the page. Tap on the “Translate” option and you will see a big white button in the middle of the screen to scan a document or an image.

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Align the phone’s display with the document or image you want to scan and tap on the big white button. After scanning, the app will convert any text in the image to your chosen language.

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Can Tourists Pay WeChat in China?

Absolutely yes, you can use WeChat to make some online payments. But if you want to use the WeChat app-linked bank card to add some money to your account balance, you need to enable the “WeChat Pay” function on your account.

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If you download the app using a Chinese SIM, this option will already appear on your profile under the “Me” tab.

If you have downloaded the international version of the app, you may not see this option on your homepage.

The first thing you need to do is to ask one of your contact (who has the WeChat Pay feature already set up) to send you a “Red Packet.”

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You simply need to click on the “Red Packet” and click on “Open” to accept it. Receiving a “Red Packet” will help put some money in your balance.

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Now the WeChat Pay feature will appear on your profile. You will be asked to set up a 6-digit PIN of your choice while setting up WeChat Pay. You need to remember this PIN since you will need to enter it whenever you make payments. If you are on a holiday in China, you can ask your tour guide to send you a “Red Packet.”

How to Pay For Things Using WeChat Pay?

Go to the “Chats” page and click on the small “+” icon in the upper-righthand corner. You should select “Scan” or “Money” from this menu – depending on how you are going to pay. You should remember that WeChat needs mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection to operate.

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That’s it for our beginner’s guide to how to set up and use WeChat as a traveler in China. Hopefully you can now connect with your friends and family, no matter where they are in the world!

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