How to Setup and Use WeChat As a Traveler in China

WeChat Unleashed: Maximize Your Travel Experience in China

WeChat is the most popular social network in China, with over 900-million users.

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 many 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 widely used for communication in China, playing a crucial role in staying connected with friends and family while in the country.

To set up a WeChat account, follow these steps:

1. Depending on your phone type (Android or iPhone), download the WeChat app from either the Google Play Store or the App Store.

2. Open the app once it’s downloaded and tap on the “Sign Up” or “Create Account” button to begin the registration process.

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

4. Once you have entered the correct information, you will receive a verification code from WeChat.

Type this code into the corresponding box and click on the “Submit” button.

5. To complete the sign-up process, you need to fill in the remaining information.

It is important to complete your profile so that your family and friends can recognize you.

Once you have entered this information, your WeChat account will be ready to use.

How to Add Contacts on WeChat?

To add contacts to your WeChat account and communicate with them, follow these steps:

  1. Open the WeChat app and go to the main “Chats” page.
  2. Look for a small plus (+) sign in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
  3. Tap on the plus sign, and a menu will appear with the “Add Contacts” symbol.
  4. Click on the “Add Contacts” option from the menu.

Click on this symbol, and you will be able to search for your contacts using various methods.

You can search for a friend by entering their phone number or WeChat ID in the designated space at the top of the screen.

Another method to add a friend is by scanning their QR code using your phone.

Follow these steps:

  1. From the menu, select “Scan QR Code.”
  2. Position their QR code within the square at the center of your screen.
  3. Once the QR code is properly aligned, you can proceed to add them as a contact.

By following these steps, you can easily add friends to your WeChat account by scanning their QR codes.

If your friends want to add you as a contact, you should select the “My QR Code” option from the menu.

This option is located at the bottom of the scanning page and is highlighted in green.

WeChat offers a unique feature called “People Nearby” that allows you to connect with individuals in your vicinity.

However, it is important to exercise caution when enabling this feature, as it allows others nearby to discover and connect with you.

Additionally, they will be able to view the ten most recent images in your album.

To enable the “People Nearby” feature, follow these steps:

  1. Tap on the “Discover” tab in the WeChat app.
  2. Select “People Nearby” from the options.
  3. You will be directed to the “People Nearby” page, where you can start sending greetings to individuals in your vicinity.
  4. If someone adds you back, you will become friends on WeChat.

Remember to use this feature responsibly and only connect with people you are comfortable sharing your location and album images with.

Now that you have successfully added contacts to your WeChat account, it’s time to start chatting with them.

Typical Features You Will Use on WeChat

WeChat offers a variety of essential features that have become an integral part of daily life for Chinese users.

These features are designed to simplify and enhance various tasks.

As a popular social network, WeChat ensures the convenience and well-being of its users.

Here are some of the key features you can utilize on WeChat:

  1. Texting on WeChat: With WeChat’s messaging feature, you can easily communicate with friends, family, and colleagues through text. The app provides a user-friendly interface for seamless conversations.
  2. Voice Messages: WeChat allows you to send and receive voice messages, which adds a personal touch to your conversations. Simply record your message and send it across for a more expressive and efficient form of communication.
  3. Voice Calls: Make crystal-clear voice calls to your contacts using WeChat’s built-in calling feature. Stay connected with your loved ones, conduct business discussions, or simply catch up with friends anytime, anywhere.
  4. Video Calls: Connect face-to-face with friends or business partners through WeChat’s video calling feature. Experience real-time video communication, allowing you to share moments, collaborate, or hold virtual meetings.

1. Texting on WeChat

Texting is undoubtedly one of the most popular features of WeChat, with millions of users relying on it daily.

This feature enables you to send not only text messages but also images, videos, and even audio clips to your family, friends, and business contacts.

Additionally, WeChat’s Group Messaging feature allows you to add multiple connections to the chat, facilitating seamless communication among a group of individuals.

Adding someone to your contact list on WeChat is a straightforward process that can be done in a couple of ways:

  1. Using their phone number: To add someone to your contact list, you can enter their phone number directly into the WeChat app.
  2. Alternatively, you can scan their QR code, which is a quick and convenient method to add contacts. When scanning the QR code, ensure you have their “Profile QR Code” visible and use your smartphone’s camera to scan it. Once successfully scanned, their username will appear on your screen.

WeChat introduces a unique feature called the “Shaking Feature” to facilitate meeting new contacts.

To activate this feature, simply open the WeChat app and shake your smartphone.

The app will immediately search for someone who shook their device while you shook the phone.

You will likely find a match, and you are given the option to message this person and start a conversation.

If you are not interested in the newly found contact, you can shake your smartphone again to find a new contact.

2. Voice Messages

WeChat offers a convenient voice recording feature that allows you to record your messages.

Instead of typing out your message, you can utilize the built-in Voice Message feature to easily record and send your message.

This feature has gained popularity among millions of users who use the app.

For instance, when you find yourself occupied with an important task and don’t have the time to type out a lengthy reply, you can simply press the “hold to talk” button and respond to the message using your voice.

This feature proves especially useful when you have a lot to say and prefer not to type it all out.

3. Voice Calls

You can utilize WeChat to make calls to your contacts, similar to making calls with a regular phone.

The notable advantage is that WeChat does not impose any charges for international calls, allowing you to connect with people worldwide without incurring expenses.

By leveraging WeChat’s long-distance calling feature, you can conveniently stay in touch with your family and friends back home even while exploring the Great Wall of China.

Just envision the potential savings you can enjoy by utilizing this feature alone!

4. Video Calls

Making video calls is another popular feature offered by WeChat, which functions similarly to platforms like Skype or FaceTime.

You have the ability to initiate video calls with anyone listed in your contact list.

This feature serves as an excellent way to stay connected with your family and friends overseas while you are in China.

A video call provides a higher level of intimacy compared to a regular phone call, allowing you to have more personal interactions with your loved ones.

Make sure to take full advantage of this feature when utilizing WeChat.

How to Use WeChat Translation?

The WeChat Translation Feature is highly popular among users of the app.

It enables you to easily translate content into your preferred language.

Setting up Language in WeChat

To utilize this feature, you first need to set up the language in WeChat.

The app will then use your chosen language to provide translation services.

For example, if you set English as your preferred language, you will be able to translate messages from any other language into English.

To set up your language preference, open the WeChat app and navigate to the “Me” tab. From there, access the “Settings” section.

Tap on the “General” 

Then click on the “Language” option.

Now choose your preferred language.

There are three different ways to utilize the translation feature in WeChat for both iPhone and Android devices:

  1. Translate in Individual Chat: This option allows you to translate content within an individual chat. Simply open the chat conversation, tap on the message you wish to translate, and select the translation option. WeChat will then provide a translation of the selected message into your preferred language.
  2. Translate in Group Chat: Similarly, you can also translate content within a group chat. Open the group chat, locate the message you want to translate, and follow the same steps as mentioned above. WeChat will provide the translation of the selected message.
  3. Scan Documents and Translate Content: WeChat also offers a feature that allows you to scan documents and translate their content. By utilizing the built-in document scanner, you can capture the text in a document, and WeChat will provide a translation of the scanned text.

1. Translate in Individual Chat

To begin, open a chat with an individual contact in WeChat.

Press and hold the message you wish to translate, and a popup will appear with several options.

Tap the arrow mark on the right side of the popup and select the “Translate” option.

WeChat will then translate the message into the language you have set up in your language settings.

2. Translate in Group Chat

The process for translating messages in a group chat is similar to that of an individual chat.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the group chat that you want to translate in WeChat.
  2. Tap and hold on the message you wish to translate until a popup appears.
  3. Tap the right arrow on the popup to access the options.
  4. Select the “Translate” option. WeChat will then proceed to translate the message into your chosen language.
  5. After the translation is complete, the popup will display “Untranslated.” You can press this option to remove the translation and display the original message only.

3. Scan Documents and Translate Content

WeChat provides an excellent feature that allows you to scan and translate document content.

This feature supports translation in both directions, from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese.

You can either scan a physical document or image or select one that is already stored on your phone.

To access this feature, open the WeChat app and navigate to the “Discover” section.

From there, select “Scan” from the menu options.

At the bottom of the page, you will find both “Scan” and “Translate” options.

Tap on the “Translate” option, and a large white button will appear in the center of the screen for scanning documents or images.

By utilizing this functionality, you can easily scan and translate various documents or images within the WeChat app.

To scan a document or image, align your phone’s display with the document or image you wish to scan.

Then, tap on the large white button.

The app will process the scan and convert any text present in the image into your selected language.

Can Tourists Pay WeChat in China?

Certainly, you can utilize WeChat for online payments.

However, if you wish to add funds to your WeChat account balance using a bank card linked to the app, you need to enable the “WeChat Pay” function on your account.

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 ask one of your contacts (who has the WeChat Pay feature already set up) to send you a “Red Packet.”

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

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.

It would help if you remembered this PIN since you must enter it whenever you make payments.

If you are on 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 will pay.

It would help if you remembered that WeChat needs mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection to operate.

Final Words

In conclusion, setting up and using WeChat as a traveler in China offers a multitude of benefits.

From convenient communication features to translation capabilities and online payments, WeChat enhances your travel experience and facilitates seamless interactions with locals.

Embrace the power of WeChat and unlock a world of connectivity during your journey in China.

Safe travels and enjoy your time exploring!

If you have any further questions or need assistance, feel free to reach out.


Q: How do I set up a WeChat account as a traveler in China?

A: To set up a WeChat account, download the WeChat app from your app store, open it, and follow the instructions to create an account using your phone number.

You may need to verify your number through a verification code.

Q: Can I use WeChat without a Chinese phone number?

A: Yes, you can use WeChat without a Chinese phone number.

However, some features like WeChat Pay may require a Chinese bank account or additional verification steps.

You can still enjoy communication features and utilize translation functions without a Chinese phone number.

Q: How can I add contacts and make new connections on WeChat while traveling in China?

A: You can add contacts on WeChat by searching for their WeChat ID, scanning their QR code, or using the “Shake” feature to find nearby users.

Additionally, you can join WeChat groups related to your interests or location to connect with like-minded individuals.

Q: Can I use WeChat to make payments while traveling in China?

A: Yes, WeChat Pay is a popular feature that allows you to make payments at various establishments in China.

Linking your bank card to WeChat Pay enables you to make online and offline transactions, including payments for transportation, shopping, and dining.

Q: How can I overcome language barriers on WeChat while communicating with locals in China?

A: WeChat offers a translation feature that can help bridge language gaps.

You can use it to translate text messages, group chat conversations, and even scan and translate documents or images.

This feature assists in smoother communication and understanding.

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