WHILE WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, three other mobile apps have come to dominate in Asia.

WeChat in China, Line in Thailand and Kakao Talk in South Korea combine messaging functionality including  text and video, with maps, ride-sharing technology and cashless payment options, among many other features.

For travelers especially, these three apps can help to smooth planning and allow you to tap into  local life.

Be aware that some features on the apps are limited to locals, but enough services  are available to all that downloading and using these apps could improve your stay in Asia.

WECHAT : With popular websites like Google, Facebook and Instagram blocked, WeChat is a social media platform in mainland China that has grown in popularity in recent years.

Its  translation tool   and pay features are are two of the most helpful features to travelers. To begin, download WeChat in any app store. As long as your phone is defaulted to English, the app will install in English.

To translate text or words outside the app, such as restaurant menu or a Mandarin-only website, tap the Discovery tab on the bottom of the app and choose the scan option.

WeChat's pay feature is designed to allow users to do operations as varied as exchanging money with friends and paying for street food, but it requires a local bank account.

Travelers can bypass this by asking local friends for help.

After you hand over cash to them, they can electronically transfer the money to you in a virtual red envelope [ called a ''hongbao''] via the app.

LINE : This Japanese messaging app has 164 million users across Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Though it has a pay feature called Line Pay, travelers who don't have local phone numbers are unable to use it. However, there is a workaround :
If you have WeChat Pay, an alliance between the two companies allows the Chinese app to be used at all Line Pay vendors.

KakaoTalk : As of October 2018, KakaoTalk had 44 million active users in South Korea, a country of 51 million people.

KakaoTalk has two apps particularly helpful to travelers to South Korea. KakaoMap is a maps app that allows you to search for places and map your way there via foot, car, bike and public transportation.

Travelers can also use KakaoTalk to hail taxis, get driving directions and find parking spots.

The World Students Society thanks author Hahna Yoon.


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