We compiled a list of great resources that we use ourselves on a regular basis or that helped us to get started in the beginning. Some of those are free, others are not.
Please note that some of these products are affiliates. That means if you buy using the link on this website, I receive a small commission for the referral, at no extra cost to you. This way you can support the Beijing Expat Guide without spending any additional money.
I only recommend products here that I have used myself and would not hesitate to recommend to friends and family. Of course, you have to decide for yourself if these may be useful to you.
Beijing expat magazines
You can find free print copies of these expat magazines in many expat restaurants and bars. All of those four provide restaurant listings and reviews, write about activities and many other topics for expats.
- The Beijinger – Probably the most well-know one of the four; also has an active forum and classifieds.
- TimeOut Beijing – Also has a Shanghai edition.
- That’s Magazine Beijing – Also has a Shanghai and a Pearl River Delta edition.
- City Weekend Beijing – Also available for other cities in China.
- InterNations – A very active expat community that hosts regular events, has activity groups, an informative forum and classifieds. Requires a free membership; some activities and resources are for premium members only (affiliate link).
- INN Beijing International Newcomers Network – Targeting newcomers to Beijing but also attracts some long timers with monthly meetings and coffee meetings in different neighborhoods. Since meetings are during regular work hours, you will meet mostly expat spouses.
- FC Club Fortune Connection Club – A now global networking organization with focus on China that hosts regular events targeting professionals.
- FCGroup – A Beijing networking group that hosts regular events (Colin, who organizes these events, gives specific info on the regular events in his comment below)
- Meetup Beijing – A source for finding meetings with people of shared interests.
- Beijing Hikers – Well organized day hiking trips with local flair, often to less restored sections of the Great Wall and local villages. Opportunity to meet like-minded people. Also offer travel trips within China.
- Dandelion/China Hiking – A small outfitter with more of a family feel. Organizes regular overnight camping trips to more remote sections of the Great Wall (decent gear is provided) and also longer hiking trips all over China.
- Black Sesame Kitchen – Chinese cooking classes. Semi-hands on (you do some prep work but the chef demonstrates the actual cooking), fun, and tasty.
- The Hutong – Cooking school for Chinese and global cuisines and other activities.
- Hutong Cuisine Cooking School – Hands on cooking classes for authentic Chinese food. Unlike other cooking classes, requires a deposit when making reservations, which makes it a bit of a hassle.
- Agoda – A travel website with a great selection of hotels in China and in Asia in general, all at good prices. I like it for the the user reviews and the good descriptions, with many photos of the hotel and every room. You can also book flights with Agoda.
Useful products and services
- VyprVPN – A great VPN service that works well in China and is easy to use. (If you are already in China, use this link for better access within China.)
- Bluehost – Web hosting that I use for this website with no problems to access the site from within China. I helped someone move their site from GoDaddy to Bluehost to make it accessible in China again. Most free blogging sites are blocked here. If you want to run your own website or blog in China, then a WordPress site hosted by Bluehost is a great option.
- Traveling Mailbox – A virtual mail service provider that lets you receive mail at a US address and forwards only the mail you want.
Most of the apps listed here are available for Apple and Android devices. You can download those directly from the app stores.
- WeChat – Similar to WhatsApp, you can send text, audio and picture messages for free, have group chats, post Moments, make audio and video calls, and more. Almost everyone in China uses it.
- TrainChinese – I use this dictionary app almost daily on my smartphone to look up words or get the audio for pronunciation. You can also review vocab using the flashcard function, train your listening skills with their audio app or learn numbers with their number app. It can be installed it on your smartphone, iPad and computer and sync across all devices.
- HanPing – We use the Pro version of this great dictionary. While the audio is not as good as TrainChinese, HanPing lets you write unknown characters to look up in the dictionary.
- Sohu TV – With this app you can watch TV and movies including some foreign TV series and movies. It is entirely in Chinese but not too difficult to navigate. You can also go directly to their website.
- PPTV – An app like Sohu TV, just with a different selection of TV shows and movies. Available for Android and Apple.
- Skype – Video calls over the internet, essential for keeping in touch with folks at home. Skype to Skype calls are free. We have an account so we can also call land lines and mobile phones in other countries. We also use a Skype number (paid service) as our US phone number.
- US Embassy Air Quality – The US consulate publishes air quality readings taken hourly at the embassy compound in Chaoyang to keep their citizens informed. In addition to the app, this website has more detailed info for more locations.
- WayGo – This translation app is fairly new to me and not yet available as Android version so I haven’t used it much. It translates menu items from Chinese characters to English when aiming the iPhone or iPad at the name of the dish.
- A Practical Chinese Grammar – The best Chinese grammar book I came across. Very well organized with many useful examples using English, Pinyin and Chinese characters. Most other grammar guides I saw make very limited use of Pinyin, so you have to be able to read characters for those books.
- Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters – A fun approach to understanding, writing and memorizing the 800 most useful characters.
- Fluenz – This language learning software, similar to Rosetta Stone, is not cheap but from my perspective the best way to get started learning Mandarin before coming to China. Fluenz is geared towards adults learning Chinese using great explanations that relate to your own language, rather than full immersion without explanations.
Last but not least: Our own Expat Guides
- Newcomer to Beijing – How to get started as a new Beijing expat
- Managing in China – The truth about cultural differences in the Chinese workplace
I hope you find these resources useful. If you have a specific question, please just send me an email. I can also offer more in-depth consulting services via Skype for a fee. Drop me a note if you are interested at firstname.lastname@example.org.