iPhone App Guide to Asia

Think your fave iPhone apps come in handy in Sydney, London or New York City? Try Shanghai, Tokyo or Seoul. The best iPhone apps have become requisite tools of the trade for foreign visitors to Asia. Check out some of the best.

Find! TOKYO by Enfour

Shibuya ward, Tokyo – Photo credit

Tokyo can be a complex and thorny city to navigate. No longer. Find! Tokyo is so good and so comprehensive, that locals even use it. The scalable train and subway maps are especially useful. Even more useful? The maps of the insides of the subway stations (as Find! TOKYO points out: ever get lost inside Tokyo Station?)

Tokyo City Guides


This Augmented Reality (AR) restaurant and bar guide is the bee’s knees. Ultra-convenient when you need to score a dirty martini in Singapore, Hong Kong or North Korea even. Got a jones for street noodles in Bangkok? No problem. Sashimi in Osaka? Effortless. Satay in Jakarta? You get the picture.


Lang-8 is one of those “how has this not always existed?” apps. The language exchange social network harnesses the addictive nature of Facebook with a more specific agenda in mind: language study. You can, for instance, pen a journal entry in Korean and link up with someone in Seoul for a thorough review and proof. With support in Japanese, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Korean, Cantonese, Tagalog, Indonesian, Arabic, Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian – not to mention English, French, Italian et al. – Lang-8 is a perfect tool for potential visitors to Asia.

International Taxi Guides by HoodHot

HoodHot is a sleek San Francisco tech outfit “made up of artists, designers, students, and former Apple developers” that creates savvy, indispensable tools to manoeuvre through some of the most chaotic and dynamic metro areas on the planet, most notably in China. International Taxi Guides for Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, for example, transform neophytes to locals in a matter of seconds. When none of the taxi drivers have a command of the English language, this is the app you want in your iPhone. Just punch in a landmark or address and HoodHot takes the info and creates a Chinese taxi card for the chauffeur. Brilliant.


Look like a pro in Singapore with ShowNearby. The best location-based service provider on the island state helps you find points of interest like shops, malls, ATMs, bus stops, car parks, petrol stations, restaurants and so much more. Once you hit the target, you can drill down and pull info like bus arrival times, movie showtimes and carpark rates. Do not exit hotels in Singapore without it.

Sekai Camera

Some apps help you get from point A to point B, while some simply make the trip more colourful. Sekai Camera is a foremost AR app that converts the real world into a bubbly, anime playland and allows users to communicate via Air Tags. Very quirky, very Japanese.

Shanghai Metro App by Communicarta

Photo credit

Consistent 5* reviews are a dime a dozen in the App Store but the Shanghai Metro App by Communicarta snags them every time. With the most extensive network in the world and daily ridership in the 5 million range, the Shanghai Metro is a behemoth. Communicarta’s genius app is to the public transit system what a sherpa is to Mount Everest.

Shanghai City Guide