BEA Wander

Top 8 Travel Apps for Asia: Ready for Smooth Sailing?

7 min read

If you’re travelling in Asia, here are some very helpful FREE apps for you to download before your trip, so you can hit the ground running.

I’ll keep adding to this list as I go 🙂 

60 baht (= $2.5) for a 11-min ride from my apartment in Santitham to Maya Mall

Grab Taxi, or simply just ‘Grab’, is a Singaporean-based company that offers ride sharing as well as food delivery. More background info on Grab here.

Earlier this year, there have been talks about Uber merging with Grab but seems to have some trouble. I believe they’re still in the midst of completing the transaction. In any case, Grab works similar to Uber except it’s WAY cheaper. 

I heard that the minimum charge is 50 baht (=$2), but the few times I’ve used it, it ended up around the 60 – 70 baht range (= <$3), which is still REALLY affordable. One ride was literally 5 minutes (I had luggage with me and it was hot AF) and the other ones were 15 min drive away from the city.

Good value because $3.50 is what you get charged when you step into a taxi back home!

Don’t worry if it doesn’t accept your credit card for payment. I tried my MasterCard and Visa – both times the app said my credit cards were not supported. Most (if not all) drivers prefer cash and they can give you change back.


LINE Messaging App

LINE is another free instant messaging app, very similar to WeChat or WhatsApp.

It’s the go-to app in Thailand. This is why I won’t be opting for a voice + data mobile plan because calls are expensive here and I can just call through LINE.

I just got it and it seems to have a lot more features and functions than Whatsapp, so I will play around with it to familiarize myself. There is LINE Games, LINE Pay, LINE Taxi, LINE TV, LINE Shopping…I haven’t tried any of these yet. 

It really makes me wonder why Whatsapp isn’t being competitive…


Another messaging app. People call WeChatWhatsapp on steroids’ – it has many, many more features and functions, similar to LINE.

I held out on getting WeChat for the LONGEST time, but my mom kept insisting so she can still get a hold of me while she’s visiting China. 

It actually has a lot of cool features – you can send money, play games with friends, meet new friends (by shaking your phone!) and a lot more. I do see certain places in Chiang Mai accepting WeChat Pay (and AliPay – a Chinese payment app from Alibaba), so that’s convenient too.

Here’s everything you need to know about WeChat!


Transferwise is similar to Paypal except its exchange rates are far more favourable. 

Based in the UK, this money transfer company allows you to send and receive money in any currency all over the world. Its slogan is “borderless account”. 

I hear from a few of my friends that we are going through the early stages of an economic turndown (Really?! I don’t see it…) but Tranferwise seems to be going strong

I just used it to pay for my rent + deposit – a huge sum of money that I wouldn’t want to incur extra charges to take out or exchange money for. I’ll use it again for larger payments too.  

If you use my link to sign up, you will get your first international transfer for FREE!


TripAdvisor for restaurant recommendations

I mostly use review apps for restaurants and other service-based establishments, like massage parlours. 

I think most people in North America are familiar with TripAdvisor, but I’m more of a Yelp fan.

I was sad to see the lack of reviews on Yelp on this side of the world. Tripadvisor has more content but it’s still not THAT much compared to North America.

I’m sure there’s a local review platform, but I don’t speak or read Thai so it’d be unhelpful to me 🙁

For now, I’ve been looking things up and asking on Facebook groups and employed the old fashion way of asking people (new friends and random farangs – foreigners in Thai – on the streets) for restaurant recommendations.


Hostelworld - convenient, on-the-go accommodations app

If you plan on staying in hostels, the Hostelworld app is the go-to.

My first time staying at a hostel was only last year. Up until then, I had only ever stayed in hotels. I was a bit apprehensive at first. I mean, sleeping in the same room as complete strangers?! What if they steal from me while I’m dead to the world or worse?!

Boy, was I missing out! It’s actually very affordable, clean (do your research beforehand, of course) and easy to meet other people. Sure, you may not get the best sleep, but for just 1-2 nights, I can deal with it. 

If you’re only visiting Thailand for a few days to a few weeks, book ahead of time. If you’re staying for longer than a month, I would suggest renting an apartment. More on this later!


If you’re not into hostels and prefer staying in hotels instead, try Agoda instead. Same as Expedia, or, but its more popular in Asia!

The app is convenient and easy to use on-the-go. Like when I stayed at the old hotel that only had 2-prong plugs so couldn’t charge my laptop and had to rely solely on my phone.

Sidenote: No need to bring any power adaptors, Thailand typically operates on a 3-prong plug, just not at super old places (like Baan Din Ki hotel). 


AirAsia Mobile App - Budget Airline within Asia

AirAsia is the no-frills, budget airline that I took from Macau (MFM) to Chiang Mai (CNX). 

It’s a Malaysian-based airline that employs 17,000+ employees and operate flights to 135 destinations in over 25 countries internationally (within Asia). 

If you compare it to Ryanair in Euopre, I would say it’s slightly better service. 

My MFM to CNX flight cost $40 USD for an international 2.5H. At this price, I’ll probably fly with them mulitple times! 

Apps that Don't Work

For whatever reason, my Google Play Music app completely stopped working.

It says there is no music available…?!?! Maybe my new location has blocked it or it updated and I have no idea how to use the new verison now? Oh well, at least my podcast player and youtube app work. 

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