Navigating Southeast Asia can be tricky at times however, there are lots of free apps for travelling out there to help make your life easier.
Taking advantage of these apps is easier than ever. Most airports in Southeast Asia will have sim card booths in the arrivals halls. Here you can purchase a data-heavy sim-card allowing you to be online wherever you go.
Some domestic phone companies may also offer free-roaming, allowing you to use data abroad at no extra cost. For example, 3 network in the UK offers a “feel at home abroad service” where you can use 3G in over 71 destinations around the world. This includes Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
And if all else fails, WiFi is usually accessible at hotels, hostels, restaurants, and airports wherever you go.
Getting around in Southeast Asia is an intimidating prospect if it is your first time in the region.
Here are some useful and free apps for travelling Southeast Asia that will most definitely help out.
Rome2Rio is a useful application to help you plan out the best routes. Entering your starting location followed by your end location, the app will show you a list of potential routes you can take using various forms of transport.
Available: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philipines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar
Grab is essentially the Uber of Southeast Asia. A super useful alternative to getting ripped off in a taxi or tuk-tuk. Prices can be agreed prior to pick up and you can communicate with the drivers over the app.
Available: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Philippines, India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam
12Go is an extremely useful app if you are travelling from city to city in Southeast Asia. The app allows you to browse available buses, trains and boats that link all of the major cities. You can then book the relevant transportation through the app rather than having to go through tourist offices.
The more used alternative to grab in Indonesia. GoJek started as a scooter taxi service. So if you are brave enough to jump on the back of a scooter, GoJek can certainly help you beat the traffic. They do also offer car services, as well as food delivery, in line with Grab and Uber.
Available: Hong Kong, Japan, Korea
An app most are probably familiar with. Uber has sold the majority of its operations in Southeast Asia to Grab. However, it is still available to be used in some countries in the region which can be useful if you already have an account.
A cheap alternative to Grab in Cambodia. Pass app allows you to book rickshaws rather than cars. Using a similar system to Grab and Uber, you can book rides and agree on fares with drivers before accepting. The rickshaws may be slower getting around places, however, are a fun way to experience the cities in Cambodia.
Available: Seoul, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore
Although not widely used in Southeast Asia. Citymapper is extremely useful where it is in use. Providing users with real-time transport options to get across cities. The application doubles up as a map too. Think using directions on “google maps” but better!
Knowing where you are and where you are going is important, that goes without saying. These free apps for travelling are essential to help guide you around new countries without having to stop and test your language skills by asking directions.
An obvious inclusion. Google Maps is the go-to mapping application that provides fairly accurate directions almost anywhere in the world. Maps can be downloaded for offline use too. However, Google Maps is most effective whilst connected to the internet. Mapping out routes before you set out each day is essential to make the most of your time while travelling and Google Maps is perfect to allow you to do that.
Another much-used app in the travelling community. Maps.me is known to be a more effective GPS application for offline use. Extensive maps can be downloaded for each country you visit. Maps.me is useful for trekking rather than driving on main roads, as it shows up walking paths more effectively than Google Maps.
Booking accommodation can be harder than you might like sometimes. Turning up to find a half-built hostel, or hotel with no Wifi can be extremely annoying. Using these free apps for travelling, hopefully, you can avoid any unwanted surprises and find cheap accommodation with everything you are looking for.
A great all in one booking platform for hotels, hostels and guest houses. Booking.com has a great filters system in place to whittle down potential accommodation. You can select requirements such as air conditioning or swimming pools as well as selecting a price limit so you don’t waste time browsing through properties out of your budget.
Hostelworld is perfect to browse potential hostel accommodation whilst on your travels. Each hostel is rated on factors such as cleanliness, and atmosphere. Other travellers have the ability to leave detailed reviews too so you should know what to expect before you arrive.
Available: Worldwide excluding Japan and Thailand
Airbnb has come under fire recently in some countries as it has offered a cheaper alternative to staying in hotels affecting their business. But there is no doubt that it benefits us as travellers. Being able to stay in luxurious properties for a fraction of the price is just great! It is even better when in a large group. Split between 4-5 people you can stay in some amazing properties around the world!
Another application similar to booking.com. Check hotels and hostels for the best deals. It’s often a good idea to compare the prices across all of your accommodation applications to find which one is offering the best deal.
Finding the cheapest flights possible is a great way to cut down costs when travelling around the world. Don’t get suckered into paying over the odds for your airfare.
The best application for finding the cheapest air travel. Skyscanner has many useful tools including a calendar which shows you which months and days are the cheapest to book the flights you are after. Even if you’re not sure where you want to go, there is the option to browse for ‘everywhere’. Once you find the flights you want, Skyscanner will direct you to the airline’s website to book the tickets.
Adjusting to a new currency takes time and effort. It’s easy to get ripped off before you become used to what you should be paying for things. These free apps are the best ways to keep on top of your spends whilst travelling.
Xe. is the go-to free app for comparing currencies. Live rates allow you to find out how much you are being charged in your home currency. The app can also be used to see trends in currencies allowing you to find the best time to buy or sell any money you may have.
Available: UK users
Monzo is a debit card system, unlike a normal bank. The card links up with an application allowing you to track your spends and budget more efficiently. You can see an overview of the account visualised on the app and it also allows you to take out £200 whilst travelling every 30 days for free!
Available: EEA (European economic area), Switzerland, Australia, Singapore users
Similar to Monzo but available to a wider client base. Revlout is a banking card that links up with a phone application allowing you to keep on top of your finances whilst abroad. Revolut also lets you spend in over 150 countries with the “interbank exchange rate”.
Being able to communicate with locals is important to help you get by. Luckily for us, we no longer need to carry around a hefty phrasebook! These days a phone is all you need.
One of the most useful free apps for travelling tourists around the world, Google Translate has come a long way. Providing a speak and translate system to allow you to converse with locals and build relationships as well as get you out of sticky situations. The app also now has the ability to translate signs or menus, for example, using the camera on your phone, in real-time. Downloading different languages allows all of the apps uses to work in offline situations as well.
Whatsapp is the go-to instant messaging service across a lot of the world. It is often used by taxi drivers and homestay owners to contact you. Using the internet or 3G rather than a phone network to make messages and calls saves money. Also, each user will have a profile including a picture so you can see who it is you are talking to.
Very similar to WhatsApp, Line is an instant messaging service using 3G/Wifi. It is, however, more widely used in parts of Asia so its best to have both messaging apps just in case.
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