Looking for a date in China and want to know which are the best apps to use?
Dating in the 21st century has seen a shift away from the traditional culture of using personal ads or meeting a prospective partner through friends, colleagues or casually in bar. Instead, the development of smartphone technology and its attendant app market has allowed dating to go digital. In China, this method of finding a date is just as popular as it is in the West with a similar variety between the more casual ‘hook-up’ apps and those that are intended to match potential long term love interests.
In this guide, we take a look at the most popular dating apps being used in China along with how each one compares.
Best Dating Apps in China
One of the main problems with the Chinese dating app market is regional coverage. China is a huge country stretching 5,500 km north to south and 5,250 km east to west. With 23 uniquely different provinces and around eight different variations of language, the reach of dating apps is usually limited to individual cities rather than offering national coverage. So, whilst one app may be more popular in Beijing you may find it offers you very few prospects if you head to Hangzhou.
It’s important to therefore try and match the app you are using to the area you are visiting to fully maximize the pool of potential dates. Find out what the locals are using and switch app if you need to. The bottom line is, you may need to use a couple of apps to get the best results.
We’ve selected a range of some of China’s more popular dating apps that have a broad coverage and availability. Some require an understanding of Chinese in order to be able to use them but some are Western imports that can easily be accessed by visiting foreigners. Among these Chinese dating apps you will find a selection of those that will appeal to casual daters as well as those who are more serious about finding a steady relationship.
A location based messaging app that is very popular with international users, Momo is one of the best known dating apps in China.
Although the app has been referred to as a ‘magical tool to get laid’ Momo actually has a broad range of users who are interested in everything from a hook-up to marriage. The company has been re-branding itself to step out of the ‘booty call’ market and now includes many social networking features as well as its simple ‘find matches in your area’ service.
The app offers groups, mini-games and messaging as well as posts, message boards and even nearby events and businesses. The result can be quite confusing and you may find yourself wishing for the simplicity of an app like Tinder.
The service has over 180 million users with more than 100 million being active on a monthly basis. It’s also available in English as well as Chinese with excellent nationwide (as well as international) coverage.
TanTan is virtually identical to the ubiquitous Tinder app which is blocked in China. Anyone who is familiar with the latter will have no issues using TanTan as it uses the same swipe right mechanism, if you like the look of the profile you are presented with, or swipe left to never see them again. If they do the same with your photo then you have a potential match. The format is simple and makes it a popular app for casual dating but not always a solid way to meet more long-term partners.
It is estimated that around 100 million people use the service and it does include some nice features which are unique including an ice breaker where you get to answer ten ‘playful’ questions about yourself.
Available in English as well as Chinese and with excellent coverage around China, TanTan is one of the most universal dating apps in the country.
Qing Chi Fan
Using a combination of location-based technology as well as a user’s credit score, Qing Chi Fan matches nearby members to other people who are looking for a dinner-date.
Roughly translated as ‘please eat’ and known as Let’s Have Dinner, you can pre-arrange which restaurant you want to meet at and even decide upfront who is going to pay or how the bill will be split.
The higher your credit score and the closer you are to one another will determine the position of where you show up in each other’s feeds and the app is very simple to use. It is worth bearing in mind that culturally, it is the men who seem to have to propose the dinner and then they simply wait for women to take them up on the offer.
It’s a unique take on the dating app but is very popular in China with more than 10 million users being registered, the majority of whom are in their mid-20s.
Qing Chi Fan is only available in Chinese and really only has good coverage in the larger cities.
Baihe is a serious dating app and is really only suitable for singles who are looking for long-term love and marriage.
The app is only available in Chinese and requires quite a lot of very personal information in order to make the most of. And not the kind of information that you would normally associate with a dating app…this is serious ‘meet the parents’ kind of detail with users required to submit data on their status as a homeowner, salary and education. Yes, that kind of personal information is usually added on other dating apps but, here, Baihe encourages its members to upload their degree certificate, share their credit scores and post videos of themselves instead of photos. The idea behind the last suggestion is that videos are not as easy as photos to fake.
Baihe is reported to have around 85 million members and is well regarded by Chinese singles who want to skip the casual dating market to find a serious match. Coverage is pretty good across the country but is far more popular in the major cities than in more rural locations.
Like so many similar services, this flirting app lets you browse the profiles of nearby users before letting you send a message once you have both been matched. The difference with Bilin is that you also have the opportunity to call them and speak in person.
The app doesn’t share phone numbers but allows VoIP calls between users for up to 24 hours after the initial ‘match’.
Sort of like a cross between TanTan and Viber, Bilin preserves privacy but allows you to chat with your potential date before meeting.
With more than 20 million users, the app is reportedly popular in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Bilin is only available in Chinese.
With more than 40 million users worldwide, the majority of these being based in China, Blued is the Chinese equivalent of Grindr; a gay dating app.
Based on an instant messaging service style of interface Blued has far more of a reputation for social interaction than for simple hook-ups but it is still very popular for dating.
Security is one of the best features of the service and, in order to verify your account, you need to upload a video of yourself. Using face recognition, this will be used to verify the photos you use which means you can be assured you aren’t being cat-fished.
The app is available in English and Chinese and has a pretty wide coverage in the main cities as well as in some less urban locations.
Unique Dating Apps in China
As well as some standard alternatives to Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Coffee Meets Bagel, China has some unusual dating apps that will appeal to a very specific group of people. From those that match singles based on their shared love of wine or pets, we give you a selection of some of the most unique.
Coverage varies a lot with these dating apps so it’s a case of ‘your mileage may vary’ depending on which city you are in.
This dating app will appeal to animal lovers and is simply a way of meeting a potential date who shares your love for pets. Admittedly, the market for people using this is a lot smaller than less discerning singles but for people whose life revolves around their cats and dogs, Liu Liu is a must.
PengPeng is a dating app that targets China’s gaming community and matches potential love interests based on the kind of games you play. It is popular with the millennial generation but is only available in Chinese.
Lai Zu Wo Ba
Roughly translated as Hire Me Please, the Lai Zu Wo Ba app is not, strictly speaking, a dating app but somewhere you can hire a fake date. Don’t confuse this with an escort service but rather a supply and demand app for people who need to fake it before they make it.
The Rent-a-Date industry is actually not as uncommon as you might think and is reasonably well-utilized in cities where loneliness is common. Unlike an escort service, there are no blurred lines of what is being offered, this is simply an app which allows you to rent someone to go to dinner or a bar with.
Instant Messaging Dating Apps in China
Whilst not primarily developed for dating, these instant messaging platforms are very commonly used to hook up with local people. WeChat is widely used internationally as well as in China while QQ by Tencent is more popular.
Each have their own features but it is the ‘find friends’ function which will allow you to locate nearby users who share a similar profile. You can choose how to narrow your search criteria using simple filters like age, gender and likes but with QQ you can get even more eclectic with your wish list and including blood type, star sign and pets.
They are worth considering as potential alternatives to the traditional dating apps as these services are far more widely used across much of China. Between QQ and WeChat there are over 1.5 billion users worldwide!
Both are available in English.