How to use: Gaode Maps 高德地图

It’s Saturday night and your friends agreed to meet up at a bar near work. They send you a picture showing the address, meaning you can’t do your usual copy paste method, and expect you to arrive by 9pm. You search for this bar on Apple Maps and it’s not there.

One of the hurdles some foreigners never overcome is navigation. With Google Maps blocked, most foreigners wind up relying on Apple Maps or other English providing apps like Metro Man.

While this works for metro stops and most major landmarks, the rapidly changing landscape of Chinese businesses and retail make it difficult for these apps to stay updated. As for the ones that do, only Chinese is provided and feeding the words through Google Translate only spits out nonsense.

Luckily, these apps are easy to use even without any foreign language skills. For this post, my aim is for you to have a comprehensive understanding of all the functions for one of these apps as a plausible alternative.


1. Finding And Downloading Gaode Maps

This app is easily searchable by entering its pinyin into the app store.

Once you download it, open it up, and click through the ads, you are greeted with an all Chinese homepage. While most parts are familiar – the search bar, the GPS icon showing where you are, and the weather – the rest of the icons remain alien.

So, what now?


2. Using The Search Bar

To search for a specific address, enter it into the search bar in this order: City, District, Street, Building No., Apartment No.
For example, the address of EF’s Shanghai headquarters would be searchable as such:

I. The address as given by the EF website.

II. Choosing EF from the list of search results.

III. The official location on the map.

If you already searched for this address, you might even be able to find it again by clicking the search bar and scrolling down your history.


3. Getting Directions On How To Get There

On the bottom right of the page showing you your destination, click the blue button to display all the calculated routes.

From the third row, you can select the different modes of transport: Easiest Mode, Taxi, Car, Public Transport, Bike, Walking, Plane, Train, Shuttle, Motor Bike routes, and Truck routes (in order of left to right).


4. Exploring Options

Swiping the address up will reveal a series of other options.
The magnifying glass: search for nearby restaurants, schools, or other establishments nearby.
The star: if you register an account, you can favorite and save this location.
The arrow: share this location on social media.
The phone: call the establishment using the phone number listed.
The picture below: Sometimes, a popular location will have a collection of pictures users posted for you to look inside or at the neighborhood around it.


5. Saving Your Most Frequently Used Addresses

Finally, acknowledge you’re not always going to have the patience, time, or sound of mind to enter in the exact address each time. Many of your routes are going to be calculated with either your work or home.

To save those addresses, find the icon of a pin on the bottom right corner of the homepage.

Upon clicking it, you ‘ll find a house and briefcase icon indicating for you to save your home and work address.

To add, click the link circled in orange, and then the pencil icon to search. Upon entering your address, a list of possible options will display, and just like searching for the location, you will be asked to select the most accurate option available.


Are you ready to navigate your way around China?

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Post by JiaYin Tang

Jia Yin has always been curious about teaching, but it was a gig programming and performing for a planetarium that got her interested in early education. Now, she teaches at one of the Kids and Teens centers in Shanghai where she finds herself rewarded by her students’ improvements. Outside the center, she enjoys hopping on buses and landing in new neighborhoods to explore.