Note to readers: This is not an advertorial. We are not paid by Baidu in any way. I’m writing this manual of how to use Baidu Maps for the sole reason that, if you are living in China, especially in the Mainland, Google Maps is not particularly functional, while Baidu Maps is quite helpful and accurate, and is thus an easier way to navigate China. The only drawback, perhaps a very big one for foreigners, is that it is in Chinese. So here are some of its most important features in both languages. They are based on Baidu Maps’ iPhone version.
Open Baidu Maps and you will find a bottom bar with four icons, they are, from left to right: “nearby” (附近), “route” (路线), “navigation” (导航) and “mine” (我的).
The three icons on top allow you to choose how you prefer to get to your destination: by public commute, by taxi, or walking.
By default the map will design your route starting from “我的位置” (my location). If you want to change it, either touch “我的位置” and type in the address of your destination or choose “地图选点” (choose a location on the map). Fill up both locations and touch “搜索” (search), and the map will design all the possible routes for you, and these details are given for your reference: the price of the commute (票价) in an orange box, the line number of the subway/buses, the estimated time by minutes (分钟), the length of the trip by kilometers (公里), and how many meters (米) you will have to walk.
Set your home and office locations
Touch 路线 and you will find two lines you can fill in: 回家 (go home) and 去公司 (go to the office). The easiest way to set them correctly is to choose a location on the map (地图选点), or use “我的位置” (my location).
To explore what’s around you, touch 附近 (nearby) on the bottom bar, and you can choose from: food (找美食), hotels (订酒店), where to go on the weekend (周末去哪儿), tourist sites (搜景点), group coupons (查团购), cinema (看电影), banks (银行), bus stations (公交站), gas stations (加油站), bus stations (公交站) and subway maps (地铁图.
With the increasing popularity of coupons for groups, or groupons, (团购) in China, Chinese young people these days rarely go to a restaurant/cinema/karaoke bar without buying a groupon online. One of the easiest ways to get a groupon is via Baidu Maps. For example, when you go to a restaurant, search for its name on Baidu Maps and automatically it will display the restaurant’s rating in stars, the average expense (人均) and an orange-colored “团” (meaning “group”) after the name if groupons are available for this restaurant. Touch it and you can find more details and purchase.
Download map for offline usage
To cut down on your phone’s internet usage, you may need to download the map of the city you live in. Touch mine (我的)-more tools (更多工具)-offline navigation package (离线导航包), and a list of every province/municipal city/region in China is there for download.
Share your location with your friends
Touch 我的 (mine)-更多工具 (more tools)-位置共享 (share your location)-choose your friend from your contacts. Then Baidu map will send a request text to your friend. If your friend accepts the request, you will see the locations of you both on Baidu Maps. This will be very convenient if you are trying to look for each other in a strange place.