GPS Navigation in China

From ChinaExpat.Wiki

Getting around in China can be challenging if you don't speak the language. Thankfully there are a few GPS apps around that will make the job of getting around a lot easier. Most of these are available for Android and iOS devices as well as being compatible with a range of vehicle intergration systems.

English Language Naigation[edit | edit source]

Apple Maps[edit | edit source]

If your Chinese is not up to the task of confidently navigating a city, Apple Maps is a great option for getting around. The app automatically translates business and street names back and forth between Chinese and English. Some of the most useful features of the app are:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation in whatever language your phone is set to;
  • Local business search with reviews (Chinese), opening hours and contact details;
  • Choice of driving, walking or public transportation directions;
  • Live traffic updates including accidents;
  • Traffic camera warning notifications; and
  • Integrates with DiDi (ride-hailing) and Ctrip (Chinese travel booking) to allow to you book a car, flight, bus or train directly from the app.

The biggest disadvantage of Apple Maps is that it only works on Apple products, such as the iPhone.

Google Maps[edit | edit source]

As you might expect with Google being blocked, this iOS and Android app doesn't live up to its full potential in China. That being said, the turn-by-turn navigation and maps do work in English if your phone is using an international SIM card on roaming or you are connected to a VPN. Unfortunately, features such as public transport navigation do not work properly while in China regardless of how you connect to their system.

  • Turn-by-turn navigation in whatever language your phone is set to;
  • Local business search with reviews, opening hours and contact details; and
  • Choice of driving or walking directions.

Waze[edit | edit source]

Waze is not blocked in China and works in whatever language you have it set up for on iOS or Android. Its navigations are clear and it seems to have a reasonable awareness of traffic, but not as good as Apple, Baidu, Sougou or Gaode's apps. Unlike Apple and Google, when you search for local place names in English, it Waze gives the results back at you in Chinese. The app features:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation in whatever language your phone is set to;
  • Local business name search;
  • Live traffic updates including accidents; and
  • Traffic camera warning notifications.

Chinese Language Naigation[edit | edit source]

Baidu Maps (百度地图)[edit | edit source]

Baidu is a full-featured Chinese only navigation app available on iOS and Android. The app features:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation in whatever language your phone is set to;
  • Local business search with reviews, opening hours and contact details;
  • Choice of driving, walking or public transportation directions;
  • Live traffic updates including accidents;
  • Traffic camera warning notifications; and
  • Ability to hail a ride directly from within the app.

Gaode Maps (高德地图)[edit | edit source]

Gaode is a full-featured Chinese only navigation app available on iOS and Android. The app features:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation in whatever language your phone is set to;
  • Local business search with reviews, opening hours and contact details;
  • Choice of driving, walking or public transportation directions;
  • Live traffic updates including accidents;
  • Traffic camera warning notifications; and
  • Ability to hail a ride directly from within the app.

Sougou Maps (搜狗地图)[edit | edit source]

Sougou is a full-featured Chinese only navigation app available on iOS. The app features:

  • Turn-by-turn navigation in whatever language your phone is set to;
  • Local business search with reviews, opening hours and contact details;
  • Choice of driving, walking or public transportation directions;
  • Live traffic updates including accidents;
  • Traffic camera warning notifications; and
  • Ability to hail a ride directly from within the app.