Google Map hacks

Sharing some basic Google Map hacks in this post. Google Map is a life saver when we travel. We do not even need to understand a foreign language to begin navigating.

 

Google Map can also help us to find new attractions and F&B. In some cases, we do not even need to be “online” to search our destination too (offline download is possible but the file size is huge).

We just need to understand the basics of Google Map to start exploring away, with our feet, wheels, or even from our tablets 🙂

Explore our destination virtually.. before our Holiday.
If there is one Google Map thingy which continues to baffle me,  it has to be bus services. I will always go to the wrong bus stop, or I will take the longer bus detour.

 

I encounter the same issues in Japan and Taiwan! (but not in Singapore).
Is it just me, or can someone provide some tips for me?

 

Meanwhile, my preferred mode of transport is still subways, hopefully with minimum transfers.
 

 

Ok, let me try to share some common tips which I found useful. hope it will be helpful for you too.

 

Wishing all the adventurers out there “Happy Exploration!”

A) Search nearby attractions

We all know about Johor Legoland, but do we know about NEARBY 煮炒 zhi char or Seafood stalls?

 

a1)Search Legoland
 

 

a2)Remove Legoland, and Search “Seafood Restaurants”.
NEARBY Seafood restaurants will be listed (screen below).

 

a3)There are a few seafood eateries along Gelang Patah (we love coconut crabs at Xin Ming Chu) . Just read the reviews of the listed restaurants and make your choice.
Google Map hacks
Google Map hacks
a4)Example if I select “Tian Lai”, the next step is to grab the GPS from Google Map.

b) GPS- Simply Right Click on “Tian Lai”, select “What’s Here”

 (this does not work on mobile devices)

 

b1)And the GPS coordinates will appear at the bottom of page (step 1 and 2  screen below)
 

b2)From screenshot above, we know Restoran Tian Lai is :
-categorised as “Seafood restaurant” (Use this as search term for NEARBY )
-there are 163 reviews
-contact number and opening hours are useful for me too

b3)Add a few more GPS, and you can create your own Map and itinerary.
Taiwan example (link), we plotted all the interesting attractions around Keelung (read our 基隆 Keelung attractions post)

 

To make it more challenging, go to a non-English country.
I was staying at Asakusa’s K’s House Hostel.

 

b4)Replace “Seafood Restaurants” from step a2) with “Ramen”, “Cafe”, “Sento” or  “Laundry” ( Mrs’ favourite haha) and I have a list of nearby amenities 🙂
For richer search results, you can use native language. Example search “ランドリー” instead of laundry.

 

Do search for Massage too (マッサージ) 🙂
Just mouse over and shortlist the attractions with consistent good reviews, and grab the GPS.

C) Get second opinions from Tripadvisor and blogs (example)

Not exactly related to Google Map, but we need to get affirmation that our shortlisted Cafes or Ramen outlets are reputable and trustworthy.

 

c1)We already got the GPS from earlier steps. I will be kiasu and look at the Streetview of building and nearby landmarks too. If need to, I even keep a photo so that I can reference and ask around if I am really lost.

 

c2)With all the tips above, I suspect many gems are still hidden from Google. Lookout for queues in nearby alleys 🙂

d)How do you capture your GPS at current location?

 

Have you ever wonder how you can capture a location’s GPS? I am assuming most of us do not have satellite phone.

 

This is useful for my future reference. I do not have a supercomputer memory.. I can then share the GPS on our blog too (you are welcome). This is especially useful for our road trips up North to Malaysia (read some driving tips here)

 

d1)Below image from (L-R), I use two Iphone apps to pinpoint my GPS location.

 

-“Compass” app captures my location in degrees “3°56’21 N 102°21’34 E”

 

-“DMS Convert” app convert my location from Degrees/Minutes into Decimal “3.93916, 102.359444”

 

You can actually use your Iphone’s Location Service to reveal your GPS on your Compass, but I am still hesitant to reveal my location to Iphone (paranoid)

 

Please try this Compass/DMS converter in Singapore before overseas. The compass tool does not need 4G signal to work.

 

Please share if you have more tips to capture latitude and longitude coordinates.

 

e)Bonus for those who frequent Malaysia. We found a few more gems during our recent trip to Mount Austin.

These restaurants were found by Googling “Restaurant” near our hotel.
Both restaurants are highly rated and we will definitely visit again.

 

e1)Goody Soup (好湯頭, rated 4/5)

 

e2)Chai Jia Chai 蔡家菜 Hakka Food , rated 4.5/5 !

 

These two Mount Austin stalls are only 700m apart, I will let you figure out the GPS yourselves 🙂

 

Do pop by more Mount Austin food options in our blog post ->
You may get more inspirations about Google Map Hacks here

 

The no1 tip – BRING extra powerbanks. Google Map will suck up your phone’s battery!

 

Taiwan Day 6 – Keelung attractions

 

 We stayed one night in 基隆 Keelung and had wanted to explore Keelung attractions, and neighbouring Ruifang (Jiufen, Shifen etc).
But the RAIN never stopped…
By the way 基隆 Keelung has same pronunciation as “鸡笼 chicken coop”. affectionate nickname for the county 🙂

 

 

 

 

Arrived in Keelung

 

Earlier, we had took the HSR (High Speed rail) from Taichung to Taipei, before transiting from Songshan Station (not Song Shan domestic Airport) to Keelung.

 

 

We bought our tickets online from Klook, which was about 20% cheaper.

No need reservations unless you have smaller kids and must sit together. Trains arrivals are very frequent. We just need to QR code our vouchers to exchange for tickets at the HSR counter.

An Adult ticket is about 25 SGD. It is very affordable and took us only 55 minutes from Taichung to Taipei. It saved us precious time on travelling. Infact HSR would be faster than driving. (Checkout my Klook Japan services too)

 

On a side note, taking the trains in Taiwan was a good teaching moment for the kids, the trains are never late and folks keep the train clean.

 

Yes, although we tabao (package) the famous 铁路便当 (train bentos) onboard, everyone make an effort to keep train clean 🙂

And YES, Bentos are both economical and delicious!

Sights along the journey. As we travel further from Taipei, the cities get older and more laid back. We heard Keelung is one of the most underdeveloped county.

Even before we reached Keelung, it started to drizzle. Bummer.

 

基隆 Keelung is a port city, and commonly nicknamed as 雨港 Rain port “now we know why the rain never stops”. It is a popular day trip destination out of Taipei (45 minutes by train).

Keelung is underrated. Many visitors will actually bypass Keelung on the way to Jiufen or Shifen. But based on online reviews,  those who visit Keelung always lament that they should spend one more day to explore the area.

I loved the old quaint infrastructure and feel around the neighbourhood. Things are slower here compared to main cities and you will noticed more old folks around.

Wherever you walk or commute, you are not far from the coastal view.

We only decided on Keelung at the last minute. The original plan was to stay one night at Ruifang. Our itinerary was to hop to neighbouring towns from Keelung or Ruifang, and I thought Ruifang would be too quiet at night.

Keelung has a famous and buzzing night market, so the choice was easy for us 🙂

Keelung attractions
Keelung attractions

 

Our accommodation was at Just Live Inn (享住旅店, GPS 25.129990, 121.746089). We chose this hotel due to its proximity to night market (6 minutes walk), and good reviews.

 

Funky decoration and friendly staffs, we were happy with our stay.

There is a small bathtub too. When we travel, we just need a bed to rest and we do not need any fancy amenities.

 

Shopping malls and eateries are just round the corner, although most malls would close by 9pm.

Previously, we mentioned that sports gears are cheaper in Taiwan (read our post). And we are confident that Taichung and Keelung’s sports outlets will garner you the best shopping experience.

 

Sales staffs (compared to Taipei’s outlets) are extremely friendly and accommodating. Thumbs up!

Some of the famous Keelung attractions are easily accessible via bus, duration between 1 to 2 hours are common.

-基隆崁仔頂 Fish Market Midnight tour would be No1 on my list, a pity I only found out after we left Keelung (check out this blog for more photos, GPS 25.129465, 121.741025)

和平島 Peace Island (GPS 25.160152, 121.764064)
象鼻岩 Elephant Rock (GPS 25.135420, 121.824452)
忘憂谷 (Scenic sea views and valley, plenty of green fields at 八斗子 GPS 25.146005, 121.797613)
野柳 Yehliu Geopark (GPS 25.206067, 121.690246)
金山, behind Yang Ming Shan (Famous for rural settings, hot springs)
-You may read about my previous solo travel and hiking at scenic 鼻頭角too

* We will cover 九份 Jiufen 十分 Shifen in next post.

 

 

The rain never stopped during our Keelung exploration! And we ended up spending more time than planned relaxing in our room .

Just an excuse, we could always do with some body-maintenance (aka recuperation). 

Introducing 基隆廟口夜市 (Keelung Night Market), the most famous Keelung attractions.

 

 

Rain of shine, we must still eat and explore. The signature yellow lanterns at Keelung Night Market.

Boon Yee looks cool right 🙂

Picture below, this is how the night market “基隆廟口夜市”got its name, “Temple Entrance”.

Because of the rain, the crowd was significantly smaller and umbrellas were everywhere. It meant we had more space and time to enjoy our dinner and night snacks 🙂

 

A different set of experience for our family, exploring Night Market in the rain.

Soup, bean curd, Shiok! Anything warm and soupy is always welcome.

Seaport must have a lot of seafood right.
Soft-shell crabs and prawns and squids please 🙂

Please try the “nutritious sandwich”. Not sure about the nutritional factor, but it was simply delicious. You might find similar stalls in other Taiwan night markets too.

A hot bowl of 滷肉飯 (again!) to warm our stomachs.

Massage anyone? I Googled and 大力水手 Popeye (GPS 25.128545, 121.742830) seems to be a famous one. In case you are interested, it is at one corner of night market.

Arcade attractions, we found the smallest train track in Taiwan!

Before we left, we grab some of the famous yam pastries from a traditional bakery, 連珍糕餅店 (link , GPS 25.128684, 121.741964).

Their yam cake is famous in Keelung and Taiwan. Another signature is their Sun cake, but we found the crust a bit too thick for us.

 

 

The Keelung sign illuminated in the evenings.

We have a Google Map of the areas around Keelung (Keelung attractions) and Ruifang. Keelung is “C”. It will give you a perspective of the relative distance between each attractions (Google Map Link here)

If you are visiting Keelung as a day trip, we would recommend that you leave your heavy luggage in Taipei train stations. Or you can consider Luggage storage at Keelung Train Station too.

Travel light in Keelung,  our Instagram below, do swipe to view our Keelung experience.

Do pop by all our Taiwan photos and blog posts below.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆
-Day 7 Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen
-Day x Taipei HomeAway and Neighbourhood
Day 8 永康, XiMenDing, 象山, 饒河 Raohe
Day 9 and 10 北投 Beitou, Toyshop, 士林 Shilin

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中 
Day 4a 台中 Taichung  attractions
Day 5a 台中 Taichung food Ice cream and Bubble Tea
Day 5b 台中 Taichung Fengjia night market
Taipei Neighbourhood around our HomeAway Vacation Home
-Day 6 基隆 Keelung
-Day 7 Ruifang, Shifen

Instagram Hashtag #sengkangBabiesTaiwan
Instagram #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

Snippets of my Japan Itinerary

I will be sharing snippets of my Japan Itinerary in this post.

Japan has always fascinated travellers. Mount Fuji, Onsen, culture (yes, anime and cosplay too) and of course the food.

You do not need to understand Japanese language, or enjoy Sashimi to love Japan. If in doubt, just ask and someone will definitely help.

Directions and tips are always helpful on the train subways 🙂

We had bought Klook’s HRA train tickets during our previous Taiwan trip (read 10D9N Taiwan itinerary here). The fuss free experience gave me the confidence to engage Klook again for my Japan trip.

(*Taiwan Klook tickets are not sponsored, only Japan’s sponsored)
Let me share the advantages and tips of booking with Klook.

a ) Convenience

In case you are not aware, most theme parks and attractions in Japan do not sell tickets onsite, you can only buy the tickets online or from Lawson stores (it is like a 7-11 outlets franchise).

Once you locate a Lawson store, buy the tickets at a Loppi machine. You can press for English instruction, then fumble with the menu (day, pax etc).

Imagine, I would need to bring stacks of Yen to buy my Disneyland tickets at Lawson (or use credit card and pay for oversea transaction charges)

Too much hassles and uncertainty, I would definitely prefer to secure my tickets before I leave for Japan.

b) Ease of mind

Download Klook’s app and monitor your Japan itinerary. Read the instructions on where to pickup the tickets.

If in doubt, ping the Online folks at their website. They are quite responsive and were able to provide more tips for me.

Once you reach Japan, most tickets can be consolidated and pick up at Haneda or Narita counter. Do take note they are only open around 0830 (why not 7×24 ?)

c) value for money

I did some comparisons and Klook sometimes offer cheaper tickets through promotions.

When I was researching for my options at Klook website, I came across more suggestions and recommendations. These tips were helpful for my itinerary planning.

Mount Fuji
Just enjoy Fuji san in Japan, do not worry about tickets

Some of the services (total 5) which I utilised for Japan (Hakone, Tokyo and Kamakura) are listed below. Take note these Klook services are sponsored.

*Just click on the links for more details and booking.

#01-Wifi Router

I chose a  9 days Wifi package for about  $36. Network was always strong and the router can support up to 5 devices. Wifi router can last me 5 hours before recharge.

*Once you collected your Wifi router, just turn it on and hotspot away. No further configuration (APN etc ) needed).

Do not rely on the “Free Wifi” at F&B outlets or malls, you need a reliable Wifi to help with Google search and navigation.

Tokyo is a packed metropolitan but it is ideally designed for walking. The cool weather, wide pavements allowed me to walk leisurely and explore the city by foot. If I am tired,  the mesh and convenient subway and train network is always punctual and convenient.

Trust me, DO not save on Wifi 🙂

Being Online allows me to contact my family and to share my Japan itinerary on the move. You can browse my Instagram posts at this hashtag  #SengkangBabiesJapan

Japan Itinerary
Japan Itinerary

 

I can always Google for nearby Food, Shopping, Attractions and even Sento!

Yummy Ippudo Ramen

Picture below, Sento at Jakotsuyu 蛇骨湯 (35.712036, 139.792607). I can do this Japan bath everyday!

 

Thank you Google for the tips and navigation!

Donki and Bic (Camera) will offer you hours of cramp shopping :p

Weather forecasting for my Hakone detour…

Takeshita street (GPS 35.671579, 139.703142, next to Harajuku station) is my favourite in Tokyo, so many things to spot and eat, and nostalgic souvenirs too.

Spotted Goku and Ultraman! (at Bandai HQ, Asakusa. GPS 35.707284, 139.794763).

Be it famous Sensoji Temple (at Asakusa) or Anime (at Akihabara), Google directed me to more fun.

Video (Youtube link) : Try to scramble across the famous Shibuya junction! (GPS 35.659528, 139.700534)

Treats from Google map, pictures below L Dandelion Chocolate (35.703599, 139.789618) . R Iwata Coffee‘s pancake (Kamakura, GPS 35.319482, 139.551468)

 

#02-Tokyo Subway Ticket-Unlimited Rides

Save some money and headaches, I picked the 72 hours package for 18 SGD. First timers to Tokyo will be intimidated by the Train maps!

 

To and fro, the train tickets might be seemingly affordable (100 to 300 Yen one way), but they add up pretty quickly for a family, especially if you keep making mistakes 🙂

Fortunately, Klook’s 72 hours unlimited rides cover 85% of my city itinerary. Thank you!

Part of the Fun (and challenge) in navigating Tokyo’s maze of train networks is getting LOST! haha.

I only wish the unlimited rides would cover the “circle” JR Yamanote train line.

Tokyo train map

I will try to share additional tips about Tokyo’s train networks in another post. In the meanwhile, always plan 30 minutes extra to your commute time.

Be prepared to get lost in the maze!

`

 

#03 – Doraemon Museum

A little out of place, but definitely worth the SGD 17 ticket.

If you are 小叮噹 Doraemon fan, add Fujiko F Fujio Museum to your Japan Itinerary. (川崎市 藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム, GPS 35.610148, 139.573652)

 

Once you booked a ticket, Klook will follow up with detail instructions on collection and usage of tickets.

Doraemon is one of my favourite cartoons. I spend two hours at the museum and appreciated the artist (Professor ) passion and imagination(the ingenious gadgets!).

My childhood memories!

Doraemon museum Japan

Professor Fujiko is the creator of the cute Robot Cat anime series.

 

#04-Tokyo after 5-follow the locals

This is Fun and memorable. A local guide will bring you through the alleys of Tokyo. Small eat, drafts and history-lessons 🙂

Japanese like to destress and chill after work, and some do not even bother to go home. They will sleep in pub, karaoke or Onsen areas before heading back to work the next day.

My friendly host, Tatz brought us to Ginza and Tsukishima. Delicious yakitoris, expensive strawberries and fun cooking my own Monja 🙂

If you love craft beers or sake, there are Klook packages just for happy-hour drinking :p

After Tokyo, I headed South to 鎌倉 Kamakura. This is one of the popular
day-trips out of Tokyo.

Enoden train

Famous for the Buddha and numerous Shinto shrines, we heard Samurai culture started from Kamakura.

Pictures below, praying for peace at the famous Buddha statue (Kōtoku-in 鎌倉大仏殿高徳院, GPS 35.316811, 139.536262).

And beautiful Enoshima island! (sea candle and beautiful lightups, GPS 35.299738, 139.478732)

Kamakura attractions

One of the reasons I choose Kamakura is because of the trains! They have the nostalgic Enoden (running along the sea) and inverted “Shônan Monorail”!

Thanks to Google, I discovered more Kamakura attractions, and bought a bundle Enoshima-pass for both trains (Choose discount ticket 700 Yen for unlimited day rides on Shonan and Enoden ).

Check out my fun train experience on Instagram below!

 

Sunset at Kamakura, can you spot Mount Fuji at the right?

#05-Skyliner to Narita airport

Narita is further from Tokyo, compared to Haneda. And Skyliner service shorten my journey to 45 minutes.

Ticket will allow you to travel one-way from Narita to Tokyo (Euno) or vice versa. See the link above for the comfortable interior.

Trains (in Japan) are extremely punctual and runs every 20 minutes. Do not be late!

For trains to Narita, do take note you have to change your Klook voucher to real train tickets at Ueno Keisei Station or Nippori Station.

*Klook website had indicated Ueno station for ticket collection, which is a separate train station 300m away

We would like to thanks Klook for the tips and recommendations, do checkout their Website and Facebook for the latest promotions and Japan Itinerary planning.

Disclaimer : Klook services mentioned above are sponsored.

Do pop by my favourite activity in Japan (Tokyo Mario Kart)