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?
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.
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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).
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.
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
I can always Google for nearby Food, Shopping, Attractions and even Sento!
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)