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Tonight is my fifth night in China, I've only been in non-tourist places so far where I've seen no other westerners. I'm hitchhiking from the very south to the very north so it's fairly important to have a decent online map. I don't have a smartphone or tablet, just a netbook running Windows.

  • Google Maps suffers from "My Location" always being wrong by about a couple of hundred metres. I believe this is related to China giving false GPS coordinates to foreign companies, or something like that. Also some of the newer expressways and tollways built in the last three years seem to be missing. Notably the one from the Lao border crossing at Mohan to Mengla in Yunnan.

  • OpenStreetMap had barely a sketch for the last two cities I stayed in, Mengla and Ning'er.

  • Bing Maps is a pathetic joke here and other places I've travelled to.

  • Baidu Maps doesn't have an English option, doesn't seem to have a Current Location feature, and didn't even seem to have Mengla mapped!

Bad Google Map for China
I'm actually at the green arrow but Google thinks I'm at the blue dot. This has been the case everywhere in China I've tried so far.

I'm happy with a western or Chinese site, but it needs to have an English Language option.

I need a "My Location" feature because when hitchhiking and not very good at Chinese characters you often don't know your exact street or even city. I don't know what city I'm in right now!

And I need directions. Google Maps is very good for directions so I'm still using it despite the problem finding where I am and some new major roads missing.

(I'm happy to migrate this question to webapps.SE if it's not successful here, but here seems to make sense to start with.)

References

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Are you looking for something specifically web-based, or would a mobile app work for you? –  Flimzy Oct 31 '13 at 14:54
    
@Flimzy: I mentioned I don't have a smartphone or tablet, but if you mean a mobile app that will run on my netbook then that would be of interest. –  hippietrail Oct 31 '13 at 15:00
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I read that, and somehow it didn't sink in. I was thinking of some of the commercial GPS/nagivator devices which have mobile app versions (Garmin, Tomtom). I'm sure some of them could be run in an iOS/Android emulator on a netbook, but that probably wouldn't be the most usable setup :) –  Flimzy Oct 31 '13 at 15:06
    
It'd be useful if you could post the GPS coordinates of a particularly bad example so answerers can check to see if their solution is any better. –  Sam Oct 31 '13 at 23:21
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@hippietrail It took me a short while to work out where it was from the screengrab, and I cheated a bit because I can read the characters :) I was going to suggest Nokia's Here maps (here.com) but while it has roads, it seems to lack a lot of the POIs and other detail that Google has. It has a 'my location' feature, so maybe see if it is any more accurate? –  Sam Nov 1 '13 at 5:10
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2 Answers

If you have Google Chrome, it recognizes different languages, and prompts you to translate them. So these would be good:

Sogou Map - covers Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Baidu Map - covers Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau.

Mapbar - covers Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and a general map of Taiwan short of details.

MapABC - covers Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and a general map of Taiwan short of details.

51ditu - covers Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau.

U2MAP - covers Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and a general map of Taiwan short of details.

City8 - the world's first project introducing street view service earlier than Google Street View, covering 41 cities of Mainland China, as of October 2009.

EDUSHI - provides 2.5D virtual images for 48 cities of Mainland China and Hong Kong, as of October 2009.

DUSHIQUAN - provides 2.5D virtual images for 26 cities of Mainland China, as of October 2009.

Map Taiwan - mainly for Taiwan

Hope this helped

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1  
Yes Google Chrome's built-in translating is awesome. But it can't translate the text in the images the maps are made of. It's also not great with interactive menus and such. I've tried two or three of these but I'll go through them one by one and test them. Thanks. –  hippietrail Nov 1 '13 at 8:48
    
I'm not sure if U2MAP still exists. I couldn't find it by Googling and the URLs I tried didn't work: u2map.com, u2map.cn, u2map.com.cn –  hippietrail Nov 3 '13 at 19:59
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Almost. There exist a pair of undocumented / unpublicized versions of Google Maps.

  • ditu.google.com is an English-language version of Google Maps which has correctly aligned aerial imagery and road networks. But "My Location" is still incorrectly aligned.
  • ditu.google.cn is a Chinese-language version of the same, but with some differences.

"dìtú" means "map" in Chinese (地圖 / 地图) .

In fact both sites have differences to regular Google Maps sites. Some of these differences are detailed in the Wikipedia article on Google Maps.

Various posts on forums and blogs speculate Google had to comply with various Chinese laws or regulations to be allowed to use the correct data. I speculate that their not being totally happy about complying to such rules might be why Google doesn't seem to say anything about these sites.

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Yesterday and today in my guest house in Hohhot even dita seems not to work. I think the GFW is blocking some of the resources it tries to load. –  hippietrail Jan 2 at 2:58
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