Tencent Maps, China's Answer to Google Streetview
February 11, 2014 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Tencent Maps - Look at some of the remotest parts of China. While some of the off-the-beaten-path images on Tencent Maps are actually static panoramas, other more quirky routes offer full coverage for mile after mile, as seen on the Li river in Guangxi province where you can cruise on a boat amidst the famous karst peaks that don’t look like any other hill or mountain range you’ve ever seen before.

Started with just three areas in late 2011, Tencent’s street view imagery is now the most comprehensive in China. In a country where Google has not been permitted to roll out its iconic Street View cars, Tencent has filled the void, rolling out camera cars and sending guys with panoramic cameras to cover dozens of cities from all possible angles.

The result is that right now, after years of work and hundreds of thousands of miles of driving around individual streets in every major city in the country, Tencent Maps now covers all of this.
posted by KokuRyu (14 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Wow! This is really phenomenal, thanks for pointing it out. So much to explore!
posted by kokogiak at 11:10 PM on February 11, 2014

When I get home tonight, I'm going to check out where I used to live in Wuhan, and some of the places I use to frequent. I've heard that the city has a subway now, and some ridiculous skyscrapers to boot. I can't imagine the city looks anything like it used to.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:18 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

>Wow! This is really phenomenal, thanks for pointing it out. So much to explore!

No kidding! Apparently Baidu has a similar service.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 PM on February 11, 2014

Whoopsies, the final link to the Tech In Asia piece on Tencent has crashed. Here is a cached version (it has lots of cool screenshots).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:19 PM on February 11, 2014

This is amazing in general, and the quality of a lot of the photos is amazing in particular.
posted by Jimbob at 11:32 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower, up fairly close. If you zoom out, you can see there's a blue-line trail on the Huangpu River, with a boat-view of the city. Bonus, turn around in the view, and see a reflection of the street-view car & camera setup.
posted by kokogiak at 11:44 PM on February 11, 2014

I must say that the interface is far less buggy than Google Maps.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:21 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's a good start, but it doesn't get me where I want to go. Will check back in six months.
posted by Wolof at 5:37 AM on February 12, 2014

A couple clicks away from the main link is what appears to be an oasis, with this translated description:
Mingsha is a national key scenic spots. Located seven kilometers of the southern suburbs of Dunhuang City of Gansu Mingsha Mountain, an area of ​​about 200 square kilometers, east Mogao cliff, west of the party Creek Reservoir, the whole mountain-like accumulation of sand made from fine grain, when the wind starting Sand Hill will issue a loud noise, when the breeze blows, deemed orchestral genre, which was called the Mingsha. Crescent Lake is a magical wonders of the long desert lake. Mingsha, the spring water to form a lake, in the dunes surrounded. Springs in quicksand, drought is not exhausted, wind sand does not fall, spectacular. According to legend, the growth of iron springs back fish, seven grass, incurable health professionals, the food can live forever, it has "medicine spring," said.
The internet has truly changed armchair exploring.
posted by achrise at 8:13 AM on February 12, 2014

Wonderful post about the Parallel Chinese Internet. Between language barriers, cultural differences, political sensitivities, and good ol' trade protectionism there's a whole alternate world of Internet services in China. Baidu for Google, Weibo for Twitter, RenRen for Facebook, AliBaba for eBay/Amazon... They're not just clones of Western services and they don't exist just to allow government censorship, they have their own integrity and creativity.

Even this Street View clone has unique features. This night view from Shanghai is evocative; does Google have any nighttime imagery? Also check the amazing multilevel indoor map in lower-right (hover to embiggen); Google and Apple are just now starting to do indoor mapping and it's nowhere near as interesting.

I keep trying to learn more about Chinese Internet culture but I don't read Chinese at all and machine translation is really not good enough. And most of the services don't try to localize to English or any Western language. Like this new Tencent map, for instance, the navigation on the left gets you to different cities, tourist sites, etc. I did manage to find those buttons thanks to machine translation, but in practice that seldom works.
posted by Nelson at 8:42 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Very cool. I just spent an hour looking up my old haunts in Beijing. *Misty coal-smoke colored memorieeees*
posted by zjacreman at 9:59 AM on February 12, 2014

Good street to walk down in Urumqi.
posted by klue at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2014

achrise, you don't have a link to that do you?
posted by Admira at 8:49 PM on February 12, 2014

I use the QQ maps app on my phone - it's very convenient, accurate, and does have great streetview images. Even though my Chinese is poor, I find I can navigate without too many issues. Great for taxis, too, if I'm having difficulty telling them where I want to go.

Chinese internet is interesting. I use weibo a lot, although I can only read a little. WeChat/Weixin is awesome for low-data use chatting and it's extremely popular here.
posted by sarae at 11:04 PM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

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