That's a problem we have all the time. Because we're pretty fancy.
Baidu, that's who.
Tap the 路线 button then just type in your start point (or just use your current destination) and the destination name to get a wealth of public transportation routes. You can even just tap on the map rather than type a name. Use the 地图选点 button.
It's all in real time – if your trip starts at night, it only shows operating bus routes, for example – so that you can see which option really will be quickest as you zip around the city. Or you can change the times to a future date.
We also like Baidu's walking direction options.
In Beijing's sometimes insane traffic (more on that later) walking is often the fastest way to get around town and Baidu gives the quickest route, rather that the most obvious, making it easy to have a wander through some of Beijing's hidden hutongs
in a useful way that also gets you where you're going.
3. Drop a pin
Mark your favourite venues and routes to keep as a stock information to easily dig it out when going the next time by dropping a pin on Baidu's desktop version.
Drop a pin anywhere and give it your own details (desktop version)
You can share pins, find directions to and from the custom-made location and even search in a radius around it.
Here's a search for hotels near our pin, for example.
You can do this same thing on the Baidu app, though the pin looks more like the new style Google pin, unlike on the desktop where it looks more like, ahem, the old style Google pin. The app pin also has a cool eyeball view into the 'real' world - i.e. when you drop the pin, you can see the street view and then share that with your lost buddies (see below).
See where you dropped a pin (app version, left) & share your dropped pin (app version, right)
4. Star a venue
In the Baidu app, another great way to save a venue is to star it.
Say, for example, you're always heading to or from Beijing's best shop Brompton Junction
, because you're just that into folding bikes, you could click the star icon to keep it on your map.
The star will remain visible as you zoom in and out or do different searches so it's also a useful way to orientate yourself.
5. Check out the traffic
'Oh it's 6pm, it'll be quick if I just grab a cab' said no one in Beijing ever. Traffic jams are a headache here, especially in the morning or in the early evening rush hours.
Avoid them with Baidu's real-time traffic layer: look for the 'traffic light' icon to turn it on then ditch those red roads whenever you can (pictured left, with a helpful red arrow added by Time Out Beijing, not Baidu Maps).
It covers foot traffic on streets as well as wheeled aggravations.
On the desktop version (see below), you can also look ahead at the typical traffic patterns to work out whether you're likely to be late even if you go at 11am on a Tuesday.