Category Archives: audio

Pinyin pronunciation guides coming soon

We’re working on a useful new feature for our iPhone apps which we think you’ll find really useful.

When you tap to hear the audio pronunciation for a station, you’ll also see the Pinyin for the station name, complete with tone marks. This is really handy for stations with alternative English names, for example:

People’s Square (Rénmín Guǎngchǎng)

Oriental Sports Center (Dōngfāng Tǐyù Zhōngxīn )


We’ve already added the Pinyin pronunciations to the Shanghai Metropedia pages. We’ll be launching the feature for our Shanghai app soon, followed by our other China metro apps.

Helping you get to your destination faster, and learn some Chinese en route 🙂

ExploreMetro Interview by China Radio International

I was recently interviewed by Allie Johnson of China Radio International. We talked about my motivations for creating the Explore Metro maps and my plans for the future! Listen to the audio here, or view the transcript below.

[audio:|titles=0506-Allie-Explore metro]

Allie: In every city Matt Mayer travels to, there’s one site he can’t miss.

Matt: I am a big fan of metros. Whenever I’m in town, I try to visit as many of the stations as I can.

Allie: When the Brit moved to Shanghai four years ago, that pastime got a little tricky.

Matt: I really wanted to use public transport to get around but when I searched online, I found that there wasn’t really any good information in English about the metro. I found some metro maps but often they would be like out of date or they wouldn’t include the correct station engine in English. So I thought, “I think I can do better than that myself.”

Allie: Mayer wanted to make the best metro map and trip planner in China. He went to great lengths to make it accurate: really great lengths.

Matt: A couple of years ago, I tried to visit every metro station in Shanghai in a single day. Starting at 6:00 in the morning, finishing late in the evening. It took me just over ten hours to visit every station. Althoufg that was before, some of the new lines have opened. I think if you try to do the same thing today, it would take even longer and it might not even be possible.

Allie: And so Explore Metro was born. It’s an online map of rapid transit systems in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Singapore. And there’s an iPhone app too. You can click on any station on the network, and drag to any other station to find best routes, trip times, and fares. You can also see first and last train times, Google maps of the area round the station, and links to info on nearby places.

All maps are bilingual and non-Chinese speakers can hear the station name in Mandarin.

Allie: Mayer says about 80% of users are Chinese.

Matt: And I do get quite a lot of feedback from Chinese people who are quite surprised that a foreigner actually took the time to make something like this.

Allie: In the past two years, the Shanghai metro has opened three new lines and expanded four. For Jonathan McDonald, this is where Explore Metro comes in handy.

Jonathan McDonald: I don’t know these new subway lines. I don’t know where they go. I don’t know how to connect with them. I don’t know what the fastest routes are. But this really shows me where to go.

Allie: Peggy Wong is living between Beijing and Shanghai. She just recently discovered the site.

Peggy: I think it’s very useful like it’s very user friendly. It’s great that they have such function because normally the map has a lot of stations and it’s a lot easier to pinpoint where the station I need to go.

Allie: But Wong and McDonald both say the maps have room to improve.

Peggy: I cannot zoom in or out so I can only see like a part of the metro map. So if I need to go from a very far end of one side of the city to go to the other side, I go back and forth, like side to side on the map.

Allie: McDonald says he doesn’t feel it accounts for the extra time needed to switch trains at busy interchange stations especially at rush hour.

Jonathan McDonald: I made a route between an interchange that is notoriously busy. And it didn’t give me a realistic journey time. You know, it said this will take you 13 minutes but speaking from personal experience, just that interchange could take you 10 minutes.

Allie: Matt Mayer says he welcomes anyone to write in with comments. And that almost every single added feature comes from user suggestion.

Matt: Although my Chinese is not too great, I do try to reply to everybody whether they’re writing to me in English or Chinese and I can email them back and let you know if it makes into a new version of the app.

Allie: Next stops are Explore Tokyo and Explore Seoul. He plans to keep the project Asia-focused because the rapid transit systems here are expanding so quickly. Currently, Mayer is travelling the world and working remotely. And wherever he can, ride in the rails. For CRI, I’m Allie Johnson.

Visit China Radio International for more China stories!

106 ways to say a Beijing Subway station

On our Shanghai metro map, visitors have long been able to listen to the sexy voice of Wang Jing reading out the station names:


So that our female listeners do not feel left out, we thought we’d better have a guy for the Beijing map. Several days later, all 106 stations now have recordings by our very own Shaun Tang!


On the ExploreBeijing subway map you can now hear a spoken Mandarin pronounciation of each station name. Simply click on any station, then click the “play” button which appears in the upper right hand corner of the bubble:

Audio button on the map

The big red arrow doesn’t actually appear on the real map.

Also on all the station pages in Subwaypedia (like this one) you can hear the station name by clicking on the ‘play’ button on the right hand side of the page.

Audio in Subwaypedia

Try it out here:


Now if we can just find someone with a Guangzhou accent-ah…

“Xia yi zhan: Renmin Guangchang”

Thanks to Wang Jing, the metro map now has pronunciations in Mandarin for all the new stations will will open at the end of this year. So if you’d like to hear how to say the name of the catchy Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone (North), click the button below!


To hear the pronunciation for any station on the metro map, click any station then click the icon in the top right of the information bubble.

Sound files for every station

The ExploreShanghai metro map now has audio for every station on the network. So if you’re wondering how to say “Shanghai Circus World” in Chinese, just click on the relevant station and then click the “play” button that appears in the top right.

My thanks to Wang Jing for doing the recordings, if you’re looking for a Mandarin teacher she comes highly recommended!

keep exploring,

Metro map – audio

New feature on the ExploreShanghai metro map, press the play button in the station “bubble” to hear a pronunciation of the station name. Currently available for some Line 1 stations only,

Also corrected the name of a station (thanks Greg) and improved the dropdown list of stations.
We got blogged earlier today!

keep exploring