For most of us, Google Maps and Google Earth are just something cool for our eyes to feast upon. Rightly so. It’s not like we can find a complete satellite imagery of the whole world easily anywhere else without any costs. Thus we go and find our house, our sibling’s house, then our friend’s house, and then our school, then college, and then perhaps every other landmarks we are familiar with, such as One Utama in Kota Damansara, just to see how do they look like from the sky.

Well, Google Maps especially can be a tad more useful than that. You can use it to find directions to get to one place from another. Because Google Maps cover practically a large number of cities in the world, there’s a good chance the city you live in is covered too. I know this because Ipoh is covered :D . This will be especially useful if you’ve just gotten your driving licence, or when you want to impress your other friends to make they think you know all the roads and streets in the city.

This post will show you how to use Google Maps to do just that.

The first step is of course to open up Google Maps at http://maps.google.com. The default view when you go to this link is the United States map. No problem. Just search for your city, like I have done below. Just type in the name of your vicinity (in this example I use “Kota Damansara”) and click Search Maps. There’s a good chance Google Maps will straight away bring up the maps of that vicinity. If it doesn’t, you’ll probably have to choose from the options given at the left hand side.

Search for "Kota Damansara" map

The result of the search for "Kota Damansara"

Now that we’ve got the city, let’s hunt for our starting place. For example, you want to get from Sekolah Sri KDU in Kota Damansara to One Utama, so the next step is to find the road where Sri KDU is. Using the search function again, type in the name of the road where Sri KDU is (in this case it’s Jalan Teknologi) and click Search Maps. It is advisable to include the city in the search, because there might be Jalan Teknologi in some other cities, so our search term becomes “Jalan Teknologi, Kota Damansara”.

Search for Jalan Teknologi, where Sri KDU is

If you want to make sure that it is indeed the “Jalan Teknologi” where Sri KDU, just click on the “Satellite” button to show satellite imagery and confirm visually that it is where Sri KDU is. Note that this may not work with buildings or landmarks that have just been built recently, because the satellite imagery from Google is not updated frequently. The newly built buildings or landmark may not show up in the satellite imagery.

Show satellite imagery to confirm Sri KDU is there

Sri KDU and SEGI College from space

You can see that Sri KDU is there, with SEGI college to its right, apparently still in construction.

Now that you’ve found your starting place, right-click on it and select “Directions from here” to set it as a starting place.

Set the starting location

Next, let’s find the place where we want to go. Say that in this example we want to go to One Utama Shopping Centre. Since it’s quite a popular landmark, I’d just search for its name instead of the road where it is. Using the search function, type in “One Utama Shopping Centre”. Then, click on the appropriate link at the left hand side, as shown below.

Search for One Utama

Click the "To here" link

Type in the Start address

When you’ve done that, a baloon dialog box appears on the map. Click on the “To here” link. In the resulting “Start address” dialog box, type in the road where Sri KDU is, which is “Jalan Teknologi, Kota Damansara” and click “Go”.

The directions from Sri KDU to One Utama

Google Maps will automatically give you the direction to get to One Utama from Sri KDU, as noted by the blue line in the map above. At this stage, you can zoom in to make sure which turn to take, or zoom out to look at the whole route. Google Maps also provided other information such as the distance of the route at the left hand side. Clicking on “Show options” will give you option whether you want to avoid highways and toll or not.

addinfo

Anyone familiar with the route to One Utama will surely notice that the sharp turn at Persiaran Surian is not possible, unless you’re on a motorbike (and it’s against the direction of the traffic, so it’s pretty dangerous). The right direction would be to take a U turn at LDP. I know that it’s not perfect, but I believe this happens only occassionally. I used this to find my way from my house to the Sony Service Centre in Ipoh, and it was a great help!

Good luck with yours!