Finding your place in China’s megacities with Hoodmaps


Navigating China’s megacities is one thing but finding the right ‘hood to live before you arrive is even more confusing. Choosing where to set up base can have a huge impact on your social life and also how much Yuan you bleed each month in rent.

But getting a birds-eye view of China’s megacities is now easier thanks to, a hip new website that colours in city features. It’s open-source too, which means users can add their own colour vectors and annotations to help other users get a lay of the land, so to speak.

Blue, for example, represents hubs for business people that wear “suits,” whereas yellow is a haven for “hipsters.” Red is for “tourists,” which is generally where you want to avoid if you plan to stay long-term!


Beijing checks out pretty well with “hipsters who hate plumbing” living around the hutongs in Andingmen, Gulou, and Beiluoguxiang – hugging the second ring road – and apparently you can find Dipsters too if you dig around near Dongzhimen. Bar Central is in Sanlitun and the suits can be found around Wangjing, Guomao, and Xicheng, which is pretty accurate!

We’re not too sure who “Shan Xin” is… but that’s one of the features of an open-source platform such as Wikipedia or Quora where people can leave their mark!

There’s also a feature to display coffee shops or coworking spaces. We didn’t find any data points on coffee shops, but, man oh man Beijing has a lot of coworking spaces!

You now know which side of town to recommend to incoming entrepreneurial types! is then the site to figure out which coworking space to work from based on price, reviews and pics.


Shanghai, again, is very well colour-coded but with a lot more Normie zones filled in. Korea town, high-tech park, and rich laowai also get a mention.


For Hong Kong, we’ve switched the settings to colour vectors, rather than colour pixels as used in the previous two screenshots. The green and red vectors sum up how hard it is to find affordable accommodation outside of the Rich and Tourist zones. But there does seem to be a few enclaves of Hipster living.

Not all cities, though, check out well on Hoodmaps. Xiamen (below) seems to have a small Hipster zone and a few places where you can find taro taro, old money, and majestic cows. But, otherwise, not a lot of colour on this map.











Note that you won’t find any local insight on second-tier cities like Nanjing and Tianjin but that might change in the next 6 months or so as the site gets more users. This also means there’s a clean canvas waiting for say local Hangzhou and Qingdao expats (with time on their hands) to colour in their local knowledge!

Naturally, these maps are not overly scientific and you will come across some joke makers, but for the most part, it’s a really handy tool for planning where to base yourself and to get a rough introduction to a city in just a few seconds. This would, otherwise, take a long time researching and alternating between blog articles for insight and Google Maps for exact locations.

For more information about living in China, see our Housing in China Guide and our own attempt at “hood mapping” before it was even a thing!

Beijing Map copy

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Olly Theobald

Director at Asia Options.
Olly works in Hangzhou China and is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, e-commerce, Asia education, data science, and foreign languages. Olly is a graduate from RMIT University and the Hopkins Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies. Olly speaks Mandarin and Korean.

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