My handy travel guide and com­pan­ion

China Daily (USA) - - IOT@ WUXI - Con­tact the writer at zhangx­i­aoyu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Iused to be some­one who took pride in be­ing able to find my way around a city by my­self. But dur­ing a re­cent trip to Wuxi in Jiangsu prov­ince, I was shown the sights by a guide that made me ques­tion my stub­born be­lief in in­de­pen­dent travel.

What made my guide so spe­cial? Well, it was full of use­ful tips, knew all the best restau­rants, never got lost, and, best of all, I could fit it eas­ily in­side my pocket.

Yes, my guide was an app called Aiy­owei, an on­line plat­form pro­duced by Wuxi that in­te­grates a huge range of fea­tures, help­ing visi­tors to find their way around the beau­ti­ful city on the shores of Taihu Lake.

I have the owner of a con­ve­nience store near Wuxi Rail­way Sta­tion to thank for in­tro­duc­ing me to Aiy­owei. Mak­ing a bee­line for his store as soon as I got off the train, my eyes were drawn to a beau­ti­ful il­lus­trated map of Wuxi de­pict­ing the city’s 81 cul­tural sites and 43 scenic spots.

As I stepped out of the store clutch­ing my new map, the owner’s grav­elly but cheer­ful voice called af­ter me: “Scan the QR code on the back!” So I did, and was taken to a web­site to down­load the app.

Once I had in­stalled Aiy­owei, I re­al­ized that I could scan any site on my pa­per map and the app would im­me­di­ately pro­vide me with a huge range of in­for­ma­tion about the place in ques­tion, in­clud­ing routes to get there, travel guides and shop­ping tips.

I put Aiy­owei to the test by se­lect­ing the 5A-level scenic spot Tur­tle Head Isle as my first stop.

Fol­low­ing the app’s guide, I took a shut­tle bus to the cen­tury-old scenic area, where I wan­dered around Yuanzhuchuntao, one of the most beau­ti­ful parts of Tur­tle Head Isle, with stun­ning views of Taihu Lake.

Best of all was the Se­cluded Scenery Area, where the twit­ter­ing of birds and the fra­grance of flow­ers en­hance the won­der­ful nat­u­ral land­scapes of trees, flow­ers and grass, cre­at­ing a spe­cial at­mos­phere.

Af­ter tak­ing a sight­see­ing boat tour at the Tur­tle Head Isle dock, I tried to find a nearby restau­rant on the app.

My new friend once again of­fered me var­i­ous op­tions, along with in­for­ma­tion, cus­tomer feed­back and pho­tos of each restau­rant.

I quickly chose one fea­tur­ing tra­di­tional Huaiyang cui­sine and was re­warded with an awe-in­spir­ing meal of lo­cal del­i­ca­cies, es­pe­cially a dish fea­tur­ing the famed “Three Whites” of Taihu Lake — the white shrimp, white fish and sil­ver fish.

My two-day trip to Wuxi left me im­pressed, as I ex­pected, and my smart com­pan­ion con­trib­uted a lot to this along the way. But I was sur­prised to find that Aiy­owei is ac­tu­ally just a small part of Wuxi’s dig­i­tal ser­vices for tourists.

I was told that there are mul­ti­ple on­line plat­forms pro­vid­ing com­pre­hen­sive travel ser­vices in­clud­ing apps, web­sites, WeChat ac­counts and Weibo feeds.

Prob­a­bly the best of all is the Wuxi Tourism mo­bile app, which cov­ers lo­cal tourism re­sources, prod­ucts and ser­vices — at­trac­tions, ho­tels, restau­rants, trans­port, shop­ping and more.

The city has co­op­er­ated with var­i­ous do­mes­tic on­line travel web­sites to en­sure the app pro­vides qual­ity in­for­ma­tion for tourists.

The app also fea­tures many ad­di­tional func­tions, such as ho­tel reser­va­tions, GPS di­rec­tions, voice ac­ti­va­tion soft­ware and in­for­ma­tion shar­ing.

Wuxi’s cloud com­put­ing cen­ter serves as the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem of all these on­line plat­forms, which is re­spon­si­ble for data col­lec­tion, anal­y­sis, ex­change and dis­tri­bu­tion.

In terms of smart tourism, I feel the city is way ahead of much of the rest of China.

As I waited for my train home, big crowds were cram­ming through the sta­tion turn­stiles into the sun-drenched city, just like I had two days ago. I think I’ll keep my friend on my phone for a while yet.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Tourists can use a mo­bile phone app as a guide in their tours around Wuxi, Jiangsu prov­ince.

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