Facebook City Guides is a helpful tourism feature of the social networking app. Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Facebook added City Guides to its iOS and Android apps for select users early this month to test out the tourism feature’s usefulness. It has since been rolled out to the general public, but not many are familiar with it or even know how to use it. Here’s a simple guide on how to access City Guides and why travelers and jet setters should use it.

City Guides is said to be Facebook’s answer to TripAdvisor. It shows users directions to local tourist attractions, famous restaurants and scheduled events in the area they are currently visiting. What makes it different from other traveling guide apps, however, is the fact that it offers a social experience based on the input of the user's friends. Thus, users are able to view curated lists of places their friends have visited and recommended.

Facebook’s City Guides is very different from the social networking platform’s Places. The latter only presented information from the reviews of a user’s friends. City Guides goes way beyond that by showing the places one’s friends have checked in or visited and not just the reviews they made. It also displays comments from the locals and a list of the destinations that are generally popular. Furthermore, it helps users plan their trips carefully by allowing them to save places they can refer to while working on their itinerary, as per Life Hacker.

Despite being considered a rival of TripAdvisor, City Guides actually has this integration with the travel forum website and app. While accessing City Guides, one can connect his or her Facebook account to TripAdvisor and other sites. This makes it easier for the user to view more information about certain places without having to exit the Facebook app.

One can find City Guides by clicking the left-hand menu or Explore tab on the iOS and Android apps. It is typically found in the middle of the list of features that include Instant Games, Shops and Discover People, among others. Upon tapping it, the feature launches a thread showing the places the user’s Facebook friends have been to. In the reviews, some words are highlighted to give the user an idea on the things that stand out from a specific destination. The straightforward design and user experience the feature has and provides make it easy to use and follow while gallivanting.

From the recommended places thread, one can select a city or a destination to know more about it. Upon tapping, pertinent data are displayed on the page, including local time, weather and upcoming events, among others. The profile photos and names of the user’s friends who have visited the city are also shown at the bottom. All this information is expected to help travelers plan their route or itinerary well before they hit the road.

Testing for the City Guides started early this year. It had a soft launch at the start of this month prior to its wider release via the new updates for Facebook’s multi-platform apps. At the time, a Facebook spokesperson said that City Guides is the type of feature that can “can help people get a better sense of their city, or a city they}re visiting through their friends’ eyes,” as quoted by Mashable.