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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a reference book, not a bible
Lonelyplanet is better than nothing and is a good start. I highly recommend both reading it and highlighting it well, but not solely relying on it. The perks of this book are: maps, language phrases, and gaining general ideas. All of the big touristy things are on the map. Some of the really fun obscure things are not. When you go out on a limb, explore and discover the...
Published on October 14, 2010 by Dr. Smoker

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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2009 edition gets more wrong than right ... and "ever-changing country" is no excuse.
Like many people, I read the mixed reviews for prior editions to this guide, but didn't see a better alternative, so got it, hoping that the kinks had been worked out. They hadn't.

No travel guide to the largest and fastest-changing country in the world can get everything right, but this guide gets a lot more wrong than it has any excuse to. I first...
Published on July 7, 2009 by Michael B. Baer


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a reference book, not a bible, October 14, 2010
By 
Dr. Smoker (San Diego, CA) - See all my reviews
Lonelyplanet is better than nothing and is a good start. I highly recommend both reading it and highlighting it well, but not solely relying on it. The perks of this book are: maps, language phrases, and gaining general ideas. All of the big touristy things are on the map. Some of the really fun obscure things are not. When you go out on a limb, explore and discover the little gems for yourself, you will be thankful that all of the tourists have not found out about it yet. Traveling is about making your own journey and not just having someone map it all out for you. This book is perfect for a general guide and even better b/c of the maps, which I just can't emphasize more in a disorienting place like China, and ticket price estimates. Also, don't expect this book or any other book on China to be up to date. China is changing so rapidly, something new is being built and something old is being destroyed daily. Don't be surprised if that restaurant you highlighted does not exist anymore and if there are new ones instead.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2009 edition gets more wrong than right ... and "ever-changing country" is no excuse., July 7, 2009
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Like many people, I read the mixed reviews for prior editions to this guide, but didn't see a better alternative, so got it, hoping that the kinks had been worked out. They hadn't.

No travel guide to the largest and fastest-changing country in the world can get everything right, but this guide gets a lot more wrong than it has any excuse to. I first encountered this in Macau, when, after wasting a fair bit of time following its maps, I was assured that the official "Tourist Map" had full bus information. It in fact has no bus information, which was not a pleasant thing to learn at night, far from my Hong Kong hotel room. But things only got worse from there.

One problem is that the hours posted in Lonely Planet are very often wrong, but, even more so, misleading. Thus, when the guide indicates that the Forbidden City closes at 5:00, what it doesn't tell you is that the officials close all buildings and start kicking you out at 4:30, which can be a huge disappointment if you waited to see a particular exhibition that has closed. Contrast this with the Old Summer Palace, where no one cares if you stay well after closing, making it the perfect cap to a late afternoon. These two places also illustrate a huge problem with the maps in the book: They don't tell you where the entrances and exits are. Thus, you could walk an extra mile than you need to get to the only listed entrance in the Old Summer Palace, and another extra mile to get to the ruins therein. Or, you could waste lots of time in the Forbidden City because Lonely Planet doesn't deem it important to distinguish doors from walls.

Costs and cost structures are often far off or ill-explained, and I checked with locals who insisted this wasn't because of any recent changes. There are no subway maps, which is especially bad in Beijing, which is famously stingy with having such maps. Scam warnings are far, far too specific; scams warned about for Beijing also take place in Shanghai, so if you go to the latter first, you'll be unprepared. The best warning would be that anyone from anywhere China approaching you in a tourist locale speaking English wants to shake you down, not to practice their English, so be careful if you follow them anywhere, even somewhere official-looking. Sad but true. And the pages of Chinese words in the mini-phrasebook somehow neglect food-related ones like "hot," "cold," "water," or "rice." These basics would be especially useful when being served a spicy, salty meal with warm water in the midst of the summer heat.

It's also clear that this book hasn't really been updated, even on the most important things. One tell-tale sign is talking about "targets" for 2008 rather than actual statistics. A more worrying sign is the lack of knowledge of the fact that the east side of the Bund, the main Shanghai tourist site, is closed due to construction for Expo 2010. This is not a brief closure, but a huge project that will likely take about a year. The biggest tourist site in the biggest city of the country and Lonely Planet makes no mention of this? Sadly, that's what I came to expect of Lonely Planet China. I can't give it fewer stars, because I don't have a better alternative and at least there is some Chinese (albeit inconsistently) on the maps and site lists. But I'd certainly wouldn't recommend it.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars EXTREMELY outdated, December 10, 2010
Save your money and frustrations and get yourself a different Guidebook. Only a couple days into our trip, I was flipping through the book to find the Copyright Date because I thought maybe we received an old version on accident. The issue I have is that it says 2009 yet it's very OBVIOUS that it is pre-2008. Things in China are changing so rapidly that I expect somethings not to be quite up-to-date. But when we are clearly many of the things listed in this book were changed for the 2008 Olympics. The subway in Beijing is the perfect example. In this book, both Tian'anmen stops are written in Chinese. The subways in Beijing are now written in English so then you find yourself trying to translate the Chinese into the English to figure out which stop you need to go to. We all agree this change probably happened for all the tourists in 2008.

In Shanghai it talks about the most popular snack food street in the city near Nanjing Rd. We walk about there to find out it was completely razed. In fact, half the street has been rebuilt into a nice street filled with chain restaurants. My point: the area wasn't just bulldozed yesterday. It's been at least a year!

The sad fact is that we didn't use this book for most of the trip. In Beijing and Shanghai we used the Eyewitness book that was extremely helpful. In Xi'an we ended up using local maps and actually used this book to determine which sights we wanted to see.

I had a few other issues with this book. I felt like the sight recommendations were weak. There were some places this book advised people to visit but I'm not sure why because the places were either boring or there was nothing to see. An example is the Shanghai Museum. Highly recommended? NO WAY! Speaking of Shanghai, this book it so outdated that it didn't have the Aquarium in there yet. I had to find that information in the other book I had.

The restaurants were a joke. First, and it's almost humorous at this point, but without exaggeration, about half of the restaurants don't exist any more. I don't mean they are out of business. I literally mean it's now and empty lot!! Crazy! The couple places we did go to weren't very good. Again, the exception to this was Xi'an- the restaurants were good there.

The hostels recommended were not the best options. We went to hostels.com and the hostels mentioned in LP not only had mediocre reviews but had some major and significant complaints. No heating? No hot water? We went on our own for this.

Someone wrote a review that this book should be scrapped and rewritten from scratch. I agree at least for the 2 aforementioned cities. I would be VERY skeptical of the 2011 book as they'll probably once again pick-and-choose things to update and slap on a new Copyright and make you believe it's really up-to-date.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not updated enough!, September 22, 2009
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I traveled for 3 month through China and pretty much gave up on this guide (latest edition) after the first 1.5 mth. There is a LOT of outdated information in this book. Granted, china is changing VERY fast, but there were things that were in this guide that I have been told have been shut down over 3 years (and it wasn't just by the touts)!! I encountered some outdated information practically every city I went to in China, from closed down things to see, restaurants that have long moved and hotels that were no longer in operation. Come on lonely planet! If you expect to be the leader in this field, you need to do a better job overhauling your new editions and checking your facts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not formatted for a Kindle, May 20, 2012
By 
Petrichor (NSW, Australia) - See all my reviews
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I bought this on my Kindle, however it was not very useful. The Chinese characters sometimes appeared as square boxes and the maps were very difficult to read.

It was handy to jump from a list of suggestions to a description to a map, but it needs to be better formatted! I am pleased that Amazon were able to refund the cost of this book.

I sampled the Discover China Lonely Planet which worked much better on my Kindle- and much lighter than a guide book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars much outdated, September 6, 2010
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This book has a lot of outdated information. I just spent 2 months in China. Things are changing rapidly with the rise of the new middle class that likes to travel and see their country.

For example, the book recommends going to yangshuo instead of guilin in order to see the Li River, Rice fields, and other sites in this area. Well let me tell you I am so glad I didn't follow the recommendation. Yangshuo is overrun by Chinese tourists. Almost impossible to walk the main street due to the crowds. Guilin is much saner, less touristy, lovely.

The book also doesn't tell you to expect crowds on the Li River and when bamboo rafting on the Yulong river. I do recommend these trips, but be advised you will be on the rivers with 50 or 60 other small boats or rafts. China is on the move and this book needs to be updated to help readers avoid the worst of the crowding.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Completely INcomplete, March 4, 2011
By 
I own both this version and the previous one and while it is useful for finding hostels, the maps are VERY inaccurate and not to scale at all. Often they will have just ONE district of a city and talk about the map as if it is the complete map.

I have been to many of the cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Harbin, Kunming, Shenzhen, and on. Their map shows like one CORNER of the city and they talk about the map as if it is complete!

With very few Subway maps, very few Bus route maps, and very little in-depth information this is NOT a China 'Guide' in the sense of any of the previous guides.

When compared to Lonely Planets other outstanding books, the China guide is a MAJOR flaw.

To LP authors: HIRE A LOCAL EXPAT LIVING IN EACH CITY WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH EVERYTHING. Someone (like me) who's lived in the city for more than a year.

Here is a list of things that the travel guide missed: public transport between districts, cheap shopping areas, local city maps, subway maps, expat restaurants and hangouts. Is this project too big? How about this, break each section down into areas of China as you have done, then recombine those books into a new book, the
"Everything China Travel Tome" You could charge more for it since it will be bigger and more comprehensive BUT this time you'd better cover ALL your bases. I'll EXPECT to give it 5 stars.

You guys are thinking too small, if I drop $2,000 for a flight to China, you think I'm going to bat an eye if I have to spend $50-100 on a travel guide? Keep the $20 books, but your have a STRONG Brand, don't cheapen your brand, produce a stellar product that you can charge a premium price for. People will buy it IF it's a great product.

I know I will...heck, I'm so addicted to LP Brand I'll probably buy the crappy ones too. =/
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version has hard to read maps, November 26, 2012
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If you have an e-ink Kindle, the Hong Kong guide has maps in here that are not really readable on the Kindle. I'd recommend getting a different guide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition Not as easy to use as a book, March 25, 2013
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Lonely planet provides excellent travel guides with great pointers but the kindle edition was not as easy to navigate as I expected
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy the Paperback, December 27, 2012
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I am a confirmed Kindle user and prefer e-books to printed books whenever they are available (especially for traveling). But guidebooks are one huge exception. Maps are hard to find in a flash and almost always unreadable. Much better to have well-thumbed pages to guide you than to fumble with an e-reader. This is entirely about the medium, not the message. The guidebook itself is fine.
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Lonely Planet China (Country Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet China (Country Travel Guide) by Bradley Mayhew (Paperback - June 1, 2011)
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