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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
I couldn't help but feel disapppointed in this book. It really seems to miss the point of foreign travel. For example, in the section on Taipei there are 23 listings for Western restaurants and only 13 for Chinese restaurants. Taipei is one of the best cities in the world for Chinese food, and the writer could only manage 13. This seems terribly unbalanced to me. To make it worse, some of the western restaurants introduced are Planet Hollywood (yeah, I went to Taipei to get the Hollywood experience), TGI Friday's, McDonald's and Subway (which in the author's own words, "needs no introduction" -- my point exactly). I went to Taiwan for the food, so this was a big shortcoming in my point of view. Another point , he only lists two teahouses and both are in (or near) a museum. He gives the excuse that teahouses are always closing all the time (of course that didn't stop him from listing a lot of nightclubs). It just seems like he wasn't interested in researching teahouses. He just couldn't be bothered. Also, he writes very little about the excellent night markets. In fact he devotes an equal amount of space to tell us about food courts. Come on!
It's sad, really. I've used a lot of Lonely Planet guides with good results before, which is why I bought this one without looking at it. However, I can't recommend this one unless your idea of a good vacation in Taipei is eating at TGI Friday's, having coffee at Starbucks, and going to a club (why are you going to Taipei? You can do that at home.) Well, to explain why I gave it two stars instead of one, the transportation and hotel information is useful, so I couldn't bring myself to trash it completely.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
LP Taiwan is the best guidebook available for Taiwan but this reflects the lack of books published about Taiwan rather than this guide being particularly brilliant.
If you don't read or speak Chinese then this book is essential for travelling in Taiwan. It includes place names in Chinese characters. This is important as most people in Taiwan cannot read Chinese in romanised form. However, if you know Chinese you can quite easily get around without it.
One annoying thing about the book is that the author is often critical of places because they lack "Western style" amenities or food. Surely the reason for travelling is to experience another culture. If you want to eat Western food stay in the West!!! Taiwan offers an extraordinary array of Chinese and Taiwanese food to satisfy anyone.
Taiwan is a wonderful place and off the radar of many travellers (as a result of the great shadow cast by its belligerent and much larger neighbour). If you can see through the crowded cities and pollution you will discover some amazingly friendly people who cannot do enough to help you. Some of the coastal and mountain scenery is the equal of anywhere in the world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
I never imagined that Lonely Planet Taiwan could be so bad, but it indeed is. For instance, maps in the book are useless, and the Taipei metro direction is unclear and useless. And I cannot understand why the author says " For sth really special you can try Haagen Daz."
I didn;t belive the previous reviews, and now I learned how bad it is.
If you need more information, lots of Taiwanese websites provide very useful information. You can just go to Taiwanese consular office website and find the links.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Spent an afternoon browsing travel guides to Taiwan and found this to be the most thorough. Like all Lonely Planet guides, it does a good job covering the history and culture of the country. The maps and descriptions of the areas around Taipei were pretty thorough, but the map and descriptions of Ken Ting (Southern Tip) seemed to bear no relation to reality. How hard is it to find a beach on a peninsula of an island nation? Almost impossible if you're using the Lonely Planet guide! Still, the guide makes up for its shortcomings with the shear volume of facts and activities it offers. I found things to do in Taipei that even the local ex-pats didn't know about. Highly Recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have to begin by admitting that I love to hate the tone of some Lonely Planet guides--an edition for Japan from the early 1990s distinguished itself by one of author's disdain for touring Japan!

That being said, Robert Storey's take on Taiwan (where I've been living for the past year or so) is remarkable for its general laziness. Many examples have been noted in other online reviews, but it's worth mentioning some of them again: the overwhelming focus on "ex-pat" hangouts, the author's love of foodcourts located next to train stations, and the compulsive need to mention that we can find McDonald's, Starbucks, Subway, and so on in Taiwan's major urban centers.

What's left behind in all this is the astonishing beauty of parts of Taiwan, the compexity of its history and its social formations, and the genuine warmth of its people.

To Lonely Planet: please find someone who actually cares about this place to research and write an edition that Taiwan and its visitors deserve!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've read and used many Lonely Planet Guides and this one ranks as one of the best. My mother happens to be Taiwanese and I've been to Taiwan twice. The book's cultural insights are very true and very helpful. Definitely recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2003
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The LP guide to Taiwan is great if you want to hit tourist traps. However, those choosing a more flexible approach to travel may be disappointed. This particular guide is particularly short on some vital information that makes it almost worthless as a reference for trip planning.
For example: Mr. Storey lists exactly two bus stops in the Taroko Gorge area, leading one to believe that you can only use public bus transport two these places only. He doesn't mention that the bus also makes intermittent stops along the way, even to trails he listed in the guide. According to the locals, these stops were established years ago, and this information would have been easily obtainable by the author.
The guide is almost worthless when it comes to Kinmen, which has far more interesting sights and places then those listed. Having just visited Kinmen this week, a little exploration revealed all sorts of bike trails one could follow to some spectacular vistas. Again, this is all public knowledge - why wasn't this included?
On the other hand, Mr. Storey's information on expat hangouts has proven pretty accurate so far, and when he does list hiking trails, he has been correct in the four locations I've visted. His hotel information has also proven quite invaluable.
It is hoped that the author will spend more time and effort in investigating things a little more off the beaten track and provide us with some better information to work with.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Lonely Planet does a fairly good job from a western perspective when it discusses pop music artists of Taiwan.
As far as discussing people, it fails to acknowledge the dual ancestry of the Taiwanese Hoklo (Hokkien) and Hakka peoples of Taiwan. The author probably has been sold on the myth taught by the Nationalist Chinese and KMT that the Taiwanese are just ethnic "Chinese" from Fujian and Guangdong. It fails to discuss that it was predominantly Hoklo and Hakka men from Fujian and Guangdong who intermarried with the current lowland Taiwanese aboriginal women at the time. It also does not discuss the many lowland Taiwanese aboriginal households who were forcefully assimilated into the Hoklo culture...and to adapt chinese surnames such as Chen, Tsai, Huang, etc. (the aboriginal tribes discussed are usually the highland and mountain tribes that survived but are small in number) No one would be able to tell because the current Taiwanese population speaks predominantly both Mandarin and Taiwanese, although Hakka too is making a comeback.
Speaking of this...Mandarin and Taiwanese pronunciations should be BOTH listed in this guidebook as BOTH languages are widespread in Taiwan. Visitors to night markets and who take taxi cabs will probably want to know some Taiwanese. Television programming is in Mandarin, Taiwanese (Hoklo), and Hakka.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Although I have been living in Taiwan for nearly 16 months, I still take LP Taiwan Guide along for weekend trips, and even jaunts to nearby cities, regardless of how many times I've visited.

The information is vast, for major urban areas as well as more out of the way locales. Also, the brief Chinese/English dictionary at the end of the book proves an invaluable tool. Even with a rudimentary knowledge of Chinese, simply pointing to Mandrin characters saves time and a lot of headaches.

LP Taiwan is a must for brief vistors as well as long term residents.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
I stayed 2 weeks in Taipei and area using this book. I found it to be a care-free adventure, with information on everything I needed, or where to find it. If you do not speak chinese, do yourself a favour and buy it.
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