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Lonely Planet China (Country Travel Guide) Paperback – June 1, 2011

3.5 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

This is the 12th edition of Lonely Planet's massive China guide...and the most exciting one yet.
The guide has been completely redesigned. For those who complained about the fonts and spacing? The layout of the pages is easier to read, with better spacing between the sentences. The guide has also been tweaked to provide better accessibility to information. The maps are now less cluttered and focuses on the most pertinent of information.
The guide itself has been split into four section:
1) Plan Your Trip
Essentially planning information at your fingertips. Top Experiences, a calendar of events, regions at a glance, good range of itineraries etc.
2) On the Road
The heart of the book. All our research and a labour of love. This is the destination guides to all the provinces in China. No stone left unturned in the coverage of over 28 provinces.
3) Understand China
Essay on matters that make China tick: the people, religion & beliefs, cuisine, arts & architecture, landscapes, martial arts and more!
4) Survival Guide
The practical information that will save your day. Directory, transpor, language and train information.
Look out for the 12th edition instore in May/June 2011.

About the Author

Damian first arrived in Beijing in 1992 via a degree in Chinese from London's School of Oriental African Studies. Since then he has shacked up in a syuàn (courtyard house), worked as a Beijing Radio presenter, lived in Shànghai, wrestled with the Cantonese dialect in Hong Kong, chewed the fat with Shaolin monks and knocked back bags of beer in Qingdao. Married to an outstanding Shandong lass, Damian has been authoring for Lonely Planet for over 12 years, exploring China with a constant swarm of deadlines (Beijing, China, China's Southwest, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Lonely Planet's Best in Travel) in pursuit.
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Product Details

  • Series: Country Travel Guide
  • Paperback: 1048 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet; 12 edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741795893
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741795899
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael B. Baer on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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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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