Customer Reviews: Lonely Planet Taiwan (Country Travel Guide)
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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on May 15, 2011
I have relied on Lonely Planet guides and phrase books to help me through India, Europe, Japan, and the USA and have had nothing but good experience with them up until this new release of the Taiwan travel guide.

First off the strong points:

- The book provides excellent places to check out.

- It has enough variety to accommodated any travelers interest.

- It is nicely laid out to find the information you are interested in with relative ease.

Now the reasons for the Two-Star Rating:

-English spelling of many of the Chinese street and place names were highly inaccurate.

I know Chinese is hard to translate in English spelling, but it really through me for a loop when I arrived in Taipei expecting the street names with the book's maps spelling to line up with the actual street names. It would have been nice to have a warning that, for example, Xio, Zho, Sho are common spelling variations when translating Chinese to English.

- No Chinese on the books Maps + Poor place translation = No help from Locals

It didn't help that there is no Chinese on the book's maps to asks the locals to at least point me in the right direction; and when I did ask proficient English speaking Taiwanese for directions with the books maps, they were just as confused as I was about the spellings.

-Outdated prices and information.

Hotel and transportation costs were usually 30% more expensive then the books advertised price and even sometimes double than what the book said it should be in high season (and I was in Taiwan in mid-low season!). Also a few of the must-go-restaurants in Taipei were out of business, so be sure to call or look on-line to make sure places are still Open.

-Outdated Public Transportation Routes

Most of the bus numbers it says to catch don't match up with the actually numbers in Taiwan. Some of the places where the book states there is only two to three trains a day I found completely False. On multiple occasions I found trains were available all day long. So be sure to ask the train station first before ruling out that it is not possible for you to go somewhere.

-Maps can be confusing

Since you cannot rely on the spelling of street names I wish they included more landmark buildings such as police stations or posts offices to better your bearings on an area.

What makes me so upset is that I pre-ordered this book from Lonely Planet so I could have the most up to date information and get the most out of my trip. Instead I had to constantly worry about all the small things this book should have solved for me. Multiple times a day it set me back. If you are heading to Taiwan I would recommended getting this book only to get ideas of natural wonders or temples you may be interested in visiting. Since the prices are not accurately reflected in this edition, all older editions should have the same basic information as well. If you happen to fly into Taoyuan Internationale Airport be sure to stop by the Information counter which has wonderful maps of both Taiwan and Taipei in both English and Chinese as well as other information. I found these free materials to be more worthy then this book. I still have faith in Lonely Planet, However, do not rely on this New Taiwan Edition to get you through the country smoothly.

Edit August 22, 2011:

This is the only book I felt compelled enough to write a review about because of how much it failed to guide me. After recently travelling Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos with Lonely Planet and having no problems with any of them I have decided to downgrade my previous rating of two stars down to one. Taiwan might be a fast changing place, but this book should have little excuse. Why buy an outdated and inaccurate book when you could get up-to-date higher quality literature for free at the airport?
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on April 13, 2013
I gave One star for Kindle guide, 3 or 4 stars for actual guidebook itself.

I ran off to Taiwan the other week at the drop of a hat just to get away. My local English language bookstore was under construction and so I couldn'T get a guidebook. I thot "I know, I'll use my new handy-dandy kindle". Below are 2 reviews, the kindle and the guide.

The kindle:

I think anyone thinking about this for a moment would know themseleves, but really, guidebooks are not going to be good on a kindle. You NEED 3 or 4 fingers holding several diffferent places as you flip back and forth and try to figure out if this site and that restaurant are near your hotel, and after this town should you go to that town or the other town next? The skip functions were for me just not up to the multi-page task at all. You also REALLY need the spatial sense of where something I read the other day? Was it after this section or before it? Half way thru the book or near the beginning? You read the guide find these interesting places, but forget where you read it. Very annoying to try and find it again in the kindle.

Finally the maps- just really hard to read on a kindle. And again, flipping back to the map from the places to sleep section or whatever to find your hotel, a chore. The kindle was great for traveling and keeping a couple of paperbacks in my bag w/o taking up weight/ space, but not for the guide.

The Guide:

So I ended up photocopying many pages of an old version of the Taiwan lonely planet I found at a hotel. I don't agree with other posters about the language problems or the price listings. As of 3/ 2013, the prices I encountered in Taiwan were more or less what the older version of the Lonely Planet (and my new kindle one) said. In Taiwan, they frequently change prices (esp hotels) for weekends, etc., at a rate of 10-30% more than wk day rates. However this was clearly noted in both guides. Anyone who does not know prices may change drastically in a foreign country, and especially exchange rates can change too, anyone who does not know that is just not very experienced at international travel, I would say. You can't expect a guide to be 100% acturate there.

Language (esp re maps) Here, too, ppl complaing about the romanized versions of Chinese used, and lack of Chinese in maps are being unreasonable. 1st, Chinese characters on maps: This is an editorial choice, they have a small map in a book to represent a big town. Filling it with chinese characters would make it harder to use in most cases. Usually they were filled with numbers and a few street names. The numbers corresponded to a list, next to the map, of hotels/ restaurants they chose to review. You look at that list and find the shop you want in the restaurant section, for example. There, the store name and the address were both written in Chinese AND Roman characters. The thing is, it is really understood that these maps are more for ease in using the book, and for ease getting about, you should ALWAYS get a bigger and clear local map. Used with the guide map which has your shops on it, you can get around no problem.

RE the romanization of Chinese: again, I believe those making complaints are not familiar with Chinese/ asian countries/ foreign travel. The fact is, language barriers are not a simple thing a guide can overcome for you. There are a couple of different romanization-versions of Chinese, The guidebook used one. Further there are more than 1 "Chinese" language, and in Taiwan there are several aboriginal languages, complicating things. In any country there can be a language quirk that the guidebook doesn't fix for you. You take that on yourself when you go to another country. I have no complaints about lonely planet in this respect.

It got me hotels, basic layouts, and also a really cool discovery in Taiwan, this gorge called Taroko Gorge, marble cliffs, absolutely beautiful.

Enjoy your trip!
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on June 18, 2011
Where do I start with this review? I've used Lonely Planet guidebooks for 24 countries, and the Taiwan Lonely Planet completely makes me reconsider my choice in guidebooks. I noticed in previous books that there might be a glaring omission maybe once or twice, but in this guidebook, I was shocked by the sheer number of inaccuracies. I have countless relatives and friends in Taiwan, but in spite of this, I bought the book to give me a different perspective on Taiwan. Amongst its most glaring deficiencies are the lack of worthy sights to see, popular local restaurants, accurate information, and in some cases, places to stay. In some major cities, only two or three sights were listed. For example, in Kenting, the best beaches and observation points were missing. Similar to an earlier review, I found that the prices of admission or transportation were frequently incorrect. Locals often wondered why I wanted to try certain restaurants, as these restaurants weren't known for any particular dishes. One restaurant I went to myself offered nothing above the ordinary. The one strength that I saw in the book was bits of history provided by the authors. With all of this said, I am sending a letter to the editors to request a refund for this mostly useless guidebook.
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on January 14, 2014
The maps for Taipei are basically useless. The food and dining recommendations are very limited, and/or will make you sick.
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on July 15, 2014
Poor quality
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on November 12, 2011
I used to like Lonely Planet guides. There is not even a Metro map for Taipei. This is inexcusable. The English spellings of Chinese street and place names do not match the signs in the street or in the Metro.
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