I was excited about receiving this guide to China. I have an old guide (1984) Lonely Planet Guide and love it but it is of course very out of date and China has gone through tremendous changes. The 1984 book had 870 pages, loads of text, black and white pictures and a few colored pictures. This 2011 Discover China version has 420 pages and loads of color pictures. I love the color pictures and user friendly style of the guide. My main criticism is that I wanted more.
I have been to Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Qufu and Jinan in the past. So I looked the coverage in those areas first. I thought the sightseeing spots like the Forbidden City were covered very well with maps and information that it is easy to spend a whole day there. There even some exciting places that I missed. I would have liked more hotels and restaurants listed. Shanghai, Suzhou and Qufu were handled the same, I couldn't find Jinan in the book.
My son works in Chengdu and my husband's roots in Qingdao so we want to include those cities in our next visit. I found the Sichuan Province, where the capital, Chengdu, is located in the section named, The Best of the Rest. I was disappointed to see that only the Giant Panda reserve, a Buddhist temple and the world tallest Buddha in Leshan were covered. Since Sichuan's food is famous for being fiery hot, I would have liked more coverage in the restaurant section. As far as Qingdao goes, I think I will be printing up articles from the internet for places to see.
I really think that the Lonely Planet would do better by dividing up China into several books. I don't want to take my 1984 book since it is so heavy but I may have to compromise by printing information from the Internet for two cities that are on my "must see list " this time. I do like that I can explore the surrounding towns for short trips. I love the Lonely Planet's traditional section, Survival Guide and the many maps. All in all, it is a helpful and fun book to peruse but I just wanted more.