China (Lonely Planet Guide)by Published 01 May 2007
|China (Lonely Planet Guide).pdf|
Walk the watchtowers at Badaling, where President Nixon once said, 'this is a great wall.'
Knock back a shot of Confucius baijiu firewater in Qufu, hometown of the sage.
Find out how a local farmer first uncovered the Army of Terracotta Warriors.
Perfect your Monkey Offers Peach strike at Wudang Shan, birthplace of taichi.
In This Guide:
12 authors and 483 days of in-country research
Special coverage of pristine Ming and Qing dynasty villages for the first time in English
Content updated daily - visit lonelyplanet.com for up-to-the-minute reviews, updates and traveler insights
"China (Lonely Planet Guide)" Reviews
Oh dear. This book does have an awful lot of bad reviews. And unlike a fictional novel, this is hardly subjective; if the facts are wrong or the information isn't there, a guidebook fails in its most basic purpose.
Although . . . it didn't fail for me. Perhaps it's gone deeply downhill since my version, purchased and used in 2003. Maybe upheaval caused by the Olympics has affected prices, locations and quality, none of which have been updated or explained in later editions. Or it might well be subjective after all. All I know is that the China Lonely Planet was nothing short of essential during my year in the Middle Kingdom and now, with its copious annotations, dogeared corners and whiff of multiple food spillages, one of my favourite and most cherished posessions.
I love the Lonely Planet. I've used Rough Guide and found it too vague - which is obviously the idea, albeit not mine - and other guides whose names now escape me, it was so so long ago, but I always return to this. Guide to guide, they vary wildly, largely because the authors (different for each country) are extremely influential on the literary style and ratings are based on their opinions rather than facts. But their general layout is always the same and once you've used one, you know exactly how to refer to them all.
In my experience, LP gives you enough information to be going on with, but never feels like it is telling you what you must or must not do. Suggestions are open-ended and (unlike RG), the authors don't write sneeringly when they mention upmarket joints or touristy locations. They'll always give alternatives, but splashing out or going for the easy option is neither derided nor encouraged. It's your trip; it's up to you.
Prices are inevitably wrong but that's because hotels and restaurants rarely set them in stone in the first place; plus, no doubt, the Olympics will have hiked up everything in sight. I use them as a general guide and never expect to pay exactly what they mention but I trust their opinions and the maps are always accurate. Photos are beautiful, background information fascinating, practical advice invaluable. The opening chapter descriptions of each province used to give me goosebumps when I was planning my trip and now they bring back searingly sharp memories of my experiences. I would read it again now, just for entertainment.
China is not a country to which I would advise the first-time backpacker to venture. It's tough, it's alien, it's more brain-achingly vast than you can possibly imagine, but it's also incredibly rewarding, fascinating and in my opinion, having covered most of the country and used this wonderful (heavy) book whilst doing so, absolutely worth it.
I'm about to visit Argentina and one of the first things I bought was a Lonely Planet. Despite this imminent trip lasting a mere fortnight, I can't imagine leaving home without my trusty reference guide. Book to book, writers change and opinions may vary but one thing you can't accuse them of is lack of heart. The enthusiasm for travelling and their country of choice is palpable and infectious. Never make the mistake of idly picking up a Lonely Planet in a Waterstones to kill time or you'll be perusing the British Airways website before you even realise what's happened. (That happened to me once . . . I ended up in Fiji). If I could write for LP, I would. As it is, I'm going to settle for reading; as second-best options go, I've experienced an awful lot worse.
I never bought this, thankfully, only borrowed from friends.
Big, heavy, and loaded with inaccurate information and old phone numbers and addresses. The descriptions of hotels are also annoying--who cares what color walls something is? Tell me how to get there.
It's a bit of a daunting task to try and cover a country so vast, so varied and - above all - changing so fast...in just one guidebook.
Don't expect this guidebook to explain everything and always be 100% correct. Roads get built, tunnels dug, prices rise, hotels and restaurants open and close, etcetera. If you find this hard to take, maybe China isn't the place to go to for you.
We've travelled in the big country several times, used many different guidebooks, but always returned to good old Lonely Planet as the main guide. Yes, sometimes we felt a bit disappointed by a place that was recommended and sometimes we were truly stunnend that a place we absolutely loved was not in the book. But that's life and that's travelling.
If you don't speak Chinese (fluently) and want to travel independently, the Lonely Planet is essential packing. Use wisely, though!
Could have better organisation.
I have major issues with this book.
There were many places listed that were closed, which perhaps was because of the Olympics, but it really put a crimp in my plans. It was especially a problem when I took a taxi to a restaurant that was recommended and it doesn't exist anymore. It was also not fun because not only did I take a taxi there, but there were only about 3 restaurants in the section for Qingdao.
The biggest problem on one of my trips, to Qingdao, was based on the recommendations of Lonely Planet China. I went to a National Park. Once my friends and I had each payed 100 Yuen for a personal car to get to the park admission was 75 Yuen instead of the 50 Yuen listed in Lonely Planet. Which to me is a big difference and after paying so much for the car as well as considering that 25 Yuen can buy me quite a bit of food I was NOT pleased. In addition to the fact that we hadn't considered that we had to buy entry for the driver as well, and that extra 25 Yuen really added up. There was no indication what so ever in the guide that there was a difference in price for regular season versus peak season, because of course no one travels during peak season.
Many of the "addresses" listed in Chinese characters (from the boxes on the map pages) were just the names of the places. If the taxi driver doesn't know the name you're out of luck. Also there were just no addresses in Chinese characters for any of the restaurants or hotels. Which means that you can almost never get where you are going unless you have perfect pronunciation. Problematic!
Some of the pluses.
I went to very good restaurants based on their recommendations. The two restaurants that were open in Qingdao were fabulous and the dishes that Lonely Planet featured were yummy!
The couple days I was in Shanghai, after my summer language program, I chose to splurge and stay in a hotel listed in Lonely Planet and I LOVED it! Astor House Hotel is the oldest hotel in China and is beautifully kept and the staff is amazing.