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Beijing Made Easy Recommended China Travel Guides

Beijing Made Easy reviews Beijing travel guides and China travel guides, books set in China or Beijing, books about China, books about Chinese culture and history and books about the Chinese language.

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Lonely Planet China

By Damian Harper
Lonely Planet: Great guide, double edged sword.

The essentials a first timer must bring with them every time they leave the hotel in Beijing: Money, camera, toilet paper and Lonely Planet Guide. The Lonely Planet China is a totally solid travelling companion that can get you out of virtually any scrape, teach you about Chinese culture, and help you have fun at the same time.

The maps are excellent, clear and detailed. The style is light-hearted and readable. The history and culture sections would provide you with enough knowledge to blag your way to a degree in Oriental Studies should you require. The authors are all very experienced travellers with a sound understanding of Chinese ways. Lonely Planet Guides also contain phrasebooks, we can confirm that the Chinese one is excellent.

However, there is a downside – Lonely Planet is great, so everyone else reads it too. As soon as a quaint restaurant or undiscovered hutong is mentioned in the Lonely Planet, the prices double and the clientele change. If you chance upon a romantic isolated temple, don’t let LP know, or within a year the monks will be selling T-shirts and banana lhassi.

Lonely Planet Beijing

by Damian Harper

Like most Lonely Planets, Lonely Planet Beijing is an excellent practical guidebook. It offers more Beijing-focused cultural information than the Lonely Planet China, but it’s basically the same as the Beijing section of the China guide. Lonely Planet’s maps are very good, and the practical information succinct, useful and easy to find. There are plenty of interesting colour photographs, and a pretty good language section with a great food-phrasebook.

However, there is a downside – Lonely Planet is great, so everyone else reads it too. As soon as a quaint restaurant or undiscovered hutong is mentioned in the Lonely Planet, the prices double and the clientele change. If you chance upon a romantic isolated temple, don’t let LP know, or within a year the monks will be selling T-shirts and banana lhassi.

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Rough Guide China

By David Leffman et al.

Rough Guides distinguish themselves by their readability. It’s an easy pleasure to start at the beginning of one chapter and simply read your way through a city. If Lonely Planet is a bus timetable, Rough Guide is a novel, so RG is great if you have the time, but LP is better when you’re in a rush.

Rough Guide’s history and culture sections are very good, and the maps are very accurate, but sometimes not as easy to use as Lonely Planet.

The disadvantage is that it’s not quite so easy to find things – and things are not ordered quite so logically, you often find yourself having to read a page twice before you actually find what you’re looking for. Also, Rough Guide is not updated quite as often as Lonely Planet, so it’s sometimes a little out of date.


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