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Fodor's Beijing Paperback – Apr 19 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Fodor's; 3rd Edition edition (April 19 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400005264
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400005260
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 13.1 x 20 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #575,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Choose the book for its seemingly easy to read maps and simple 'starring' method of identifying things to see, do, eat. Before departing on my trip, the book provided a good overview for what to do - although I disagree with the Old Summer Palace being a must see and the restaurant recommendations seem outdated compared to online review sites.

However after my two week stay in Beijing, I'd say the book is not practical and I wouldn't recommend buying it. There are actually very few maps and a lot of repetition. The book is broken into separate sections for sightseeing, eating, shopping, staying and entertainment. Each section provides an introduction to the neighborhood (thus it seems like you are introduced to each neighborhood in 5 different ways) and each section uses the same map but lists what's relevant to the section (i.e. restaurants are shown on the eating map, hotels on the staying map, etc.). This is quite impractical if you are trying to find a restaurant and you identify a hotel landmark as you end up flipping between the staying section and eating section to figure out where you are (more detailed neighborhood maps with cross listings would be more useful).

Also, the neighborhood maps are not detailed enough to help you find your way around, nor is the information on making the most of visits to key sights other than the Forbidden Palace and Great Wall (great wall overview was well done). Other drawbacks were that the subway station names on the maps often differed from the route map on the inside back page, and the Chinese characters for key destinations were in a small font that made it difficult for taxi drivers to read - taxi drivers don't understand English so the characters are essential.

This was my first Fodor's guidebook purchase and it is much more of a book than a practical guidebook. Will try other publishers for my next trip. But definitely recommend visiting Beijing - it's an amazing place.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This was my go-to guide in Beijing (5- stars) Sept. 29 2011
By Debbie Lee Wesselmann - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Buying a travel guide is never easy because, until you are actually using it, you have no idea how good it is. For that reason, I bought both this book and Frommer's Beijing Day by Day. Neither book was particularly large, but this was the larger of the two. I fully expected to carry the Frommer's with me as I explored the city and to use this one as a reference guide in the hotel when planning where I would go. It turns out that I used this book almost exclusively.

Fodor's Beijing has a nice mix of descriptions, photos (most small but in color), advice, and maps of the larger tourist areas such as The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven Park, and The Summer Palace. Organized first by topic (exploring, dining, lodging, etc.) and then by district within the city, it makes it easy to plan a day. After all, as good as the Beijing subway is, it can still take upward of forty minutes to get from one end of the city to the other. This guide also has sections on the history, FAQs (such as getting there and money issues), what to do with kids, nightlife, and side trips outside of the city. Some of the advice is excellent, such as the suggestion to visit the Great Wall at Mutianyu instead of the more popular and touristy Badaling section. My husband and I ended up enjoying the Mutianyu expanse of the Great Wall with just a handful of people spread out around us while others in our party when to Badaling and complained about the crowds. The guide lists both the must-see destinations as well as some off-the-beaten path ones, such as the quirky (but difficult to get to) Art District 798.

As with all guidebooks, the one area that is less reliable is the dining guide since restaurants come and go, even the best of them. We were disappointed to discover that one restaurant we had chosen for a special dinner was no longer open.

If you get only one guidebook for Beijing, make it this one. In one week, it became dog-eared from constant use.

-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nice quick guide Dec 18 2011
By A. Schuett - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I took a trip to Beijing, and was only able to do limited research prior to the trip. Typically I check online a lot rather than purchasing a book in order to save money and find non-tourist spots. I started reading this guide on the plane right over from Chicago to Beijing. I enjoyed the color photos and a lot of the information given is quite current. A good portion of the advice given in this book mirrored what I discovered online - as the other reviewer mentioned, the Great Wall is an excellent example. Mutianyu is still touristy, but not as much as other sections.

The one piece of advice I will give in addition to the book is that you should definitely get a personal guide. They are very inexpensive in Beijing - as of 10/2011 I paid $110/day for an experienced guide with car, or $40/day for a less experienced guide without car. Be careful to get a referral, and don't just pick a guide. As always, don't purchase souvenirs with a guide (they will get kickback and shop will not negotiate as much), and be careful about the tea-house scams.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
So helpful! May 11 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Loved this book! We lived in Beijing for a couple of months and used this book a lot. It was so helpful for me getting around town every day by myself and my 3 little kids. It was great to have the maps included as well as some of the popular destinations written in Chinese characters so I could show taxi drivers where I wanted to go.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Very good tour book Feb. 16 2012
By mezcalfud - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Coupled with a current Borch map of Beijing, this book was great help. A lot of the advice was helpful and useful although much of the book is for the less adventurous as it lists tourist or western hotels, restaurants and activities. The map allows you to get up and go explore.
I have 3 tips;
1- Stay away from the Silk or Yashow markets listed in the book as they mark up 10x value and you have to haggle. There is a great market in between the Jingshan Park and the Drum Tower....as a matter of fact, this entire area is great for shopping and eating and the (frozen) lake was neat.
2- Explore the small restaurants, they are everywhere and all were great. I didn't go to any in the book and while I understand why there arent a lot listed, it was still lacking a bit.
3- Stay in the Jingshan area and walk everywhere. It was 30f and we managed to cover a lot of ground in 4 days. This allows for a real experience.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Just what I was looking for Dec 13 2012
By Sally Wall - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is my 4th trip to China and I still enjoy looking at a good guide for discovery of new things. The book was delivered in the timeframe indicated. It's a good size for carrying with me and referring to, as needed.

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