Most helpful positive review
A very hard and very well-managed and great endeavour
on September 12, 2002
This edition of "Lonely Planet China" is excellent. It is better than the previous one, which was very good itself but had some weaknesses. Despite the immensity of China and the numberless topics and regions that have to be covered herein, the authors have done an excellent job indeed. Most of LP's masterpieces are guidebooks to much smaller countries or regions (it is indeed inevitable for travel guidebooks to be the better, in overall terms, the smaller the region they cover). But this one is an exception: despite its hugeness, China has been covered with superb maestry by people who do know about it. Having said this, we cannot diminish the importance of LP's guidebooks to Beijing and Shanghai - if you are planning to spend much time in those cities, it may be a good idea to get those guidebooks also, since this huge and heavy book cannot cover as much of those cities as the authors thsemselves would obviously love to. The same obviously applies for Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan, and Tibet, all of which have generated their own LP guidebooks. Xinjiang is instead wonderfully covered in "LP Central Asia". This is not to persuade you to get more and more guidebooks, but China is indeed an immense place and one book can hardly be enough to cover it all in depth. In this book itself, its excellent coverage of some regions is stronger than others: it is better on the Coastal towns than it is on the deep interior of China, which reflects indeed the number of tourists who go to these places. Having said this, this book does nevertheless contain most of what a visitor will need or want to know about big China. And in a place that is chaotic and tough for foreigners like China, this may indeed be an essential tool for the less experienced travellers, and a greatly useful aid to the more experienced ones too. The coverage of places to stay and eat is absolutely excellent, not just for the major cities but also for minor towns and sites (the authors would indeed seem to have been to everywhere in China where the government did not stop them from going !). The section on permits and other legal matters is of immense value to anyone, and well up-to-date. And of course, the sections and special chapters on history, culture, religion, are extremely well written, great for the traveller and the armchair reader alike. Even though the best discoveries are those a traveller will make herself / himself, this guidebook is surely a great tool and help in anyone's discovery of this wonderful land. All in all, a masterpiece despite its limitations. A weakness is of course that things being as volatile as they are in China, information is subject to unexpected changes, and some may have become out-of-date by the time this book was printed. But this is of course inevitable, and it simply means that - as in any country - a traveller should not rely on only a guidebook, but make a considerable effort to gain as much as possible of current circumstances on her / his own, which is in fact part of the wonderful travel experience.