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on March 5, 2004
They say that everything you hear about China is true somewhere. Everything you read in LP China may also be true somewhere but unfortunately not always where you are. Originally published in August 2002 this book is well past its prime. It is still superior to the Rough Guide but could use a serious update. Speaking of which the overleaf promises guidebook upgrades on the Internet but they discontinued this in favour of user discussion.
Pricing - the cost of tea in China, you say? Like most things in China, prices are in constant flux and I question the value of including them. They are more misleading than helpful. Tourist attractions will generally be higher than what the book says but other prices will be close.
Locations - I live in the city of Wuhan and in the last two year it has undergone tremendous changes. There is simply no way for a printed book to keep up with them. For example, in the last six months the bus routes in WuChang have changed four times.
If you are going to travel around China be flexible! Expect that nothing in the guidebook will be where you expected. Expect to bargain for everything, hotel prices included. Remember that any guide book is only a starting place. As I have travelled around southern China I have used this book as a starting point and then asked the locals what they would do. Most have never been to the "tourist sites" but can show you a great street restaurant just around the corner.
This book is great for those thinking of going to China but who will never make the trip, or for those who are going on a package trip to fourteen cities in eight days. For those who want to explore China on their own I would advise caution.
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on April 11, 2003
i would have to agree with the negative reviews i've seen, and also the majority of travelers i have met in china. we all carry around the lp "bible", but also agree that it is one of the worst publications they have. it seems as you travel along that maybe lonely planet has not visited china or the places it talks about in a while. unfortunately it is one of the only publications of its type and it does contain a minimum of information that one may find useful at times. most of the informatino is outdated, even though i'm using the 2003 edition. Not to mention that they add the poorly written humor instead of a little more chinese script, which let me tell you goes a long way in a country where once you're out of the main cities, very few people speak english, and when they do it is not the best. some more useful word and phrases would be great, instead of how to say "eel fried with spinach and mushrooms". just the words for muchrooms, noodles, and rice would be nice, instead of forcing you to buy the mandarin phrase book, just to get the basics. another complaint i would have is in the compactnes. i realize this is a large country, but i feel like a lot of the space dedicated to useless information and adveritisments that you can't ever remove (for more lp bibles...) could be put to some much better use. All in all i have to say that while containing some very useful information, you're much better off photocopying the important pages and leaving the book at home.
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on January 12, 2003
I will agree that the LP China is out of date in many places, but in all fairness the only way to bat a thousand would to assign a team of writers working 365/24/7 to cover a nation as immense.
That said, I have to slam LP for misleading buyers that these new editions have much new data. They also put down their host country and that is not appropriate for a travel guide. I know the writers are mostly young and from either Oz or USA. So they try to impose their cultural/political views on the reader. I know this because in the 7th Edition I am credited in the Nanjing/Jiangsu section by the writer. I was a student at Nanjing Univ.
LP's Robert Storey is guilty of slamming China too often. He lives in Taiwan and his head is full of pro independence nonsense. BTW - having also lived in Taibei - Storey is a bit of a joke amongst young expats as telling to many "stories" - pun intended! He misses critical details for a traveler and instead romances the reader with his BS!
As with other reviews, this book is a set of training wheels but it is not the Bible. DO NOT PAY $30...get it used!!!!!!!
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on December 18, 2002
Backpacking in the mountains there is a thing called: equipment failure. It is when your sleeping bag does not keep you warm, even though you are well within the manufacture's temperature rating. It is when your tent leaks, where the manufacture did not get the stitching quite right. Depending on conditions such equipment failure can range from uncomfortable to fatal.
Recently I relied on Lonely Planet to bus from Hangzhou to Huangshan.
Time after time I found myself muttering to myself: Guide Book Failure!!! Guide Book Failure!!!
Guide book failure is normally not fatal.
And if you have a good sense of humor
and are a fairly seasoned traveller
it can be rather interesting
for you meet alot of friendly people who turned out to be very helpful.
So, as alot of other people above have pointed out, if you buy Lonely Planet, use it as a door stop, or place it on your coffee table, or press flower in it, but don't rely on it travelwise; and use your money instead to invite a few of the friendly, helpful people you encounter on your trip to China to a coffee, drink or meal.
Bon voyage
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on December 7, 2002
I agree with the previous reviewer when he says a) the arrogant tone of previous editions continues here, b) if you have an old edition, there is no need to upgrade, as there isn't much new here as they really don't update much. That second point is particularly egrigious, as there has been so much change in China of late. The most classic example is in the South West of China (there is a separate guidebook for this, which is better, but not much). The guidebook refers to Chengdu as "backpacker's paradise", but I'm here to tell you there are a lot of sorely disappointed backpackers who've wound up in Chengdu on this advice and left pretty quickly. Or tried to leave quickly but couldn't, as while the book tells you that there are 85 trains to different places, it shows there are four different train stations on the map in completely different places in town, wbut never tells you which is the main one or which one you might need to get to to get the heck out of dodge. Other descriptions include bus lines as "luxiourious rulers of the road" when there's not even a bus line in the town. This continues everywhere throughout the book. The Beijing section is *particularly* bad when it comes to listing cheap accomodation anywhere near Tianamen Square. According to the book, it is woefully lacking. But if they'd ever listed YHA hostels (they don't, who knows why), there's more cheap, clean, English speaking beds within walking distance of T-Square than you can imagine. Something like 2000 of them. When I met up with a friend in Beijing and we prepared to get on the Trans-Mongolian out of the country, we didn't even leave this book behind, we actually burned it and did a little dance that we wouldn't have to use it again.
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on October 29, 2002
I was carrying around a copy of the 7th edition LP China in Yunnan this past summer, and when I saw the newly-released 8th edition in a bookstore in Dali I snatched it up right away. Unfortunately, in Dali and in fact in most of Yunnan even the 8th edition seems to be already out of date; many of the Dali restaurants they mentioned didn't exist any more, and several of the hotels had either disappeared or become much more seedy than LP let on. Plus their descriptions seem out-of-date; in the last few years, all but the farthest reaches of Yunnan have gotten smothered with Chinese tourists, so a lot of the old town charm that they go on and on about simply doesn't exist any more. Admission fees at several places had gone up, too, in some cases (like Shilin) to such an extent that a budget traveler might change their mind about visiting them at all. This wasn't just confined to Yunnan, either; even in Shanghai it seemed that the guide was already out-of-date on several fronts.
There are also the usual LP problems: the arrogance and cynicism of previous LP China editions persists in this one, and while the maps are good (and expanded in detail) it would be nice if they'd list a few more hotels, particularly in China where they close and open so frequently.
If you've got an older edition of LP, don't bother upgrading; and if you're shopping around for a new China guide, don't let LP's publication date fool you into thinking it's any more accurate than its competitors.
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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.
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on January 8, 2004
Admittedly there are not many other China guidebooks around, but this one seriously sucked. I bought one at my local bookstore for a recent trip to China and (i) the attitude of the editors is simply disgusting [If they can't appreciate the country then they shouldn't even bother to write a book about it] (ii) too much of the info is extremely outdated. We all know that China is growing rapidly and whatnot but that really is no excuse for Lonely Planet to not do their homework and give us horrendously erronous info (iii) Any 'off-the-beaten-track' sight featured in Lonely Planet books inevitably become tourist traps for obvious reasons. It's the last time I'm ever buying Lonely Planet books. (Of course, there's the whole bring-the-hippies-there-and-ruin-the-place thing, which is yet another reason not to buy more Lonely Planet books...)
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on November 13, 2002
I have used Lonely Planet guides since 1996 to help me travel to nearly 30 countries and until now, I found them the best resource available for getting off the beaten tourist-track. Unfortunately, this edition of LP China disappoints. I like the logistical information (I give an extra star for that), but I am really dismayed at the emphasis given to popular spots, "backpacker meccas", places "beloved by backpackers", "a good place to 'kick back'", etc. It even goes as far as to show contempt for people looking for the "'real China'". I think I will look for another title, and if there is not a better one out there then I will write my own. As LP is alienating their core market here, maybe a new opportunity opens for new writers...
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on February 22, 2004
This book is so bad. If I could give it 0 stars believe me, I would. Many of the things listed in this book no longer exist. I went to one city and all 4 places listed in the LP as budget accomodations were no longer in business. Maps were incorrect. Attractions were listed with one address and placed elsewhere (and incorrectly) on the map. It would help greatly of it had more Chinese of the locations listed so you can show cab drivers. I finally gave up, chucked it into the trash and continued my 4 month trip through Asia without consulting any guidebook and had a much nicer time. Down with the Lonely Liar! You don't need a guide book. Just talk to other travelers.
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