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Lonely Planet Discover China (Travel Guide) [Paperback]

Lonely Planet , Chen , Chow , Eimer , Harper , Low , McCrohan , Pitts
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £19.99
Price: £16.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Lonely Planet Discover China (Travel Guide) Lonely Planet Discover China (Travel Guide) 3.6 out of 5 stars (5)
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Book Description

23 July 2011 Travel Guide
Experience the best of China.
This full-colour guide does the work for you - Lonely Planet's trademark expertise cuts straight to the must-see highlights of the country so no matter what your time frame or budget, you won't miss the best bits.

The Great Wall, the Yangzi River, the Army of Terracotta Warriors - we've selected the most iconic sights and incredible places so you can enjoy the real China with the minimum fuss.

Full-colour throughout

Ideal for one- to two-week trips

Itineraries make planning your trip simpler than ever

Pull out Beijing and Hong Kong city map

Contains essential phrases but a Lonely Planet Mandarin phrasebook is also recommended

We know because we go: every Lonely Planet guide is 100% researched and updated by our authors on-the-ground.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet; 1 edition (23 July 2011)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 1742202896
  • ISBN-13: 978-1742202891
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.4 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 507,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other. --New York Times

This book is excellent! It covers practically every must see in China I can think of. --Amazon customer

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Country Guide 11 Feb 2012
By M
The basic information is fine but the layout that Lonely Planets use now is not the easiest to work round. The main trouble for me is that it is style over content. The pages of 'highlights' and then more pages saying what the highlight is for each section means there is less detail when you get to the section dealing with any particular area. Too flash for its own good. Now having to buy another guide to get the kind of info I really want. Lonely Planets used to be so good. I am disappointed with their shorter guides like this one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Lonely Planet Discover China 18 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is very good on the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai, but there is very little information on less visited places in the Best of the Rest section, which I found disappointing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Discover China 17 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I am sure the book is great but I bought it as an e-book.
That was a mistake because it is not easy to "dip" into, as one requires with a guide book.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  47 reviews
76 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good guidebook for guided tours or shorter vacations in China 29 Sep 2011
By l2 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lonely Planet now has 2 different guidebooks for China: "Lonely Planet China" (now in its 12th edition and over 1000 pages long) and this new "Lonely Planet Discover China" (first edition and only 448 pages).

The "Lonely Planet Discover" book is obviously aimed directly at the kind of traveler that has been buying the DK Eyewitness travel books. It is printed on glossy paper with lots of color photos. This book is full of lists to help you find the best or most popular attractions in the country. In fact, the very first chapter of the book is titled "China's Top 25 Experiences". If your time in country is limited and you may never come back, this type of organization will help you make the most of your time.

On the other hand, the plentiful photos and much fewer pages means that the "Discover" book covers much less material than the regular Lonely Planet China book. Missing are the off-the-beaten path towns and historical sites that backpacker travelers crave. Even in big tourist cities like Beijing or Shanghai or Hong Kong, only the major tourist attractions are covered. Also missing are the long lists of accommodations and restaurants that are very valuable to independent travelers (though you can find a lot of that on the internet these days). In fact, some whole regions of China are missing. The provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan are growing in popularity among tourists, but get only a couple of pages each in the book. Tibet is mentioned nowhere in the book, nor are most of the western and northern parts of the country.

This "Discover" book is great for people going on guided tours that are only hitting the highlights anyway and have most or all of their hotels and meals taken care of by the tour. Independent travelers may be better off with the regular Lonely Planet book because of the much broader coverage and greater detail.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Superficial for China 9 Oct 2011
By hasselaar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A rather slim text for such a large country. The descriptions of the various locales are VERY limited. The size of the book only allows for (what reads like) tiny excerpts from much larger texts. The descriptions of Hong Kong along are tiny, with one good recommendation - visit the Museum of Hong Kong. But, Hong Kong is packed with interesting activities, this book will not help you there. There is just not enough information to allow for any reasonable visit to such an overwhelming country.

For China, you will be better-served by using several different guides. Plus, a history of China is highly recommended. A book about each city that you will visit is recommended. A single book for each city will still be inadequate, but will prove far more helpful than this book from Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet is generally a sound source for travel guides. But, with this book, they "bit-off more than they could chew".

* I gave 3 stars for the nice photography, and the fact that it does contain some useful information. Lonely Planet is trying hard with this book. But, it is simply not possible to encompass China in one small book.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A useful China book ONLY if you are packing light on a fully-guided tour; otherwise, get one or more full-coverage books instead 1 Mar 2012
By ƒůŽźŸ ωŬ≥ζŷ ♥☮♭♩♪♫♬♮☯☺♡✈ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
இ Fuzzy Wuzzy's Summary:
ѾѾѾ Somewhat recommended, with reservations and only lukewarm fuzzies.

As someone who has traveled six times to China on multi-week vacations so far, and I might be visiting China again for the seventh time later this year, I am always keen on stocking up on China travel guides and knowledge about places to see and things to do while I am there.

The Lonely Planet "Discover ..." travel books are a series of compact travel guides that are intended to provide the essential information about a country while being compact, light in weight and small in size, and replete with the heavy use of full-color photographs and basic maps throughout its pages. While this travel guide's 430 pages is much more compact than Lonely Planet's far more thorough coverage of China in their similarly-priced 1048-page Lonely Planet China (Country Travel Guide) book, I get the impression that their "Discover ..." series is more meant to compete with the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides and Apa Insight Guides which, for years, were the main travel guide books that offered plenty of tantalizing color photos, albeit at the expense of informative text. Frommer's and Fodor's have also gotten into the "In Full Color" competition to offer more color photography in their travel guides too.

This travel book provides decent very-high-level coverage of the main highlights of China. It offers suggestions for China's top 25 experiences (which I mostly agree with), 7-day, 10-day, and 2-week itineraries, some general trip planning information, and various general, but very superficial, maps are interspersed throughout the book, with a very basic "Beijing and Hong Kong City Maps" pull-out map attached to the very end of the book. The end of the book has a very useful "Survival Guide" section that describes various essential information that you should know. In fact, I would have preferred that this section was moved more towards the very beginning of the book. The very end of the book, squashed in right before the book's index, has two pages of very basic word pronunciation tips for both Mandarin and Cantonese that may, at best, be useful for communicating with a partially bilingual hotel concierge in a larger city, but is too basic, fragmented, and useless if you either are in a smaller town or go off the beaten path by yourself.

The one main problem with this book that warrants my 3-star rating is that it is just WAY TOO SUPERFICIAL in all aspects of covering such a huge country! I would have the same misgivings if this small travel book was called "Discover the United States" or "Discover Western Europe". And the book has spotty or missing coverage of some entire areas of the country that are both very interesting to visit and have lots of history and sightseeing spots in them.

The book divides coverage of China into four regions: "Beijing & the Great Wall", "Xi'an and the North", "Shanghai & the Yangzi Region", "Hong Kong & the South". This is like creating a compact travel guide to the U.S. and then simplistically dividing up the country into "New England", "the South", "the West Coast", and "the Midwest", while ignoring the Southwest (which would be analogous to China's Silk Road with its sparser-populated deserts) and and leaving out the Mountain West (which would be analogous to China's mountainous Sichuan province). Yunnan, the Sichuan province in the mountainous southwest, and the huge western part of China that encompasses the "Silk Road" areas are very unceremoniously lumped together into a scant meager 19-page chapter called "Best of the Rest", and this chapter hardly begins to cover the "best" of this rest. For Sichuan, Chengdu is only mentioned in one sentence and the reader is erroneously misled into thinking that the only thing worth doing in Chengdu is to go see pandas! For the Silk Road section, the very fascinating history of the Silk Road is completely omitted, and the city of Urumqi, with its rich multi-cultural blend of 15+ ethnic groups, is not even mentioned once. Northeast China is also totally omitted from the book, even though Harbin is the tenth most populated city in the country and Harbin is known for its beautiful ice sculptures every winter and its deep-rooted Russian heritage.

The authors also seem to be particularly enamored with the ancient city of Pingyao, and the city is mentioned a lot in this book. Pingyao is a well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century. Its urban fabric shows the evolution of architectural styles and town planning in Imperial China across five centuries. Even though Shanghai now appears to be the financial center of China, during the 19th and early 20th centuries of the late Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was the main banking and financial center in China. I have visited all around Pingyao before, and you can walk down the ancient main street and imagine how the city was like 500 years ago, just as you can walk down the narrow alleyways (hutongs) in Beijing and look at the old courtyard houses to momentarily distance yourself from the rapid modernization that is happening all over China. But this ancient main street in Pingyao is now lined on both sides by a lot of generic souvenir shops. And just as the ancient hutongs in Beijing are steadily disappearing by China's constant onslaught of mass-modernization, you do not have to look far beyond this ancient Pingyao main street to realize that visiting this area is a bit like visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans - in both cases, the main people walking around are tourists. But unlike New Orleans' French Quarter where there are plenty of good clubs and restaurants, Pingyao's old main street is just lined with small souvenir shops. I used to associate Lonely Planet travel books as being targeted at travelers who want to get off the beaten path, leaving the touristy areas to readers of Fodor's and Frommer's travel books. So I was disappointed that the authors focused so much attention on Pingyao, while ignoring the culturally and historically fascinating areas of northeast China, Sichuan province, and the Xinjiang "Silk Road" areas in western China.

The idea target audience for this book is a person who falls into both of the following criteria: (1) You are traveling with a fully-guided package tour group that has everything already arranged and pre-planned for you with respect to accommodations, transportation, sightseeing, language translation help, and accompanying historical and guided commentary and advice throughout the trip, and (2) you are traveling very light and only taking one carry-on luggage and one backpack with you. If either of those criteria do not apply to you, you are better off totally bypassing this book and getting another full-coverage book on China. Even though I like most of Lonely Planet's travel book offerings, I also think that the current Lonely Planet China (Country Travel Guide) book is both outdated and incomplete and spotty in coverage. Currently, my two favorite full-coverage China books are China (Eyewitness Travel Guides) and The Rough Guide to China (Rough Guide China). But as with trying to cover the U.S. or Western Europe all in one single book, there are books that focus only on one area of China which offer better details with more depth if you are mainly going to visit specific areas in the country.

If you are totally planning a trip to China by yourself, this travel guide would make a great "starter book" to read, and whet your China travel appetite, before you acquire more in-depth books and maps once you start planning, deciding upon, and finalizing your itinerary. But you will definitely need much more detailed information than what this book offers, either by reading other books or researching on the Internet, before departing on your trip. Just reading this compact guide by itself is only sufficient if you are joining a package tour group to China where everything has already been planned out for you. And even if you are just following along with a pre-planned tour group, you should read other books and research your tour group's itinerary to learn more about the rich and diverse background and history of the places that you are about to see since China is a country that is very rich and vast in both its history and diversity of cultures and scenery.

So I rate this book 3 stars if you are just going to China with a fully-guided tour group, but I would rate this book only 2 stars if you are trying to use this book to plan a trip by yourself.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful book for a general overview and a short or around-the-country trip... 21 Jan 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having traveled to more than 20 countries, I often try to find a book to carry with me that will be helpful in getting around - sort of a quick reference guide, or something to read when you're waiting to travel. I believe this edition of Lonely Planet Discover China is such a book.

It is important to understand that this is not an in depth book on all the sights, Chinese history, or language. As a member of Lonely Planet's Discover series, this book is a high-altitude over flight for the English-speaking/reading traveler when visiting this massive and diverse country. You really can't expect more in a book this size about a country as large as China. The main sections of the book are geographically organized; Beijing (75 pages), Xian & the North (61 pages), Shanghai & Yangzi Region (68 pages), and Hong Kong & the South (71 pages). In addition to the regional sections, the book contains a "Best of the Rest", a "China: In Focus" section covering historical and cultural basics, and a traveler's" Survival Guide" in the back.

While I have not visited China, I asked for opinions of two friends who have spent a good amount of time in China and they both thought the book would serve a first time traveler nicely.

If you are traveling to China and spending much time in a specific area, I would highly recommend obtaining a copy of the more specific Lonely Planet City Guide series books for China, such as the Lonely Planet Beijing, Lonely Planet Hong Kong & Macau, or Lonely Planet Shanghai guides. These would greatly complement the general data provided with this book.

As with other books of this type, I would recommend familiarizing yourself with the layout of the text and bookmark/tab pages you are most likely to use. For example, tab the hotel listing for the hotel you want to get to in Tunxi (p.240), then get into a taxi and show the driver the address (listed in Chinese).

I like the addition of the built-in Beijing and Hong Kong metro/city map. It folds out of the back of the book into a simple to refold, 5-panel by 2-panel map composed of good quality heavy paper (good for many quick opening and refolds). On the back side of the city map is a subway/metrorail map of both cities.

Please note the photos I've uploaded to help you preview the book. Thanks and happy travels!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Starter Guide to China 31 Oct 2011
By TammyJo Eckhart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Of the lonely planet guidebooks I've reviewed so far for the Amazon Vine program, their guide for China is the best. Beyond the normal offerings for this guidebook series -- "Top 25 Experiences," "Top Itineraries," calendar, maps, and inserts about various stops -- this has a pull out map of Beijing and Hong Kong that could be very useful.

The guidebook is divided into eight sections: the planning introduction, Beijing & Great Wall, Xian & North, Shanghai & Yangzi Region, Hong Kong & South, Best of Rest, In Focus, and Survival Guide. Frankly these sections need to be larger but that would make the book larger. Two books dividing China would be ideal in terms of information for the traveler.

Again I'm not thrilled with the Survival Guide being at the back when it contains very fundamental information. The In Focus section touches on many potentially tricky political and cultural issues and that courage to do that was impressive though this also meant I felt the information was a bit weak on some matters like gender, religion, and basic cultural differences between regions though that is touched upon in every chapter so just go read the sections more carefully and don't rely only on the In Focus chapter.

Too often in the Western world we act like China is one monolithic entity but it really is a vast nation with a wide range of cultures, peoples, and environments. This book does a great introductory job of educating the would be traveler making the decision to go and planning their visit. This is at least a month long vacation if you want to do it right and given their suggested itineraries, you'd be best served with 5-6 weeks for travel time and really exploring.
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