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on 15 December 2002
As someone who is doing a degree in Chinese and has just returned from China, having spent the past eleven months living there, I have to say this is the best travel guide available to help the backpacker find their way around. Between myself and my friends - who also lived in China for the same period of time - we had a cumulative collection of practically every single travel book written about China, and we came to refer to the Lonely Planet travel guide as 'The Bible' as it was so superior to the other travel guides we saw. That's not to say it is perfect - some things are have since gone out of date (Nothing new in China as things change so fast there), and it does stick to the tourist trail a little too much, but it is probably the most comprehensive of the guides I have seen. (However, going off the tourist trail is not so easy unless your Chinese is pretty good.) The Lonley Planet phrase book is also invaluable as it is clearly laid out and presented to the reader I could not have survived my first few months in China without it.
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on 5 June 2011
I bought the Kindle edition of this book as I'm travelling from London through Russia to China and I'm fed up with carrying heavy guidebooks around me. I have used pdf chapters of other Lonely Planet Guides on my Kindle which are a little difficult to get used to navigating, but actually once you get the hang of it they're fine. More than compensate for the weight saved. I have printed off map pages as I find I refer to those a lot so it's helpful to have them seperately.

I'm in Russia and just starting to think about the China part of my trip and now realise that it's impossible to use this book on the Kindle.

The maps are the biggest issue, they are not usable - most of them are presented as a complete map and then in four parts on the following pages but with no care over where they've been cut off so information in on the edge. The Beijing map for the area around the Forbidden City is incredibly difficult to navigate, I can't find anything easily and I've been to Beijing before. As least with a pdf edition you can zoom in on a map and nudge around it.

Where there are chinese characters, they are substantially bigger than the rest of the text which make the page layout confusing in places. On one page with a map image I found all the text stacked up one word on each line and the image ran off the edge of the page and I couldn't find a way to view it.

I am also struggling to navigate to sections such as 'getting around' or 'sleeping' as you don't have the headers that you get with the book or pdf editions.

I don't think whoever designed this book for kindle has attempted to use it. It's basically useless - except for the sections that you simply want to read such as 'history'. If you want to use this book to help you get around, it is a complete waste of money. I will have to buy the pdfs instead.

Maybe it's OK on an ipad, they should make it clear that it doesn't work on a regular kindle. Very disapointing.
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on 19 February 2010
We recently travelled through China and this book was worth its weight in gold! We rarely went anywhere without it and I can remember many a long train journey pouring over it for ideas and inspiration.

It was particularly helpful in the early planning stages of our trip when we were at home in cold England and trying to imagine the countries that we were going to visit. It assisted us in planning our route and discovering the places that would be of most interest to us.

Of course, when you are actually there and living the experience, you make your own way and your own decisions, but this book was a bit like a security blanket for us - whenever we lost our way or became confused, it was always there to help. Due to any travel book being out of date almost the minute that it's published, of course a few recommended restaurants/hotels no longer existed but we used websites to help us with those things anyway. What was most valuable, was the history and advice about each different country and the things to do/attractions there - most of which we wouldn't have even known about before reading this book.

Lonely Planet is always brilliant, they are my preferred travel guide and I use them every time I travel. I love that the books are really down to earth and offer real advice that doesn't beat around the bush - if a town is run-down and seedy they will tell it like it is!

Before I went to China, I had heard rumours that the Lonely Planet books were banned from the country and that they would be taken away from you if you attempted to cross the boarders with them. That did not happen to us, but I would do your research before travelling there just in case.

If you are planning a trip to China - buy this book! Even if you don't take it with you (it is quite heavy) it will inspire and excite you before your travels. Another piece of advice: if you are planning on travelling light, rip out the pages of the book that you will need e.g. the provinces that you are going to, and take them with you as smaller, lightweight books rather than carrying the whole thing about with you. I'm not ususally one for defacing books, but as any fellow traveler will know, you have to do what you can when you're on the road!
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on 1 October 2003
I have recently returned from a short stint of travel in China. I nearly always use Lonely Planet guidebooks when I'm travelling, and they are usually good and often excellent. However this China book was almost useless to me - not worth the money I paid and certainly not worth the weight and space it took up in my backpack.
I personally was travelling in Xinjiang, one of China's remoter western provinces. For an area so spectacularly rich in natural landscapes, ancient Central Asian culture and off the beaten track activities - not to mention it being China's largest province, about three times the size of France - the meagre 35 pages were totally worthless - only outlining in the most scant detail the most popular (and therefore arguably least rewarding) sites. I was very lucky to hook up with some Chinese backpackers and see large parts of the region which I would never have even known about had I been using this book - whole cities were missing from the map (usually one of LP's strong points), and most of the region seemed to have escaped the attenton of the 'author'.
To me, the problem is that no single book of a sensible size could cover this vast and fascinating country in any detail - splitting the country up into maybe 4 regions would be a start. The only circumstance under which I would recommend this book is if you were planning to whizz through China just taking in it's major tourist sites. But then I wouldn't recommend doing that anyway. If you are looking at seeing ANY part of this wonderful country in any detail, look elsewhere, or be prepared to do a lot of your own groundwork - which is of course fun and rewarding - providing you have a reasonable grip on Mandarin. This is one country where English will NOT get you very far.
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on 15 October 2003
It's certainly true that this book simply can't be all things in a country so vast, but it makes a credittable stab at the task, the use of Chinese characters in the map keys is particularly useful as the maps would be hard to use without them. Naturally for any one region you'd need a proper guide, a linguistic ability and a sense of adventure, but this book gives you the groundwork.
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on 4 May 2009
This is a fantastic guide to China... perhaps the best comprehensive guide there is. If you mainly staying in Beijing...then I highly recommend you get the dedicated Beijing Guide as this China book does not give detailed Beijing info.

For some reason, no guide books refer to a hidden Chinese city, near to Qingdao, called Weifang. Waifang is the home of kites in China...and you can visit the famous kite factories and enjoy the history of the City that invented the first kite. I would like to see a section on this city in the future revision.
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on 10 October 2008
I have just returned from china in which i spent three months there teaching and travelling. This was my first time travelling and the book was fantastic!! Alot of details and information for even the obscurest places in china. There was only one place i visted that wasn't in the lonely planet. It helped with language barrier aswell due to a lot of the places i went to were in chinese characters in the book. I will stick with the lonely planet guides when I travel in the future. Also much better than rough guide!
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on 4 April 2013
I spent three weeks in China, aided immensely by my friend spending six months in Tianjin University, without her Mandarin the tour would have been so much more difficult. However the Lonely Planet guidebook gives a wealth of detail, if there is one thing i would like to improve it is the number and range of maps. We stayed in a number of places taken from the Lonely Planet. I long to visit China again, and will definitely take this guide.
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on 30 April 2005
I live in beijing, China. I know about China's problems, advantages, and vast size. China is the worlds 3rd biggest country so it will be absolutely impossible to label every single town and city in every province or autonomous region. I think, considering the fact that I live in China, that this does a good job for people who are visiting, or coming to live in China in general, and need a rough guide to the province/autonomous region that they are going to live in, If you are looking for a 100 page guide on Hebei (a province), it simply won't be here, as this is a guide to China, not Hebei.
China is a BIG country, the maps, discriptions, and phrases in Lonely Planet China has enough for you to survive in China if you are a foreigner for a few days. Once you get here, you can get an extremely detailed map of China with the metropolises, major cities, minor cities, and not-so-important villages.
This is a summary of a huge country in around 1000 pages, and it has a little about every important and/or tourist friendly place in China.
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on 13 November 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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