Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
Beautiful but impractical
on 13 October 2010
I was given this book as a gift before a trip to Shanghai and Beijing. It's a very nicely laid-out book with lots of beautiful photographs and interesting background information. However, I did not find it as practical as the Lonely Planet, my usual choice of travel guide.
For a start, it is far too heavy to carry around with you all day. More importantly, it lacks practical information on exactly where and how to find things and some of the maps seemed quite wrong. Obviously, accurate maps and detailed instructions are absolutely essential when travelling in China without being able to speak Chinese. I also found that the names of underground stations in the book are not exactly the same as those actually used - what the book does is transcribe the Chinese names in roman script, but (in Shanghai at least) when you get the underground you realise that parts of the names have been translated into English. This makes getting around quite confusing.
All in all, I would say this is a good book to read for some background information on the places you intend to visit, but you can't rely on it to get you around because it is not very well thought out. I also bought a Lonely Planet Encounter guide for Shanghai, which was pocket-sized, easy to use and chock-full of useful information. I shall be sticking to those...