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Haiping

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Haiping

Hello everyone,

I'll be traveling to Shanghai with a group to study for about a month. After I leave the group, I'll have about another month to travel on my own. What do you think is the best/most current travel guide for China? I hear Lonely Planet is not so great - not really well updated. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks!

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I hear Lonely Planet is not so great - not really well updated. Do you have any suggestions?

Printed guidebooks can have pretty pictures but are always out of date. They can give you inspiration and ideas about places you would like to see or visit that you can then research further elsewhere. On-line travel forums are better, but even they cannot generally be relied on for bus or train schedules or admission fees since those things change frequently and un-announced.

Unfortunately, I've never found one single terrific source. It always requires an investment of time and energy to plan things out in a rough way and then you must refine your itinerary as you move along by lots of on the spot Q&A.

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Meng Lelan

Can you believe I still have the first ever Lonely Planet guide to China...!

Travel guides will be out of date in terms of hotels, restaurants, hours, but the guide I use to plan itineraries (more or less) is the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to China. Amazing cut away cross sections of historical sites is something I've never seen in any other guide book.

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abcdefg
Can you believe I still have the first ever Lonely Planet guide to China...!

That's a classic. You should autograph it and auction it on eBay. It might have collector value.

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skylee
It always requires an investment of time and energy to plan things out in a rough way and then you must refine your itinerary as you move along by lots of on the spot Q&A

I agree with the need to invest time and energy in planning. It is very time consuming but it is worth it. But depending on the traveller's style, there might not be a lot of on-the-spot Q&A (but you can't do away with them).

While we are on this subject, could I ask you to be kind to fellow travellers? I am grateful to those who gave me information/helped me simply because I looked lost / Asian and they were sure I needed help.

I still use Lonely Planet and/or Rough Guide. But I have seen people travelling with just computer print-outs.

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Meng Lelan
I am grateful to those who gave me information/helped me simply because I looked lost / Asian and they were sure I needed help.

I should have written about this in my blog, but in Chicago I was walking down Michigan Avenue behind a group of college aged guys who were consulting a Chinese language edition of a travel guide and I could see the title was 美国. I was sort of smirking thinking about what would happen if they happened to ask me for help and directions. Maybe I should have asked.

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abcdefg
While we are on this subject, could I ask you to be kind to fellow travellers? I am grateful to those who gave me information/helped me simply because I looked lost / Asian and they were sure I needed help.

In Kunming I sometimes see Chinese tourists who appear lost. They are easy to spot because they usually have stopped and are peering closely at one of those city maps that vendors sell near the bus and train stations to newly-arrived travelers. Sometimes I offer to help since I know Kunming pretty well and can usually tell them what bus line goes where and such. They are always puzzled at first, but grateful after the initial shock wears off.

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Haiping

Thank you for your help. I will use a combination of outdated guidebooks and on the ground help. I'll have a month at Tongji University to get info, but I'd like to have an idea where I'll go before I head out on my own so I'll look over the outdated guidebooks while I'm still in the U.S.

Haiping

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abcdefg
I will use a combination of outdated guidebooks and on the ground help.

To reiterate, I think the best trip planning combination has three parts:

1. Guidebooks. Though often outdated, they are still useful in deciding where to go and what to see.

2. Internet research. Visit sites such as Wikitravel. Use forums such as Thorntree.

3. On the ground help once you are there. Ask the bellman at your hotel where to catch the number 17 bus to the museum.

A caution about number three. In China you will sometimes find people dislike saying "I don't know." Instead they will just make a guess or tell you something that's not quite right. I generally verify such "street level" information by asking two or three people to see if they all say the same thing. This is true regardless of one's Chinese language proficiency.

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