What is the best Beijing travel guide book? If you’re making plans to visit Beijing, the massive capital of China, you’re going to want help figuring out what’s worth seeing, how to get around and other great travel tips. Below, I’d like to share with you my favorite Beijing travel guide books reviewed and rated based on my own experience.
If you plan to be heading out to Beijing, China in the near future, chances are you’re going to want to have some sort of Beijing travel guide book with you.
There are already plenty of China travel guide books and even some specifically for Shanghai travel guides or travel to Hong Kong, but if you will be spending most of your time in and around Beijing it’s often better to grab something smaller, more compact and more detailed on Beijing city.
Fortunately there are quite a few options available and each of them caters to a different type of traveler. Take a look at the list of the best Beijing travel guide books below to help you determine which is best for your needs.
Lonely Planet Beijing Travel Guide
Lonely Planet, the leader in travel guides, not only has a comprehensive guide to China, they have also produced a specific Beijing city guide book.
Available both in print version and electronic version, Lonely Planet Beijing offers insights into suggested itineraries, traveling with kids, suggestions for night life, etc. Detailed historical context on each location of interest (of which there are many in Beijing) will help you appreciate what you’re seeing better than if you were to just visit by yourself.
Here’s what you get with Lonely Planet Beijing:
- 288 Detailed Pages: The guide is filled with maps, color photos, and more.
- 3D Illustrations: Illustrations to help you better visualize the places you’ll visit.
- City Walks: Curated walks to give you the best experience in Beijing (such as the Hutong Walk!)
- Hidden Travel Gems: A look at those things you won’t see in other guide books.
And like I said earlier, it’s convenient to just download it onto your tablet computer in just minutes. If you want to spend extended time in Beijing, you can’t go wrong with the Lonely Planet Beijing travel guide.
DK Eyewitness: Beijing & Shanghai
DK, a publisher known for its beautifully illustrated guides, is another great option whose latest guide, DK Eyewitness: Beijing & Shanghai, gives you the added bonus of covering not just one, but two of the China’s most popular tourist cities.
When you consider the fact that Beijing and Shanghai are now connected by high-speed train that only requires 5 hours of transit, hitting both cities in one trip is that much easier.
I love DK’s travel guides because of their design. It is aesthetically pleasing and practically very easy to use. Their 3D illustrations are some of the best in the business and their maps are intuitive, even for the map-illiterate.
Here’s what you get with the DK Eyewitness: Beijing & Shanghai:
- 236 Pages: The guide is full of 500+ colorful photos including destination/transportation maps.
- Pull-Out Map: An excellent to-scale map that pulls out in the print version.
- Walking Guide: A few suggested walking tours to get you off the beaten path and into the “real” parts of the city.
If you’re going to be traveling to both Beijing and Shanghai, this would be an excellent investment before you jump on the plane.
Fodor’s Beijing Travel Guide
Fodor’s stands alongside both Lonely Planet and DK as one of the top China travel guide books around. They have a couple excellent country guides and now they also have a good Fodor’s Beijing guide.
Like all of the other travel guides, Fodor’s Beijing guide (available both in print version and electronic download) brings you through the most important places to visit in the city and their historical context. They also have some great photography as part of their guide which helps in the planning phase.
Fodor’s Beijing guide has tons of maps which show everything from specific districts to places where you’d want to try and eat. Here’s what you’ll get with this guide:
- 256 Pages: all in “full color” as they advertise”
- Extensive Language Help: not only is there a phrase guide, they also list everything in characters and pinyin
- Numerous Maps: that cover almost every part of Beijing that a tourist would want to see
It’s worth noting that this guide hasn’t been updated since 2015, unlike Lonely Planet and DK above which have been more recently updated. In terms of the most popular places to see in Beijing, though, there’s not much that has changed.
Lonely Planet Pocket Beijing
It seems odd but Lonely Planet actually publishes two guides on Beijing. This version, the LP Pocket Beijing, is shorter and less detailed than its predecessor (see above), but it’s also a few dollars cheaper.
As the name implies, the print version of the Lonely Planet Pocket Beijing is small enough to fit in your pocket and carry around. This is an advantage as most of the other guides are too big to do this. Of course, if you’re intent on purchasing the electronic version, this doesn’t matter 😉
This guide is suitable for those who don’t have tons of time in Beijing and just need to catch the “can’t-miss” sites in the city. Otherwise, it’s probably best to spend the extra couple dollars for the more detailed Lonely Planet Beijing detailed above.
The Lonely Planet Pocket Beijing guide includes:
- 160 Pages: It’s not a small guide, but nothing like the 300+ of its bigger brother.
- Color Maps: This includes subway and district maps. The print version has a pull-out map.
- Itineraries: These itineraries help whether you’re alone or traveling with kids.
If you prefer print books, this might be a great guide for your visit to Beijing.
Insight Guides Beijing City Map
Insight Guides (IG) is not quite as well known in China as many of these other publications, but their IG Beijing City Map is a high quality Beijing travel guide that might be more suitable to your needs.
In addition to being a detailed, quality map of Beijing and all the major tourist sites, they’ve also managed to pack in plenty of great photos, descriptions of each place, recommendations and much more.
Obviously, there is no electronic version of this Beijing city guide. The Insight Guides Beijing map caters to those people who like to pull out a good map and figure out where they’re going to walk to next.
In the Beijing City Map you get:
- 1 Fold-out Map: The map is excellent and doesn’t rip easily like what you would buy on the street.
- Color Photos: Photos of each of the major sites, including relevant history and details.
- Comprehensive Index: A helpful index and labeling make finding places very simple.
BONUS: China “How To” Guide
Of course, as you’re preparing for your trip to China, there’s more to preparation than just knowing where you want to go. There are tons of other questions you are probably asking about getting money, using transportation, speaking the language, getting a visa, what you should pack and much, much more.
That’s where a guide like this – Travel to China | Everything You Need to Know Before You Go – comes in handy.
Full Disclosure: I wrote this book so of course I think it’s good. However, if you read the reviews on Amazon, you’ll find that it’s been helpful to hundreds of other travelers around the world. It’s a great companion book to any of the Beijing travel guides listed.
The way I describe it to people is that this book teaches you the “how” of traveling to China while the above Beijing travel guides go into depth about the “where”.
My travel guide is available as both a paperback and Kindle ebook download here:
Conclusion | Best Beijing Travel Guide Book
As you can see, there are a number of excellent Beijing travel guide books that will help you prepare for your trip. Not all of them are updated regularly, they don’t all have ebook versions, and they’re not all suited for the same kind of traveler, so I hope this review gives you a better understanding of what fits your needs.
Whatever you decide, I highly recommend that you do some reading before coming to China. It doesn’t have to be travel guide books either – there are several fascinating books written about China that will give you context about the history and culture you’ll be seeing.
Beijing is an amazing city with a rich history and beautiful culture. While it’s a huge city, it’s thankfully not that hard to get around. Make sure you have a good Beijing travel guide to tell you what’s worth seeing and how to get around the city.
Have you been to Beijing before? What was your favorite Beijing travel guide book to use?