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 specific guides for Shanghai travel 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 (if you’re more of a luxury traveler you can consider a luxury Beijing tour instead). Take a look at the list of Top 5 Beijing travel guide books below to help you determine which is best for your needs.
Lonely Planet Beijing Travel Guide
Available both in print 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:
- 304 Detailed Pages: filled with maps, color photos, and more.
- 3D Illustrations: to help you better visualize the places you’ll visit
- City 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 Top 10 Beijing City Guide
Essentially they take everything you’d want to know: top 10 museums, top 10 places to visit, top 10 festivals, etc. and boiled it down to a specific guide, the Top 10 Beijing.
I love DK’s travel guides because of their design. It is aesthetically pleasing and practically very easy to use. Want to know about Tiananmen? They give you the top 10 things worth checking out while you’re there.
DK’s Top 10 Beijing also comes in both a print version and electronic version. The electronic version is cheaper and easier to use, but the print version has a nice foldout map in the back. Personally I really like the map!
Here’s what you get with DK’s Top 10 Beijing city guide:
- 128 Pages: full of colorful photos and maps
- Pull out Map: for the print version of the book
- Phrase Guide: a simple but useful guide to the most used Mandarin phrases
People love lists (hence this article being a “Top 5″…ha!), and for some reason I’m drawn to checking out all of the top 10 lists that they put in here. It’s clever and it’s extremely useful for a Beijing traveler!
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 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
Like all the other travel guides, Fodor’s publishes their Beijing guide in both a print version and an electronic version. Currently it is the most up-to-date Beijing guide available so that might factor into your decision.
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, 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.
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 guide mentioned above.
The Lonely Planet Pocket Beijing guide includes:
- 160 Pages: not a small guide, but nothing like the 300+ of its bigger brother
- Color Maps: including subway and district maps. The print version has a pull-out map.
- Itineraries: that help whether you’re alone or traveling with kids
If you prefer print books, this might be a great guide. They also have an electronic version that you can download to your phone or tablet computer, but I recommend getting a more detailed book if you’re going to go this route.
Insight Guides Beijing City Guide
This guide is also full of excellent full-color photos, detailed maps and a load of historical context that will make your trip to Beijing that much better.
I would say that the biggest advantage to using the Insight Guides Beijing City book is their extensive and well-researched historical context. They are known for in-depth coverage of both the history and culture that beats out most of these other books.
In the Beijing City Guide you get:
- 304 Pages: at least for the print book.
- Color Photos & Maps: useful maps of subways and districts like all the other guides
- History & Culture: coverage that goes beyond just grazing the surface