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. 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 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: 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 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!
Bonus tip: Are you planning to travel to both Beijing and Shanghai? You might want to check out DK’s Eyewitness Travel guide for Beijing and Shanghai.
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
For decades, Fodor’s has been a trusted source of travel information for visitors to China and this Beijing guide is no exception.
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 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 for your visit to Beijing.
Insight Guides Beijing City Map
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. This 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: of each of the major sites, including relevant history and details.
- Comprehensive Index: a helpful index and labeling make finding places very simple.
Conclusion: Travel to Beijing
If you plan to spend more than a day in Beijing, it really is worth the money to invest in a dedicated book to the city. There is so much to see in the city that isn’t covered well in the full China travel guides.
What’s your opinion? If you’ve used one of these Beijing guides (or even a different one!), we’d love to hear your thoughts.