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Beijing - 9ed - Anglais (Anglais) Broché – 30 mai 2013
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Mieux vaut la version papier, qui reste très correcte pour les infos.
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I just returned from a week in Beijing (September 2013) and found this guide both enriching and frustrating. It is a good guide and I recommend buying it, but in some ways it could be better.
I have been using LP guides for decades. The first thing one notices about the newer guides is their format -- a mash-up of fonts, type sizes, colors, boxed text, and sidebars. As an example, take a look at the suggested itineraries in this guide (pp. 18-19).
Designed like a tablet computer screen, this guide has small tiles of information linked by page references. As a result, rather than a linear progression of information as in the old LP guides, each sight or topic is mentioned multiple times under various categories scattered throughout the book.
This can make finding information very frustrating, especially if one recalls reading about it but does not remember on what page. The item could have appeared under any of a number of categories or sidebars. Unfortunately the index often does not help -- there are multiple indices by category and the main index is very superficial.
Another frustration is that there often is no indication of how relatively rewarding a sight or venue is. Yes, the ten top tourist sights get more attention, but the secondary sights vary from gems to disappointments. I hate to suggest adding more icons to a book that is already full of them, but a better ranking of sights and venues would be helpful.
One thing this guide does very well is include the Chinese characters for most names and addresses. This makes it easy to ask directions or direct a cab driver by pointing to the Chinese characters. The problem is that these characters are often very small, and many people I approached had trouble reading them.
Another useful part of this guide is the inclusion of the nearest subway station with each sight and venue. It would be even more useful if the particular subway exit (exits are all labeled A through D based on the points of the compass) were included also, since this can save a great deal of time and frustration. This would be easy for the authors to do in the next edition, since the subway system publishes a glossy pamphlet with a schematic of each station.
Also, some sights can be a very long walk from the nearest subway, and inclusion of more bus route numbers would help. This guide has some city bus information, but this should be expanded and ideally included in the maps.
Maps have always been a strong point of LP guides, and the maps in this guide are very helpful. They are clustered toward the back of the book and are page referenced in the text, which makes it easy to locate most sights and venues. Unfortunately, the maps do not completely overlap, and some sights, like the excellent Capital Museum, appear on none of the maps.
Surprisingly, the book itself does not include a plan of the subway system, which is the most useful of all the maps. There is a subway plan in the tear-out map that comes with the guide, but this is easy to lose over time. The tear-out map is useful as a general reference, but a larger, more detailed version would be much more helpful at little additional cost to the publisher.
Those who use this guide should be aware of a misprint of the Dongchen South (site of Temple of Heaven Park) map. The corrected version is printable on the LP website. Also be aware that the National Art Museum extension of the subway shown on maps and in the text is not open yet (September 2013). Also, the Sackler Museum on the Peking U. campus is a very long walk from the subway and had many empty displays during my visit. Also, the museum pass is generally sold out as the year progresses. Do not make a detour to purchase one unless you have verified its availability first. Also, there is a special entrance for the Badaling Great Wall trains at the new north train station. Exit the subway to street level (follow the signs to the mall exit) and you will see the blue canopy over the entrance.
Finally, the new LP guides are no longer aimed at just budget travelers. Many of the venues described in this guide are relatively expensive, as is much of the shopping, for the independent LP-style traveler. For those on a budget, it may pay to rent an apartment near a subway station (I liked the New Oriental Suites near the Dongzhimen subway and airport train terminus) at half the price of a standard hotel. Supermarkets are modern, and one can make one's own meals and picnics that way. Picnics save time and are especially useful in avoiding poor quality, over-priced restaurants in or near tourist sights.
All in all, this LP guide will enrich your stay in Beijing, but you may need a better fold out map and you may want to research some of the sights and venues on the internet for location and current condition before choosing to visit them.
Enjoy your visit -- in spite of the pollution and the crowds, Beijing is a rewarding place to visit. The changes I have seen there over the last 30 years are amazing.
A few minor improvements would be a more extensive language translation section. The map could be laminated so it doesn't wear out so quickly. The history of sites could be a little more extensive. Authors should keep in mind that the majority of their readers do not speak or read Chinese. I know this is a hard perspective to keep in mind with authors who clearly do speak, read the language, and live in the city! Also, some of the information in the book is old.This city is growing very rapidly!
If you're heading to Beijing, pick up this book which includes maps of the city and subway.
Must buy if you go to Beijing!!!!