Insider’s Guide to Beijing 2008

Insider's Guide to Beijing.png

I was sent this book to review months ago and I got so caught up in work I put it aside and all but forgot about it. Then one day last week I needed to find a restaurant fast and I remembered I had a new book on Beijing buried in my bookcase. After a little excavation I dug it out and started thumbing through it. I soon realized this isn’t your everyday tourist guidebook, the kind that lists only restaurants that tourist buses flock to or that pushes you toward annoying tourist traps. It’s not really a guidebook, but more of a survival manual for living in Beijing. And for uncovering all that Beijing has to offer.

The best think about this book is that it truly lives up to its title: its chapters are written by Beijing’s best and brightest like Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo – people who not only know Beijing like the proverbial back of their hand, but who actually tell you stuff that is useful, stuff that you simply won’t find in your everyday guidebook or survival manual. Great restaurant reviews, descriptions of the best museums and art galleries and musical events in town, and tips for every conceivable activity, from starting a business to getting a driver’s license to finding a language school. And it’s told with context and insight, not just laundry lists and one-line descriptions.

I try to avoid superlatives, but this 700-page encyclopedia is the best city guide that I’ve ever seen. Beijing is so huge and complicated, so hard to navigate, and when you first get here (and even after) so many of the great things going on here are hard to find if you don’t have an insider telling you where to go. This book unlocks it all, giving you the keys to the kingdom. It’s great. I just wish I’d opened it up earlier.

The Discussion: 5 Comments

I’m a big fan of the Insider’s Guide, too. Now tell me, how do I get on the “free stuff” list now that I’ve arrived in Beijing?

April 6, 2008 @ 2:44 pm | Comment

I know this is badly off-topic, but it is rather urgent–

China has stopped issuing multiple-entry visas.

This is going to cause great problems for people going to the Canton Trade Fair next week.

In addition, Chinese nationals working at the fair will have to, for the first time, obtain a police-issued “certificate of no criminal record.”

That might take a Guangzhou resident 4-5 days, if there isn’t a huge demand (there is), but for residents of other places, we’re talking about 10 days plus travel time.

This has disaster written all over it.

April 7, 2008 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

Speaking of books, anyone read this one by Chris Devonshire-Ellis. It has been panned on Amazon here and I am wondering whether anyone else has read it.

April 9, 2008 @ 10:46 am | Comment

Fidel, very strange that you would point everyone to a book review on Amazon with only one customer review and declare the book has “been panned” on Amazon. Based on one obviously biased review. Did you write the negative review yourself, and are you trying to drum up negative publicity for some ulterior motive? Just askin’. If not, why are you sending readers there?

April 9, 2008 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

And also, thanks for messing up the margins. Tiny url, please!

April 9, 2008 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

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