4.3Overall Score


Eyewitness Travel Guide: China is a well-illustrated guide to the world’s most populated country. Chapters are laid out region by region and cover everything from basic Chinese history and culture to travelers’ needs and expert recommendations. Full of color photographs, maps and pages divided into easy-to-read columns, this guide is by far, in my experience, the best choice for attention-lacking readers like myself.


The first 57 pages provide a solid introduction to the history, culture, customs and geography  of China before it delves into the details of seven regions of the country. Each region is then broken down into area chapters covering up to three provinces, all listed by color with a color-coded map and key inside the front cover for quick reference.

These chapters are briefly introduced by highlighting the specific area’s culture, history, geography and cuisine, usually in around 200 words or less. From there it jumps into the good stuff: summaries on area highlights including distances from main hubs, transportation options, hours of operation and weather warnings; maps of major highways and railroads and bigger maps of cities with street-finder indexes. Many beautiful, color images earn the Eyewitness Travel books their catchphrase, “The guides that show you what others only tell you.”


As already mentioned, the visuals are what really sells this book. On past vacations other guidebooks left us guessing what exactly we were going to visit. So it was a relief to pick up the Eyewitness series and plan all our detours well in advance based on what caught our eye throughout its pages. Maps helped us navigate city streets, illustrations provided detailed layouts of historical sites and beautiful pictures led to spontaneous detours.


While some travel guides might pack more information into their books, it’s usually with encyclopedia-like, black-and-white print that requires pages of reading to dig out a small snippet of information. Eyewitness Travel has made things far easier by summarizing all of that into easy-to-read columns, giving recommendations, directions and just enough background to help one understand what they’re admiring once there.

Some might prefer page after page of print, but whether planning ahead or picking out more trip ideas while on the road, the layout in this book helps you find what you need, read it and digest it quickly.


We’re somewhat torn on whether to pack this along on our trip. In 2011 we packed the Vietnam edition on our trip there and were happy to have it along. It provided so much good info and was light enough to carry in a day pack while out exploring. China is a much bigger country and therefore requires a much bigger book, more than double in size. It’s a brick.

While we hope to be in China for an entire month, we plan to pack light for this journey. Britnee is letting me decide if I want to carry this guidebook along or not. We could always donate it to a fellow traveler once we depart for Mongolia, but with a price tag of $30 and with plenty of information we’d love to use again, the book might have to be left at home.

It has certainly served its purpose, however, easing the planning process and allowing plenty of daydreaming while looking forward to visiting this magnificent country.


Pick it up here on Amazon!

About The Author


Mark quit everything to travel the world for a year with his wife, Britnee. Along the way, he picked up a love for many other things, including illy coffee, Nepal, Bolivianos bills, and Thai beaches. Now happily home in Utah, Mark is a balding marketing professional with a mountain biking addiction.