Best China Guidebooks

Which one should you choose?

Planning a trip to China can be daunting. Thankfully shortcuts can save you hours of planning and help you avoid perilous mistakes. Our proven itineraries will save you time, and help you see the best of China.

Even if you are fully comfortable using our site to plan your next trip, we still recommend that you purchase a guidebook for additional guidance. During the past several years, our staff has read every China guidebook available. In this article we will recap and summarize the strengths of each one.

1. Lonely Planet: China - Lonely Planet China (Travel Guide)


Lonely Planet is the most popular guidebook for backpackers worldwide. It is available in several languages, and even has special editions that focus on regions of China (For example “China’s Southwest” edition published in 2007). Lonely Planet: China divides chapters by province and offers useful maps, local historical summaries, and popular city and destination lists for each chapter. The itineraries offered in the front section are established and are excellent for helping travelers make informed decisions on where to go. The “top ten destination” lists offered in the front of the book are all fantastic destinations, and are all worth the visit.

China is a BIG country with loads of destination. At 1046 pages, The Lonely Planet: China guidebook is comprehensive and provides travel information on almost every destination in China. The book is THICK and weighs just over 1.8lbs. It can be a little cumbersome at times to lug the book around because of the extra weight, but the ideas offered in this guide can be worth it, especially to first-time China travelers.

Much of the information (specifically about hostels and restaurants) is out of date. Many of the phone numbers are incorrect and sometimes hostels listed in the book are no longer open for business. Occasionally travel information (such as bus routes) is out of date and newer means of transportation are available.

The historical summaries make for a great reading while in transit. The organization of the book is well thought out. Although text descriptions are vivid, the book lacks pictures for most of the destinations and attractions mentioned.


We strongly recommend the Lonely Planet: China guidebook.

2. DK Eyewitness: China


DK Eyewitness guidebooks are famous for their full-color, information packed guidebooks. This guidebook focusing on China by region lives up to the DK Eyewitness brand by staying true to what is expected. This guidebook contains 672 pages, and weighs just over 1.8lbs. This makes this guidebook cumbersome, but again is worth bringing on your trip if you would like a guidebook that offers loads of photographs in addition to information on each destination.

The biggest advantage to the DK eyewitness China guidebook is the amount of color photographs. This guidebook offers pure inspiration, helping travelers figure out where they would like to go by offering detailed full-color previews of each destination. For future travelers (current planers) the DK Eyewitness China guidebook is a GREAT resource for brainstorming and information gathering.

Detailed information such as hostel accommodations, restaurants, addresses, and recommended popular city sites are lacking when compared to other guidebooks.


The strongest aspect of this guidebook is the amount of detailed pictures offered. It’s perfect for any future China traveler and serves not only as a guidebook, but an “idea book”. For this reason, DK Eyewitness China can easily be used in conjunction with the Lonely Planet: China.

If you decide to purchase a guidebook please use one of the links above and help support the site!