Summary and Info
I've been reading many different guide books in preparation for my trip to China. Unfortunately Frommer's is one of my least favorite so far.
Pros of Formmer's: it has a lot of information. I especially like the little random fact/history excerpts and how it provides itineraries based on the amount of time you have in China. It also gives you many foreign resources in China (tour guides, transportation etc) since those are definitely scam free, reliable and have high quality of services.
Cons: It doesn't give a lot of options if you are a young, budget traveler or if you want to get up close and personal with the Chinese culture. For example, there are way more expensive hotels and restaurants than there are cheap local places. But the thing that bothers me the most is the general attitude of the book. The book has an incredibly mean and condescending attitude of China and the Chinese people (especially the not as Westernized mainland China). A lot of descriptions of cities and places are laced with sarcasm, backhanded compliments and straight out negative comments that makes me wonder why these tour destinations are even worthy of mentioning in their book. The general attitude I get from the Frommer's guide is one of helping the superior westerner see one or two sights that are worthy of making the trek to an otherwise terrible country. It makes me realize why other countries have the stereotype of the rude American tourist.
Basically, if you are the kind of tourist who does not want to be immersed in the Chinese culture and simply want to look at the famous must see sights while feeling like you took a vacation to San Fran Chinatown then this book will be perfect for you. (definitely for people who prefers to not have ANY risk of being scammed, lost or confused and for families who need to have reliable, stress free plans) Frommer's has lots of information on the super touristy destinations and how to go through China without ever having to talk to a none english speaker (save for the very rural towns but I wouldn't recommend you going to those places in the first place if you dislike none western culture). But if you are feeling adventurous (and cheap!) and want to get a true understanding of what China is like, not just a cursory Westerner's experience, then I would suggest a different guide book.
More About the Author
Simon Oosterman is a New Zealand political activist, trade unionist, and anarchist. He is best known for co-ordinating the Unite Union campaign Supersizemypay.com which targeted the fast food industry and advocated for the abolition of youth rates and a $12 minimum wage, and the world's first Starbucks strike, and for his involvement in the World Naked Bike Ride on which he was arrested for indecent exposure.
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