This sixth edition is a comprehensive guide to Taiwan, with emphasis on culture and activities.
Most helpful customer reviews
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful.
Probably your best option for now, but . . .
Having just returned from three weeks in China and Taiwan, I can report that the Lonely Planet Guide to Taiwan is generally helpful and reliable, but it's hardly the ideal guide and often is entirely counter-intuitive. For instance, there is a section on p. 31 consiting of five paragraphs on the topic of population. And yet nowhere in that section do the authors tell us what the population of Taiwan actually is. For that bit of information, we have to look at a sidebar on p. 19 entitled "Fast Facts." There seems to be a presumption that the traveller will read through the entire guide from front to back, rather than use the book as a reference guide. Similarly, the maps are less than ideal, and the spare use of color plates does little to provide any real information (color maps of Taipei would have been far more useful). Given that the authors judge the National Palace Museum as a "must-see" (and they're right about that), it would have been nice if they had mentioned that the museum will be undergoing major renovations from 2004-2006 (providing a website address for the museum also would've been helpful).
Unfortunately, this seems to be the best option at present, and one could do worse. If you're going to Taiwan, I would encourage you to buy a copy, but be warned: it will not be one of the better guides you've ever used.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful.
Amateur Effort from Lonely Planet
I have a love/ hate relationship with Lonely Planet guides. On one hand I detest the `budget backpackers are holier than thou" attitude which seems to permeate many of the guides' contributions, on the other I am remarkably impressed with their information, maps, attention to detail and notes of interest- hence I continue to reference them. Previous LP guides which I have used and swear by for their usefulness include previous editions of Thailand, Bangkok City guide, Bali & Lombok and India to name a few.
Lonely Planet's Taiwan guide in a word...sucks. There is just too much information lacking from this guide for it to be considered anything near complete. As an example, the section for the city of Kaohsiung ( the second largest city in Taiwan) had all of six (count `em) six entries for hotels- in a major metropolitan city, and one in which I counted at least twice that amount before I even left the train station grounds. Albeit the information that is actually provided is quite sound, the considerable amount of lacking details make this guide not much more useful than maps and guide given out free at Taiwan's Tourist Information centers. In fact, it is surprising just how many times the authors flat out advise you to go to various Tourist info centers to gather required information- rather than write about it themselves. To get an idea of just how spartan this guide is, one only needs to look at the mere size of it. Compare LP's Taiwan with LP's Thailand or Bali (both excellent publications). Then take into consideration the sheer size of the country. LP's Taiwan is about the size of LP's Bali, when it really should be a lot closer the size of LP's Thailand. Recommend you only borrow this one just to orient yourself prior to going, then head straight to the nearest tourist info center for the real scoop.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful.
It Worked for Me
By Troy Parfitt
A couple of summers ago, I took nearly three weeks and travelled all around Taiwan, an excursion which included three additional (or outlying) islands: Kinmen, Orchid Island, and Green Island. Before I left, I picked up a copy of this Lonely Planet, even though I had lived in Taiwan for nearly a decade. All told, I found this guidebook useful, hence I don't have any serious complaints about it, although I might if I were new to this country.
Absolutely, the volume could stand to be thicker. Taiwan is actually deceptively small; a round-island trip entails about 1,000 km of transport by bus, train, etc. And more places could have been listed in the "Places to Stay" sections. Having said that, there are loads of hotels (usually marked as such in English) in cities and towns in Taiwan, and Taiwanese people are so friendly (something that should become apparent to anyone soon after arrival) that inquiring at a place, say, next to a recommended inn that's booked up shouldn't be such a stretch. If you made it to Taiwan, you can make it into the lobby of large building marked HOTEL and ask if they have a room; really, you can. After all, a guidebook is meant to guide you, not to suck all the adventure out of travelling. And it's not like this is Sudan or something.
The book's maps were fine, and, as mentioned, the book was generally fine, too. One more suggestion, though, and admittedly its a very random one: Kinmen (an island in the Taiwan Strait) is such a confusing place to drive around (all the roads look the same/it's difficult to tell which direction you are going) that the writer(s) might want to suggest picking up a compass. Actually, a compass in any Chinese city is a great idea as the roads are usually laid out along compass points. How convenient. Oh, and one more thing...
Back in the good old days, Lonely Planets were much more honest in their assessments. If there was bugger all to do someplace, they would say so. Nowadays, all travel books have to hype destinations and hype them big, otherwise potential customers glancing through them might think, "That sounds like a dreadful country," before putting the book back on the shelf and heading off to the magazine rack. But at least with the Lonely Planet, it's easy to read between the lines. If the first listing in the "Things to See and Do" section is, say, a botanical garden, that might be a good indication that there just isn't a whole lot on offer in that particular town. Also, the writers provide routes and suggested itineraries at the beginning of the book. Another reviewer noted how only six hotels were listed under "Places to Stay" in Kaohsiung. 'How could that be' the reviewer wonders, 'in Taiwan's second largest city?' If they had looked more closely, they might have noticed that Kaohsiung failed to make it into any of the prescibed routes. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink. Never mind the mediocre reviews. The Taiwan Lonely Planet is a decent guidebook. It shouldn't be confused with a tour guide.
Troy Parfitt, author of Why China Will Never Rule the World