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Books on China


A search for information about China on the web yields hundreds of results, many of them of questionable quality. The information below has been carefully selected and includes summaries so that you can concentrate on just the information you want.
Photo Gallery of China
A picture speaks much louder than a thousand words. TravelChinaGuide have started a photo gallery to offer web site visitors a stronger impression of Chinese culture and scenery. The gallery, featuring places throughout China, illustrates the beauty and diversity of this ancient nation.

The site currently features the following (with number of photos in brackets):
Forbidden City (99)
Bell Tower & Drum Tower (4)
Temple of Confucius (24)
one of China's best-known national parks and scenic spots (63)
Ancient Ming and Qing Street (85)
City Wall of Pingyao (18)
Shanxi Local Resident Houses (96)
Temple of City God (11)
Bell Tower & Drum Tower (30)
Big Wild Goose Pagoda (13)
Small Goose Pagoda (10)
City Wall (27)
Forest of Stone Steles Museum (30)
Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses (97)
Yangtze River
Fengdu (The Ghost City) (18)
Fengjie (White Emperor City) (9)
Qutang Gorges (18)
Wuxia Gorges (18)
Three Little Gorges (6)
Shennong Stream (18)
Xiling Gorges (9)
Three Gorges Dam (8)
Gezhouba Water Conservancy Project (9)
Lijiang (150)
Great Wall of China
Great Wall (98)
Each section has a link to comprehensive information on that area.

The site is thoroughly recommended at http://www.travelchinaguide.com/picture/index.htm
US Consular Information Sheet
It doesn't have photos and it doesn't tell you anything about interesting sights, but it does contain a lot of useful practical information for the tourist. The last update was in April 2002. Although intended for US citizens, most of the information is applicable or useful to travellers from other countries.
Whilst they don't speak highly of Chinese driving standards ("Travelers should note that cars and buses in the wrong lanes frequently hit pedestrians and bicyclists on sidewalks") the general tone of the information is that China is a safe place to visit as long as you stick to the rules.

The US Consular Information Sheet is at http://travel.state.gov/china.html
Chinese Scenery
I really like this site. As it says on the opening page "This website is an attempt in bringing the beauty and glamour of China to people all over the world. Just enjoy it!"
There is extensive coverage of the entire country and the pages are well written and well illustrated, although a few more photographs would be an improvement in my view. The text can be poetic ("In a morning mist, nearby woods with distant villages in the backdrop and small bridges with winding brooks beneath are just like elegant pictures; over on hundred and sixty meters high, the bamboo-shoot-like Dinghu peak looks imposing and majestic, thrusting right into the sky") and at times very Chinese ("This would, therefore, make Suzhou Amusement Land able to show itself among vast numbers of recreation grounds in this country and really reach the first-rate level Happy World already started breaking ground for construction in October, 1995") but it is always interesting and informative.

If you don't already know about it, the Window of the World project is well described on this site. It includes "the world wonders such as the pyramid and the Amon Temple of Karnak of Egypt; the Angkor Wat of Cambodia ; the Grand Canyon of America; L'Arc de Triomphe of Paris; the St. Peter's Cathedral of Vatican; the Taj Mahal of India; the Sydney Opera House of Australia and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, etc. All these replicas were made on a scale of 1:1, 1:5 and 1:1.5 respectively, with each exquisite beyond comparison and absolutely lifelike" plus a 108 meter tall Eiffel Tower, an 80 metre wide Niagara Falls and active Hawaii Volcanoes!
You can learn all this and much more at this fascinating site. As it says, "A bridge leading to the century beyond has been built and on this bridge called Internet one can see all the beautiful things the most populous country can boast". Indeed. http://www.chinaoninternet.com/travel/chtour.htm
My Trip to Beijing and the Great Wall
This web site is an account of my own trip to China in 1994. Since I wrote it, I'm not going to say much more about it apart from the comment that it sets out my personal impressions of a trip from London to Beijing with Uzbekistan Airways. I visited the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Summer Palace etc. but primarily my account is more about the feeling of China than about the sights themselves. Take a look and decide for yourself.
You can read my Trip to Beijing at:
Jim Chambers' Trip to Beijing
Jim Chambers visited Beijing in December 1998. His account of his trip is very different from mine. It is extremely informative and contains a lot of practical information dealing with travel arrangements, prices, weather and toilets. The latter is an item you do need to be prepared for!
Save China's Tigers
Save China's Tigers is the first charity in the world dedicated exclusively to the conservation and protection of tigers and other big cats in China.

Very few people know that tigers are believed to have originated in China about two million years ago. China is the only country that hosts -- though few in numbers -- four of the five remaining subspecies of wild tigers.

The site includes contributions by popular authors and distunguished members of the scientific and naturalist community. There is also a section on "Tiger Culture" with interesting items on the role of the Tiger in Chinese life. For example, the Tiger is the third sign of the Chinese Zodiac, and is thought of as Ruler of the beasts on Earth. A person born in the year of the Tiger is courageous, optimistic, tolerant and generous. They can expect a long life, and were born to command, not to obey. In Chinese folklore, Tigers are believed to be such powerful creatures that they are endowed with the ability to ward off the three main household disasters -- fire, thieves and evil spirits.

To find out more about this wonderful animal and its place in Chinese society, see http://www.savechinastigers.org/
China, an Inner Realm
China, an Inner Realm is a site where one can explore fascinating facts pertaining to the land, culture, and language of this vast and diverse nation. Because China is so immense, its boundaries enclose some of the world's driest deserts, highest mountains, and richest farmland. Its culture and language are rich, dating all the way back to 1700BC. China is so diverse and rich in its interior that it is a world within a world.

The site is superbly designed and easy to use. It was designed by students as part of the ThinkQuest Library, but professional web designers would do well to study it. The site is divided into three main sections:
a land of elegance and splendour
a culture of past, present and future
a valuable and everlasting language

There is a wealth of well illustrated and well written material in this site, which is at:
Bicycling Southern China
This is the first part of an article on a bicycle trip from Guangzhou to Wuzhou to Guilin in southern China and a tour of the North by a diverse group from Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Ages range from 31 to 68 with most in their 40's and 50's.

The style is at times a little laboured but there are some interesting observations ("We see live chickens, fish, possums and animals usually found in pet shops. With little or no refrigeration, people shop every day. If it is alive, it is obviously fresh") and some insights into modern Chinese life ("Even in remote villages like this, medical care is available. Throughout the trip, we don't see any unattended medical problems. Some of the older people have a lot of teeth missing, but middle aged and younger people have bridges and other evidence of dental care")

It's a pity this account has no illustrations or photographs and I wouldn't normally recommend a text-only description. But this account gives such a good insight into modern China that I think it is worth the effort of ploughing through the text. Perhaps their closing comments apply equally to their web pages - "A trip to China requires a spirt of adventure and a willingness to do something different. Those who have that spirit are rewarded with a brief insight into an ancient and different culture that is changing rapidly."

The acoount can be found on http://www.lpf.com/source/chinaso.html
China History (to Qing Dynasty)
This site is by the University of Southern California and is breathtaking in its coverage. It will take you some time to explore everything this site has to offer and you may find yourself being led along side tracks which open up new ideas nothing to do with China. But it is well worth it and is part of the rich heritage that Chinese thought has bequeathed to humanity of the 21st century.

There are translations of major works of literature, containing many things worthy of reflection in our busy 21st century world, such as "The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons."

Pictures of Kublai Khan, Buddhist cave art of the Tang dynasty, parallels between the Battles of the Kunlun Pass (China, 1054) and Hastings (England, 1066), and an article on Teilhard de Chardin in China are just a few of the things you will find at:
CHINA - Travel Tips
This phenomenally useful site contains everything you need to know when travelling to China. Produced by the China National Tourist Office, Toronto, Canada, it seems to include just about everything you ever thought of asking.

It includes:
  • Map of China
  • Money & Credit Cards
  • When to go?
  • Departure Tax
  • Where to go?
  • Average Temperatures
  • Cost of Travelling in China
  • Official Chinese Holidays
  • What to Pack?
  • Foreign-Language Publications
  • Health Requirements
  • Dialing Home
  • Electricity
  • Safety Medical Services
  • Tipping & Gift-Giving
  • Everyday Chinese
Clear, concise and to the point, what more could you ask of a travel guide? And it's free on:
Books on China
There are many good books on China and I haven't read them all. However, I do recommend National Geographic Traveler China as an excellent book to use when planning your trip. My favourite for use during the trip is of course the excellent Lonely Planet China (China, 8th Ed) which is an absolute must. For a wide range of other books on China click here.

Where to stay: Hotels

Far East Air Fare deals from Travel Select
There are some excellent prices to be found on flights to China. For flights originating anywhere in the world use this Travel Select link

And if your flight originates in the UK there are some special deals on this special UK page
How do I book a cheap flight? How do I be sure my cheap flight is reliable? How do I be sure the money I pay for my cheap flight is safe? All the answers are here on TravelSelect, where low cost bargain airfares can be booked with almost every international airline such as Air China. Travelselect.com is a fully bookable online travel service with partners throughout the world. Travel Select is based in London, United Kingdom and is a fully licensed and bonded travel company.
Click here to book your flight!

Links to other information on The Web

East Asia in Focus
This document was last updated 22 September 2002
© 1998 Graham G Hawker