One for the Road – China: Insider’s Guide to Beijing

As a sidebar to this month’s Chinese Buffet series, throughout August, One for the Road will highlight travel guides, reference books and other recommended reads related to life or travel in China.

I know most travelers don’t want to be weighed down with heavy books while on the road, but if you’re ever going to be based in Beijing for at least a week or so, I’ve got to recommend the hefty Insider’s Guide to Beijing, produced by the Immersion Guides team at True Run Media.

It’s a tome,” says True Run General Manager Michael Wester. But he sees that as one of the primary characteristics that distinguishes this guidebook from the rest. “We don’t skimp.” Just lift the 750+ page soft cover book and you’ll see — it’s hard to believe they’ve left anything out! This “Bible to Beijing”, written entirely by folks living in the city, is primarily produced for the English speaking population residing in Beijing. But travelers will surely find this glossy color guide to be a valuable reference as well.

Although it does cover sightseeing, nightlife and the arts scene in detail, the real value lies in all the other “daily life” data it provides: information on renting a home, finding a summer camp for your kid, navigating the health care system and buying the perfect Chinese furniture. If you’re heading to Beijing for an extended period of time — to teach, study abroad or work during the Olympics — definitely consider this comprehensive super-guide to the city.

The fourth edition — the 2008 version — will be available in September of this year. And there are plans to do another update prior to the Olympics, that should be available (only in Beijing) about two months before the Games begin. Right now, the easiest place to purchase the 2007 edition (outside of China) is on Amazon, or directly from True Run Media. The company hopes to have international distribution of the book within the year.

I’ve got more from the Immersion Guides team coming up later today and throughout the week.