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As seen in the Transitions Abroad Webzine August 2009 Issue
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Moon Handbooks Beijing and Shanghai by Helena Iveson

Paperback, Avalon Travel

Reviewed by Living Abroad Contributing Editor Volker Poelzl

Moon Handbooks Beijing and Shanghai

I was surprised to find a Moon Handbook about China that focused on just two cities, but I quickly discovered that these two destinations were carefully selected by the Moon Handbooks team. As the author states in the introduction: “a visit to Beijing and Shanghai is the first step to unraveling the mystery of China. In China’s two most vital and exciting cities, one can experience the country as it takes its place at the forefront of the world stage.”

By making these two cities a base, travelers will not be overwhelmed by the country’s enormous size, and they can get to know a slice of Chinese life, culture, and history without traveling vast distances. In addition to covering the two cities in detail, the book also provides information about excursions to the surrounding regions of Beijing and Shanghai to visit some of China’s most famous and interesting sites. Among them are the Great Wall, and several other historic sites--such as monasteries and imperial tombs. The “Planning your Trip” section offers several suggested itineraries for general travelers, business travelers, and families with children. The outlined routes give readers a realistic idea about how much they can see and how many places they can visit during their visit to China.

The detailed coverage of the various city districts and attractions makes a visit to these huge metropolitan areas manageable. What makes this city guide easy to use is how each city is conveniently divided into several sections dedicated to sites, restaurants, hotels, nightlife, arts and leisure, shops, etc. Within each section the author covers the most important city districts. So if you are in Beijing’s central business district, for example, it is easy to find a recommended place to eat by looking at the central business district listings in the “Restaurants” section. The information and listings are extensive and diverse, allowing travelers to choose from a large variety of lodgings, restaurants, attractions, and activities, for a variety of interests and travel budgets. Detailed maps at the end of the book show recommended attractions, restaurants, hotels, and public transportation, making it easy for travelers to get around and find their way.

The “Background” section in the back of the book provides interesting reading about China’s history, politics, arts, and culture. The book also includes an “Essentials” section, which provides useful information about practical travel matters, such as health and safety, food, money, transportation, embassies, a Mandarin phrase book, suggested reading, and internet resources.

Author Helena Iveson, a British journalist, has lived in Shanghai and now in Beijing, and her expertise and in-depth knowledge of these two cities is apparent throughout the book. If you are planning a trip to Beijing or Shanghai, or both cities, Moon Handbooks Bejing & Shanghai will prove to be a practical and highly useful travel companion.

For more information and to read the introduction of the book, visit the publisher’s “Moon Handbooks Beijing & Shanghai” web page at moon.com/books/moon-handbooks/moon-beijing-and-shanghai-first-edition.