Taiwan Guidebooks

13 08 2007

To my surprise, there is quite a variety of guidebooks available for Taiwan. There are five whole guidebooks devoted to Taiwan. They include Lonely Planet Taiwan, The Rough Guide to Taiwan, National Geographic Traveler – Taiwan, Insight Guide – Taiwan, and Culture Shock! Taiwan. Actually, when I was first looking guidebooks there were not many available. At that time, Lonely Planet Taiwan was considered the authority on Taiwan travel according to Amazon.com reviews with National Geogrphic Traveler Taiwan as a good supplement for its photos and tourist site information. Insight Guide and Culture Shock were a distant third and fourth. The Rough Guide to Taiwan was just published in May 2007, so I didn’t know of its existence until today! I am going to try to get a copy of the RG Taiwan because it is rated well on Amazon.¬† I will edit this post to include my thoughts on the RG Taiwan.

I have read the Lonely Planet Taiwan book and found it a good general reference guide. The most helpful part is that they have the Chinese names spelled in both Wade-Giles and Hanyu pinyin romanizations for all the locations. Wade-Giles is still used extensively in Taiwan, but most texts for learning Chinese mandarin are taught in Hanyu pinyin. In addition, the sections on Taiwanese/Chinese culture and traditions are insightful and accurate for the most part. The section on kinds of food is also a big help for travelers to Taiwan. I would definitely recommend getting this book if you are heading to Taiwan. However, I would not use it exclusively as 1) it is difficult to figure out exactly what you should visit unless you read the book from cover to cover 2) there are better sources for crafting an itinerary 3) the version I had was published in 2005, so some new attractions have not yet made it into the book and some of the information may be outdated and 4) the section on Kaohsiung is paltry. I found the Taiwan page on Tripadvisor and the Taiwan Tripadvisor forums to be much more helpful in terms of planning an itinerary and figuring out transportation.

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3 responses

17 08 2007
David on Formosa

Lonely Planet and National Geographic will both have new editions of their guidebooks out before the end of this year.

Regarding romanisation, Wade Giles is not really used much any more. What is typically seen in Taiwan these days is a mixture of MPS 2, Tongyong Pinyin, Hanyu Pinyin and “bastardised” Wade Giles. See Pinyin.info for more background.

18 08 2007
travelswithsandy

That’s good to know. Thanks for posting!

17 12 2010
Steven Crook

There’s a new comprehensive guidebook to Taiwan just out: TAIWAN: THE BRADT TRAVEL GUIDE, which I wrote.
Bradt is a UK publisher, but the book is available worldwide.
See http://bradttaiwan.blogspot.com for details.

Enjoy your stay in Taiwan!

Steven Crook

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