More Asian Travel Guides

Taipei Travel Guide (Rightman Publishing)

Another trip is in the works and I found another great travel guide. As far as i can tell, this guide has no official English name. A simple descriptor, “Travel Guide,” can be found under the Chinese name of the publisher [正文社].  (Rightman Publishing is the official English name of this publisher.)  For those who can read the Chinese, the official name of the guide is 台北旅遊全攻略. This one is for Taipei.

This time a trip to the beautiful island of Taiwan is in the works. I’ve never been, but the wifey has. She got her sister to send over a travel guide from Hong Kong. The book would cost close to CAD$30 if bought in a local Chinese bookstore, but it was only about HK$82 (just over CAD$10). You can’t go wrong.

The book is chock full of colour and chock full of places to visit. The Asian travel guides are very focused on three main activities – eating, playing, and shopping. In comparison to the standby Lonely Planet guides that focus on historical sites, museums, and temples, it’s a totally different way of guiding one’s travels.  For me, I think it’s a nice balance to have one of each book. The Lonely Planet guide that gives you one face of travel and the Asian travel guide that focuses on another dimension of travel.  It all depends what you’re looking for in your travels.

This book on Taipei is divided into a few main sections.  The first section is one on transportation and getting around Taipei.  Each form of transport, such as taxi, public bus, tourist bus, metro, high speed rail, and Taiwan rail, gets its own page to explain in detail your travel options.  It’s also complete with pictures and guides to purchasing tickets.  The second section covers your accommodation options in the Taiwanese capital.  Again, lots of pictures and information.  Some hotels get a bigger spread while others get a smaller box.  Plenty of web addresses to redirect you to more information.  Then there are some special sections, such as medical travel.  I suspect it must be cheaper to get body scans done in Taiwan than in some of the neighbouring countries.  There are entire medical scan plus hotel packages covered.  Then there’s a special section on what unique purchases can be made in Taipei and where to get them.  The last section of the book covers where you can go to get wedding photos done.  Apparently a lot of folks from Hong Kong like to travel to Taiwan for their wedding photos.

The rest of the book follows a typical neighbourhood by neighbourhood, district by district look at Taipei and its surrounding area.  Each neighbourhood has a map at the beginning and a description of how to best get to the area.  The maps also feature common corporate logos such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and 7-Eleven so you know where to go when you have a craving for your low-fat caramel macchiato or a good ol’ Slurpee.  Metro station exits are also clearly marked so you know what exit number to head towards.  The intro page to each neighbourhood also offers possible half-day and full-day itineraries for touring the neighbourhood/district.

Then the pages for each district have 8-12 photos on each page showing you a visual delight of what you may encounter.  The vast majority of the attractions are local eateries.  Taiwan is a foodies’ paradise.  However, there are also a lot of unique stores featured which range from clothing to collectibles.  Of course, there’s also the standard attractions like Taipei 101 and the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.  But I tell you food is the dominant attraction in this guide.

Just flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures gets the travel bug in me revved up.  I can read some of the Chinese and can get the gist of a paragraph, but some details are missing for me because I’m not completely literate in Chinese.  Even though I don’t understand the guide 100%, it’s much more exciting to look through this travel book than it’s English-language equivalent.

These books are probably better travel guides for the otaku out there.  If you’re into anime, manga, figures, and other Japanese products, then these guides would be perfect for you.  You just really need to brush up on identifying and recognizing the Chinese characters and matching them up on the map.  Otherwise, the Internet is only good resource for the Japan-ophile traveller.

I will be starting up a different blog for travelling.  My previous travel blog, Kansai Travels, is already done and complete and documents my trip to Kyoto, Osaka, and the surrounding Kansai area of Japan.  I will be starting up a new travel blog on Tumblr this time.  It gives me another excuse to try out a different blogging platform.  I’ve heard some good things about Tumblr, so it’s worth a try.  So check out, I will like repeat this particular post on that side too.


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