Summer Reads: Hong Kong’s Back Yard

0714_Book Review_3Picking up Hong Kong’s Back Yard , it would be easy to dismiss it as just another travel book about China, but those who take a closer look will be rewarded with a tailored and useful guide.

The back yard of the title is the Pearl River Delta, and the guide is aimed at the millions of people who visit the area every year for business and work.

The guide offers an interesting overview of the PRD and all its cities, which is brisk enough so that it does not feel like it is turning into a history lesson. It covers all the areas that have come to be expected of a guide like this and the information is presented in an easy to understand format. The guide is packed full of photos, which makes it more appealing to read, but sometimes when you are looking for more information, it can feel like the photos are covering up a lack of content.

Naturally, the sections of Shenzhen and Guangzhou are the most voluminous. Both sections are worth a read for those in Dongguan who are maybe looking for a weekend break, as much as it is for those who are visiting from Hong Kong or further afar.

The section on Dongguan, however, feels under researched, in particular, the sections on nightlife and where to eat. Most of the recommendations are on the Dongcheng Bar Street, while there is no mention of places like Batou Village. All the information provided is up to date and accurate, but it is hard to shake the feeling that the writer has either only spent a weekend in the city or a few hours researching online.

When reviewing a guide for a city you live in, it is perhaps easy to be critical and forget that the guide is intended for those who are less familiar with the city. As a guide for newcomers or visitors the recommendations are a good starting point.

The idea behind Hong Kong’s Back Yard is great, and mostly the guide delivers on what it promises. Admittedly, some sections may have benefited from more thorough research, but the guide is still useful for newcomers and visitor. Hopefully, when the next edition is published more time will be dedicated to these underwritten sections, then the guide could be just as useful to those living here.