Southeast Asia forum

Travel Guide Books

  • KazAussie

    Joined Travelfish
    18th July, 2009
    Posts: 221

    Hi all,

    Apart from travel fish downloadable guides (which I have), what guidebooks would you recommend for Vietnam and Cambodia. Lonely Planet has a one which looks good but I fear Lonely Planet is a victim of its own success (ie as soon as something in published in it either the quality of the accommodation/tour goes down or the price goes up). Any other suggestions?

    #1 Posted: 28/7/2009 - 16:43

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  • anelson_82

    Joined Travelfish
    12th July, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 12

    It's totally personal but I prefer the Rough Guide to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. I think it's easier to read and more I say though, it's a personal choice!

    I also like to read books on people that have travelled the countries and then written about it. A really good one is called A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam by Norman Lewis.

    I'm also a big fan of a travel magazine called Wanderlust, it's got some fantastic information in it and you can order back issues from their website.

    Happy Reading!

    #2 Posted: 28/7/2009 - 21:59

  • KazAussie

    Joined Travelfish
    18th July, 2009
    Posts: 221

    Thanks for that I will check them out

    #3 Posted: 29/7/2009 - 04:27

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Location Australia
    Posts: 1941
    Total reviews: 6


    I prefer Lonely Planet.

    Yes, you are quite correct, the accommodation details are never up-to-date. More importantly, the accommodation details often don't include appropriate accommodation (only those places that have slipped a quid to LP). For accommodation, Travelfish is a great alternative.

    Similarly, LP is used by so many that you are on what is colloquially termed the 'banana pancake trail' (go look here).

    But, all that aside, LP has a great section of 'attractions'. Once you learn to 'decode' them, you'll see there are generally three concepts:

    1/. religious / cultural icons
    2/. museums
    3/. natural places (eg. national parks, waterfalls, etc).

    From that, you can choose to enjoy what you fancy.

    But, there are two things that LP has over every other text:

    1/. getting away - ie details about transport to/from a place, and
    2/. maps of the place, and often the surroundings, and always of the region.

    The last item 'sells' LP for me.

    The major dislike of LP is that I find it is so consistently correct (give or take a few details) that I fall into a false sense of security. Every so often it is SO SO WRONG, and I get cranky with myself for relying on it.


    #4 Posted: 29/7/2009 - 06:26

  • somtam2000

    Click here to learn more about somtam2000
    Joined Travelfish
    21st January, 2004
    Location Indonesia
    Posts: 7371
    Total reviews: 24
    Places visited:
    At least 113

    I think regardless of destination Rough Guides wins on readability, in the countries you mention you'll probably find LP to be superior for facts on the ground -- but as Bruce rightly points out -- neither is prefect in this regard.

    Generally speaking, text into LP seems to go through a "joy of reading extractor" resulting in very dry text. Rough Guides tends to be more conversational and easier to read. Their introductory sections (history/culture etc) are often vastly better than LP.

    LP tends to have better facts because Rough Guides pay quite a bit less and so some authors spend far less time incountry than they should -- this is particularly problematic with their updates. In comparison, the main guy behind the LP Cambodia, Nick Ray, lives in Cambodia (though he may not do all the research himself).

    There are other options -- Matt Jacobson's Adventure Cambodia is very good, but difficult to get outside of Asia. Footprint also have texts, but they can be a bit patchy.

    #5 Posted: 29/7/2009 - 07:08


    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6953
    Total reviews: 10

    The "Thailand Handbuch" written by Rainer Krack is pretty good. It's in German, and stylistically his "One should" references I find a bit annoying. I really don't like people who don't know me telling me what I should or shouldn't do. But it is common German usage. The info is pretty solid - a bit dated. Has maps of each provincial city and region, which like Bruce, I like. Hotel info was less than complete - but I suppose that's close to mission impossible.

    #6 Posted: 29/7/2009 - 12:23

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