Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Best guide book?

Posted by chicoelnino on 18/9/2010 at 21:22

Looking to pick up a good guide book about travel in SE Asia. Any recommendations on which one to get?

Lonely planet I presume?

#1 chicoelnino has been a member since 17/9/2010. Posts: 66
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Posted by busylizzy on 19/9/2010 at 03:57

Travelfish, actually.

If you have a iPhone or iTouch - check out here:
(Full list of apps available so far is found in the box at the top of this page that says 'Buy a travelfish guide)

If you don't have an iGadget, then get the PDF format eGuides here: Normally, TF charge for these, but they are currently free as they are no longer being updated in the current format (Some are dated 2009 so not so old). TF are putting out new version of the guides soon with the release of the redesigned website. Meanwhile, I 'd recommend these - I found them consistently more reliable than Lonely Planet, esp for accom reviews.. Personally, I like to print them out, then just toss out pages as I go (or leave them in a guest house somewhere).

The TF guides don't cover all areas, but you can download 'eFish guides' in the Member Centre area for many other areas (follow the link at the very top). Scroll down until you find e-Fish section, then you can select the area and format that you required. These aren't as 'pretty' as the eGuides (no maps, pictures, etc) but the information is excellent.

To clarify: The simplified eFish guides are always free; the prettier eGuides are normally chargeable, but free at the moment.

I use a Lonely Planet book for areas not covered by TF (eg Indonesia).

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,153
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Posted by chicoelnino on 19/9/2010 at 04:33

Thanks very much for the info. I'll download these and go from there. Have an iphone so will look up those apps as well!

#3 chicoelnino has been a member since 17/9/2010. Posts: 66
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Posted by idreamofdurian on 20/9/2010 at 00:56 TF writer

Though I'm a big Travelfish fan too, I've got to say that Lonely Planet's Southeast Asia on a Shoestring is *fabulous* for inspiration / pre-trip planning.

However, it's such a huge, heavy book that it's more of a burden than a boon when you're on the road plus it includes a bunch of countries most people skip. That said, maybe check your local library for it.

#4 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576
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Posted by Indoluso on 20/9/2010 at 21:15

I prefer Rough Guide than Lonely Planet, but working as a complement to Travelfish. Especially regarding places to eat, Travelfish is the best, I was never disappointed with their suggestions! (Nola Cafe in Hanoi, great great place!!)

#5 Indoluso has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 133

Posted by exacto on 21/9/2010 at 09:37

I use Travelfish when I'm on the road too because it is more current than other options and because of how we all interact to share ideas and information here. That, combined with feedback and suggestions from other travellers I encounter on the road is usually enough for me. The only downside of Travelfish is for those few times when something doesn't work out as planned (guesthouse full, etc.), and I haven't taken good notes, it can be a pain to find internet to check back on what I've read.

I agree with the suggestion above about using guidebooks as well as TF to plan out trips. Plus, guidebooks have great maps and other types of info like telephone numbers, addresses, and opening/closing times that typically don't change much, which are handy to have at your fingertips. They can also make good reading about culture, language, etc. Find an older copy of a guidebook at a booksale or online or something like that and donate it to a guesthouse lending library or to a fellow traveller towards the end of your time in that country.

As an example of why TF is such a great resource, here is their write up of the Cafe Nola in Hanoi as recommended by Indoluso. Sounds awesome. It says:

Cafe Nola on Ma May is one of the best cafes in Hanoi, and it has a small but delicious menu that includes jambalaya, goat cheese salad and an eclectic mix of dishes and drinks -- it's one of the few places that proudly serves oatmeal. But really, come here for the atmosphere which is one of the best and most unique on the Hanoi cafe scene, tastefully furnished in a mostly old-time style. There's a piano here for guests to play if they like, and the top floors are decorated with a whimsical canopy of colourful umbrellas. It's a good place to get out your laptop and hang around all day.

#6 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,679
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