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Southeast Asia forum

Travel Guide Books

Posted by KazAussie on 28/7/2009 at 16:43

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 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221

Posted by anelson_82 on 28/7/2009 at 21:59

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 anelson_82 has been a member since 12/7/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 12

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Posted by KazAussie on 29/7/2009 at 04:27

Thanks for that I will check them out

#3 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221

Posted by BruceMoon on 29/7/2009 at 06:26


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 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by somtam2000 on 29/7/2009 at 07:08 admin

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 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,939
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Posted by MADMAC on 29/7/2009 at 12:23

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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