In search on the internet for reviews which travel guide I should buy, I found this site, awesome!
Loads of information here, great.
But I still want to buy a travel guide (and print out/write done eFishes), which one do you think is better?
Actually I tend to buy the Rough Guide, as almost everyone seems to have the Lonely Planet, and goes to the same recommended things. Which probably change the situation that it isn't recommended anymore.
Besides that Rough Guide has a later edition (2006 vs 2005)
Another choice could maybe be Fodor's, but I don't hear so much about that.
Anyone who has advice?
#1 carlakoopman has been a member since 23/2/2007. Posts: 4
Hi Carla, I also tend to avoid Lonely Planet for the same reasons as you. I have also used Footprint guides in the past, which I can recommend in addition to Rough Guides. It is always useful, as you mentioned, to check the edition date, and go for the most up-to-date one. I think the main thing is to use a guide as just that, and not a "bible" - use it for the maps & general info on an area, but chat to other travellers, locals etc. when deciding where to stay, eat etc. Hope this helps!
#2 GussieG has been a member since 9/9/2006. Posts: 24
I'd lean towards the Rough Guides for their sheer readability. The new LP for Laos recently finished their research, so if you're not heading to Laos till second half of the year, that could be worth waiting for.
The footprint to Laos is also pretty good.
#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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I bought the Footprint 'Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos' edition last summer. The bonus is a section for Bangkok which is where we're starting off.
As for guide books in general I've used LP guides in the past and found them adequate.
I'm also in the same frame of mind as GussieG regarding the "I think the main thing is to use a guide as just that, and not a "bible"". A couple of years ago a thread raged on Thorn Tree about that very issue..............
Thanks for the reactions already.
At the moment I use a LP (Australia & New Zealand on a shoestring), and I definitely don't recommend 'on a shoestring' guides. I thought it would be handy, 2 LP's in one, focused on the budget, and I supposed that it had less pages because it skipped all the luxury parts, and maybe in general a bit less comprehensive.
But in stead, they just skip total parts of the country. When you go a bit off the 'normal track' they don't even mention it! Esperance for example, most beautiful beaches and National Parks I've seen here in West-Australia, not one word about it!
So therefore I'm maybe a bit disappointed now in LP, as I didn't know and expected that before I bought it.
But the 'normal' LP's are probably better at that point, and they have a easy layout to find something quick. On the other side, the Rough Guide seems nicer to just read sitting on a bus, preparing for all what's coming.
But maybe I'm making a too big point about it, it's just a guide, not a bible, that's true.
#5 carlakoopman has been a member since 23/2/2007. Posts: 4
I fell out with Rough Guides after their Australia guide (or at least the edition I read) was less than complementary about Perth, WA - which was a place I loved. Since then it's been LP's and Footprints all the way!
I used the LP SE Asia on Shoestring first time I went. It is a guide and nothing more, but at least it gave a basic introduction to the places we visited and found it pretty accurate maps/info wise.
Last time I went I used the Footprints Cambodia/Vietnam/Laos guide and again, as a guide, found it useful!
Having lived in Thailand for 6 years I see 90% of travellers toting LP. I tend to ask people what they think of the book and the responses are overwhelmingly negative. I have used them a couple times for trips to other asian countries and personally found them out of date and/or otherwise lacking. I used to prefer RG, but recently I've found Fodors has become really good (although i have good reason to be biased, the new versions are waaaay better for people on all budgets)
#7 trevorranges has been a member since 5/1/2007. Posts: 1
The Rough Guide to Thai Islands and beaches is very good. In general I think it is highly recommended reading the LP before leaving home for the wealth of good advice there. I am less apt to use it on the road.
I've bought the Rough Guide yesterday.
First I decided I didn't want the LP, and the 2 alternatives for me were Footprint or Rough Guide.
I liked the Footprint at first, but it lacked information on how to get to places. For Ko Samui for example it just recommended to take the plane, because that was easy and not so expensive. Uhh, and what if I want to take the bus/ferry? No information about that.
But I'm happy with the Rough Guide, thanks for the advice!
#9 carlakoopman has been a member since 23/2/2007. Posts: 4
Save your money and don't bother! We have been travelling for 8 months now, through CA, SA, NZ and SE Asia and we have NEVER bothered with travel guides. They are invariably heavily biased, written by a type of person whose own tastes will invariably dictate the direction of different "chapters"...for instance, the party-hard beer swilling travel writer is never going to recommend the quiet, cultural experience as highly as he will propound the delights of traveller packed "in" spots. What is one persons paradise is anothers hell. So, I wouldn't bother. Talk to other people, look on the web, check out your local library...don't buy into the LP culture. Live a little, explore without the guides, get hopelessly lost and have a heap of fun.
#10 kittenpooh has been a member since 10/2/2007. Posts: 3
Kittenpooh, you have a good point, but you can find a travel guide that is more to Your taste. I like Rough Guide, because the format is easier to read and they really show you how to arrange your own trips to save money, and they have told about things that I would not have found out on my own.
#11 stephka has been a member since 14/7/2006. Posts: 7
I would suggest you to go with lonely planet guides. I guess you can get these guide books through GuideGecko at best price. Its an online bookstore..I always prefer getting lonely planet guides through this website.
#12 jensysmith has been a member since 17/5/2010. Posts: 7
I like guidebooks as long as they are used in the right way. I use maps in guidebooks even in cities I know reasonably. For cities I don't know they are good for orientation.
Reviews are old (written 1-1.5 years before publication at least) and it's just one person's opinion. When you meet the people who write for LP for example, more than likely you don't feel the overwhelming urge to believe everything they say.
The books are good for busride/crapper reading though.
Up to date info on lodging etc is much easier to find online, featuring multiple voices.
I would lean towards Rough Guides because they tend to be more honest about destinations and their focus on reality is helpful to someone who has never been to that country before.
LP for some reason has this desire to candy-coat every single destination which makes it a lot harder to pick and choose a destination. This happened to me both in Vietnam and Thailand.
Also I think RG's format is a lot more reader friendly. However in countries like Indonesia, LP is really the only guide book that is up to date.
I thing LP have changed due to their corporate structure now. But they have been a very valuable source of info for me. It is easy to grab your book and read up on a place you may not know or have directions to places around you. I want to get to a particular island that is in the book? The information has always steared me right or led me to the source of the answer. The maps are helpful. Check out a place online such as travelfish and make notes in your LP or rough guide. No matter which one you have, it can be helpful and a good place to store your travel notes. I really want maps with me though and it is easier to have them in a guide. But I would never judge people by their travel as I watch others go "look, it's a Lonely Planet type". That just baffles me. I am just happy that someone else wants to experience something great also. Books are a valuable resource of information to add to your eyes and ears.
Just went to the book store to get some guides for my upcoming s/e asia trip.
I compared Rough Guide and Lonely Planet and decided to go with Lonely Planet
(1) because it seemed easier to use and,
more importantly, (2) the Rough Guide seemed really cheaply made, the pages felt like poor toilet tissue that wouldn't hold up well on the road or if it got a bit wet. Lonely Planet seemed a lot sturdier and was generally easier to find information and flick to that page.
Travelfish is an excellent resource, I am going to add notes/print off stuff from this site in addition.
#17 EnglishmaninNYC has been a member since 3/7/2011. Posts: 6
Since I'll be spending one month in Laos, I'll probably get LP. and download sections for the different parts of SEA I am going to. The SEA LP is totally useless if you want to go off the beaten path. But I like their maps & directions.
As for the room suggestions in LP - Overpriced! The one next door is often cheaper -:)
I think it depends on your needs...
A guide book is great for information on where to go, how to get there, and what to do.
They are all inevitably less good on where to stay and eat for obvious reasons. In those decisons you might well be best to simply follow your nose.
The original "Yellow Bible" by Tony Wheeler had limited information on such things and was a very good guide as a result as it made you do your own looking.
As things currently stand my personal preferences are - this site and;
If you are just in a big city try the Time Out guides.
If you are visiting the major destinations then Footprint guides are very good.
If you are travelling around a bit more then I prefer the Rough Guide to LP. It just seems willing to cater to a broader range of tastes than LP.
ROUGH GUIDE SO MUCH EASIER TO USE AS A BASE BUT REMEMBER TO ALWAYS GO WITH THE FLOW WE HAVE FOUND SOME AMAZING PLACES NOT ON THE BOOKS
#20 RACHYPF has been a member since 13/11/2009. Posts: 42
Beside Lonely planet or others book, you can trust in Tripadvisor - an necessary place to come of travelers.
Pay attention in top ten from 1 to 5 best rate, and read carefully their comments. Travelers who experiencing either a bad or a good trip, usually share their feedback to friends all walk of lives.
I myself found our great guide through them :d Good luck to you.
#21 Marget_love has been a member since 8/9/2011. Posts: 6
I always use Rough Guides. That said, there have been certain countries that I found LP was actually better. It really depends on a per-country basis. For example, my RG to New Zealand was way better than the LP equivalent. However, when I lived in South Korea I found that the LP was actually much more useful and detailed than the RG.
I've never read Rough Guides, so I can't comment.
Lonely planet writers I find annoying because they are trying too hard to do two things:
1. Pontificate - telling us what we should and shouldn't. Very sanctimonious in this regard. Instead of sticking with simple dos and don'ts of culture to prevent you from getting killed, LP tends to love to talk about ecology, their versions of morality, and this sort of thing. I find it annoying.
2. Trying too hard to be cute in their writing styles. All kinds of phrases they think are clever that I find childish and it grates.
Leonard, that is why you buy the photocopy versions once you get over to SEA lol.
Having a paper book is nice too unless you travel with a computer, its a hassle counting on wifi from a phone. Especially when you break your phone(like I did in Thailand last winter) or lose it(like I did in Guatemala this winter...).
I found Cambodia's Lonely Planet to be very helpful. You might have to add a dollar or two to some prices but overall it was fairly close and the maps and information especially on buses helped a lot.
On the contrary I found Vietnam's Lonely Planet completely useless when it came to accommodation. I guess they haven't sent a budget traveller over there yet because all their hotels were $20+ a night.
I have only ever looked at a couple rough guide books and they were pretty good and actually more up to date on prices etc.
$20 is cheap compared to western countries but in SEA it is very easy to find accommodation under that. In fact during 4 months in South East Asia I only once spent more then $15 a night for accommodation and that is because I spent $18 to stay in a nicer place the last couple days of my trip...
Vietnam was the most expensive country of the bunch, partly due to me travelling during TET... but also because there is limited availability of budget rooms as most seem to have air con and hot water. I ended up staying in more hostels then I did in any of the other countries but I also had a few private rooms. I just found it strange as LP usually does a decent job at giving budget options like hostels and cheap guesthouses but they really did a bad job with Vietnam.
@Geer1 there is an interesting thread over on Lonely Planet's Thorntree specifically talking about Vietnam, where an admin more or less admits what you suspect regarding cheaper places. They say:
"We find that nowadays we need to offer a better range of mid-price hotels as that's what the majority of readers want, and this unfortunately means they take the place of listings in other price categories. I know this is disappointing for those expecting many more budget choices. "
I've also heard from others within LP that you can expect even less coverage of budget places in the future in all their titles - the focus is definitely moving to the mid-range market.
The NewYorkTimes also has a good piece on Guidebooks Vs the Web some of the comments (along with the story) are quite interesting.
#30 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,738
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"$20 is cheap compared to western countries but in SEA it is very easy to find accommodation under that. In fact during 4 months in South East Asia I only once spent more then $15 a night for accommodation and that is because I spent $18 to stay in a nicer place the last couple days of my trip..."
Greer - man, live a little. I've stayed in my share of ratty cheap ass places, but my best times have been high end without a doubt. Splurge once in a while.
It seems to be a badge of honour to live on $30 a day amongst some bps. All it means is u lived like a poor person and put up with lower class smaller rooms with limited facilities.
The real value in Thailand are the 30 to 50 dollar rooms because u can get 4 stars for budget price.
If you are spending $30-50 a night on rooms you are spending between $50-80 a day minimum. That is fine for you guys that only go travel a couple weeks. I on the other hand have been off work for a year and a half travelling, helping family and in general taking things easy. I would like to see you try and justify spending that much money on a bed if you were in a similar situation.
I like many others would much rather be able to travel twice as long instead of having an air conditioned room...
Nah Id rather enjoy myself and stay half the time. Going from one cheap room to another seems like bumming around and there is only so many snorkelling or kayaking trips to do.
Counting every penny takes away the fun of travelling.
I guess I fall in between. When I'm travelling alone, a cheap, crappy place is OK. When i am with my wife and daughter, it's four or more stars all the way. But expense is relative, and you can't really complain about a room that costs 30 bucks.
So I'm thumbing through Lonely Planet 2012 while eating at Goodmook Cafe. And under dangers and annoyances some dumbass, talking about Thai potential for violence, writes "Gun violence is extremely rare in Thailand, but..." BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. If you want a major credibility hit, then write something that stupid and plain wrong. Now, had they added the caveat "Gun violence directed against foreigners is extremely rare in Thailand..." you might have been on solid ground. But Thailand is a violent society. People who are deceived by the politeness and smiles are just that - deceived.