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Best Travel Guides.......

Posted by think87 on 14/3/2009 at 05:07

Will be doing a month in thailand as well as 5 other countries in SE asia later this year.

im looking for guides to buy for those countries especially thailand.

rough guide to thailand, lonely planet.. etc. any recommendations on the Best guid to buy?

#1 think87 has been a member since 5/3/2009. Location: United States. Posts: 116

Posted by somtam2000 on 14/3/2009 at 07:52 admin

You mean aside from Travelfish right? ;-)

The latest Lonely Planet to Thailand, authored by China Williams, is not worth buying in our opinion. You can read our full review of it here.

That said, the new Moon book is even worse -- I didn't think it was possible, but it is absolute rubbish.

The Footprint and Rough Guides to Thailand are both better than the above -- of the four books I'd probably go with Rough Guides. If you'd prefer to stick with LP, then I'd hunt down a previous edition.

Hope that helps!

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,577
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Posted by think87 on 14/3/2009 at 09:01

Of coarse! :-)

Im a little old fashioned tho hehe. I need to have an actual book. Once you guys start taking all of your pdf guides and publish them into one kick butt book IM BUYING!

until then...... ill stick with ur advice and get LP laos 6, LP vietnam 9, an older thai LP.

I was wondering what you would recommend for cambodia, LP or rough guides.

also LP and rough guides both make a book combining Malaysia, Singapore, and brunei in one book. worth getting?

finally this book below attempts to put all of the above including thailand in one book.

any further advice is most appreciated.


#3 think87 has been a member since 5/3/2009. Location: United States. Posts: 116

Posted by think87 on 14/3/2009 at 09:03

also amazon shows a LP thailand 13 coming out in August

#4 think87 has been a member since 5/3/2009. Location: United States. Posts: 116

Posted by somtam2000 on 14/3/2009 at 10:48 admin

For Cambodia, the LP is better. There is also an "alternative" title called Ultimate Cambodia which is excellent for off the beaten track stuff. It's easy to find in Cambodia and Thaialnd, less so elsewhere.

For Malaysia/Sing/Brunei, the Rough Guide title is better in my opinion.

The compilation books are ok -- as long as you're not getting too far off the beaten track. Individual books are, obviously, a better option, but the costs add up.

Re the new Thailand book from LP, one would hope it couldn't be any worse than China Williams last effort. Note the on-the-ground research for that title finished a few months ago.


#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,577
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Posted by northwesterner on 15/3/2009 at 16:16

Agree the China Williams LP is not worth the pages its written on.

I did 30 days in Thailand with it last autumn. The biggest problem with it is its inconsistency. There were too many cooks in the kitchen. This thing had like 10 authors. Some sections were really good (Lisa Steer's Northern Thailand was brilliant) others were abysmal (Becca Blonde and Aaron Anderson's Lower Southern Gulf was awful - they are popping up all over LP titles - I'd be hesitant to buy anything with their names in it based on their performance in this book). For what its worth, China Williams did an ok job on her chapters. Not as good as Lisa Steer, but way better than Blonde/Anderson.

If Joe Cummings could write and update the guidebook on his own for 10 editions, why did LP need 10 people to put out this mediocre guide?

I suspect this guide is so uneven because there were just too many authors for the editors and China Williams to keep track of.

Note that the most recent editions of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia are all excellent. Its just the Thailand book that stinks it up.

I was going to write a long "corrections" letter to LP based on my use of this guide, but decided against it. They need to dump the whole thing (anyways, its bloated) and start over. The only hope we have for the next version is that the capable Andrew Burke will be involved (he updated China Williams' Bangkok city guide this go-round). His latest Laos guide was quite good.

#6 northwesterner has been a member since 15/3/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by amazon_blonde on 24/3/2009 at 09:05

Posted from within Vietnam.

I generally agree with Somtam. LP Thailand Islands and Beaches is the worst guidebook I've ever used. Absolute trash. The Laos book was fine, but prices have increased. LP Cambodia also fine, but prices have really increased. Information on Travelfish and Tripadvisor is better for hotels but the context section on Angkor etc. is pretty good.

For Vietnam I guess LP is okay but I find their hotel and restaurant recommendations pretty lame. Hotels stick to travelfish and tripadvisor - we didn't go wrong - and for food, try to get your hands on a Rough Guide. For example, in Hanoi LP doesn't list any street kitchens (not stalls, more like hole in the wall places) that provide some of the best tasty meals in Hanoi, period. No need for the fancy expensive restos. Rough Guide actually lists a number of these street kitchens and food streets. But if you can't find a Rough Guide, check out the Hanoi section of (and Travelfish should really add it to their Hanoi food section). It's an EXCELLENT guide to Hanoi street food and makes it easy to try local specialties.

#7 amazon_blonde has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 116

Posted by brucemoon on 29/3/2009 at 18:26


I have a love/hate relationship with LP.

But, I still wouldn't bother with any of the other printed books.

As I've written on Travelfish before, since LP was taken over by BBC, the attitude to feedback is abysmal - and so their products are only going to get worse over time.

That said, I also hate the fact that so much is reasonably accurate that I get sort of hooked on that reasonable accuracy. And, every now and then, LP is SO SO wrong (and I relied on it Waaaah!).

I can't complain about the prices. With a decade of global hyper inflation caused by the greedy American sleaze machine, no book is going to be accurate about Asian prices.

Rough Guides are a good background read, but don't put the necessary bits together to make a 'compendium' like LP. Also, their maps are, well, just !@#$%.

I have suggested to LP that instead of their stupid 'pick'n'mix', rubbish (Travelfish has the same problem - why would anyone want to download a pdf, print onto A4 and so take a 2nd rate product) they should ditch the concept. Instead, sell stapled chapters from their book. That way, one could travel light.

This idea may be an answer for you re: Malaysia. The malaysia book is large. Are you going to all locations? Why not buy in Asia, and cut it up to keep only those chapters you want. I'm going to Laos next week via Thailand & into VN, but only the north of Laos. So, I cut up the book and will only take parts.


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

Posted by somtam2000 on 30/3/2009 at 07:26 admin

Hi Bruce,

Just a comment on your comment about the PDF guides -- you'd be surprised just how popular they are! What we're selling is the "convenience" of having a chunk of the site wrapped up into a neat package. Not everyone can / wants to surf through the site picking out what they're interesting in, so we package it up neat and sell them. Some use them on various PDF readers, though I think the bulk are just printed out.


#9 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,577
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Posted by brucemoon on 30/3/2009 at 10:26

Hey, boss!

If I were in (say) Europe with a pdf reader, then clearly, the option would appeal.

However, I like to travel light, and have enough grey hair that explains why I like printed paper; and especially when it is pre-packed in printed form.

Also, I tried the LP online, and found that the graphics in the package could not be printed on an ordinary (bog standard) Laser printer. So, even if I'd have wanted to have A4 pages, I'd have had to have gone to a specialised printer [and I'm in Australia].

I suggest you explore the opportunity to have your docs printed up on lightweight paper and stapled into booklets (preferably in A5). That way, you could offer purchasers the capacity to get a printed outcome (but, the purchaser would have to wait for snail mail and pay postage). There's an opportunity there waiting to be materialised.


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

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