GUIDE BOOKS - any decent alternative to Lonely Planet ?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by björn, Jul 21, 2010.

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  1. Your best guide is obviously yourself, a notebook, (for some) a map and a dictionary. However, the all-in-one alternative can be rather handy.

    I have long been under the impression that a guide should cover (a) location (e.g. maps), (b) means of transport (timetables, prices, etc.), (c) accomodation and (d) sites, customs and places of interest. It also should be up to date, well reasonably so anyway.

    I am a bit fed up with Lonely Planet, which has been my guide of choice for many moons now. Whereas I used to find it a reliable source of information, I now find the quality has now dropped quite sharply.

    Updates are scant. Maps are at best mysterious, at worst misleading. Information is either far too detailed or quite frankly in the sketchy zone. Information on transport I have found unreliable, so I end up buying maps locally, scaring honest citizens with baffling and unintelligible questions and scouring the interweb for information.

    Maybe I've just grown out of it. In any event, Arrse having many a seasoned traveler in its ranks, I was wondering what other guides Arrsers use and would recommend, the idea being for a guide to supplement whatever information you have gathered yourself.
  2. I'm interested in sex tourism in the far east. I've found Gary Glitter's Guide to Thailand to be of immense help. No linky though, sorry.
  3. Sometimes I wonder whether the Lonely Planet authors have actually visited the place they've written about.

    I usually try to get a Bradt guide although they don't cover as many regions and countries as LP does. Rough guide is another alternative though I haven't used many of those. The downside of the Bradt guides is they're more focussed on people who bring their own car/hire a car. But sofar most of their guides were extremely useful to me.

    If you want up to date information to plan a trip then use travel fora to ask around. The LP forum has a couple of very helpful people. It's great for the latest information and if you're lucky there might even be a few people who can look things up for you since they're in town anyway.

    Bradt Guides
    Rough Guides
  4. Tony and Valmai Holt's guides are okay but they are designed for the "if this is Tuesday, it must be Poelcappelle" fraternity. I never leave home for the fields of Flanders or Picardy without my Victor Neuberg, my Martin Middlebrook and of course a slack handful of Battlefield Europe guides. The Holt guides actually live in my car now - or at least the little Somme one does. The other Western Front biggies live indoors with the pet Gliddons, Bartons and Sheffields!
  5. Thanks for the suggestions. I agree regarding Holt's, but I would hope to find that quality in non battlefield guidebooks, and that has so far eluded me. I'll have a peep at Bradt and Rough guides and thanks for the LP forum suggestion! I usually look up sites like Trip advisor, but on the move its not always that easy (although getting easier, admittedly).

    I remember the Baedecker guides (of ww2 fame) as being considered top notch, but that was ages ago.
  6. For what it is worth: as a general guide and for planning I have found the Dorling Kinderssley ones OK. They go in to detail on the major highlights but lack detail on the more out of the way places as well as restaurants and hotels. Baedeckers guides have proven to be pretty good and well researched incorporating more local knowledge but with a bit of an American slant. I have now lived in Rome for 2 years and found the best way to get information was to find the local ex-pat websites that cover both the major and the minor bits. Example for Italy:
  7. I like rough guides as they are not written for 19 year old backpackers lopoking for the Hair beading district of whatever country they are in. The down side is that their coverage isn't perfect and doesn't cover some of the places Travelgall likes to visit. Of course nothing beats local knowledge. Which country are you looking at going to?
  8. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    The Michelin Guides are brilliant if you are in travelling Europe (and they cover the area that you are in!)
  9. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

    Grrrrr That was the name that I was trying to remember!!!

    They are still going:

    Baedeker online
  10. It was more of a general question actually, but what drove me to post in the first place was that I was fed of constantly correcting my LP guide on Greece. As Stanley1975 pointed out, there is a lot of stuff included that makes you wonder whether the author has been anywhere near the place he is describing!
  11. Found the same with American Samoa section in the Tonga And Samoa LP Guide. To be fair the place had been trashed by a Tsunami though. I guess with LP (or any other) guides it depends how often they reprint them and where they are written about. If they are writing about the Waldorf Astoria in New York then that place ain't going to change much, but some backpacker dive in Thailand where a new one opens every 10 minutes - that's different.

    I still buy Rough Guides when I have the option of them and Lonely Planet (which as I say are designed for 19 year old backpackers). Insight Guides are very pretty but weigh a ton and don't go into much detail at all. They are more realistically coffee table books than guide books. Blue Guides also weigh a ton, but they don't have the shiny pictures. On the other hand they will list where you can find every picture of Jesus within 50 miles and the names of every single builder who contributed to the Roman Outhouse you are looking at. Brandt Guides are easy to fit in your pocket, but low on anything budget. Baedeker concentrate on Ze Germans and are boringly earnest. Fromers aren't going to list any hotel that doesn't have gold taps and a 28 Inch Flat screen in the Khazi, Lets Go are designed for Americans and concentrate more on whether a hotel has AC and which ones have an all you can eat breakfast menu.
  12. Ok, have bought the Baedeker guide to Greece. Its pretty good, the maps are ok and culturewise it seem fairly complete. It is fairly dry and teutonic and I suspect the large map included at the back of the guide would enable your average Luftwaffe pilot to bomb most of the sites of interest. Its weaknesses would be means of transport (not a problem if you have your stuka or your Merc) and tips on accomodation. An oddity is that the sights are in alphabetical, as opposed to geographical, order, e.g. Olympia is followed by Mount Olympus, itself followed by Paros. All in all, a guide in such a format is probably better for a town, than for a whole country, especially one like Greece where transport is your main headache, if you don't want to rent a car.
    On the plus side, nice pics, lots on culture and history, good maps of the sites and the inclusion of a map (of a practical size) in the cover. I suppose any defecfts can be corrected with access to internet and careful forward planning. All in all though, different to Lonely Planet and much better on the topographical side, but with important shortcomings.
  13. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    The "Battle Zone Normandy" series are damn good if your doing the D Day to Falaise part of the War but a bit steep at £14.99 a go, there are 14 of them