Advantages Great for more general tips, very easy and enjoyable to read
Disadvantages Not enough detail by any stretch of the imagination; not enough maps
As I'm going to S.E. Asia in February for 6 months I bought the Lonely Planet (LP) guide to Asia & India and, while it clearly has its merits, it's got some crucial flaws aswell. Let me explain....Basically the LP is a general, starter guide to the basics of travelling the world, where ever that may happen to be. Half the book (200 of the 366 pages) is taken up by an introduction to the region, the hazards you're likely to meet and how to go about living here. Now, while this is very useful (especially for those, like me that have never done any extensive travelling before), it does mean that they scrimp slightly when it comes to going through each individual country. For example, the Rough Guide has 70 pages on Cambodia alone, whereas the LP has only 7 pages on this country. Infact the LP manages to summarise China (a VAST place, incase you hadn't noticed) in just 10 pages - and a fair portion of this os taken up with links to internet sites and recommended books and videos to watch if you want to find out more before going out.
The result is that the LP is an invaluable aid for the totally unitiated traveller (like me), guiding him gently through the change in lifestlye that he will have to come to terms with and providing him with a base from which he can go off travelling at least with the confidence that he's not going to wave at someone with his left hand (in parts of Asia, people...err...'clean' themselves with their left hand, if you know what I mean!). This is fair enough, even if it does mean that the countries themselves are left somewhat in the dark, with only a solitary map for each country. To be fair, it is something of a challenge to set yourself to provide a guide to the whole of India and Asia - it is simply such a massive area to cover. Realising this, the writers of LP probably decided that it would be best simply to concentrate on giving an idea of the basics needed to go travelling and then provide a means by which anyone that wants to know more can conduct there own research if need be.The LP is probably most useful to, as I have said, the uninitiated traveller, but also I'd say to those that don't intend to stray much from the beaten track. That is to say that if you intend on staying mainly in and around the main cities and resorts of each country, travelling around mainly by plane then the chances are that you probably won't need much more information than that which is provided here - although a few maps of the major cities would be helpful.
To sum up, the LP comes recommended, but only just and only to those types that I have just described. And, infact, the chances are that after reading this book you will (like me) feel the need to go out and buy a more detailed book such as the Rough Guide (which I have also reviewed). At just £8.99 it does provide good value for the help it gives, and the useful grounding it provides in the real basics of travelling. However, I'd suggest that you go out and buy the Rough Guide instead - not only does the RG provide more detail by far, but it also gives you a good introduction into life in Asia, meaning that for many the LP will seem pretty redundant.
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Pages: 936, Edition: 11th Revised edition, Paperback, Lonely Planet Publications
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