Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
A well designed book, but not without its flaws
on 18 December 2012
Set off with this book on Nov 1st 2012. Have used it so far in northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. I want to insert a caveat that I am unable to make a decent judgment on the whole contents of the book, which obviously covers far more countries. But nevertheless I feel we have been using it long enough to make a reasonable assessment.
LAYOUT AND DESIGN
Overall well designed. The font type and colouring scheme - which differs from older Lonely Planet guidebooks - is easy to read. There is consistency in the layout for country chapters. The opening pages for each country, which give various useful stats, is nicely done. Maps not comprehensive but sufficient. The quality of the book (thickness of pages, binding, etc) is enough that it can take a bit of battering.
The "getting there and away" has a major flaw. In a bizarre move, the section for Hanoi includes getting to and from the bus or train station and prices, but not the airport (so we would know a 'con' taxi price). It was only later we noticed that information was buried in a small box on the second page of the Vietnam section. This applies to Phnom Penh too, but - just to make it more confusing - not Vientiane.
Detailed but concise. History and geography sections etc, have been trimmed back compared to other guides, but there is still enough to get you the background. Descriptions of sights, bars, etc, are short but to the point. So easy to digest. Also boxes with "splurge" ideas or "scam alerts!" are a nice touch. The price guides for the recommended restaurants and hotels have been pretty spot on so far.
Entrance fees to sights are often wrong. For instance in Hue - the Imperial Palace; or in Hanoi - the Temple of Literature and the Prison Museum. They were all too low. Anticipate prices being 25-50% higher than stated. Note that this problem only seems to apply to the sights and not the restaurants, accommodation and transport.
The recommended accommodation are often not in line with reviews on Tripadvisor, Agoda, etc. Some recommended here have mediocre reviews at best on these sites. Our personal experience visiting some has also backed this up. I suggest researching elsewhere.
It's got its flaws, the inaccurate accommodation reviews and incorrect entrance fees being the prime ones, but this is outweighed by a well designed book with decent and largely up to date and accurate content. We've relied on it in many ways so far, and it has not really let us down.