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The Rough Guide to the Philippines - 1st Edition Paperback – 30 Sep 2004
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The Rough Guide to The Philppines is the ultimate guide to this stunning archipelago. A 24-page full-colour section introduces the country and its highlights, from the remote sun-kissed islands off the East coast to the lagoons of Palawan and the tribal villages of the Cordilleras. Each region of the country is covered in-depth, with the pick of the sights and activities listed at the start of the chapter. There are detailed and opinionated listings providing essential information on where to stay, eat, drink, dance, dive, surf, trek, kayak and sail. Finally, an informative and accessible background is given to Philippino history, culture, socitey, music, politics and environment.
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although very strong for overall planning and an overview, the details for each location are weak.
the diving guide n particuliar is very strong, and alows the diver to approach the diving in the philippines from differnet angles, the box out guide to each location is particuliarly useful running through the different dive sites, but again is dated as many entrys detail common encounters with hammerheads, mantas and so on whereas in reality it has been many years since these pelagics have been seen. alhough this is also a good indication of how quickly the sea is being decimated in the area.
as usual the sections on food and language although small are useful and well compiled.
although good for reference this version is too dated to rely on for a trip to the philippines.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Several issues. Firstly, the book is unbearably surly. It's tiring. Conscientious criticism is OK, but we're here to enjoy our trip, OK? If the authors hate the Philippines so much they should not be writing a guidebook. Strange how this British publication seems so bent on trashing our American colony....
Secondly, the travel information is just plain unreliable. We tried to use the book's step by step travel information but many times found that the details were lacking - intermediate travel steps were sometimes not there at all. Confusion! Distances noted seem to be right out of the Twilight Zone. How three cities significantly farther along the same route can all be the same distance from Manila is a mystery to me. Beyond that, many of the most desireable and prominent tourist destinations just are not listed at all. Palawan is a prime example, there's not that much here, and the excellent butterfly farm is not listed. Actually, virtually nothing is. And true to form they mention the ones they do only as an excuse to gripe about them, even the most beautiful.
Seedy aspects of some of the Philippines are not mentioned, or glossed over. This is unfortunate. There are many resort areas that are basically brothel towns, which is not pointed out in the narrative. Someone heading to these on a family vacation would be sorely disappointed. In regards to these resort areas, it's like writing a guide about Las Vegas and not mentioning gambling. People need to know what's there, so they can avoid it if nothing else.
I am also surpised - and I found this in the RG for Thailand recently as well - important phone numbers are often not listed. Several times a Filipino had offered to help us call a hotel or bus station and hoped to get the numner from our copy of of RG, to no avail. Seems they had gotten the number from LP before and assumed this guide book would list them as well.
Did I mention the guide is just plain mean-spirited?
They also do not seem to know their audience. I see the "Lonely Planet" crowd as budget travellers with some sense of travel conscience. Yet the guide exclusively recommends a very expensive handicrafts market in Manila that is known for exploiting local artists. There are numerous small shops that are reasonably priced that support local artisans, which don't seem to exist for the Rough Guide folks. Neiman Marcus seems to be the preferred mode.
I find little about this book to like. I have liked other Rough Guides, but for me this one... well, don't bother...
Errors in fares & costs are understandable due to the age of the book, but dangerous to the traveler who relies upon them. He appears to confuse sites within Manila (specifically, the Divisoria Marketplace with the Quiapo marketplace). He is quick to tell you where you can get a burger and fries in each town, but seems uninterested in Philippine cuisine, which can be truly delicious.
The author advises shopping for toy Jeepneys, sarongs and "rice gods" as the only good souveniers of the Phils. The only place I found these was in commercial souvenier stores in Manila, or in the airport. I find that many localities have characteristic woven goods (coconut fiber in the Bicol region, for example) that are practical and easy to travel with; freshwater pearls are also easy to find.
The author's attitude toward most country towns seems to be that there is "nothing to detain you" there. Indeed, if you make the slightest effort to get to know the people and the regional specialties, you may prove him quite wrong. There may not be a shopping mall or a first-run movie theater, but then, is that what you really went there for?
In sum, the Philippines is a wonderful place (I just returned froma 2-week trip). Go and have a great time, but avoid this book.