Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Didn't do much for me
on 23 March 2013
I'm a big fan of independent travel and I regularly use either Lonely Planet or Rough Guides depending upon the most recent date of publish for trips around SE Asia.
I bought this guide ahead of a 2 week solo trip around Bali in February. These are my major criticisms:
1. It fails to mention that much of the Balinese tourism ideas are built around Australian tourists - with Australian budgets. I like to travel with Aussies very much, but there was no mention that they are the dominant tourists to the island and costs are targeted to what they can afford.
2. Nowhere was it mentioned that travel around Bali can be challenging. There is no public bus, train or any form of transportation. The main mode of transportation is taxi, and for a single British (ie not Australian tourist with Aussie dollars) tourist, this can start to become rather pricey.
3. Day trips are an alien concept. As a backpacker, I often go on day trips to meet other like-minded travellers. In Bali, you are actively encouraged to hire a driver and get them to take you to the sights. Alone, this is both expensive and awkward - being a single girl and having to make small talk about football teams and weather in the UK all day rather than meeting like-minded travellers is anything but fun.
4. The book did nothing but bang on about how busy it is in Bali - I was expecting the throng to almost carry me along the pavements! Though my experience was the complete opposite - I was wondering where all the holiday makers were! I was advised that I was travelling in low season (I knew this - I figured I may just escape without being actually crushed to death by the masses!) and that the level of occupancy was usual. Many businesses close altogether in January and February because it is so quiet - yet the LP made no mention of it at all.
5. Pricing in hotels was off by quite some margin - around 1/3. Advised by many hoteliers that they were old prices (1-2 years ago) There are so few low budget recommendations and generally, without a reservation (even in low season) were full. Surely those with higher budgets don't waste their time with guide books - that's the travel agent's job??
6. My gripe with all LP hotel choices: too few hotels/guesthouses/hostels listed for each location, generally not as clean as mentioned, and honestly, the budget ones are not that nice (yet the reviews imply that they are). I've often found much nicer accomodation myself without doing much legwork. Surely the guide is supposed to find the best?!
7. The guide painted an overly rosey impression of Bali - it was alright, but it definitely got oversold in this guide.
Lonely Planet really do need to raise their game. I've taken to using websites like Seat 61, Trip Advisor, LP's own Thorntree Forum and Wikitravel to do my research as I have found them less biased, more up to date and bursting with 10 times the info that is given in the book. Yes, it either requires the free wifi that abounds in SE Asia, or a bit of time before travelling, but what's the alternative? Standing in the street in the rain, looking for somewhere of either acceptable standard or within your budget as the guidebook had got it wrong again?