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Lonely Planet South-East Asia on a Shoestring (10th Ed)

by Hugh Finlay

Buy the book: Hugh Finlay. Lonely Planet South-East Asia on a Shoestring (10th Ed)

Release Date: August, 1999

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Hugh Finlay. Lonely Planet South-East Asia on a Shoestring (10th Ed)

Good, Grassroots Guide Gone Bad

This guide provided fairly reliable, basic information when I was trekking through Southeast Asia for seven months. When I landed by bus, taxi, motorcycle, truck, boat, trishaw, foot, or (sometimes) horse in a strange town at night where I didn't speak the language, it kept me alive. With its help I could always find the town center, the police station, and a bus stop.

Just don't expect it to enhance your experience, or even guide you safely. It's written in a rather smug, perfunctory style, and despite its budget approach seems aimed at very conventional travelers. There are none of the colorful, devil-may-care suggestions one finds in other guides, and it brings to mind the dour, conscientious tourists one meets on the road who are very nice but could backpack through Borneo without bringing back a single interesting story. This book has no spirit.

Maybe the reason it seems a bit inflexible and "un-hip" is because the editors are not responsive to the feedback of readers. I was very badly robbed a couple of times while using services recommended highly by this guide (for instance by the owners of the "Good Luck" Guest House in Bangkok), and after writing Lonely Planet with a polite request that they caution future travelers, I received no acknowledgment of my letters, and in fact the services in question are still touted by their guide.

This sort of apathy illustrates to me why their latest editions often seem years out of date, and why hotels and restaurants highly praised by them turn out to have closed down years ago. I understand that they have a limited number of researchers, but if they ignore input from readers who actively explore these regions, their book is naturally going to be out-of-touch, behind the times, and useless.

My advice is to buy the book if nothing else is available, because it does provide detailed factual information like phone numbers, addresses, etc. Just don't assume that it tells you all the interesting places and activities in a given city, because that's a laugh!! And don't ever take its advice on quality or safety.


Useful for planning a trip around South East Asia

A very useful and reliable, concise guide on South East Asia. Very good information on different highlights in each of the countries, good info on getting there and travelling around. Good to know where and when to go, as every other Lonely Planet guide featuring multiple countries.

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