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Southeast Asia on a Shoestring - China Williams

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Genre: Travel / Author: China Williams / Edition: 14Rev Ed / Paperback / 988 Pages / Book is published 2008-03-01 by Lonely Planet Publications

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      18.08.2009 17:18
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      A very good guidebook, good lay out, easy to use.

      Lonely Planet is a brand of travel guides; they have one for most countries you can visit. When I travelled South East Asia I took their 'on a shoestring' addition. We found it very useful to help find accommodation, although, understandably due to the size of the book they can only put in information on a selection of hotels. We used it as a reference as to the area that all the hostels/guesthouses were in, but checked a few out ourselves.

      When using the guide book, even if it is the latest version, you should be wary that facts such as the cost of guesthouses and exchange rates can vary from the time the book was written, but of course it's a good point of reference.

      The book is really well laid out, which makes it easy to find the information at a quick glance. Chapters in the book are written by different authors so there isn't really a flow throughout, you should also be cautious that sometimes the opinions of the restaturants/ guesthouses etc could be bias depending on the author of that particular section. Remember again that the restaurants etc could change dramatically from when the book is published to you using it.

      In each section there is also a section with some useful information, this provides lists of airlines, bus and train companies along with the web address's which really helped us book our travels. Again though, always do your own investigation as some deals we found were never mentioned in the lonely planet.

      I would advise you take some sort of guide book when you go travelling, the Lonely Planet is a good one.

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      22.06.2009 21:41
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      A good-to-have, but must back it up

      I would not have coped without this.

      It is a compendium of countries in South East Asia and features all the major tourist attractions, cities, food, shopping and hostels for a range of low budgets!

      As it contains more than one country it minimises carrying weight and is still a reasonably compact size given the amount it contains.

      The majority of the book is text, with some colour images distributed in sections. Some of the colour pictures I feel have been slightly wasted as I there were many more worthwhile sites to show.

      Many of the recommended hostels and restaurants were absolutely fine althoug it was worth looking around. By the end of the trip I tended to use the recommendations for area rather than the actual hostel as these were frequently full (I clearly was not the only one with the book!) I could not seem to remedy this as although LP have some booking for the hostels connected to their website in the more remote places (with less beds) I struggled to book.

      The food everywhere was reasonable the only disastrous recommendation by LP was in Vietnam - I could see rats in the kitchen as I approached and decided to skip.....

      One tip though would be to have larger maps of any towns. Space is an understandable constraint in these books but some of the maps were just too small anddifficult to read. Lost at night in Asia is not so fun....

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      13.03.2009 22:29
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      LPSEA is a great guide, but not a sacred text as some regard it

      It is a legendary book, as it was the first Lonely Planet book and completely revolutionised the backpacking scene, making it less of best kept secret. Some will dispute that this is a good thing, but for better or worse this book has set many trends and standards in the travel industry.

      This book functions as a guide to things to do and places to stay in SE A.sia, it over all countries in the region including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and The Phillipines.

      I have still have my completetly battered and dog-eared copy from when I travelled in SE Asia, and it served as a great general guide.

      I think it is important for travellers to understand the strengths and limitations of such a book and not to limit their travel experience by becoming overly dependant on it.

      The book has very useful maps of all the major towns and cities, marked on the map are all the local amenities such as accomodation, banks, cafes d attractions. I would often arrive at a bus/coach station or a port and set off on foot, using the map in the book to find somewhere to stay. Sometimes I would also tear out the page with the map on and use it to find my way home at night after I had been for food and beers. If you are spending a significant amount of time in one town or city it is sometimes worth having the Lonely planet for that country because the regional book does ommit a lot of details in order to keep the size of the book down and inclued several countries. Additionally the focus of this book is travelling 'on a shoestring' therefore 95% of the accomodation mentioned is bottom of the range, so if you want to stay in more mid-range accomodation you would be better using LPs for the individual countries, which you can buy in the road.

      In all my travels I have managed to find some amazing places to stay by using the LP, although it is not always as easy as opening a book, here are a few problems with the LPSEA. All travel books are notorious for becoming outdated quickly, so do not be surprised if you turn up somewhere and it is boarded up or has a different name. I noticed two annoying symptons of what I now refer to as the Lonely Planet syndrome; 1. A hotel has got rave reviews in the book, consequently travellers are beating the door down whilst ignoring other equally valuable local services. The hotel rides on its reputation and does not maintain the high standards that got it a mention in the book. The other problem, this I found in India more than anywhere else and is quite the opposite of the first problem. Now that the hotel is doing quite well, they want to increase the amount of money spent by each traveller. This is usually done by giving the place a face lift, a bit of paint, some sir con and a TV in each room. The price is then doubled and what you get is not the cheap backpacker squalor that you wanted, but a mid-range hotel. You will have similar problems with the cost and timings of transport too. Sometimes it is best to ring ahead especially if you are planning to arrive late at night or on foot after walking 2 miles with a backpack.

      The best way to get up to date and more impartial advice on where to stay is by speaking to travellers you meet along the way. Use the book to find your way from A to B and your first accomodation in a town, but then look around for something more suited to your needs. If you do this and set yourself a challenge of trying places that are not in the Lonely Planet you will have a much more rewarding travel experience. Be experimental and eat different foods from places not in the book, because there is no point travelling to Asia and only associating with other Westerners. Enjoy!!

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        13.03.2009 21:40
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        brilliant - the best!

        I borrowed this book from a friend and its the most useful book I have bought so far! The one I borrowed was the 2005 version but as she eventually asked for hers back, I had to go out and buy my own copy, which is the most recent 2008 version.

        Its fantastic, so helpful, I will definitely be taking it with me and I dont know what I will be doing without it!

        It covers Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

        I looked on the internet at first to start planning my route, but it was so difficult searching different places and not getting the information you are looking for. But this book is literally all you need!

        It covers EVERYthing - history, culture, religion, environment, transport, sights, sleeping, eating, entertainment, dangers, festivals, courses, clubbing, shopping and Loads more!

        It gives you tips on places to go and the top places etc. It has everything you could ever need!

        i would highly recommend this book to any traveller, especially if you are less organised as all the information you could need is right there, and you just look it up as and when you need.

        I still have to put it into practice and use it on my travels. Guess the only downside will be the weight of lugging it around, so might end up rethinking taking it, but I dont know how I will cope without it!

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        01.08.2008 09:17
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        A reliable resource

        The original and most well known of the Lonely Planet guidebooks, affectionately known as the "yellow bible".

        This review refers to the 13th Edition published in March 2006, there is however an updated version available now: 14th Edition published in March 2008.

        The mantra of this book is "Big trips on small budgets" and really is a very useful tool for the adventurous traveller.

        Coverage extends to cover the following countries:
        Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Bali, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

        The book itself is 19.6 x 13 x 4.1 cm in size so quite compact to carry around with you and it runs in at 1004 pages.

        As with most LP titles the guide book is written in a casual style that makes it easy to read. The book starts of with a general overview of the region and offers up some suggested itineraries, there is also some good generalised travel advice.

        Each country featured starts off with some fast facts and highlights, it then moves into both current and historic information, along the lines of political, cultural, lifestyle, economic and religious information.

        LP provides some good maps of both larger geographical areas and also more detaiedl on areas of interest. There is the usual list of activities available as well as acommadation and eating options.

        Some of the price information is a little bit off but I find that of any guide book, even if its the latest edition. Transport options are usually accurate but many of the hotels and guest houses that get listed seem to take the opportunity to cash in and hike the prices up.

        At the end of the book is a handy reference section which includes some basic language help.

        Really I would advise to use this just as a guide not as a set of instructions. I have met many that depend to much on this book and stay pretty much only in the places suggested.

        But overall this is a great book for travelling, or just for dreaming about it.

        The cover price is £15.99, but is available form Amazon at £11.14

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        15.07.2008 02:10
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        Can be useful, worth a look.

        This is the first book from the 'Lonely Planet' guide, originally titled in 1973 as 'Across Asia on the Cheap' - after initial success, the book was later developed by writers Tony Wheeler and his wife Maureen into the title it still holds today; 'South-East Asia on a shoestring'.

        With the slogan 'big tips on small budgets' on the front cover, the book is geared mainly towards backpackers on a budget (as the title suggests). The countries roughly covered total as eleven, Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, i say roughly with emphasis because all these areas are covered in 988 pages (latest edition, 14th, which I have infront of me - published March 2008).

        The beginning of the book features highlights of the entire region, and example itinerarys for travellers, giving rough ideas of how long certain trips will take, and how much to budget for the trip.


        My opinion on the book as a whole is that it's a useful book to highlight the key areas of the countries in south-east asia, but is by no means 'the yellow bible' as some suggest, the main fault of the book that I can see is the budgets given for each country, which are on occasion too low, for example, 650 THB in Thailand per day would get you a budget guesthouse these days, and not much more, maybe eight or ten years ago, but not now, my advice on that front is do some extra research on budgeting before you leave for your trip, look online at prices of guesthouses in the areas you plan to visit, scribble out the budgets in the book and write your own, afterall, we're all different of course.

        That (last paragraph) said, the book can be very useful on the road, say you end up in a place where you've not heard much about, you can pull out this book and check some guesthouses, places to eat, sights and activities in the area, you may find something interesting and worthwhile. I will be taking it on my next trip to southeast asia later this year. Especially if you're travelling through multiple countries, this breif guide saves hiking around eleven guidebooks (if you're the guidebook type, I like to think i'm not, but they can be handy and help you on your trip sometimes).

        Overall, It's worth giving this book a look if you're planning on visiting southeast asia, if nothing else, it can give you a basic grasp of each country in the region and give you a few ideas of what to expect from the areas covered.

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