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Best foreign travel guides watch

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    What do people think? Never been abroad and hoping to make my first 'jaunt' abroad in summer 2012 with my girlfriend. Either France or Italy for starters.

    Anyway to whet our appetite I was thinking of getting a guidebook. What would you guys recommend? Rough Guides seem to dominate the shelves of Waterstones; plus there are the "Lonely Planet" or the DK guides amongst others. There are probably more specific ones I haven't heard of.

    Recommendations please
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    (Original post by dudleyian)
    What do people think? Never been abroad and hoping to make my first 'jaunt' abroad in summer 2012 with my girlfriend. Either France or Italy for starters.

    Anyway to whet our appetite I was thinking of getting a guidebook. What would you guys recommend? Rough Guides seem to dominate the shelves of Waterstones; plus there are the "Lonely Planet" or the DK guides amongst others. There are probably more specific ones I haven't heard of.

    Recommendations please
    I used Lonely planet when I went to South Africa. I spent a lot of my time in Cape Town so got the Cape Town one too.

    I'll not be buying another one however. Nor Rough Guide or any other travel book over £7.

    The reasons?

    It spent the majority of time in my backpack. I never used it for anything really when I got there. All the stuff I did use it for, I would of been able to (and did) find online before I went, or was told about by locals.

    I find it much better to get there an find things yourself. Those books just seem too...touristy. Touristy as in the fat American with the Hawiian shirt

    You want my overall advise, save £10-20 and don't by the book. Research online, via government sites or tourism promoting style sites etc.

    But I'll admit, when you have a trip booked, it is almost customary to buy the book as a vain attempt to maybe quench your excitment.


    Edit:

    However on the majority of Lonley planet books, they have 1-2+ top 5/10/20's lists of several topics such as top 10 culture/sports/landmarks etc which I found was the best part of the book. Its only a few pages long at the very start of the book
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    I have found wikitravel to be the best resource for all of my travels. Information is updated a lot quicker than in the traditional guides.
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    You see I'm quite the opposite of bestofyou which kind of shows that it really depends how you travel. I like to travel with military precision, knowing where I am & where I'm going to, when I'm going there and what I'm going to do when I am there. You could research this online but when you're going abroad for more than a week it would be quite hard.

    I like Lonely Planet books - I've tried Rough Guide but they weren't as good for me. To be fair they're almost identical it's just the layout and organisation which is different so you may prefer the latter. I mostly use the guide books for the maps included, which surprisingly are usually pretty damn accurate. To quote a traveller I met "Don't get any of those guides with pretty pictures - they may be nice to look at but they're bloody useless in terms of information". LP (and RG) have a few pictures but they're mostly jam packed with maps, information, history, customs, language etc, and for me one of the most important bits of gear in my backpack.

    To note: I went to Hong Kong a while back for a week & planned out every day before I got there. I didn't use my guidebook much at all when I was actually in HK for this reason. If it's a short trip, perhaps you don't need a book. Personally I'd still get one to organise stuff before you go though :top:
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    Get a bunch of internet resources together to supplement whatever guidebook you try. Even the best one in the world doesn't cover everything. If you are going to be hostelling it I would also suggest you make a list of nice places you see on Hostelworld.com etc and take a look at those, as they've never suggested great hostels at least in the area I went.

    I used Lonely Planet when I went around the Balkans but that was because they were the only ones that did Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia in one book (which was much better than having to cart around 3). I would recommend Lonely Planet ones, although Rough Guides are also excellent. I would warn that the Lonely Planet maps, in my experience, were awful, so have your own map with you if you are trying to find the train station or something!

    (Original post by Ewan)
    I mostly use the guide books for the maps included, which surprisingly are usually pretty damn accurate.
    Although after reading this, maybe it was just the maps for where we were! Ours were awful, but maybe they are better for other more 'well travelled' places.

    I wouldn't say just depend on internet stuff, it's not all that detailed and it can suddenly disappear/change/be someone's opinion not fact if you choose the wrong places. By all means supplement a guidebook with internet resources, but I love having a guide book I can lie on my hostel bed reading before the next day.
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    (Original post by Formerly LieDown)
    Although after reading this, maybe it was just the maps for where we were! Ours were awful, but maybe they are better for other more 'well travelled' places.
    Heh well I've never got lost using a lot of LP guides :p: I remember in Bangkok, armed with my compass I could work out all the bus routes :teehee: (most tourists avoid the buses because it's hard to figure out where you are :lol:)

    By accurate I only mean the general layout of streets mind you. Don't count on that cafe mentioned as number 15 still being there... I've turned up to bus stations before only to be told they don't exist any more either. Generally in countries where things are changing fast (as they do in the developing world) you can't rely on the finer details, that much is true.
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    (Original post by Ewan)
    Heh well I've never got lost using a lot of LP guides :p: I remember in Bangkok, armed with my compass I could work out all the bus routes :teehee: (most tourists avoid the buses because it's hard to figure out where you are :lol:)

    By accurate I only mean the general layout of streets mind you. Don't count on that cafe mentioned as number 15 still being there... I've turned up to bus stations before only to be told they don't exist any more either. Generally in countries where things are changing fast (as they do in the developing world) you can't rely on the finer details, that much is true.
    I'm not sure what the issue with ours was. There was a problem with Cyrillic vs. Roman alphabet (i.e. LP used one whilst the street signs around us used the other). But other than that they seemed to be really badly scaled and set out! The streets either weren't there, or they made you believe you had to trek miles to the next turning when in fact you had gone past it hours ago. In the end we just asked directions, did a lot of guess work, took tourist maps from hostels/tourist information points and used a lot more public transport that we had originally thought we were going to do! We thought it might just be Sarajevo, which would be understandable as a lot of it is still quite messed up, but it was the same in Split in Croatia, and even in Belgrade.

    Oh and we depended on a bus leaving Mostar at a certain time. There was no website, no other info to use apart from LP guidebook. Turns out it had stopped running a while ago. Obviously not LP's fault as it must have been running when they were there, but it did put a spanner in the works rather.

    If the guidebook is even a few years old, try to back up some things like bus times etc!!
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    I found lonely planet pretty good in Australia, but to be honest I only read it when I was bored - all the information in it is available free online and much more convenient to get.

    I was going to buy one for Croatia as there isn't a huge deal of information online, but the review above this puts me off a bit!
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    (Original post by callum9999)
    I found lonely planet pretty good in Australia, but to be honest I only read it when I was bored - all the information in it is available free online and much more convenient to get.

    I was going to buy one for Croatia as there isn't a huge deal of information online, but the review above this puts me off a bit!
    Oh no don't let me put you off, the LP guides are great like you said. I didn't have the specific one for Croatia, mine was the Western Balkans. I was just saying that the only thing I do have an issue with were the maps, but they are easy to get from tourist information etc etc. I really would suggest a guidebook for the former Yugoslav countries as people are either very biased in what they say (i.e. make it sound like a death trap) or know very little.

    The book was fantastic (including the chapter on Croatia) couldn't have survived the trip without it

    Just don't depend on the maps and double-check the times of certain buses/trains (which I guess you should do anyway)

    And as a travel tip for Croatia, don't depend on a train in Zadar!!
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    (Original post by Formerly LieDown)
    Oh no don't let me put you off, the LP guides are great like you said. I didn't have the specific one for Croatia, mine was the Western Balkans. I was just saying that the only thing I do have an issue with were the maps, but they are easy to get from tourist information etc etc. I really would suggest a guidebook for the former Yugoslav countries as people are either very biased in what they say (i.e. make it sound like a death trap) or know very little.

    The book was fantastic (including the chapter on Croatia) couldn't have survived the trip without it

    Just don't depend on the maps and double-check the times of certain buses/trains (which I guess you should do anyway)

    And as a travel tip for Croatia, don't depend on a train in Zadar!!
    Ah thanks. I'm going there on a spur of the moment holiday and I was a bit shocked at how unhelpful the internet is! Especially with things like bus times etc. The very little information that is available is generally in Croatian making it ten times harder to find!
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    (Original post by callum9999)
    Ah thanks. I'm going there on a spur of the moment holiday and I was a bit shocked at how unhelpful the internet is! Especially with things like bus times etc. The very little information that is available is generally in Croatian making it ten times harder to find!
    I would suggest the Thomson European Rail Guide for trains. I can't say much about buses as I only used one in Croatia (Mostar to Split), but if you are taking trains then expect to see Knin almost every flipping time you take a train journey!

    I visited Split, Zadar and Zagreb, so ask if you want to know something and I might be able to help
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    (Original post by Formerly LieDown)
    I would suggest the Thomson European Rail Guide for trains. I can't say much about buses as I only used one in Croatia (Mostar to Split), but if you are taking trains then expect to see Knin almost every flipping time you take a train journey!

    I visited Split, Zadar and Zagreb, so ask if you want to know something and I might be able to help
    Thanks. Trains won't be an issue and I'm not using the buses that much (one day to some local towns near Pula and then a trip to Zagreb). I've managed to get a rough idea of timetables online so I think it will be fine to leave until I get there and the hostel can help if needs be. Any tips on what to see in Zagreb would be good though.
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    I like the Bradt Guides. Consistently well-written, useful info, and a step up from the LP/RG guides.
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    (Original post by Jez RR)
    I like the Bradt Guides. Consistently well-written, useful info, and a step up from the LP/RG guides.
    i've not heard of these, they look good though, thanks!

    i like lonely planet, hate dk and rough guide though. lonely planet is good but its quite dense information wise...so its probably only worth getting one if you are actually going to sit down and really use it to plan a trip. you can also buy single chapters online from their website which i found really useful last summer when i only went to one part in portugal and i didn't want the whole book!
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    Question: I've used both Rough Guides and Lonely Planet before and tbh they are very similar. Whilst useful, i found that a lot of their suggestions were waaaay (as in, to a comic degree) out of our price range. Is there a guide book that is really for the backpacker - someone who wants to stay in cheap hostels and eat cheap local food? Would cut out about 1/3 the pages out of the RG and LP books!
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    (Original post by nexttime)
    Question: I've used both Rough Guides and Lonely Planet before and tbh they are very similar. Whilst useful, i found that a lot of their suggestions were waaaay (as in, to a comic degree) out of our price range. Is there a guide book that is really for the backpacker - someone who wants to stay in cheap hostels and eat cheap local food? Would cut out about 1/3 the pages out of the RG and LP books!
    You could check out the shoestring versions - they're only for some places though I believe.
 
 
 
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