Lonely Planet Thailand
Travel guides explore countries, regions and cities in depth and for every budget, with reliable, easy-to-use maps, first-hand recommendations, well-researched background information and thorough, up-to-date coverage of all the sights -- on and off the beaten track. There are more than 230 titles in this classic series covering nearly every country in the world.
-- loads of accommodation listing, from cheap beds to innercity luxury
-- details on divine beaches and dozens of islands for the perfect relax
-- culture vulture's tour of monasteries and temples
-- trekking, rafting and rock-climbing hot spots
-- extensive special sections covering arts, architecture, religion and cuisine
Since 1987 I have been buying each new edition of the Lonely Planet Thailand travel guide. Back in the 1980s, this was the only worthwhile travel guide to Thailand, but Lonely Planet and Joe Cummings are clearly resting on their laurels. There is very little new material in each new edition that comes out every few years. Now, in 2002, there are lots of new and better
guidebooks out there. I can recommend Insight Guides, Rough Guides, and DK travel guides, to name only a few good ones.
Joe Cummings has been the main author of the Thailand Travel Guide for over two decades. He is also the author of many other
travel guidebooks published by Lonely Planet. The problem with his books is that he is not excited about travel, and this feeling comes through in his guidebooks. He is an expert on Asian art history, and I think that it would be more appropriate if he wrote books specifically about this subject, instead of travel guides for the general public.
To get a good feeling about the kind of writer that Joe Cummings is, I would strongly recommend that you also read through the reviews of his Travel Guide to Laos, which is also published by Lonely Planet.
National Geographic Traveler: Thailand
In-depth site descriptions and background information
Insightful features on history, culture, and contemporary life
More than 260 vivid color photographs
22 detailed, full-color maps
Mapped walking tours
Specially commissioned artwork
Clear, easy-to-use design
Complete visitor information plus hotels, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment
This book seems to be mostly fluff and pictures. It's all in full color which makes it appealing to the eye, and the pictures and general information about various locations are interesting. However, it's almost useless in planning a trip.
All the hotels and restaurants are listed at the back of the book (separate from the other information about the cities, which in itself is annoying because you have to flip back and forth), and the selection they list seems completely random. For many cities no hotels or restaurants are listed.
National Geographic would do well to cut down on the pretty colors and pictures and expand the actual information provided in this book. As it is now, it is a waste of money. Buy the Lonely Planet guide if you want practical information that will actually help you to plan and enjoy a trip to Thailand.
Moon Handbooks: Thailand
Suitable for both first-time visitors or seasoned Thailand explorers, this handbook provides an introduction to Thai history, culture, architectural styles, Buddhist iconography, local customs and performing arts.'
From one that has travelled throughout the Kingdom over the past decade; this new kid on the block handbook is the most deeply researched and detailed look at the magic kingdom of several other guides previously used. The historical background, and articulate area descriptions are unrivaled. The Thailand Handbook is the essential travel document for the moderate income traveller who actually enjoys getting out among the people of Thailand, and off dreadful Khao San Rd. I strongly recommend this book to anyone on a budget of over 40 dollars a day in Thailand. If not, one should really go with one of the other "backpack" guides. The LP guide usually has a more extensive selection of low cost accomodations and cheap food in the high concentration seedier tourist areas. Above all, just get out there and enjoy the real Thailand as it's described in Parkes book.
The Thailand Handbook gives you valuable background information on the culture and history of Thailand. As far as places to go are concerned, it is refreshing to see a guidebook that covers not only the major attractions but also the attractions of smaller towns you might pass through on your journey.