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Lonely Planet Laos (Country Guide) Paperback – August 1, 2007

2.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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From the Publisher

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At Lonely Planet, we see our job as inspiring and enabling travelers to connect with the world for their own benefit and for the benefit of the world at large.

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Product Details

  • Series: Country Guide
  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet; 6 edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1741045681
  • ISBN-13: 978-1741045680
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,526,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Contrary to what several other reviewers have posted, this is in fact a surprisingly thorough guidebook to a locale that's only in recent years been opened up to the public, particularly tourists.

There isn't a lot of material in English about Laos, and Cummings makes a good attempt at showing us the deep richness of Laos and the fascinating aspects of the culture.

He approaches Laos with respect, and not like some rampaging farang looking for a good time at the expense of the natives.

It's a guidebook that tries to honestly tell you something of the place.

Does it always succeed?

Perhaps not, but it's quite useful not only as a "guidebook" but a more condensed reference book about Laos, considering there are so few readable books about Lao culture, geography and society out there.

And having used it on my own month-long trip through Laos, it got me through things just fine. I also had a Let's Go guide, and between the two, I pitched Let's Go somewhere in Southeast Asia and still kept Cumming's book with me.

So I hope this review helps anyone thinking about this book.
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Format: Paperback
I have recently completed a 12-month backpacking journey around the world, a trip that included Laos. In each of the 20-some countries I visited, the Lonely Planet I carried proved invaluable. However, after having read some of the other Amazon reviews of the LP Laos book before using it, I was expecting this particular guide-book to be worthless. But in fact, after using Cummings' book for nearly a month in Laos, I was pleasantly surprised to find it as useful as any other LP that I have used. Actually, expecting this guide-book to be useless, I brought along another Laos guide-book, which proved to be much less useful on the road when used side-by-side with the LP.
Not only did I find the accomodation and eating sections for popular locations as accurate and update as I would expect, but Cummings' did a fine job of briefly describing many off-the-beaten-track places, providing initial ideas for numerous adventures into the unknown.
And of course, as in any country to see the "real-thing", it is always rewarding to venture to places that you have not read about in a guide book. For this reason, I would certainly not criticize Cummings for not writing more.
All in all, in my opinion this book certainly meets the lofty standards set by Lonely Planet.
A bit of advice to would-be travelers: During my 12 months of diligently using Lonely Planet guides, I have been amazed by the travel-blunders made by fellow travelers who have carried travel guides, but have not used them. Some travelers perfer to do it "on their own", but I have seen numerous costly, time-consuming, and uncomfortable mistakes made that could have been easily avoided if they would have simply consulted the book in their hands. A little diligence goes a long ways.
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Format: Paperback
After using the Thailand Lonely Planet guide (also written by Joe Cummings) extensively this summer (it was extremely helpful), I found the Laos guide really disappointing.
Laos is changing at an alarming rate and a lot of the information in this guide was out of date. Also, unlike the Thailand guide which is quite detailed, I found this book to be kind of skimpy. The maps aren't very good, a lot of towns weren't included, transportation details were no longer correct or not included, and because of the surge in tourism and high inflation rate, the prices listed were meaningless.
Until edition 4 of the Laos Lonely Planet guide is published, I would recommend buying The Rough Guide Laos which was published in January 2000 and was getting good reviews from other tourists.
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Format: Paperback
What a difference a new edition makes. Lonely Planet's brand new guidebook, Laos 6th edition, released August 2007, is easily the best on the market. The traveller looking for comprehensive coverage in a guidebook need look no further. An extra 60 pages long, this title packs an impressive punch, with a good balance of exhaustive coverage of the key destinations along with sound information on the lesser known spots.

Quite simply, Australian co-authors Andrew Burke and Justine Vaisutis have put together what is the best English-language offline resource for travel in Laos. From a tourism perspective, Laos is a rapidly developing nation, especially in the major tourist centres where new accommodation options multiply at a seemingly ever-increasing rate, yet they've done a fine job of boiling down a snapshot of the country into a guide that will be more than enough for the most demanding traveller.

Matters get off to a good start -- a good, easy-to-read colour map (even if some of the roads look a tad sketchy), suggested itineraries and a completely rewritten history section by Professor Martin Stuart-Fox, author of A History of Laos (1997). This is followed by a pretty stock-standard introductory section -- the people, government and culture are all covered, though the government -- arguably the most repressive and certainly the most secretive in Southeast Asia after Burma -- gets off the hook pretty lightly.

What does stand out in the introduction is the generous space given to Laos and its natural environment -- particularly its budding eco-tourism industry. As Burke says in an upcoming interview with Travelfish.org, "If there's anywhere in Asia where eco-tourism can be a success, then it's Laos".
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