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Lonely Planet Mongolia (Country Travel Guide) Paperback – May 1, 2008
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…Lonely Planet, the intrepid traveler's bible...' --Los Angeles Times, April 2005
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Top customer reviews
Yes, it's badly out of date now due to being two years old and the fact that Mongolia is changing rapidly. (Much of the current print edition content appears to be on the LP website, but includes restaurants like the UB Deli, which have been out of business for at least two years.)
The history and culture sections are really well done. This is important since many people, especially Americans, don't really know much about Mongolia except for Chinggis Khan and his horde (and the knowledge is incomplete, too) The descriptions of the land, people, sights and parks match what I've seen on my trips. The author knows the country well.
The directory section in the back puts a lot of really useful information in one place and should be read by anyone planning to go to Mongolia for the first time. I do a quick review before a trip.
I found the maps to be somewhat frustrating. There are parts of the Ulaanbaatar maps which make it hard to see where some things are. In general, the maps need to be higher contrast since they aren't easy to read quickly or in less than bright light.
I'd like to see more on contemporary music, which is vibrant, fun and gives a special look into Mongol culture.
The restaurant section for Ulaanbaatar has worked well for me. I found the descriptions accurate and helpful and have been to about a dozen of the places listed.
The telephone section needs a thorough overhaul. Mongolia has skipped a whole generation of technology and gone straight to cell phones. I took my old Motorola Razr (the iPhone works, but the AT&T roaming charges are sky-high-$14/minute), went to the Mobicom office and for $8 got a new sim card with a decent number of minutes included. I only speak a smidge of Mongolian, but the woman behind the desk was friendly and helpful.
Hotel internet connections are another area that needs more coverage in a new edition. However, service providers come and go and the hotels seem to change what they do from year to year; wired to wireless, free to daily charge, no connection in rooms at all due to construction, etc., so one needs to be, uh, flexible. The guide is good, however, about letting you know where you can find free wi-fi.
I'm giving the book four stars, not because of the overall content, which is excellent (Full disclosure: I've met the author and am providing info. for the next edition), but because Lonely Planet really needs to fix the maps and put this guide on a one year cycle. Mongolia is changing fast due to mining activity (huge deposits of copper, gold and coal coming on line), which is bringing rapid economic growth (a Louis Vuitton store opened in UB not long ago). Also, they need to update the information on the website on an on-going basis, not just post the book content and forget about it.
I love Mongolia and always look forward to my next trip there.
P.S. I *love* Mongolia. I will be going again!! ..with another guidebook.
It seems most people visit Mongolia in groups which can really be off turning for those who want to see the richness of the culture instead of a staged production.
I haven't decided whether this has become like the productions in Bhutan for only the wealthy tourists who travel in groups.
Mongolia is a place to go of you want to experience life as you have not experienced it elsewhere. It is truly unique, but again, if you are unfamiliar to such nations (the "stans" and central asia).
It's a guidebook - it's not going to answer anything, but this doesn't take away anything. Part of the journey my friends as well as part of the destination.