When preparing for travel abroad, it’s almost a no-brainer nowadays to find a travel guide to help you plan your trip and find the hidden gems your destination has to offer. Getting some tips on culture and language (if applicable) is certainly a plus, too.
The competition for creating “the” travel guide has certainly heated up as well. As the Internet gets larger the world gets smaller, and it seems that many more people are traveling to The Land of Smiles for an exotic getaway. As more and more travel guides get created, finding the right one becomes more of a challenge.
Well, I’m here to help. I’ve been grabbing up all of the Thailand travel guides I can find, and I plan on reviewing them all to help you cut through the clutter. The first one I’m reviewing is the Insight Guides Thailand travel book. This is a big book as far as travel guides is concerned. Just over 400 pages of information with glossy pages and color photographs, the authors definitely did not skimp on content. The guide starts off with some generalized information about Thailand: history, culture, religion, the arts, weather, cuisine, etc., and it was then – only about 30 pages in – when the bad taste in my mouth started… I don’t know what the authors of the book were thinking when they wrote these sections, as it seems as if they are going out of their way to paint Thailand in a negative light. I have to be honest, it takes a lot to shock me, but I fail to see why any travel guide publishing company would decide to show the ugly side of the country in the opening pages of the book. Here are a few examples:
“It is a well accepted fact that most Thai men are chao choo, or adulterers.”
“The country’s Forestry Department is underfunded and understaffed. In the past few decades, at least 40 rangers have been murdered in the line of duty.”
“Beneath the placid and happy-go-lucky surface of Thai society lies a darker underbelly. Organised [sic] crime is prevalent throughout the country as powerful mafia clans thrive on illegal gambling.”
“The side-effects of rapid modernisation [sic] can be seen by the rising number of slum-dwellers and beggars who live in Bangkok.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but if you were traveling to Thailand for the first time and got this far into the book (only up to page 49, mind you) wouldn’t you have some second thoughts? Don’t get me wrong, I get it; the country’s not perfect, and I’m not trying to sweep these things under the rug and tell you that they aren’t true or that they aren’t real problems. But, this is a travel guide! Perhaps I’m defensive and jaded because my wife is Thai and I have a lot of affection for the country and people. I just don’t see the benefit of painting this picture in a book that is designed to encourage a fun traveling experience.
Well, maybe I should revise that a bit and say that a book is designed to sell copies, not necessarily to paint a country in a good light.
Travel Guide Content
Okay, my rant is, for the most part, over. The rest of the book is up-to-par with the others in terms of offering information about what to do while in Thailand. Organized by region, each section gives brief information about the area, offers a lot of information about what makes each region unique and special, and also has restaurant listings. There are tons of full-color pictures, pretty much on every page in the book. Side-note captions also provide interesting cultural information without having to get into detail. I like this feature, and most travel guides have them. Each section also has a map that gives the reader more detail of the surrounding areas, which will definitely help with traveling from place to place.
Is It Worth the Price?
I’m struggling with this, honestly. The information is fine. If you buy this book you will surely find plenty of places to go and things to do. However, I have a very big problem with the beginning of the book and for that reason will not recommend it. There are other travel guides I will put my name behind and suggest you buy, but not this one. The authors and publishers should be ashamed of themselves for presenting the Thai people and culture the way they did.
If you want to buy it, you’re going to have to find a place to buy it on your own. I’m not even going to link to it through my affiliate account; I don’t need the commission that bad.