Monday, September 21, 2015

The Rough Guide to Laos, 1st Edition

The most comprehensive handbook to one of Southeast Asia's least-known destinations. Features include detailed coverage of all sights, up-to-the-minute listings of the best places to eat and stay, practical guidance on exploring the remote northern hill villages, full-colour photos and more than 30 detailed maps.


The Guardian, London

When to go November to January are the most pleasant months to travel in lowland Laos, when daytime temperatures are agreeably warm and evenings are slightly chilly, necessitating a lightweight jacket. However, at higher elevations temperatures are significantly cooler, sometimes dropping to freezing point - a heavy coat is a must. In February, temperatures begin to climb, reaching a peak in April, when the lowlands are baking-hot and humid. During this time, the highlands are, for the most part, equally hot if a bit less humid than the lowlands, though there are places, such as Pakxong on the Bolaven Plateau, that have a temperate climate year round. Generally, the rains begin in May and last until September. This is important to keep in mind, as the rainy season affects the condition of Laos's network of unpaved roads, some of which become impassable after the rains begin. On the other hand, rivers which may be too low to navigate during the dry season become important transport routes after the rains have caused water levels to rise.

Most helpful customer reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful.
5great job with a tough subject
By A Customer
I never appreciated how difficult it must be to write a travel guide until I spent a week with the authors in southern Laos. Unlike the north, which has several bonafide tourist destinations, the south is still largely untraveled. A 50-mile trip between two provincial capitals took us more than four hours, packed into a "bus" (essentially a covered truck with wooden benches installed in the payload) in the dusty heat of the hot season. And at the end of the road, we found towns with no accommodation save the local government guest house, where the only "history" in evidence was the one stone wall remaining from the US bombing or the craters still lining the avenues.
But despite the hardships and the apparent lack of organized tourism, I would definitely go back again if I had the chance. Something unique about Laos - the scenery, the food, especially the people - gets under your skin.
This is where the authors achieve their greatest success, in their ability to communicate what is special about this amazing, but often overlooked, country. The Rough Guide's signature style, which tends to include social, cultural and historical information throughout (rather than just tucking a few pages into the introductory section) is of particular benefit here. The result is so much more than a bland recitation of towns, distances, modes of transport and places to stay.
This book definitely rekindled my desire to go back to Laos. And when I do, I know what I'll be using as my guide.

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful.
5Excellent guide book and an even better read
By A Customer
Unlike another reviewer, I did not have to benefit of travelling to Laos with the authors. But after reading this guide book, I felt as if I knew them, like they were old friends who were jotting down their travel notes to help me on my journey. By halfway through the book, i felt i could read between the lines to tell the good from the better, the bad from the horrible. As someone who generally hates guide books, I can honestly say, this one is all good. I only wish i could someday travel to Laos with Jeff Cranmer and Steven Martin. Such a fascinating read clearly could only come from fascinating people.

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful.
5This is where it's at, for Laos guidebooks
By Timothy J. Triche, Jr.
None of the guides to Laos are perfect. This one was at least helpful and the writing tolerable. That's all you can ask, apparently. It doesn't matter, though. If you make it to Luangphabang and stay for a while I don't think you'll care which guidebook was "best". You'll be too busy enjoying one of the most beautiful, romantic cities I've ever had the joy of setting foot in. If you're French visit the Dao Fe creperie, if you speak English, try to find the owner of the Duang Champa, and whatever you do, wherever you go, learn a little Lao so you can talk to people in their own language, like a proper human being. You can get away with speaking English in Vientiane and Luangphabang, but it's rude; in the villages they aren't going to be very interested in what you have to say if you can't at least speak a little Lao. So your choice of guidebook will quickly become an afterthought once the first few days have passed.

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