Lonely Planet's Special Place

As Lonely Planet celebrates its 30th anniversary, – has it really been THAT long? – a long article in the Chicago Tribune celebrates the travel publisher’s distinctive role in a crowded field: “Few other guidebook publishers – few other publishers, period – have inspired the loyal following and sense of community that Lonely Planet has cultivated in so many parts of the world in its three decades. Countless die-hard travelers swear by the company’s guidance.”

True or false?

I like their books on Thailand and Hawaii, but it seems they would prefer that everyone in undeveloped countries continue to live in grass huts and not modernize, and that getting stoned with some hill tribe in Thailand somehow makes you less of a tacky, exploitive tourist than a few days at Disneyland. It seems recent books have dropped some of the snottiness against travellers that want to splurge on a hotel once in a while.

I am not too happy what they have written about Guam nor am I too happy about what they’ve written about my hometown in S. Oregon. While I’ve written on my site S. Oregon isn’t exactly the hotbed of critical thinking, it does offer a lot of unqiue, virtually free places for tourists, and certainly does not deserve being called “the pits.”

They were pioneers of the “budget traveler”/“backpacker” movement. And I thank goddess for that. I hate overpriced hotels and package holidays. And I like the idea of inspiring people to get down and dirty with the locals by traveling on a more modest sum. BUT, what has happened to LP readers is kinda what happened to Oprah’s book club. A lot of people will only do what is in their guidebook, and that defeats the purpose of exploring, now doesnt it.

Still, I check their books for maps and info and their Thorn Tree discussion board is one of the best on the web. So, I gotta say I am critically happy they exist. And if they ever decide to get off their asses and hire me I will be all too happy to ablige. But they are NOT the end all and be all of travel.

PS not that I have an opinion on the matter. haha.

It bothers me that they have done away with the free web updates, opting instead to spend their time working on the next edition (read that as “creating a paid upgrade”).

Great guides, I bought the Taiwan guide in 1990 and used it until a month ago when I bought the new edition. Of course, I hadn’t LOOKED at the old edition since the early 90s, but the places listed are great starting points for wandering around. Used the Hong Kong guide a couple of times. I agree that many people tend to “go by the book” and therefore miss some of the more interesting places. My only criticism of the LP guides are that they tend to not have a lot on lesser known places and places that require a car to see (renting a car isn’t that tough, is it :slight_smile:?).