Review of two travel guides about GoaChristian Honig reviewed exclusively for IGSG two guides which include Goa.
Goa travel guide
Those who are planning a trip to Goa are immediately confronted with the question of which guide to buy. The time of preparation and planning is an exciting phase in which they look forward to the trip and the upcoming adventures and the time remaining until departure seems short. Unfortunately, one notices only when traveling, whether a guide proves to be good or not. Namely, when visiting the recommended "still not discovered" locations that had eventually caused great expectations.
On my travels over the last 18 years, I have mostly travelled as an individual traveler and have almost exclusively used the Lonely Planet in English or the German guides of Loose-Verlag. In the following I will try to present a small comparison of the two in relation to the Indian State of Goa. The contents of Lonely Planet's "Goa & Mumbai" and Loose's guide titled "India, the South" form the basis of this comparison (both published in 2012).
Both guides are similar as to their base contents such as practical everyday tips, information about the transportation, travel timetables, people, culture and nature. It is a great pleasure to read these guides before travelling. They tell you what you should necessarily take with you and what not, what vaccinations are necessary, how to get the visa, or what you should observe when travelling with children or travelling alone as a woman.
While the Loose Guide gives these advice briefly on half a page, Lonely Planet dedicates 6 pages to the same with more detailed descriptions and color photographs. In addition, Lonely Planet gives suggestions for travelers with a time budget of 10 days, or 2 or 4 weeks.
The Lonely Planet begins each chapter with a small overview of the contents of the following pages and thus avoids long searching. This is somewhat clearer compared to the Loose. Already on the first page of the chapter on Panaji & Central Goa (the capital and its surroundings), best places to eat, and best places to stay are listed with page numbers. Descriptions of accommodations are similar in terms of content. In some destinations the Lonely specifies three times as many accommodations as the Loose, in other places it is vice versa.
In relation to the described towns and beaches, there is important information about arrival and further travel opportunities. By taxi, bus, train or even by plane. It is here striking that the Lonely Planet provides approximate prices and overall richer and more detailed information.
The maps and city maps are similar. It should be mentioned, that European thought patterns are not really reflected in Indian urban planning and orientation is often difficult. Also, tourist places at the beaches underliy constant change and growth, resulting in that cards are quickly out of date.
The Loose travel guide is a translation into German of the English-speaking Rough Guide. It was - it seems so to me - not simply translated, but also adapted to the German-speaking readers and their interests. Lonely Planet mentions, for example, where to find "the coolest beer in town", but forgets to point out the more importante "does and don´ts". The Loose places more emphasis on teaching intercultural competence. It gives the reader tips on behaviour arising from cultural differences (food, places of worship, clothing, personal contacts, further blunders).
The reader should have very good English skills in order to read the Lonely Planet with pleasure and to fully appreciate the content (especially in the chapters policy, nature, society).
Both guides are suitable for individual travel. There is however, the basic question of what a travel guide is supposed to achieve, what information it should provide and which not, and what responsibilities it has towards the country, its nature and its people. many backpackers consider The Lonely Planet as a "travel Bible", and would not dare to leave their home without it. The question is if one really needs the information about "where to stay" and "where to eat" after one has taken the decision to meet the challenges of an individual travel? Is the "secret tip" really still so secret if it is mentioned in a travel guide?
The Lonely Planet guide is edited in 14 different languages. During my travels, I've personally found that the recommended restaurants and hotels are very often crowded and that quality of the services quickly decreases. One should be also aware of the fact that our money as that of the rich Westeners often wanders into the pockets of foreign investors (owners of good running restaurants and major hotels). In a country where many earn only €50 a month, I can only recommend to everyone to spread his money and to rely on his nose when choosing a restaurant. Where locals eat, food is usually tasty and reasonably priced. In addition, you should also offer an opportunity to hotels that are not (yet) mentioned in the Guide. May be some travelers are still lacking some courage and sense of adventure in this field.
Back to the two guides. They are both very well researched books which not lack much as for quality and scope of information and which are suitable for the individual journey as well as for a guided trip.
What is most important I think is the correct handling with the Guide and that you recognize when the time has come to simply put him aside so you can really discover Goa with your own eyes, ears and nose.
Christian Honig, March 2013
Lonely Planet Goa & Mumbai
Edition: 6th Edition, Jul 2012
Next edition due: Jul 2015
Authors: Amelia Thomas
Stefan Loose Travel Handbuch Indien – Der Süden
5th completely revised edition of 2012
Author: David Abram, Nick Edwards, Mike Ford, Shafik Meghji, Devdan Sen, Gavin Thomas
Release date: 2012
Publisher: DuMont Reiseverlag