Book Review: Lonely Planet - Cambodia


Lonely Planet's Cambodia guidebook starts off with a respectably comprehensive narrative about the kingdom and it's six thousand year old
history, and at 19 pages long, this is actually the single lengthiest topical section within the book - by almost double. Which is fortunate,because it's also one of the most valuable, and a careful read-through will give any prospective traveller of cambodia (whether as a backpacker, classic tourist, or luxury-hunter) a thorough understanding of why things are the way they are in the magical kingdom of Cambodia.


This orientation is accompanied by several smaller, yet incredibly useful sections. The itineraries section gives a detailed overview of some of the possible ways to see the country, each themed towards a different brand of experiences. This is split into Classic Routes and The Roads Less Travelled, although most will likely choose to pick-and-mix between the routes shown.
From the first-timer to the repeat-visitor, these routes mark out the sights and sounds that make Cambodia that will likely be the section of the book readers choose to write into notes and stow in their bags (if they choose
not to take the whole book)!


Extensive sections cover of the culture and environment of Cambodia, and discuss everything from religion to media, wildlife to architecture. Whilst this isn't as an important read as say, the history section, it does yield some very noteworthy points. Often, extra enjoyment can be squeezed out of a situation by knowing the little details to look for once you get there - and that's precisely what this section is for. Additionally, memorizing these sections will make you appear infinitely knowledgable to your fellow travellers - never a bad thing!


A short summary of annual holidays and celebrations (such as the Khmer New Year, and the hectic and colourful boat races of the Water Festival) is also provided, for those who wish to plan for - or around - some of the bigger events and festivals that are held every year.


The rest of the guidebook meets the expected high quality of Lonely Planet's
guidebook series, with just over two hundred pages of point-by-point breakdown for each of the major locations within the kingdom. Each location review includes carefully thought out information on activities, sleeping and accomodation, eating and drinking, entertainment - even shopping, as well as cautionary notes about dangers and annoyances. As usual, each of these is split into financial brackets, so there's something for everyone.


Of particular and surprising note, the Cambodia guidebook does not suffer from the over-inflated "budget" sections that many of the guidebooks are currently succumbing to - in this book, budget actually means budget, and not $30 a night at bizarro hotel. A refreshing reminder that you don't have to be a wealthy tourist to see the world - you simply need a sense of adventure and opportunity.


The Cambodia guidebook, by all accounts is one of the top books that Lonely Planet has put out in recent years. With Cambodia looking to become the next Thailand, if you're thinking of seeing the Kingdom before it does - pick up this book. It will make the whole process far more enjoyable, and you're less likely to get lost in the jungle somewhere. Unless you'd like to, in which case that's covered too.


Click here to see the latest specials on travel guides from Lonely Planet.

Jonathan Blake is the Transglobal Editor for Wandering Educators.

Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    13 years 7 months ago

    Thanks, Jonathan! I have always wanted to go to Cambodia. This review (and book) makes me want to go there even more. 


    Jessie Voigts


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