Lonely Planet Misadventures

Lonely Planet Misadventures

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The Lonely Planet makes traveling the world possible, but doesn’t always get things right.  It is the only publisher making current guidebooks for several countries and regions, being so important to travelers in India and China that it’s referred to as the bible.  Annoyingly though, the Lonely Planet tries to put a positive spin on places, when some need to be called out as the busts they are.  Here are some of the places we’ve gone, led to believe they would be worth the trip, only to find our experiences fall short of what the Lonely Planet authors experienced.

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1.  Gyeongju, South Korea.  Yep it’s an ancient capital and history happened here, but there isn’t much to see.  There are tombs, buried under hills, which look, unsurprisingly, like hills.  Walking around the sites of where spectacular buildings once stood and looking at models…meh.  I’ll save you the time and show you the most impressive sight in town below.  Want to see more?  Click here.  There, I saved you a trip…please PayPal me the money I just saved you…

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Imhaejeon Palace at night, seen over Anap  Pond.  The only thing to see in Gyeongju.

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2.  Chocolate Hills, Bohol, Philippines.  It’s only cool to geologists and let’s face it, what’s cool to geologists just isn’t cool unless it’s spewing hot lava.  To find out more about what I disliked about Bohol, click here to read Bohol Blows.

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The Chocolate Hills, awesome if you like to admire hills…

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3.  Janakpur, Nepal.  We were led to believe this would be a great place to break up the long ride from Kathmandu to Darjeeling, with decent hotel and food choices.  The reality: there is one good restaurant and one nice hotel.  When we arrived the nice hotel was fully booked, leading us to explore other options that varied between ramshackle and rundown.  Thankfully the Lonely Planet did warn us about the blood thirsty swarms of mosquitos, but it was little help in our un-airconditioned room that would be a better sauna than bedroom.  I don’t even have a photo to show you, it just wasn’t worth it.

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4.  Nasca, Peru.  If the Nasca Lines were made by aliens then they are really cool, if not they are just large sandcastles.  Sure, the Nasca Lines are old and giant, but does it justify hanging out in the sweltering desert to take a ride in a questionably maintained Peruvian propeller plane?

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5.  Phonsovon, Laos.  I’ll chalk this one up to mutual error.  We should not have been misled into believing that seeing massive rock jars would be interesting.  Even if we ignore the fact that the origin and use of the jars is a mystery they are still giant jars.  Even so the Lonely Planet made them out to be exciting, as though maybe, just maybe, these jars were actually drinking glasses for prehistoric 100 foot tall humans.

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6. Kapit, Sarawak, Malaysia.  With a name so close to kaput, one would think we realized this must be a joke.  Listed as a great place to see longhouses we took the eight hour boat trip from Kuching with high hopes.  The first leg of the ride was an open sea crossing which was the roughest ride of my life.  The large ship would scale a wave larger than itself, then slam down the other side.  Skipping the seasick/nausea stage I passed out due to the g-forces of the hits.  All was well when we finally arrived there, searching out hotels and tours.  What we found was that there is one tourguide in the city.  I don’t mean one tour company, it literally is one lady that you call at home.  She charges $50 a person for a four hour trip to a longhouse.  There was one other option: have a taxi take you to a longhouse and promise to pick you up later for $20.  We decided the awkwardness of walking up to people’s homes and not speaking the language ruled that option out.  In the end we didn’t visit the longhouses, we accepted that this trip was kaput and headed off to Brunei.

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YOUR TURN:  Where has a guidebook misled you to?  What is the place you were most hopeful for that turned out to be a bust?  Is it funny in retrospect? Share your story in the comments below.


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Comments

» Ayngelina :
Jul 2, 2012

Ha this is the very reason I do not use a guidebook. I find if you are backpacking people give much more honest opinions.
Read Ayngelina’s awesome post Haleakala Sunrise

LOCAVORista Reply:

Ayngelina, I agree other travelers is always the best way to get information, but a guidebook helps in long-term planning and learning about different places. It’s just that sometimes you get sucked into lavish descriptions of a site that ends up being not what you hoped for.

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thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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