There is a good chance you know what to expect when traveling to London or Paris. If not, you can ask your neighbor or coworker, they’ve likely been. But where do you turn when you are planning travel to less popular destinations like Sri Lanka or Astana? Lonely Planet has you covered!
It is a Lonely Planet
Think of Lonely Planet as the Wikipedia for travel lovers. If you like to see far-out countries and experience new cultures, LP is a one-stop-shop.
There are a number of topics that Lonely Planet has archived for each major city. The main areas I frequent are; budgeting tips, transportation options to and within the city, and how to stay safe.
How to budget
Everyone knows Western Europe is a generally pricey area to visit. Fortunately, there are tons of amazing (and safe) countries to visit, some you’ve never heard of.
If you are being budget-conscious, Southeast Asia is a great place to explore! In most cities, you can stay in a hostel for $15 a night or a mid-level hotel for around $40 a night.
I like to use this map as a starting point for finding popular points-of-interest in Asia. One of the top experiences, according to Lonely Planet, is the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia. What do you know about getting to Cambodia or what to expect when you get there? (If you were like me, not much)
There are a few things we can quickly glean from LP’s ‘Cambodia survival guide‘. The first is that travel costs are extremely low once you arrive. The second is that a tourist visa, though easy to get and is cheap, is required. According to Lonely Planet: “A one-month tourist visa costs US $30 on arrival and requires one passport-sized photo“.
Cambodia budgeting guide based on your “level” of travel
Notice the tipping etiquette for “local restaurants”, a couple thousand KHR’s will suffice. That means a tip of around 50-75 cents will be fine for a normal sit-down meal.
Sticking to the example of Cambodia, there are a few safety issues to be aware of. They advise sticking to the “beaten path” because of LANDMINES. Yes, there are still landmines that have yet to be disarmed. If you’re staying in major cities and driving on major roads, you have no reason to be concerned.
They note that crime against foreigners is rare, as with most countries. One thing that is not so common, in the event you need to file a police report, is that you will have to pay to do so. Depending on the crime, they will charge $5-$50 to file your police report. (hopefully you get what you pay for). As with any unfamiliar place, be vigilant and don’t expose yourself to theft or fraud.
Taxi and buses have their pro’s and con’s, but knowing what’s available is key. In many SE Asia countries, pedicabs are not only economical but typically the most practical (for short distances).
In Cambodia you will find cyclo’s, or pedicabs, as a popular solution for getting from A to B. Costs range from $1-$3 for a one-way, not bad. Lonely Planet does recommend up-front negotiations with the cab operator before starting your trip. Save yourself the headache and agree on a price before you leave.
If you like to control your own fate, you can rent small motorcycles or scooters very inexpensively. Prices vary depending on the size of the bike, but you can expect to pay $15~ a day for a medium-sized two-wheeled death machine. It’s noted that police can target foreigners for breaking road rules, so familiarize yourself here.
Get out there!
If you have a fear of the unknown, hopefully Lonely Planet’s community forum can help put you at ease. I spend hours browsing locals’ advice and warnings from cities all over the world. For me, travel is about pushing the boundaries of familiarity, that is where the most memorable experiences are made.