Ah, the age of information… nowadays folks are binging on information, yet starving for knowledge. Rather than wade through countless websites in search of solid advice, I’ve done the leg work for you by compiling the best free international travel guides out there today. The format of online guides differ from their tangible counterparts; where a book must include information you need before and during your trip, online travel guides provide the ability to get exactly what you need, when you need it.
Several times I have used an online guide book, and merely printed (or jotted down in my notebook) the most important info for the next few days. Here’s my list of the best free international travel guides:
Travelfish.org. There is no single source for travelers to Southeast Asia better than Travelfish. Loaded with easy to navigate information on the entire region, including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Singapore, Travelfish covers all the travelers’ needs. The forum is really well done, and you can expect a high level experience from those who respond to your questions. Most of the information is free, and they do offer e-guides for each country at roughly $5 (a true bargain).
Lonley Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum. Very much like the forum on Travelfish, but with global coverage. I’m a firm believer that guide books are generally outdated by the time they hit the press, and it’s important to get from the road advice from someone who is there. Visa requirements change, roads are closed, violence happens…don’t get caught unprepared. Forums also provides advice you’ll never find in a guidebook, either: the need for bribes, history of violence, etc. These are important considerations in the real world that most publications (and governments) tend to gloss over.
Lonley Planet. Though they haven’t implemented it, LP has come up with the brilliant notion of offering a “pay as you go” program where you can choose portions of a guide book and pay for that part only. Keep an eye out on their website for the release date.
Bootsnall.com There are many international travel guides available on this site, and one could spend a lifetime searching through their network. A really good network for travelers, with independent travel blogs for a more personal approach.
These three are far and away the best online source for free international travel guides, and I suggest you research your destination with these both prior to and during your trip.