One of the biggest problems with travel manuals is that they go out of date too quickly. Prices are wrong, or the enterprise has shifted or gone bust (many places close before they have their grand opening).
The latest to come across the reviewer’s desk is the Travel Pack Thailand (ISBN978-0-8048-4210-5, Tuttle Publishing, 2012) written and collected by Jim Algie, a long-stay expat who knows his Thailand. This one was written (published) in 2012 so is relatively current. His travel experiences include scuba-diving, rock-climbing, kayaking off the coast of Krabi, learning how to hunt for red ant egg nests (a delicacy in the northeast), and trawling with Thai-Muslim fishermen down south, so he can write with some authority.
The format is similar to most guides of this genre, but with some important differences. This is not one of the $5 a day back-packer manuals, but is squarely aimed at the more affluent tourist, with many of the author’s recommendations being for top end hotels, such as the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai. It is also a smaller and thinner publication and with good paper stock and hard covers will last a sight-seeing holiday. The claim is that it is easy to use and easy to carry, and I agree. However, the map which folds out needs directions on how to re-fold, or perhaps it is just me who failed Map Folding 101.
Pattaya is obviously not one of Jim Algie’s favored destinations, getting only a brief mention, though he does say that Pattaya is changing towards a family destination. Phuket, on the other hand does score well.
In a small section on medical tourism he mentions visitors having a procedure done in Bangkok, with recuperation by the sea. This is very easily achieved by Bangkok Hospital Pattaya, with its top clinics, but again Pattaya dips out.
The book is divided into three sections, claiming to show “Thailand’s Best Sights, 21 must-see sights and must-have experiences, from the many faces and flavors of its modern metropolis to southern Thailand’s fabled beaches and bays, from World Heritage Sites like the ancient Siamese capital of Ayuthaya to places of natural wonder like Khao Yai Nature Park.”
The second section is “Exploring Thailand” which offers a wide variety of excursions in every part of the country, from Chiang Mai in the mountainous north to ‘Little Tuscany’ in the country’s center and the famous Chatuchak weekend market (JJ) of Bangkok; and from kayaking through a marine park to a bicycle tour through Thailand’s first kingdom.
The third section is the “Author’s Recommendations” and makes specific suggestions for the hippest hotels and resorts; the coolest nightspots; the best spas; the best eco-trips, treks, and outdoor activities; the most kid-friendly places and things to do; the best food and eateries; the best shopping; the best museums and galleries; and more.
Algie also provides basic travel information, including useful pointers for getting around Thailand.
At B. 465 it is not expensive and is available through Asia Books. I did enjoy it and found places/sights I had missed in my travels. Recommend this to your newbie friends.