Travel Guides about India
I recently traveled in India. I love travel books, so I ended up lugging around 3. It turns out that with a good book selection, you can get away with only one. I hope this guide will help you select the right one.
To make the reviews more structured, I will give each book a rating on three different aspects:
- What to see
- How to get around
- Hotels and restaurants
The Rough Guide to India
The text descriptions of the things to see are excellent. The book often provides historical context, and also shines in helping you find "hidden gems". There is a very useful section which outlines the "must see" destinations across India - it is a great tool for planning a high-level itinirary around the most interesting sights. The only aspect I find less-then-ideal is the images. Most of the book is text-only, so it doesn't work well for people who like a preview of the places they are about to visit.
How to get around: 5/5
This book is a treasure grove of advice on getting around. It has detailed information on major inter-city connections. It has good tips on booking tickets and using the Indian public transportation safely.
Hotels and restaurants: 5/5
The book has a "where to eat and stay" section for each of the cities it mentions. The phone numbers are up-to-date, and there is a good variety of price ranges to suit the wallet of all types of travellers.
I found this to be the best guide book to India. While it gets only a 4 in "what to see", I actually think that finding things to see and do in India is not a problem at all. Finding place to stay and a way to get to the next destination is a much bigger challenge, so a 5 in both of these categories is a big win for the book.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: India
DK Eyewitness guides are known for their excellent images and descriptions of the travel destinations. The India version lives up to the expectations. The book is full of large and vivid images of the temples, ruins, buildings - everything you would normally take a photo of. There is a great section devoted specifically to the history and culture of the country.
How to get around: 2/5
For each destination, there is a brief note on how to get there. Unfortunately, this information is not sufficient for effective travel in India.
Hotels and restaurants: 2/5
The book suggests only a few hotels/ restaurants per city, and they tend to be on the more expensive side. I like to see more options, especially since hotels tend to get booked up quickly in India.
Overall, the book really shines as a picture reference to India, but don't rely on this it for finding a hotel or a bus.
What to see: 3/5
The book coveres less destinations then the other two, and lacks any images whatsoever.
How to get around: 5/5
The transportation section for each destination is very detailed, describing the different methods (air, train, bus). The only item I found missing is the information on government inter-city buses (but based on my expereince with those, most travelers will not want to use those anyways)
Hotels and restaurants: 3/5
For most locations, the book has a few (1-3) suggestions in four price ranges: inexpensive, moderate, expenisve, and very expensive. However, for India (where everything gets booked up quickly), having more options is essential.
This book works less well then Rough Guides for practical travel information, and less well then DK Eyewitness Guide.