Lonely Planet Syndrome
Lonely Planet Syndrome; affects mostly new backpackers. Common symptoms include stiff neck, pointing in several directions at the same time, confusion and prone to repeating the phrase whatever?
Inevitability when you are looking for hotels & cheap guesthouses in Asia, you will run into people who have a Lonely Planet stuck in there faces, as they try to find the best one of the lot listed. My experience is that if you show up with a LP guide in hand, they are going to try to take advantage of you, as they can guess that you are a new guy and haven’t been around yet.
The best cure I can recommend is to take the LP guide and bury it in the bottom of your pack, and start to enjoy everything that you are missing, including the stiff neck from having your head stuck inside the book all day long!
The best bet is to go into the areas that are listed, but look at the budget accommodations that are not listed, as they will be hungrier for business, and much more attentive to your needs, this is especially true in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Being listed in the Lonely Planet guide means that they are overrun all the time, and they get burnt out and don’t care about service, as there will be a new crop of stupid farrang in the morning. Of course there are exceptions, Angkor What in Siem Reap and Bright Lotus 2 in Phnom Penh come to mind, but for the most part, if they have been in the LP guide for a long time they are not the same business that they were when they were first visited.
The more experienced travelers will tap into the traveler’s network and ask where the deals are. On Koh Shan road in Bangkok, the really experienced travelers are down by the river, where they tend to get bigger rooms and better service for. In Saigon people stay loose and drift like sea weed in a current and end up with better value guesthouses and hotels that are in the rabbit warrens a little off the main drags. In Phnom Penh, if you go into the lake “bong” backpacker ghetto you will find cheaper rooms, but with the exception of food, everything else they are charging more for than if you go into the city itself, where for the same price you will get very nice clean concrete rooms. You will also be offered less sex and drugs. And most importantly, you will get the real feel of Phnom Penh, not a poor version of Koh Sahn rd.
Most cheap hotels in Asia do little if any reservations over the internet, so the majority of their traffic is walk in, so the places that are not listed will tend to be slower and more open to negotiation, especially so if you book and pay in advance for several days .
Once you are cured you will find that you are enjoying your trip more and certainly getting a better feel for the areas that you are visiting.