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Lonely Planet Mongolia Guide Book


Order the New Mongolia Lonely Planet!
Written by Michael Kohn

Edition 2005

 

Product Details

* Paperback: 296 pages
* Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications; 4th edition (July 30, 2005)
* Language: English
* ISBN: 1740593596
* Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches

 

I recently returned from a trip to Mongolia, where the Lonely Planet Mongolia guide was my principal source of information.

I am an experienced world traveler, and have had both up-to-date and out-of-date guidebooks with me. I have had books where I agreed with the characterizations in the books, and others where the characterizations seemed far off. Despite being a few years out of date when I bought it, this guide performed extremely well by both standards. The objective information all remained remarkably accurate and up-to-date, and the subjective characterizations were pretty much on the mark as well. Right on down to the small details, such as which museums make you pay a photography fee, which ger camps are more attractively located, and so forth. The history provided in the book is also very relevant; though not extensive, I was struck by how, during my travels, the history I encountered had pretty much all been laid out in the Guide.

I had a splendid time in Mongolia, and have come away with a warm feeling towards Mongolia and the absolutely wonderful people there. I would definitely object if, as some other reviews here have stated, the book took a patronizing or negative tone towards Mongolia. I frankly do not see this at all. It is candid in noting a few of the issues that confront a traveler to Mongolia, but this is vital information to know. I followed the instructions on "things to pack" for Mongolia, and I'm very glad I did; I used all that stuff along the way at some point -- the flashlight, the extra batteries, the bar of soap, the gifts for ger visits, the WetWipes, the bug repellent, etc. Rarely have I been so well prepared by a Guidebook.

If anything, I believe the book understates some of the things for which travelers should be prepared. It describes Ulaan Baatar as a "pleasant" capital city with many interesting restaurants, similar to a middle-sized European city. I enjoyed UB very much, but I know many people who would not regard it as "pleasant" at all: it is filled with hideous Stalinist architecture, it is polluted, and in many places very dilapidated. I found it stimulating and having much to offer, but many vacationers would not enjoy it, and the LP Guide probably downplays these aspects a bit. It also downplays the fact that even at the "touristy" ger camps, you're more likely to have a swarm of insects in your tent at night than to encounter any hot water pressure in the shower at the communal bathroom.

Mongolia is a wonderful place to visit, but it is not for everyone. I saw the LP Guide on the person of many a tourist there, and with good reason; it's an outstanding and indispensable guide.

Why not 5 stars? Well, there could be more. Mongolia is a big country, and this is a thin book by LP standards. Could use a little updating for some of the more recently constructed accommodations. Also could simply use more of everything -- it was a little hard to get a sense ahead of time as to what was worth visiting, because some of the regions of the country are not discussed in significant detail.

Bottom line: great guide, could be improved simply by offering more of the same.

 

Discussion about Lonely Planet Mongolia

 

 

Updated: February 25, 2006

 


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A Testament to the Great Spirit and Success of a Remarkable Woman Explorer In the early 1920s, the last great age of world explorers, a remarkable young woman, Janet Elliott Wulsin, set out with her husband, Frederick Wulsin, for the far reaches of China, Tibet, and Outer Mongolia to study the people, flora, and fauna of the region. Janet’s strenuous, eventful exploration is detailed by a text enriched with excerpts from her candid personal letters. The journey proved to be a test of the Wulsins’ endurance and of their relationship. While in Asia, the Wulsins took many extraordinary photographs, which form the heart of this richly produced publication. They documented tribespeople and sublime desert landscapes, and, perhaps most remarkably, were allowed to photograph the interior of several of the great Tibetan Buddhist lamaseries, many of which have since been destroyed. Several dozen rare, hand-painted lantern slides survived and are reproduced here in splendid color. The photographs from the Wulsin expedition are now in the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, in collaboration with which this volume is being produced.
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Mongolia Books
books on Mongolia and Mongolian culture