July 6, 2006

Have Luxe, will travel!

When travelling, I try to learn as much as I can about my destination. I like to read up on some history, learn about unique aspects of the culture and local custom, make a list of must-sees, things to do, local food to try, learn a few key phrases from the local dialect, you get the picture.

Though I usually enjoy reading travel guides like Lonely Planet or Insight Guides before leaving for my trip, they are just too heavy and bulky to lug around while actually on the trip. And I prefer to get my info from locals who actually live there or at the very least fellow travellers who have 'been there done that'. It has become my MO to spend hours researching entries by fellow Virtual Tourists and BootsnAll members, compiling them all with some pictures, and then printing my own light-weight travel guide. I especially enjoy this because the entries are naturally written in their own words, and each one offers a genuine, unique and oftentimes quirky perspective on a subject. I'm rarely disappointed with the recommendations because I know they are simply that, personal recommendations. Not promises.

But you see, I can spend hours and hours on this type of research because I super enjoy it. I'm aware though that not everyone shares the same nerdy passion, yet would prefer a lighter and more fun alternative to the heavy guidebooks at an affordable price. And for those people, I am happy to introduce the ultra-chic Luxe City Guide.

During a recent trip to Hanoi, my friend Therese introduced me to this little treasure. I couldn't believe how this pocket size concertina-style guidebook could contain so much information. And with an attitude too!

Contributions are usually from about 20 local residents, whose recommendations have all undergone strict style and flair tests, and verified personally by the editor. The top tips are oultined in tongue-in-cheek and sometimes even downright hilarious dialogue. In some parts, even oozing sarcasm.

Here's an excerpt about the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum from the Hanoi guide: "Remember it is expressly forbidden to wear hot pants and a pointy bra, macrame your own poncho or wear anything ever!"

These hip guides, which cost $9 a piece, are packed with lots of 'secrets' that only locals are privy to. Stuff you can be sure you wouldn't find in the bigger books. It's as close as you will ever get to seeing a foreign city with a native.

At the moment, city guides are available for the following Asia and Australia destinations: Bali, Bangkok, Beijing, Chiang Mai, Dubai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, HongKong, Melbourne, Phuket, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sydney, and Tokyo.

After practically reading Therese's Hanoi guide from cover to cover, I bought a couple of my own city guides from the Ipa-Nima store in Hanoi and grabbed yet another one in the Duty Free bookshop of the HongKong airport on my way home. Unfortunately they aren't available in Manila yet, but you can order from their site online or from anyone travelling to any of the cities listed above.


The Luxe City Guides are updated twice a year and 100% reliable, I dare you to be disappointed. As they claim with unapologetic authority: "If it's 'in', it's in here."

UPDATES:

Luxe goes to Europe! Paris, Madrid & Istanbul guides have now been added!

Luxe guides are now available at the magazine stand on the ground floor of South Supermarket in Alabang! Yay! :)

11 comments:

Mila Tan said...

I haven't visited my VirtualTourist page in so long, it's probably expired from lack of input.
Luxe sounds like a perfectly sized gift for the inveterate traveller. Will let friends know! Thanks.

Grannygold said...

Gypsy, you are a woman after my own heart! I do the same thing: read, read, read. Make my own guide book. It fills the time between trips (which in this case for me has been absurdly long--but I adopted a couple of eight-year-old kids in Africa, and taking care of them absorbed all my attention till now). It's good to know about the Luxe guides, but I'll probably go on creating my own. And yes, the VirtualTourist things are wonderful. And also BnA. Your travel writing zings! Thank you!

christine said...

Hi Mila, the Luxe guides will definitely make great gifts! The box set is now on my wish list. :D.

Hi granny! Thank you! So nice of you to drop by from BnA. You just have a few more days to go, July 12 is the day right? That'll come soon enough. I can't wait to hear all about it when you get back. Enjoy! :)

briliantdonkey said...

as always still the queen of travel information. have i ever told you i am jealous?

INKcogKNEEdough

christine said...

Hi Robster, get off that lazy butt and join me next time! :)

grumpyurbanslacker said...

christine,

just a q, i thought those Luxe city guides featured mainly the expensive, so-si places?? i normally rely on the TimeOut series for indepth city info kasi.

in any case, i laughed out loud when i read your post, bec. the way you research on your trips is very similar to what my brother does....:D check out his travel blog at www.hello1newman.blogspot.com!

christine said...

Hi grumpy,

Actually yes and no. Most of the tips on the luxe guide are for the upscale market, but there are loads of off the beaten track places that would appeal to the budget traveller and backpacker as well.

There's really something for everyone because they make sure to maintain a balance. Under each tip, it gives you an idea whether it is expensive or not. So it gives you a choice. :)

joey said...

Haven't shown yours to Fully Booked yet...but will do soonest! Cross your fingers that they like it although Viv said that they looked cool...I hope they get them!!!

christine said...

Fingers and toes are crossed! :)

Btw, Javy is leaving for Singapore next week so if you want any of the titles, I can ask Therese to get it for me and give it to him. Just let me know. I plan to ask for the Siem Reap one.

wysgal said...

I'm loving the one for Bangkok, thanks for the loan.

I'd love to see what a Luxe Guide for Manila would turn out like ... =)

christine said...

You're welcome, Tina!

I wish they hurry and publish a Manila guide. They are actually looking for contributors, and you would make an excellent one! You'd have so many recommendations, especially for restaurants around the city. Think about it. :) Enjoy your trip!