Is a Guidebook Necessary? What about Maps?

#1 Feb 10th, 2015, 00:13
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  • kristinspeed is offline
#1
Should we bring a guidebook? I feel like they might be pointless because either we get one that covers India in general..which will be too, well, general... or we have to get like 5 separate ones to cover the cities we want to go to.

And should we look into getting some kind of maps to help us navigate around each city? I feel like there will be so many tiny alley ways and small streets that might not even be on the he map making it kind of pointless.

We'll be visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Varanasi and Agra (pretty much just for the Taj Mahal.)
#2 Feb 10th, 2015, 01:03
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#2
The only time I took a guidebook was on my first trip, and then I just tore out the pertinent pages of places I was going - saved a lot of weight. Maps of cities that you've mentioned will most likely be in general India guidebooks, although as you mentioned, the smaller lanes/roads may not be included. If you want maps, the large scale ones available in the guidebooks might be enough; most will highlight the major sites/sights and if not, someone might at least be able to isolate the part of town where what you are looking for is located. As to specifically Agra - the town itself is not much, the Taj is IT. No map needed there.

I myself have always been a fan of just goin' out there, walking around
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#3 Feb 10th, 2015, 01:11
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  • sam78a is offline
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For me, the maps in the guidebooks are very helpful. I have a compass on my watch and use that and the guidebook to figure out where I am and where I need to go. It is also helpful to get background about historical sites. I dont really use it much for restaurant suggestions since I basically eat at random places.
#4 Feb 10th, 2015, 01:20
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  • JuliaF is offline
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If you're only going to those 5 places, I'd say don't bother taking a guidebook. You could maybe get one out of the library before you go and photocopy the relevant pages especially the maps, adding your own notes from tips picked up elsewhere. The maps will be very useful and I totally agree about a compass being useful too. I have cheap one on a keyring and I like knowing it's there even if I don't use it that much. But don't spend all your time focusing on the map - wandering round getting lost can be a lot of fun too
#5 Feb 10th, 2015, 01:54
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  • kristinspeed is offline
#5
We usually enjoy just walking around getting lost, but I have a feeling its quite easy to get REALLY lost in Indian cities That said, we don't have much time un each place.. except Varanasi
we have 4 days.. so it might be worth getting a Varanasi guidebook.. can you guys recommend a good one? We'll have our iPhones with us and they have a compass which is definately good to have
#6 Feb 10th, 2015, 02:45
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Huh? If you have an iPhone or other smartphone then download the Triposo app and download the offline maps for India and the cities you are going to. Then even outside a WiFi zone you can never get lost with GPS marking where you are on the map.

I used this in the little lanes and alleyways of Gion, Kyoto and never got lost.
#7 Feb 10th, 2015, 04:06
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#7
Ok well I will check out the Triposo app.. never heard of it before. i was just thinking I don't really like relying on my iPhone because it always acts up when I need it the most...
#8 Feb 10th, 2015, 04:28
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#8
I've found some of my most amazing things while "lost." More so when "REALLY lost." Perhaps it is an acquired taste

As for Varanasi. There is no better book, no better guide in my opinion than Diana Eck and her "Banaras: City of Light." While I've found it for sale at the Harmony Book Shop on Asi Ghat in Varanasi, best to go through Amazon (most local/independent bookstores will not likely carry it, though it is still in print, if you time to order/shop locally). Over 300 pages on Varanasi. No better book for Varanasi.
#9 Feb 12th, 2015, 06:14
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  • george203 is offline
#9
Agree with the comment about smartphones. We used the Tripadvisor app on Android. I believe you can download the cities information for offline use. Also, I'm using a maps app that works in offline mode, "Sygic Maps & Navigation". You download a countries maps there.

I like tripadvisor because users rate sights, hotels, etc by giving a place stars indicating how happy they are. So, if 100 people give a place a 5 star rating, and 100 people give another place 4 star rating, then assuming these are the only two hotels in a city, then the one with 100 5 star ratings would be listed at the top of the list, even though it may be cheaper than the other. Users also comment about the reasons they rate a place the way they did.

This was extremely helpful, because the general perception with most people and us is that cheap places are crappier. But then these cheap hotels were rated better than more expensive hotels.

I havent heard of the Triposo app, but gonna give it a try next time im travelling. Also, remember to take your power bank (or get one there) if you will be using your smartphone for these things instead of a map. With the more frequent than normal use, your battery will get drained quicker.

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