Essential websites for travel in Asia

WITH all the fuss about travel apps these days it’s sometimes easy to forget the good old fashioned assistance of travel information available on the web.

Travel websites can help you find a hotel, work out how to get to/from somewhere, convert your money to a currency you understand, compare airline prices and tell you the current weather somewhere.

Let’s take a look at few essential sites to help you plan your travel in Asia. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

Thorn Tree travel forum – Lonely Planet
If you want to check a route, get an itinerary idea or just find some general travel information, chances are someone has already done it somewhere on the Thorntree, the Lonely Planet’s online travel forum.

And if they haven’t simply post your own thread and expect an answer, no matter how way out it might seem.

CNNGo.com
For great travel articles, information, reviews and ideas on where to go and what’s happening around Asia look no further than CNNGo. The CNNGo logo is “travel the world like a local” and with their food reports, travelers guides, iReports and cultural edicts they ain’t far wrong.

Google Earth
I’m a bit of a map nut, hence the inclusion of this site, or rather application. I love looking at Google Earth but before and after visiting a place, zooming in on satellite images, checking how close your hotel is to the train station, the beach and so on. The satellite images don’t cover every single thing but they’ll help you check a few things out.

Nomadicmatt
Nomadicmatt has been travelling the world for five years and started his blog when he waited an hour for a bus that didn’t exist thanks to out of date information in his guidebook. Seeking to provide information that is up to date, his site now has 1,000 plus pages on everything travel related — guides, videos, tips, blogs and more.

Couchsurfing
I recently met a German couple that had used couchsurfing effectively in places like India, Nepal and even Pakistan. The idea behind the site is to network travellers with locals who may offer advice or even free accommodation.

Pic: independent.co.uk

TripAdvisor
Want the real low down on a hotel and not just the glowing review in the guidebook? TripAdvisor has all the hairy details of hostels, guesthouses, hotels and swanky boutique stays. Make sure you read a variety of reviews to get an overall feel for the place – some of them are highly subjective. Also watch for owners giving themselves glowing reviews or for places you’ve stayed and loved that someone has hated. It can be hit and miss unfortunately.




Seat61.com
I’ve checked this one out more than a few times over the years. It’s a useful planning tool for train and boat travel with photos of the trains, details of routes and where to get tickets. Very handy, particularly if you prefer the slow lanes travel style of overlanding rather than flying. The site was started by Mark Smith after his experiences in seat 61 on a Eurostar train. He now works the site full time.

Pic: seat61.com

India mike
If India is already under your skin, or you think it could be if you visited, you’ll want to check out this online community for travellers to the subcontinent. There are articles about culture, destinations, transport and first time travel in India. There are travel reviews on almost every topic you can think about and plenty of opportunities to have your question answered. Then there’s stuff on cooking, religion and Indian books and movies… you get the idea.

Travelfish
Another useful site for all Asian travel. This one has blogs, articles and guides but also a messageboard where you can ask all your burning travel questions about what island to visit in Thailand, if Burma is coping with the tourist boom, what to do with one night in Ho Chi Minh City etc.

Kayak.com
There are a lot of fare comparison websites out there and I use a lot of them. Kayak is pretty good though, as it gives a calendar with a summary of the best flights on each date for both budget and full frills airlines.