Thailand and Myanmar (previously known as Burma) are fascinating countries with rich histories and distinctive cultures – who have spent a large proportion of the past fighting with each other. Thailand in particular has become a noted tourist destination and is destined to become even more so as the health and wellness industries continue to be developed for international visitors. However, for many people, Southeast Asia will prove to be an alien and challenging environment and for those people a guidebook will be an essential aid to survival. This Impact Guide to The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand and Myanmar can be safely recommended to those visitors who plan to spend their nights in hotels and their days shopping with a little light sightseeing thrown in along the way.
Designed for the upmarket traveller, this excellent guide book is stuffed full with advice on where to go, what to buy and how to buy it. I have lived in Bangkok for nearly three years now and I learned plenty of new things about where to go shopping – not that I would be able to afford some of the items recommended!
The majority of the book is devoted, in addition to the general advice deemed necessary for people visiting Southeast Asia, to Bangkok and then Chiang Mai. The rest of the Kingdom and the whole of Myanmar are dealt with in much less detail, which is hardly surprising given the paucity of shopping experiences there. Tourists more interested in backpacking, hilltribes and the less salubrious (but extremely popular) bar life will need to look elsewhere. However, if you plan to belong to the audience addressed by the two Kranniches, then you will find this book to be an ideal travelling companion.
Readers will perhaps already be aware that Myanmar is ruled by a military dictatorship with a staggering record of human rights abuses. There are some individuals and organisations who believe the country should be boycotted because of these abuses and some spottily observed boycotts are maintained. Those thinking of travelling to Myanmar are advised to acquaint themselves with conditions prior to going.
John Walsh, Shinawatra International University, December 2004