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Has anyone tried using the new Lonely Planet Discover series guides for backpacking? Surely they look much better with all these pictures, but do they contain the same essential information as the good old guides? (I am looking at Costa Rica at the moment, but this is a valid question for all the other countries.)

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Are the Discover guides slightly more compact as well? – Andrew Grimm Feb 2 '12 at 12:57
My 2¢: after browsing both versions (on Thailand, I think) in a bookstore, I opted for the normal guide, as it seemed to contain more of useful info. I figured the pretty pictures etc. don't add that much value. – Jonik Feb 2 '12 at 13:35
@Jonik, this is my first guess as well. Pictures are still nice, and I am wondering if someone tried these in practise (because otherwise its not really possible to tell if the information is adequate or not) – Grzenio Feb 2 '12 at 14:35
My theory is that Discover guides are for people on organised tours or booking everything through an agent, hotel or guide - so they're more "try this, isn't it beautiful?" with less practicalities for independent travellers and less off-the-beaten-track stuff. Shorter, more colourful, more photos, less detail, fewer options. – user568458 Sep 23 '14 at 12:04
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I haven't purchased any of the new "Discover" series. The fact that the website describes the "New Series" as having "the highlights" and "The Original" as "the definitive guide," I suspect that they cut out a lot of information to make the Discover series more compact and have more room for photos.

guide comparison

That being said, if you want photos and something that gives you a high-level snapshot of a particular place, the Discover series could be useful. (You can also take a short quiz where Lonely Planet will try to guess which series is better for you - you click the "Find Out" button, provide your name and email, take the quiz, and get a 20% discount code.)

It's worth noting that if you buy a Discover guide and find it's lacking some information you really wanted or needed, you can purchase individual chapter PDFs of the guidebooks from Lonely Planet's online store. They charge $4.95 (USD) per chapter; a little pricey in my opinion, but way better than buying a whole new book if you're lacking a particular bit of information.

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