My recommendation: Footprint Guide: Egypt
people figure that I must take three crates of books with me on vacation,
given that I buy dozens. I actually don't. Usually I take one "guidebook"
that lists hotels or restaurants and the major sights, and one reference
book with information about the stuff that we're going to see. For Scotland,
that was a castles reference book. For Egypt, a book on hieroglyps..
Which creates a dilemma. Which one of the dozens of books do I take? Many
people swear by Lonely Planet (LP), others by Rough Guides, or the old
standbys Fodor or Frommer. I used to be in the Rough Guide camp, until
I found a guidebook by Footprint Handbooks. Absolutely the best book that
I've come across. Concise, comprehensive, and well-organized. I was impressed
enough by the Egypt guide that I bought others (in preparation for
Future Trips!), including going back to replace my ratty Scotland Tourist
Guide with a new Footprint Handbook.
Most other books (notably LP) assume that you are a budget traveller,
and offer little in the way of information on the more out-of-the-way
or expensive journeys. While Rough Guide is a pleasure for its down-to-earth
style and tidbits of local interest (for example, "for the best captain,
ask for X"), they are sometimes a bit thin on detailed site information.
Frommer's and Fodor's are standard tourist guides, with short blurbs you
would expect from a bus-tour guide, and they don't stray far from the
international hotel chains and western restaurants.
Footprint guides have detailed information about nearly every town and
site that you might visit, with recommendations for lodging and food.
Most of the tombs and temples have detailed descriptions and floorplans,
and the sidebars offer interesting cultural and historical information.
The logistical information (train schedules, air, costs, and maps) are
Each section is headlined with brief notes about transportation, lodging
suggestions, and restaurant suggestions in a gazetteer format. All the
major tourist sights are clearly described, and many not-so-major ones are covered
as well. I personally like visiting the places that most tourists never
get to, and having information at my fingertips about the "road less traveled"
is a big selling point for me.
The layout of the book is very intuitive -- chapters are grouped by general
region, and each town or major site has a section devoted to it. Section
titles and headers are off to the side of the text, making it easy to
scan the page edges for just the information you are looking for. My only
complaint about the book is that the abundance of typefaces and styles
used in the layout can be a bit distracting. This seems to be consistent between the
guidebooks for different areas, so at least it's predictable.
Online updates and information are available from Footprinthandbooks.com.
Footprint Handbook: Egypt is the best overall book that I've found and
I will wholeheartedly recomment it. This one gets packed.