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Thailand’s info app: which should you choose?

November 25, 2013

November is here, and with it comes peak tourist season. We all know that Phuket, and Thailand in general, will host millions of people from around the world during the next few months. All of whom have come here for a good time, and are in need of a reliable source of information.

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The various free maps and flyers can be unreliable, many locals can’t speak English, and Thai signage is notoriously poor. All this leads to the tourists we see standing next to the road with a scooter, map, and puzzled face.

If you’re thinking that use of a smartphone or tablet could solve this problem, you’d be right. Mostly. There are great travel apps out there, but which should you use in Thailand?

Initially, I looked at the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) ‘Amazing Thailand’ app, which came out mid-2012.

The app has only managed to achieve around 50,000 downloads since then. Considering the number of tourists there have been to the kingdom, this number is low.

It’s not to say that the app is bad, but it’s not amazing. It provides useful information about Thailand and is laid out fairly well, but it’s got nothing that any other info app or website wouldn’t have.

Where it really falls short is in the lack of a community feedback function for the sights, hotels, shops, and restaurants listed – a feature that has made sites like Agoda and TripAdvisor so popular.

Even more shameful is the fact that the TAT has not included the feature in its brand new ‘Lifestyle Thailand’ v2.0 app. The lack of community feedback will have you constantly switching out the app for another that does.

Still, most of the app info is available offline so it’s a little like having a traveller’s guide installed on your phone. It has all the highlights, but you won’t find any hidden spots using the information.

A better option would be the ‘Triposo Travel Guide’, with unique downloadable information for not just Thailand, but the world.

As with the TAT’s offerings, most of the information is available offline after the initial download (100MB +).

Triposo also includes tons of information, community ratings and reviews for hotels and restaurants. These reviews and ratings are crucial today as many tourists rely heavily on them when making choices while on holiday.

Still, the information focuses on tourist attractions and you won’t find much ‘local knowledge.’

Triposo is recommended if you want to use one single app. Both ‘Lifestyle Thailand’ and ‘Triposo Travel Guide: Thailand’ are great apps for general info but not much else. Stick to Agoda for hotels; Trip Advisor for hotels, restaurants, shopping, sights; and SkyScanner for flights.

If you want some good local information, then – besides thephuketnews.com – check out one of the many blogs on Phuket, or head down to the bar.

The best tourist info is still, and always will be, straight from the local expats. Sure, the directions may not be spot on and you’ll probably get lost, but you’ll see things that you would have missed by sticking to the apps.

Save the reading for the trip, download a good camera app, buy a waterproof phone cover, and get out there.

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