The Thorn Tree – the travel forum for travellers, by travellers

  • 3 February 2003
  • UK

Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, one of the world’s leading online travel forums, has recently undergone a facelift to improve overall functionality and meet the many demands of the ever-expanding number of registered users who regularly visit the site. The Thorn Tree has attracted 3,000 new registered users since launching the new software on 6 January 2003, and the site boasts the dizzying statistics of 200,000 page views and 16,000 visits per day.

Thorn Tree administrator, Dave McClymont, says the service is an invaluable resource for travellers, whether they are pre-planning their trip, already on the road, sharing experiences or just hooking up with like-minded souls to chat about travel and travel-related subjects.

‘The Thorn Tree also provides valuable insights into what the traveller community is thinking at any given time and is a good indicator of travel trends. For instance, there has been no decrease in the number of people talking about travelling in South-East Asia. In the main, government travel warnings are largely ignored by young travellers who feel that after Sept 11/Bali this kind of attack could happen anywhere, so why worry?’ added McClymont.

How does the Thorn Tree work? The Thorn Tree is provided by Lonely Planet as a service to the travel community, where people can share travel advice, experiences and opinions. Registration is free, easy and instantaneous.

The Tree is broken down into country-specific destination and specialist interest branches which cover everything from travel literature to diving & snorkeling, traveling with kids to traveling companions. There’s also plenty of opportunities to share culinary tales on the ‘Get Stuffed’ food branch or tweak language skills on ‘Speaking in Tongues’, the language branch.

The Thorn Tree has developed a very strong community spirit, with get-togethers from around the globe being arranged on a regular basis by users of the Tree. This community spirit was never more apparent than immediately after September 11th when users rallied together, offered free accommodation to stranded travellers and supported each other through difficult times.

What are travellers saying? Are travellers worried about travel to the Middle East given the possible war on Iraq? Is there a bargain to be had in Bali? Should you go to Israel? The following summarises recent regional highlights:

Middle East

  • In terms of personal security, many travellers reported that they felt safer in this region than in their home countries. However those planning a trip to the region were concerned about the possible war on Iraq.
  • There is increased interest in travel to and discussion on Afghanistan.
  • The star travel destination for the Middle East was Iran.
  • A low level of travel to Israel was reported but the Palestinian Territories were still considered no-go zones.
Lonely Planet’s new Middle East guidebook is available this month.


  • There has been heated discussion about safety in South Africa.
  • There was no indication that the bombing in Mombasa was putting travellers off going to Kenya.
  • Morocco is increasingly being viewed as ‘hassle-hell’ with harassment by touts reaching intolerable levels.


  • In a discussion on the Asia branch of the Thorn Tree on the best places to visit, Angkor, Cambodia was a recurring favourite.
  • Most queries regarding Indonesia were about whether there are any bargains to be had in Bali.
  • The south of Thailand remains extremely popular.
  • Cambodia and Laos are becoming more mainstream traveller destinations.
  • There was increased traveller interest in Sri Lanka.
  • The release of the second Lord of the Rings films seems to have sparked renewed interest in New Zealand.


  • Following protest, strikes and an attempted coup in Venezuela, travellers recommended that visits to the capital should be avoided.
  • There were reports of marked increase in crime in Cuzco, the launching pad for Machu Picchu.
  • Falling prices in Argentina were making mid to high end hotels and restaurants affordable for the budget traveller.


  • Italy was the most frequently mentioned destination in Europe; Naples was favoured by many.
  • Scotland also stood out, in particular Glasgow and the highlands and islands.
  • Croatia is very hot indeed and looking to get more popular partly because of dismay at perceived rising prices in Greece since the introduction of the Euro.
  • Most visitors to Russia who contacted us were on a city break to Moscow or St Petersburg (reports of it being ‘boring’) or on the Trans-Siberian Railway

Check out the Thorn Tree at: