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Customer reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars

The intrepid visitor to Iran is in for a deeply rewarding experience. This enormous, varied and little-visited country is full of wonders and surprises; it's very safe for travellers and in many ways easier for the visitor than most other destinations in the region. Follow a few simple rules, and you can't go wrong.

The choice of guide books, however, is limited at the time of writing to just two: Lonely Planet and Bradt. Of the two, the LP guide is definitely the most useful with the greatest amount of accurate information about where to stay, how to get from A to B and other practicalities high on the priority list for the traveller. It's important to have a guide book for Iran because internet access is difficult and slow, cellphone networks congested and almost impossible to access in the daytime (especially in Tehran) and English not widely understood.

The Bradt guide, however, is not without value. It's written by Patricia Baker, an academic with an interest in Islamic art and costume, and the weight of content reflects these specialist cultural interests at the expense of travel practicalities.

The first 66 pages are devoted to Iranian history, politics and religion and to basic practicalities like best time to visit, visas, health issues and tour operators. The author tends to discourage independent travel to Iran and recommends an organised tour, as (according to her) Iranian officialdom is more comfortable with groups who can be managed and controlled more easily. I have to say I found travelling independently around Iran quite easy, especially with a positive attitude and the helpful and invariably accurate advice in the LP guide, so do not agree with Ms. Baker on this issue.

The second part of the book has a chapter devoted to each of the major cities and regions of the country, and is OK but can be a rather dry read. Often the author recommends only one place to stay in each location, whereas for example the LP guide invariably details many options accurately and so is more useful to the traveller.

The four separate colour photo sections are pretty good, but again betray the author's prime interest in the architecture, archaeology and cultural relics which, it needs to be said, in Iran are plentiful and often truly magnificent, especially in Isfahan and Shiraz. However the fun and adventure is somehow missing (yes, you can have both in Iran), and the text is not exactly racy or humorous.

So overall, the Bradt Guide might be best for the visitor whose primary interest is in the history, culture and architecture of Iran and who chooses to go on an organised tour where accommodation is booked in advance and taken care of - or if for some reason you don't like the style of LP guides, this is your only option.
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on 3 December 2008
I went to Iran in Summer 2008 and took this book and the Lonely Planet equivalent. No match - this book was totally outclassed and I stopped referring to it after a couple of days.

In particular, the book is shot through with an oddly paranoid take on Iran, which is understandable in the global context but in terms of day to day travelling was no help. It earned the nickname "The Book of Doom" due to the author's continued fretting on issues the LP said were no problem, and the LP was invariably right.

Two stars because it does have information and hey, the cover is cool.
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on 19 January 2012
This is an excellent travel companion for cultural and historical information on Iran, as well as for tips on out-of-the-beaten-track experiences for the more adventurous and intellectually curious traveler. The book is nicely bound and will take the beatings of travel, and it is small enough to fit in most pockets. Do NOT expect it to provide the best info on where to sleep and eat. Bradt guides are not meant for that. I would recommend buying the LP guide for that purpose and take both books along on your trip. The two are really conceived for different and complementary purposes.
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on 9 December 2014
Yes! Buy this. Even if you don't go to Iran. It's really interesting. I used to think that Iran was near Belgium, but it's not. It's much warmer, and not at all boring like Belgium. But I am warning you that if you read this book, you really will want to go. To Iran, I mean. Not Belgium, obviously. Iran apparently has lovely people, fabulous scenery, incredible history, fantastic architecture, huge amounts of culture, and the best food. Belgium - what can I say? Except that you need to get Patricia Baker to write a book about you...
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on 9 December 2013
Because it was impartial and well researched. I went twice to Iran in 78 and am to show slides to our English-speaking club.
I needed a refreshing course after all that time and the guide did the job.
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on 14 April 2013
practical travel book giving good information to the travellers even for a first time in the country , would recommmend
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on 26 September 2011
The guide appears to be very good, the test will come when I use it on my forthcoming trip there.
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