If you are planning a trip to the lesser known areas of Asia this is really your only hope! I found other guide books talked about the areas I wanted to go but few could tell me where to stay, what to eat and even how to get there. The two authors must have spent a good part of their adult life traveling around the area and their experience proved indispensable. Although the 'hand drawn' maps may look off-putting and hard to navigate, once you get used to them they give you all a more traditional map could and more (such as ' this road cut off by rebel fighting' and a big arrow -useful). The place names in local script are a big plus if you have ever tried getting a bus in Kanji or Cyrillic! If you were planning to spend more time in any of the more usual destinations (Japan or Thailand say) a supplementary guide book, such as Lonely Planet, would be useful . However for an overall view of the true extent of Asia (Turkey to Taiwan and Iran to Indonesia) no other book provides so much practical, useful information on areas most tourists have never even heard of let alone be able to pronounce. A great incentive to keep on travelling!
If anywhere in asia is of interest to you: - the karakorum highway, azerbaijan, the 'stans, tibet, nepal, india, burma, china, cambodia, iran and other more remote places interests you then this is the book for you. These guys backpacked for over three years in asia to get this together and tell it how it is. The best of asia from Angkor to Esfahan (2 stars) easily identified, lesser knowns like Tsangparang, Bam's Ark, Bardia, ... all there. If travelling for fun is your religion this is the bible. All praise Mark and Wil. Note: Ignore the fact it is now 5 years old - it is still the greatest book you will find on independent, go where you life takes you travel.
The book in the countries I have been is accurate and concise. I haven't used this book to go to the far reaches of central Asia yet. But it is the only travel book I have come across where it is possible to read and plan without suffering boredom. Excellent presentation of the information on the maps.
I will avoid repeating what other helpful reviews have already covered. But thought three additonal observations may be helpful:
1. For me this book is excellent if you are wanting to do a properly independent trip in Asia. It doesn't give long lists of hotels, restaurants, etc. which hoardes of backpackers trek to like sheep as Lonely Planet can tend to do. Instead it concentrates on what you really need to know and leaves the rest for you to do and so encourages a properly independent trip. This feature serves it well in that as a result it is not particularly dated - much of its coverage remains extremely helpful today (2009).
2. One of the book's greatest strengths is helping you work out how to link together travel across Asia - how to negotiate some potentially difficult visa combinations (particularly through the 'Stans and other former Soviet states) and how to cross borders (including much lesser known crossings).
3. The feature I appreciated most about it however was its coverage of much less visited destinations. When initially published it was well ahead of its time in this regard. When I visited Afghanistan it was pretty much the only book that had any coverage of the place at all. It also has great coverage of the Caucasus and Central Asia (which inspired me to visit Turkmenistan). Indeed it tends to give more coverage to the most difficult to visit destinations and those relatively untouched by other guide books. It also encourages you to visit these places by helping you around some of the key difficulties that tend to put others off.
I continue to treasure this book and though my traveling days are much less adventurous now than they once were it is still great for a bit of armchair adventuring.
Will and Mark - this is a very impressive guide - many thanks.