Lonely Planet Iran 5th Ed.: 5th Edition Paperback – Jul 1 2008
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Lonely Planet, like your passport, should always be kept close.' --Denver Post, January 2008
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LONELY PLANET aims to cater for every independent traveller, whatever the destination, whatever the style of travel and whatever the phase of the journey.
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"Iranians are the most surprising people. Where you might expect them to be austere they are charming; rather than dour, they are warm, and instead of being hostile to foreigners, they are welcoming and endlessly curious".
"Iranians are not frightening people. They are generally warm and welcoming to an extent that can be embarassing to Westerners."
"...the Iranian system of courtesy [...] makes Iran a haven for travellers - you will be treated with unfailing politeness wherever you go."
Now compare this with the attitude taken by the racist idiot who wrote the previous (third) edition and one realises what a huge difference it makes when the guide authors actually appreciate and enjoy being in the country about which they write.
A welcome (and IMO absolutely necessary) new edition of the guide. Lonely Planet has shown shrewd judgment in replacing the previous one as well as its author.
This guide added immeaurably to my just-completed & thorougly enjoyable three-week vist to Iran. As the authors stress in the opening chapters, Western perceptions of Iran are largely based on government propaganda, ours as well as Iran's.
They also point out the huge differences between public and private life.
For example, alcohol may be government banned, but it is available for anyone who really wants it.
The Iranians are warm,friendly, and most of them do not hesitate to tell us "We love you! We love America!" Getting free of effusive schoolgirls--high school and university--who want to take our photos, can be difficult. I missed a mosque & a couple of old homes in Natanz because of this entrapment!
November was an ideal month, perfect weather throughout the country including sunshine in Tabriz and the Caspian Sea region which can be bitterly cold in the winter.
I didn't like having to wear the hijab in public, but this and no access to ATMs were small prices to pay for an invaluable experience. Burke and Elliott's Lonely Planet Iran makes both an ideal introduction to a visit and encapsulates everything one wants to remember about various sites from Persepolis to the flourishing bazaars in every city.
I would encourage everyone, especially Americans, to visit Iran. Ignorance on both sides is a problem that can be dispelled by first-hand experience.
* The maps are excellent. There are multiple maps of the largest cities and there are very helpful detailed maps of key sites such as Persepolis or the Haram-e Razavi shrine in Mashhad.
* There is thorough background information on culture, history and religion which helped me understand the country and the sites better. The general tone is benign and factual.
* The hotel and restaurant guides seem accurate and pragmatic. I had to trudge around a number of hotels in Tehran while searching for a room and the Lonely Planet descriptions seemed consistently on the mark.
* The specific coverage of cities and historic sites, and the suggested walking tours were helpful and accurate.
* There is copious and (allowing for the vagaries of the bus companies) accurate information on train and bus schedules, travel times and costs.
I often saw other travelers consulting various editions of this guide in Iran. It seems to have become the standard. It deserves it!
I used this Lonely Planet book Lonely Planet Iran (Country Guide)as a guide for my 12-day trip through Iran in December 2009 and affirm that the information in it is very, very accurate. It demolishes the many myths that exist about these incredibly welcoming people.
The distinction is that there is a vast difference between the Iranian PEOPLE and their GOVERNMENT. Many, many PEOPLE hate their government, love Americans, are not anti-Jewish, do not want war or a nuclear bomb and live in a unexpectedly open and safe environment.
There seems to be absolutely no danger for tourists. Indeed, my wife and other women in our small group of nine walked around the street at nighttime alone and with no hesitation.
Iranians learn English in high school; consequently, many people are exceptionally fluent and all seem to love to talk with visitors, especially the few Americans who visit their country.
All this and more can be learned from reading this book. Even those not personally going to Iran, this book can educate us all to what Iran is really like. It suggests that were it not for Iran's theocratic government, that our two countries could easily be friends. That's really something to think about.
John V. R. Bull
To anyone thinking about visiting Iran who might be apprehensive about safety issues due to western media representations of the fanatical-Shi-ite and anti-western political atmosphere in the country, I would say this: it's basically a load of tosh. At least half the people you will meet (especially true in Tehran but also in other cities) are Moslem only in name, and far more western in outlook than for example people you might meet in the Gulf States, particularly in Saudi Arabia. Political awareness in Iran is very sophisticated and levels of education generally high: there is a great interest in engaging any westerner in dialogue though fluency in English is uncommon and surprisingly almost no-one understands Arabic either, so it's useful to master the basics of Farsi. People are generally polite, friendly and genuine, though like anywhere in the world you will occasionally meet the odd one who will try to rip you off (before taking a taxi from the new Khomeini Airport in Tehran, know roughly what the fare should be).
Iran is extremely safe and you can walk anywhere day or night with no risk. It's also generally very clean (compared for example to Egypt or to Pakistan) and people are family-oriented and socially responsible. The police, if you need to deal with them, are polite and helpful and have a reputation for honesty and lack of corruption rare in the region.
Iran is full of fascinating and spectacular sites, especially Esfahan which under no circumstances should be missed. Travel is surprisingly relaxed and easy provided you know where you're going and do basic forward planning, and the LP guide is invaluable for this. The transport is generally good and fairly cheap, as gasoline is only a few cents per litre. Curiously, Boeing 747s are often used for internal airline routes, even if the flight time is only 30 minutes - something I never saw elsewhere - and they are always completely full.
The food is also good and pretty safe to eat just about everywhere, and the information in the guide is generally good and accurate but due to inflation, the prices may be out-of-date. Tehran can be very congested and the traffic is a nightmare. One surprising thing which might concern the female traveller is that though modest dress and a headscarf are mandatory, heavy facial make-up is common and, again unlike the Gulf region, you will in Iran almost never see any woman veiled. Open social and business contact between the sexes in Iran is relaxed almost to western norms, a legacy of years of modernisation under the last Shah which has never been reversed and is unlikely to be in the future.
Take your LP guide and adhere to the usual travel rules, and you can't go wrong.