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Iran Safety and Security For Tourists

Iran Safety and Health Guide

Iran is very safe and people will be prepared to help you in any difficulty – it would be a matter of national pride.
Theft is rare and even the secret police leave tourists alone. Still, it’s best for guys not to try and talk to women in the street.

The water is clean and the food is safe.
If you meet someone who gets fundamental on you or tries to argue about politics don’t waste your breath. As in any Muslim country you can silence any nuisance by asking:
‘Why are you talking to me like this? Am I not a guest in your country?”
He will then be too ashamed to continue.

The traffic is outrageous in some places. I actually had to have someone play boy scout and help me cross the road.

Your main danger is indigestion if you’re invited to stay with a family. Food never stops coming from the kitchen all day and it’s a point of honor to eat. Iranian mothers sometimes break down crying if their guests don’t eat enough.

Stay safe

In general Iran is much safer than many from the West might believe. Most people are genuinely friendly and interested to know about you and your country, so leave aside your preconceptions and come with an open mind. Iran is still a relatively low-crime country, although thefts and muggings have been on the increase in recent years. Keep your wits about you, and take the usual precautions against pickpockets in crowded bazaars and buses.

In particular, the tourist center of Isfahan has had problems with muggings of foreigners in unlicensed taxis, and fake police making random checks of tourists’ passports. Only use official taxis, and never allow ‘officials’ to make impromptu searches of your belongings.

Try not to travel in the southeastern area of Iran, meaning the provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan, and also to some degree Southern Khorasan province. Drug trade is very common with smuggling from Afghanistan and other crimes as robbery, killing and kidnapping. Some cities as Zahedan, Zabol and Mirjaveh are particularly dangerous but that doesn’t mean that every place in this area of Iran is dangerous, Chahbahar which is close to the Pakistani border is a very calm and friendly city.

Women travellers should not encounter any major problems when visiting Iran, but will undoubtedly be the subject of at least some unwanted attention. Perceptions of Western women among local men, fuelled largely by satellite television and Baywatch reruns, have led to the assumption that all foreign women like to dress and act like Pamela Anderson. A stern look should be enough to deter amorous locals.

Watch out for joobs (جوب), the open storm water drains that shoulder every road and are easy to miss when walking in the dark.

Ignore the media hype, your chances of facing anti-Western sentiment as a traveller are slim. Even hardline Iranians make a clear distinction between the Western governments they distrust and individual travelers who visit their country. Americans may receive the odd jibe about their government’s policies, but usually nothing more serious than that. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution and avoid politically-oriented conversations, particularly in taxi cabs. In addition, a few Iranian-Americans have been detained recently and accused of espionage. These kind of incidents are rare, but still the broader implications are worth considering and bearing in mind

Iranian traffic is horrendous. Drivers attack their art with an equal mix of aggressiveness and incompetence and view road rules here do not exist! Guidelines are lax and rarely followed. Take care when crossing the roads, and even greater care when driving on them – Iranian drivers tend to overtake along pavements and any section of the road where there is space.

There are a lot of military and other sensitive facilities in Iran. Photography near military and other government installations is strictly prohibited. Any transgression may result in detention and serious criminal charges, including espionage, which can carry the death penalty. Do not photograph any military object, jails, harbours, or telecommunication devices, airports or other objects and facilities which you suspect are military in nature. Be aware that this rule is taken very seriously in Iran.

Emergencies

Emergency services are extensive in Iran, and response times are very good compared to other local regions, 110 is the telephone number of the local Police control center, it is probably easiest to phone 110, as the local police have direct contact with other emergency services, and will probably be the only number with English speaking operators.Other Emergency Services are also available via 115 for Ambulances and 125 for the Fire and Rescue team (these numbers are frequently answered by the Ambulance or Fire crew operating from them, there is little guarantee these men will speak English). The international number 112 is available from cell phones, and will usually connect you to the Police. Iran has also “Iran Assistance” an insurance company specializing in international medical evacuation.

Stay healthy

Iran has state-of-the-art medical facilities in all its major cities. Apart from being up to date with your usual travel vaccinations (tetanus, polio, etc) no special preparation is needed for travel to Iran.

Tap water is safe to drink in most of the country (and especially the cities), although you may find the chalkiness and taste off-putting in some areas (mainly Qom, Yazd, Hormozgan and Boushehr provinces). Bottled mineral water (āb ma’dani) is widely available. Also, on many streets and sites, public water fridges are installed to provide drinking water.

Respect

In general, Iranians are warm, friendly and generous individuals with a strong interest in foreigners and other cultures. In dealing with Iranians, the following tips relating to customs and etiquette may prove useful:

The liberalisation in Iran is going backward and the legally-enforced Islamic codes of conduct dictate many aspects of public life. Respecting the dozens of unspoken rules and regulations of Iranian life can be a daunting prospect for travellers, but don’t be intimidated. As a foreigner you will be given leeway and it doesn’t take long to acclimatise yourself. Moreover, some limitations that are quite disgusting for the people forced to abide can be fun for the unaccuctomed foreign tourist who is assured to go back to the normal conditions after the stay.

Source : Wikipedia

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