:: When to Travel:
You want to travel when it is not really hot nor really cold. So, based on this premise, you be much better off if you could arrange your travel sometime between 1 April through Mid May or during the fall. During the summer the average temperature hits top 30 till 40 in different places, so if you are in love with heat , then that is the time for you to go. During the winder though, the average temperature gets close up to +5 during the day and sub zero during the nights.
But that is just an estimation , because while it is sub zero in Tehran during the January , it is well above 25 and 30 in Kish Island, when it is the prime destination for a nice swim and getaway from the winter cold . Kish is located in the Persian gulf offers great resorts , diving , swimming and all kind of water sports opportunity for you, besides that it is a free trade zone with duty free shopping malls all over the place. In general the best time to be in Iran is early to middle April.
Try avoiding the following :
Iranian New year (20 March through 1st April)
Remember that 20 march through 1st April is during Iranian New Year holidays, so what dose it mean to you. the first thing is that considering huge volume of domestic travel by Iranians, you would have hard time find hotel rooms and if you happened to find, their price would be much higher than usual. During the New Year Holidays , most bazaars ,businesses and museums are half closed, although most sightseeing are still open. And finally during the New year holidays (20 march , through 1 April) is it absolutely hard to find Air ticket or by that matter any ticket. So avoid that period.
:: Date to be cautious about:
This is the Islamic fasting month (since it is based on lunar months, it would vary year to year). During this month eating , smoking and drinking in public is banned. So if you need to eat , then you have to go to your hotel or to restaurants that work during that period.
:: Travel Costs:
Iran is still one of the cheapest places in the world to travel. You can get by with little amount of money for a good length of time. ok, get this, if you are traveling independently (not in those fancy expensive tours), then you could count on having the following costs:
:: Accommodations: guesthouse to 1 or even 2 star hotels, with good service and private bathroom ...etc, would cost you around 10 to 20$ per person based on season and place.
:: Meals: if you are into all the time restaurant, then say in a moderate restaurant you can get by 3$ for each meal. But if you get produce from grocery and sometimes go visit the fruit store, your cost would be lower indeed.
:: Transportation: Bus tickets are really cheap and service quality is really decent. For a trip from Tehran to say , Isfahan which is about 500kms , you might end up paying somewhere around 4 to 7$. The Airplane would be a better option . the air ticket from Tehran to Isfahan is around 30$.
while in cities , if you need to take taxi, you should have change, carry some 500rls notes. you might be asked for around 20 to 30 cents for about 4 miles. which is about 2000 to 3000 rials
:: Entrance fees: most places are free , but those that are not the entrance fee ranges around 40 to 50 cents (4000 to 5000 rials). There are a few places that cost more. one is Tehran Saad Abad royal palaces complex that costs about 5 t 6 dollars and the other one is Perseplis nearby shiraz that costs around 3 to 6 $ based on how many places you wanted to see within that site.
:: Visa: if you apply through an agency , you might be charged about 60$ in order for them to get your visa authorization number, and then you are going to pay another 30 to 100$ based on your nationality at the Iranian embassy or consulate, when you are picking up your visa. You should be applying at least 4 weeks ahead of your arrival date. American tourists need to be included in a guided tour.
Some 50 to 60 nationalities (most Europeans , Oceania and east Asian counties) can get a 7 to 14 days visa up on arrival to the airport. You need to carry 50 $ cash and 2 pictures.
So, that was the over all picture, but that was just an estimation, you need to check with us or any other travel agents to get a real time estimation of your likely travel costs.
For those who rather to travel more comfortably in 3 , 4 or even 5 star level hotels and have their own private driver and guide, fares would hike up appropriately. Here is the picture for you :
:: Accommodation: 50 $ in a 3 star hotel, 50 to 70 $ in a 4 star and 70 to 140$ in a 5 star hotel is the price you most likely would encounter when it comes to hotel rooms in a really nice single room in a good hotel. the again , these are averages and fares might vary based on season and places -+ 30%.
:: Transport: Well, the fares of bus and air ticket are the same as in the above option, yet if you wanted a private car and driver, then you should count on 60 to 80 $ daily in average for the car and driver costs.
:: Meals: Good food in really nice restaurants might cost you somewhere between 4 to 7$ per meal.
Guide: if you need a guide, then perhaps you need to count on 10 to 20$ daily in average. Guides would really give a new dimension to your trip.
:: Entrance fees: As mentioned in the above option.
Visa costs: As above.
:: Personal costs:
A nice small handicraft gift might cost you 10 to 30$. A nice silk carpet medium size would be under 500$ .
:: Credit Cards:
please pay attention. There is literally not a chance for you to use your credit card, ATM card, Debit card, travel check in Iran. you need cash . you can bring whatever currency you want and then exchange it in the Banks. the average exchange rate is about 9300 rials per 1 US$.
:: Books and newspaper:
There are a few Iranian English newspapers. But you most likely need to rely on internet for news updates , if you wanted to know what happened in the latest CSI or who got American Idol!. I am just kidding. Anyway, try to stay update, ask newspaper stands for Iran-Daily or Tehran Times.
Bring a couple of books with yourself. Perseplis is a fast read, so perhaps is going to finish is in less that 1 hour before eve getting to Iran , but other books like The Taste Ride of Shah, All kings man or the better of all "The Iranian " by Sandra Macky. Shia revival is a more recent one, or the journey from the land of No could be other options . If you are into political literature you might want to also check out the No god but Go by Reza Aslan.
Check Amazon.com for the latest on Iran.
There are lots of things that you can do, such as hiking going on desert tours in Yazd and Kerman , going for diving in kish , hiking in Masooleh and mountaineering the Alborz. Ski slopes of Dizin and Shemshak are just awesome.
Also don't miss going to a couple Iranian movies on the screen and hang out in the parks with young Iranian generation, the would love to talk to you.
:: Don't be Shy:
Don't be shy, ask whatever you feel asking and say whatever you think is appropriate enough. The chances are that you get to know people and you might be even invited to their home, Don't say No , unless you really don feel like going or for some reason you can not.
Iranians love to invite foreigners to their home . you would get to taste some really good home made foods or even stay over night.
Get some good good quality travel cloths, bring a couple of sandals and a pair of good hiking boots. An extra couple of good T shirts , pants and shirts would be a good idea. Women need to have their hair covered, so take a couple of head scarf with you. If you are not sure what to wear or buy , maybe you need to wait and get yourself a really nice set of cloths in Iran. There are tons of dress shops all over the place. You would need to buy a Manou.
Iranian women are supposed to wear Hejab, which regards to kind of clothing style that would conservatively cover body . However what you would see in Iran is dramatically different than the ones you might have noticed in pictures from Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.
Women in Iran usually wear Manto , which is a sort of trench coat, in different colors , sometimes really short, sometimes not. All depends on the what you like to wear, but of course within the accepted framework. You are encouraged to check our picture gallery to see it for yourself what is in nowadays.
More conservative way to clothing for women is Chador , which is long cloak like covering. Black color is official one for more conservative people , yet there are many people who chose the more colorful and design chadors.
There used to be a time that police or militia would stop people if they had not enough conservative kind of cloths on, but that picture has faded away pretty much. yet there is still some concerted efforts by the government to enforce their brand of conservative dress codes.
You as a tourist can more or less get away with the Chador and can wear a pretty normal Manto and a headscarf.
So far as headscarf is concerned you merely need a normal, of your color of choice head scarf that would cover some, if not all of your hairs . and of course don't forget your pants!. Any kind of pants is ok, so long as it is not radically short. You might be really better off of you would take a couple of good loose hacking pants.
:: Our suggestion is that:
1- Come with your own cloths and then go buy a new set at the market . there are tons of Mantue shops all over the place all over Iran. They might cost you 10 to 20$ for a really nice and practical ones. Chech here for the kind you might see in the shops (casual cloths for women in Iran)
2- Of you are traveling in the winter or fall, you might need to bring your warm cloths. But also you need to remember that you can buy really good stuff down there in Iran too, so might as well check this out too (Winter cloths in Iran )
3- Shoes: Bring your set of sandals and hiking boots. Try to get a good and hardy brand that would not break . Although you will find tons of shoe repair shops all around the place.
Apply for your visa through a travel agency or directly by the closest Iranian embassy in your country or region. the application can be done online or by phone and your visa will be issued within 3 to 4 weeks. But Americans can get their visa only within the context of a guided tour.
:: Internet , Post and Maps:
Internet is all over the place. you would see numerous internet cafés all over the place, if you have hard time finding one, simply ask from the person you see on the street . Most hotels provide internet. There are some sites that are filtered (mostly porno and some political ones against the government policies).
Post offices are also numerous. The postage fares vary if you decide to send something back home, buy in average is it about 5 $ per kilo.
Maps can be purchased from the newspaper stands along the streets or book store. there are really good and detailed English maps that you can buy for a couple of $.
:: Guide books:
Do not even think of traveling to Iran without a good guide book like Lonely Planet recent version of Iran Guide book.
I:: nternet portal:
Check the thorn three forums section under Iran/ middle east section in www.LonelyPlanet.com . It is a must an vital thing for you to that before and while in Iran.