Is it your first trip to Iran? Well, remember as much as Iranian society and culture is mysterious to you, the same is valid for Iranians when come across you. So, we all need to learn from each other. Iran has been off the tourism map for the last few some years. However; things have changed radically in recent years and many people from around the world are willing to visit Iran. If this is your fist trip to Iran you need to know a little bit about the statuesque in Iran. Iran has a religious democratic government, although there is a rather radical disagreement about either of the mentioned point by different people. But nonetheless;
Bear in Mind in Your First Trip to Iran:
- You need to be able to adapt to a new lifestyle while in your trip to Iran, that means different dress code and behavior in comparison with Western countries .
- You need to have a visa to have a trip to Iran. Although some nationalities are entitled to get a 7 to 14 days visa up on arrival to Iranian airports, to be on safer side, you might want to get your visa ahead of time. For that you need to file a visa application online by one Iranian-based travel agency, let’s say us. And then you need to wait to get your visa authorization from the Iranian foreign ministry. After you got that authorization, then you can go to the nearest Iranian embassy and pick up your visa. There are costs involved, which usually are comprised of the application fee and issuance fee which is collected at the embassy while your visa is granted to you. The issuance cost varies based on the nationality of applicant, which could be approximately 20 to 100$.
Your visa would be good for about 4 weeks and if you decide to stay longer you can get extensions while in Iran. The extension cost is about 2 $ for each extension of about 1 week. You need to have a few 1in1 inch pictures with you. Visas to Iran are mostly single entry, so if you need multiple entries you need to let your travel agent know it before hand.
Transit visas are issued in Iranian consulates and embassies in countries around Iran, you usually need to have proof that you just want to cross Iran in order to get your Iran transit visa.
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Social Norms in Iran:
Generally speaking, they are open and yet conservative, shy and yet forthcoming. But overall they are perhaps one of the most interesting kinds you might come across ever! Don’t be shy to initiate a talk, most likely that would soon follow by you being invited to their homes. If you got invited, you might want to really go there! Iranian loves their guests. Iranian women are more conservative than men, although it is changing. Girls are pretty shy but don’t hesitate to ask any question that you have, if you feel it is polite enough.
Younger generations are more astute in learning English and are pretty familiar with western symbols and world affairs. Always be open to initiate a conversation. You usually don’t handshake with women in Iran. Teenagers would stay with their parents till they get married and go independent.
What to Wear in Iran:
Iranian women are supposed to wear Hejab, which regards to kind of clothing style that would conservatively cover body. So, for your trip to Iran, you should have hejab, too. 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 short, sometimes not. All depends on what you like to wear, but of course within the accepted framework. While the more conservative way to clothing for women is Chador, which is long cloak like covering. You as a tourist in the trip to Iran 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. Read more about Hijab in Iran and What to wear in Iran
Our suggestion about cloths that you should wear in your trip to Iran is that:
- Come with your own cloths and then go buy a new set at the market. There are tons of Manto shops all over the place all over Iran. They might cost you 10 to 20$ for a really nice and practical ones.
- If 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 )
- 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.
Money in Iran:
Remember that while in Iran you can not use your credit cards, ATM cards, Debit cards, travel check yet, but in the near future they may be acceptable. You need to have adequate cash with yourself in your trip to Iran. Almost any currency is welcomed in Iran exchange offices, ranging from Euro, US $, Canadian $, Pound, Yen, Rupee etc. You won’t have a hard time to change your money. Try to exchange only as much as you would think you need for a few days and then go get some more money exchanges later on if needed. In average irrespective of hotel costs, you might need around 20$ daily in overall personal expenditures. So exchanging a 100$ can goes a long way for you.
You are highly encouraged to do your exchange in banks or exchange offices. There are also people that do offer exchange alongside the streets. They are mostly OK, yet if you are really not sure or not feeling good about it, simply go to the first available bank and do the exchange.
Air Ticket, Bus, Taxi, Trains & the Rest in Iran:
You got to know that there are just so many domestic flight operating in Iran. The flight schedules are mostly on time, but not always. You are highly encouraged to book your flights ahead of time. Just contact a travel agency and ask them to keep some seats on the routes that you want. Do not leave it for the last minutes, since you are most likely to end up stranded in writing list. Domestic flight are really cheap, like 60$ for Tehran to Shiraz and about 40$ from Isfahan to Tehran. Longer flight are more expensive but not a whole lot. Take advantage of this fact and try to get as much flights as it fits in to your itinerary, especially for the real long legs of the itinerary in Iran , like Tehran to Shiraz or Tehran to Kerman. There are a few airlines operating domestic flights, Iran Air is perhaps the better one, Mahan is also good, Aseman is for off the path routes, Iran Air tour and Kish Air offer trips to variety of destinations like Kish.
International Flights to Iran:
If you try to trip to Iran, try to find the closest Iran Air office. Its website gives you some clues of their offices locations (www.Iranair.com ). There are lots of International flights that Iran Air offers from almost anywhere in the world expect north America and parts of Africa, yet of you are traveling from those destinations, Iran Air would offer your flights with conjunction with other airlines. KLM and North west, Lufthansa and Air Canada can get you to Iran Air hubs in Amsterdam, London, Rome or Paris and then rest you can get it on Iran Air. The reason for picking Iran Air is because it is cheaper and it gives your a free domestic flight as the bounce.
Read more about World’s Great Airlines Returning to Iran
Bus in Iran:
The bus is a great way of traveling within Iran; they are cheap, fast and pretty good quality. If you wanted to get a ticket for your trip to Iran, you need to either call their office or go to nearest bus Terminal. To avoid the hassle ask your travel agency or hotel receptionist to do the reservation on the phone for you.
Buses are very regular and tons to choose from. Seiro Safar and tavoni #1 companies are pretty good ones. If you want to get bus ticket make sure to mention you wanted a Vizhe (VIP) bus. Vizhe means special one and it refers to the buses that have A/C, comfortable seats, etc.
Tickets are cheap, let’s say, from Tehran to Shiraz on a good bus, you might have to pay about 10$. Not to mention this trip is going to be about 600 miles (950 KM), which would take about 12 hours for you. So if you want to take a bus and wanted to do away with one extra hotel night in your trip to Iran, then take the ones that depart in the evening. But if you are interested to see the landscape while going between cities, you might want to get the ones that go during the day time.
Taxi in Iran:
City taxis have peculiar colors that different city to city. In Tehran they are mostly yellow or green, in Shiraz, they are yellow in Isfahan they are blue…etc. Irrespective of their color, in your trip to Iran, remember that taxis are shared, meaning that the driver would pick up a few others along the way to the destination. Try to have adequate Iranian rials in the shape of 2000 rials bills with you. Taxis are safe, try it for visiting inside the cities highlights in your trip to Iran.
Food in Iran:
Your trip to Iran is surely a delicious one! Great foods, cheap, fresh are a good part of a story, yet limited diversity, rare places that serve vegetarian or vegan and for some lack of a hard drink are the fact to bear in mind. A good meal in a good restaurant might cost you from 5$. If you are vegetarian, try to tell the waitress that you are vegetarian by saying that “Man gosht Nemikhoram”, That gives them the clue that they need to offer you things that don’t have meat in them. Try to take advantage of the fresh fruit and farmers markets during your trip to Iran.
Its your first trip to Iran, please ask us if you have any specific question.
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