You may have been to many countries around the world, spent a lot of time to learn about them before your trip started, in order to get to know the destination. But Iran is relatively misunderstood and many people believe propaganda they hear on the media about how dangerous or difficult is to travel there. But in reality, Iran is such an incredible country to travel. The architecture, and the landscape will fascinate you. The friendliness of the people will leave you speechless and the culture is amazing! Here is things you need to know before you travel to Iran such as Iran Dos and Don’ts.
Safety in Iran
Contrary to the negative propaganda of some Western media, Iran is a safe country and does not pose any threat to citizens and tourists. In recent years, despite the rise of terrorist groups such as ISIS and the Taliban in the Middle East and some of their attacks in the heart of Europe, Iran has been immune from such anti-human rights practices and is renowned as the safe island of the Middle East. Despite the relatively insecure situation that there is in the world today, not one single serious terrorist incident has been reported in the country.
Also Read – Is Iran Safe to Travel ?
Accommodation in Iran
In Iranian touristy cities, it is common for natives to rent their homes to travelers. This type of residence may cause problems with accident insurance. So stay in places that operate under the Iranian Tourism Organization. Certified hotels, guesthouses, and local houses are among the approved venues. If you are traveling on a tour, trust your travel agent or tour guide about accommodation.
Internet in Iran
There is internet in almost everywhere in Iran (except for the depths of mountains and remote villages) and it is very easy to access. As soon as you get off your plane, buy a SIM card at a very reasonable price (less than $2.00). Once you have activated your SIM card, you will be provided with high-speed Internet access and will be able to stay in touch with your family and friends with audio and video applications. Carrying a passport to buy a tourist SIM is necessary.
In Iran, three operators are providing telecommunication and internet services. “Hamrah Aval” and “lrancell” offer exclusive services to tourists and you can use this service by purchasing a product called “Tourist SIM”. Remember that these SIM cards are only valid for 30 days. If you want to spend more time in Iran, ask the seller to provide different types of SIM.
Iran Currency System
You can use Euro, Pound or Dollar to pay for some travel expenses, such as your Hostel accommodation fare or a taxi that will take you from the airport to the hotel or souvenirs. But for most costs, you need to exchange your money into Iranian Rial (IRR). There are currency exchanges at Iran’s international airports. Hotels also have this facility. Authentic currency exchanges are also available in all major Iranian cities where you can use their services. You can read more about Iranian money and travel expenses to Iran.
Iranian Toman: When talking money in Iran you may hear the term “Toman” instead of “Rial”. The Toman is an old term but is no longer an official currency. Although the “Toman” is no longer an official unit of Iranian currency, Iranians commonly express amounts of money and prices of goods in “Tomans.” For this purpose, one “Toman” equals 10 Rials. Despite this usage, amounts of money and prices of goods are virtually always written in rials. For example, the price sign in a store would state the price in Rials, e.g., “20000 Rials,” even though the salesman, if asked, would say the cost “2000 Tomans” or simply 2000.
Please note: international credit– Debit cards do not function in Iran due to sanctions, Only some souvenir shops in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan which have connections to Emirate banks accept them. So it’s highly recommended to take cash money with you
Read more – Iranian Currency
Tipping in Iran
In Iran, it is not mandatory but is becoming common to tip people who provide service, such as waiters at restaurants, hotel bellboys, guides or tour drivers. At the airport the luggage carts are free for anyone to use but if you get assistance from someone with the cart, you should tip him. People generally leave 10% Tip in fancy restaurants.
Toilets in Iran
There are western type of toilets in many hotels and tourist destinations and you will not have any problems. But in most public places there are no sitting toilets and you have to use a squat toilet. squat toilet (also known as a squatting toilet) is a toilet used by squatting, rather than toilets at public restrooms on the roads and restaurants. The toilet is set on the floor and has no seat. Today, all toilets have a water hose. Keep in mind that in most public toilets in the city and between roads, paper towels do not exist
Covering in Iran
According to Iran clothing law, women must wear hijabs. However, the Iranian veil differs greatly from what is used in some other Islamic countries and is more variable and colorful. Any type of dress that is not too thin and covers the arms, legs and hair of the head is considered to be an Iranian veil and there are no restrictions on the color and design of the dress. This hijab is enough for a trip to Iran. In other words, in Iran, the veil is not treated excessively and you will find out by watching the coverage of Iranian citizens.
Under Iranian law for men, wearing shorts is not legal and trousers that are too short, though not legally prohibited, is not accepted in public places. It is necessary to cover some of the hair for tourist women in Iran. It is advisable for female visitors to have a head scarf in their handbag to be used as soon as they arrive in Iran.
Iran Dress Code
Women: All females over the age of nine must wear a hijab, the Islamic dress. There is no uniformity, however, regarding its type and the amount of coverage it provides. The black chador (the loose head-to-toe covering) isn’t compulsory. the most common wear is manteau , a full-length, usually long• sleeved overcoat, an overwhelming array of which is readily available in the shops. If you don’t want to buy any, bring a knee-length, loose tunic that can be worn with a long skirt or trousers (jeans are acceptable). Hair must be covered with a scarf. The colors of the clothes do not really matter. If you travel in summer, light fabrics and sandals are strongly recommended.
Men: There are few restrictions about men’s dress. Only shorts, even knee-length, are unacceptable. Shirts with short sleeves are fine.
photo from againstthecompass.com
Alcohol and Drug Law in Iran
Under Iranian law, the transportation and use of alcohol and drugs, including Marie Joanna, is prohibited in public places, and there is no official service center for its customers. However, in Iran, as in many countries, the trafficking and distribution of banned items is a significant social disadvantage.
Halal food in Iran
According to Iranian and Islamic regulations, only halal food is offered in Iran. Halal food is not served with alcoholic beverages. The meat and chicken that is to be used for cooking meat is slaughtered in a special Islamic way. Also meat of some animals such as pork, dogs, mice, etc. are not eaten in Iran because of being not Halal.
Also Read: Persian Cuisine
Iranians are proud of their country, nationality, history and their traditions. Kind, warm, friendly, helpful, proud, and generous people that only one thing ties them all together, and that’s Iran. Although they have not had a great number of visitors in most parts of Iran since 1979, they remain respectful and curious towards tourists. They would welcome you, thank you for visiting and ask you questions.
Hospitality and the expression of friendly feelings is the most prominent moral characteristic of Iranians. So if you come across Iranians who invite you to their home, give you something as a reminder, get excited about seeing you, take a picture with you, shake your hand And give you a hug, don’t be surprised.
Iran DOs and DON’Ts
Before you travel to Iran, it’s necessary to know Iran Dos and Don’ts:
Staring at people, especially Iranian women, kissing, and hugging in public places is incompatible with Iranian public culture. Also, shaking hands with opposite sex is not very popular in conservative cities of Iran. When photographing people, especially if the subject is an Iranian citizen, it is best to get permission. Like many people in the world, Iranians like to respect their privacy.
Here is a list of some cultural dos and don’ts in Iran:1
Alcohol in Iran
Alcohol is banned in Iran, and don’t try to bring alcohol into the country.
No Handshake Always!
Don’t get misunderstood! Again because of being an Islamic state, conservative and religious Iranians do not shake hand with their opposite gender. Handshaking is between two men or two women especially in public. So if you are meeting elder people, an Imam, or religious friends let them to decide to handshake or not. So don’t judge, it’s their culture and doesn’t mean the person you are meeting is impolite or rude.
Persian Gulf or Arabian Gulf?
Historically, due to long lasted vast Persian Empire, the most important and strategic Gulf of the Middle East has been called “Persian Gulf‘” in all documented geographic evidences. Since 1970s some Arab nations located on the opposite side of the Hormuz strait started to call it the Arabian Gulf. But do not try to do so in Iran, since people are sensitive about it. As Iranians say, it’s the “forever” Persian Gulf!
In the Iranian culture, mosques, shrines and cemeteries are respected and their visit, like all other religious sites around the world, requires respectful behavior and humility. Prayer halls of mosques are usually covered with carpets where wearing shoes is not allowed.
Laws on Iranian shores
According to the Iranian law, swimming or sunbathing on beaches of Iran is allowed for men and women in special separate sections on beaches. Walking on the beach, of course, is not subject to gender segregation. There’s also the issue of using the hotel pool, they have different time tables for men and women.
Public display of affection
While in Iran, you’d better not to display affections in public such as kiss, hug, or putting your arm around your loved one in public in some small towns which are usually more conservative. Holding hands is OK.
Do not throw toilet paper in the toilet
A self-explanatory one, but the toilet paper is pretty thick and will quickly get stuck in the pipes. Unless you want to risk an overflowing toilet, you must throw the toilet paper in the wastebasket.
Wearing shoes indoors
If someone invites you to their home, make sure you take your shoes off before entering. Iranians wear house slippers indoors and are sure to offer you a pair too. You’re welcome to take them or decline and walk around barefoot or in socks.
Be careful with Ta’arof!
This is a polite exchange that takes place in all aspects of life in Iran, in shops, in streets, in businesses, at homes. Simply stated, it is a form of one person making an offering and the other, refusing it. This custom may repeat itself several times before the individuals finally determine whether the offer and refusal are real or simply polite. Be very careful how and with whom you taarof so that it does not interfere with your stay. Use common sense as to when to do it and when not to.
What should I wear in Iran?
Please refer to the main text above: IRAN DRESS CODE.
Can Americans apply for Iranian visa?
The short answer is yes. Visa procedures have been considerably simplified during recent years. All nationalities except Israelis are allowed to apply. US residents have to refer to the Iranian Interests Section of the Embassy of Pakistan, Washington DC. As you may know, Americans, British and Canadian nationals require to book a tour from arrival to departure; essentially this means you need a certificated guide while you are in Iran. Citizens of these countries need to have a confirmed itinerary, which should be requested from a valid tour company. For this, they should send a passport copy, ID photos, and a profession & educational CV to the Iranian tour operator. Typically, getting the Visa authorization code for these applicants take around 30 working days.
Can I drive my own car in Iran?
To bring your own vehicle into Iran, you must be more than 18 years old and have a valid international driver’s license. For the vehicle, you will need car registration papers, a nationality badge, a red warning triangle, and a carnet de passage ) temporary importation document) which can be obtained from the relevant international automobile organization in your country. Third-party insurance is compulsory for all- make sure that your policy is valid for Iran and accredited with Iranian insurance companies. Otherwise you will have to buy insurance at the border. The only tax the driver pays is the fuel tax. At the border, the officials will probably note the details of your vehicle in your passport to make sure you don’t leave the country without your vehicle. Three months is the current time limit for driving a foreign car in Iran. For a period of more than ten days, you should obtain a temporary license plate for your car.
Which season is the best to visit Iran?
Spring and autumn are the best times to travel around central, western and northern Iran and to see the most interesting cultural attractions of this wonderful country. Only visits to the coast of Persian Gulf are best made in winter when humidity and heat levels are at their lowest.
Can I drink alcohol in Iran?
According to the Iranian Islamic rules, all alcohol is banned and if you take any alcoholic drink with you, it would be confiscated at the border or in the airport.
Is Iran safe?
Any crime carries severe penalties in the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the other hand Because of great influence of Islamic beliefs and off course importance of decency in Iranian culture, this country is one the safest. It is likely that the greatest danger you face (other than crossing the road!!) is having your purse or camera snatched, especially in Isfahan.
How can I visit Iran as a solo female traveler?
Traveling to Iran as a solo female traveler is pretty safe, but does require some preparation. First of all, you need to know about the conventional covering in Iran and the dress code. Also, you’d better learn some essential Farsi words and phrase in order to be better understood.
While in Iran, You would get surprised but will feel comfortable with Women Sections in public buses or Metro. The metro has its own women carriages! There are separated checkpoint entrances at airports and railway stations for women.
Most men in Iran will treat you with respect and sexual harassment is rare in Iran but keep some considerations that you actually follow when you travel alone as a woman: Avoid walking alone at night, Dress modestly, and preferably don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know.
What are cultural DOS and DON’TS in Iran?
Eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours of the 28 days of Ramadan is not acceptable. Entry into a “working” religious building or into a private home entails removing shoes at the edge of the carpet, rug or floor covering to prevent street filth being brought in. In a public city bus, usually passengers sit according to gender and there is a man section and women section. As in some other Islamic countries homosexuality does not occur and such behavior is forbidden and illegal. Note that men in Iran often hold hands and embrace each other, but this has no sexual connotations.
Is any international credit card acceptable in Iran?
No, international credit cards don’t function in Iran due to sanctions. Only some souvenir shops in Shiraz and Isfahan which have connections to Emirate banks accept them. So it’s better to take cash money with you.
Can I rent Ski gears in Iran?
Yes. Regular ski gear and boots are available to rent in Iranian ski resorts, however this is just for regular ski equipment only. Specialized ski or mountaineering gear are not available. You have to bring your own gear.
How is Iranian cuisine?
Iranian cuisine offers some of the best dishes in the world. The Persian cuisine consists of a delicious array of stews and different rice among many other dishes. And of course Persian bread; These used to be all made inside brick ovens (Tanoors) by hand but machines have taken the place of many. Still, Persian breads are a part of any good meal and they are simply delicious. Persian sweets and pastries are absolutely wonderful and you can find pastry shops in every corner of main streets. If you get lucky enough to be invited to someone’s house for lunch or dinner, be sure to pick up a box of fresh pastries at a local shop. Fast food stores abound serving all sorts of creative sandwiches. Don’t be shy to try different things and most certainly don’t stay away from eating real Iranian food. The majority of people in Iran are conscious of properly cleaning fruits and vegetables and general cooking hygiene. Tap water is safe to drink in any part of the country although you might not like the taste in some parts. Bottled water is readily available.
Is tipping common in Iran?
It is common to tip in Iran for certain things such as bellboys, waiters, tour guides or tour drivers. At the airport the luggage carts are free for anyone to use but if you get assistance from someone with the cart, you should tip him. People generally leave 10% Tip in fancy restaurants.
What are national holidays in Iran?
What currency Iran has?
Iranian currency is called Rial – IRR; But when talking money in Iran you may hear the term “Toman”. The toman is an old term but is no longer an official currency. Although the “Toman” is no longer an official unit of Iranian currency, Iranians commonly express amounts of money and prices of goods in “Tomans.” For this purpose, one “Toman” equals 10 rials. Despite this usage, amounts of money and prices of goods are virtually always written in rials. For example, the price sign in a store would state the price in rials, e.g., “20000 Rials,” even though the salesman, if asked, would say the cost “2000 tomans” or simply 2000.
Please note: international credit — Debit cards do not function in Iran due to sanctions. Only some souvenir shops in Shiraz and Isfahan which have connections to Emirate banks accept them. So it’s highly recommended to take cash money with you.
Is Iran Visa Process complicated?
To be honest, despite all the negative press, travel to Iran has become very easy over the past few years, and the Iranian government has made some changes to the regulations in the tourism industry in the hope of attracting more visitors.
How long does it take to get Iranian tourist and business visas?
For most nationals It takes Max. 10 days for a tourist visa and 2 weeks for a business visa.
Can Israeli Citizens Get Iranian Visa?
No – Israeli nationals cannot get an Iranian visa at all.
What is the difference between the Entry validity and the Duration of stay?
The entry validity is calculated from the time of visa issuance and the validity of the stay is calculated from the time of entry, which can be extended but the validity of the entry cannot be extended.
Can I get a regular Iranian visa for countries that are eligible for airport visas?
Yes, All eligible nationals for Iran airport can apply for regular visa at Iranian consulates.
Is it possible to extend my Iranian visa?
Yes, Iranian visas can be extended, depending on the nationality of the guests. Will the refund be paid if the visa is rejected? Yes we guarantee 100% refund of visa service if visa is refused.
Is Iran a safe country to travel?
Yes – Iran is definitely one of the safest countries in the world, you can safely travel in Iran. Read more – Is Iran Safe to Travel? (/articles/item/136-is-iran-safe-2019)
Why apply for a visa through Iransafar Tours?
Those who intend to obtain an Iranian visa need to have a sponsor (who invites you) in Iran, lransafar Tours can be your sponsor and will guarantee your visa work in the shortest possible time. Read more – How to get Iran Visa?
Do I need a hotel reservation to get a visa?
If your visa application process is done through lransafar Tours, there is no need to book a hotel, but you need to provide some information on where you stay in Iran to be written on your application form. (Note: US, British and Canadian nationals need to book all hotels in advance)
Do nationals of different countries need a visa to enter the Free Zones of Iran?
No – Citizens of all countries (Except Israel) do not need a visa to enter the Free Zones of Iran.
Where is the nearest Iranian Consulate to Canadian and American Citizens?
The closest embassy is the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington DC (Office for the Protection of Iranian Interests) in Washington DC. The visa service can be done via express courier service.
A lot of useful information for somebody travelling to Iran first tiem. To be honest I’m very excited to get to know the country and its people from my own opinion instead of our media. And though I only learned a bit of farsi words from Afghan people here in GErmany I might try them. 🙂