Most important things to know before traveling to Iran
Iran is such an incredible country to travel. The architecture will amaze you, the friendliness of the people will leave you speechless, the culture is fascinating and the landscapes are out of this world.Iran is also very misunderstood, with many people believing whatever propaganda they hear on the media about how dangerous or difficult it is to travel there.
Here’s a list of the most important things to know before you visit Iran.
1- Iran is safe
All of the mainstream media outlets portray Iran as an unsafe country, somewhere that you’ll be at risk if you visit.The mainstream media is wrong. The Iranian people are so friendly and helpful. They want you to have a great time.
The locals know what the media says about them and what a lot of the world thinks of their country, and the people just want to show that they are nice, generous people.
Theft against tourists is very rare and even the Religion Police (secret police) tend to leave tourists alone. Just be careful around the bazaars and crowded places for pick pocketing. There are some areas of Iran that are no-go zones, such as the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, so do your research and talk to locals if you’re thinking about going anywhere near them.
2- There are some customs you need to take note
Some of the most common ones are as bellow:
- Women must wear hijabs (head scarves) at all times in public. They must also wear loose fitting clothes that don’t show their figure.When you land at the airport, it is respectful to put a scarf straight on your head ladies.
Men can wear short-sleeved shirts, but long pants must be worn at all times.
- Giving a thumbs up sign is considered rude, similar to giving the middle finger in Western society.
- If you are travelling with your loved one, it’s better not to show physical affection in public.
- It’s better to bring a gift if you are invited to someone’s house such as Candy, pastries or flowers is fine.
- Take note of a custom called ” ta’arof” – This is a hospitality trait where it’s customary for someone to refuse payment for a service, and it’s a bit confusing for foreigners.Basically what happens is if you make a purchase (a souvenir, taxi ride, etc), the person may refuse your payment out of politeness. It is then up to you to insist despite their refusals that you want to pay. After two or three times they’ll then accept your money.If they still keep refusing then perhaps you have just experienced some amazing Iranian hospitality! But chances are they’ll accept the payment once the process has been completed.
3- Bring cash
Don’t forget your cash when visiting Iran, as none of the ATMs in the country accept foreign credit or debit cards thanks to the embargo.USD and Euro are well accepted all around the country.There’s two exchange rates in the country – official rate and black market rate – and black market rate is of course much better.The currency has two name : Toman and Rial .The people drop a zero and calling the new value a Toman. 1 Toman = 10 Rial .When you hear prices quoted in Tomans you need to add a zero on the end and pay the amount in Rials as mentioned on the bank notes.
4- Book your domestic flight from a travel agent
If you are flying domestic, book through an agent or your local guesthouse in the country. All the local airline pages are in Persian, and these are where the best deals are.
5- You need VPN to have access to some social media platforms
Some social media platforms are banned in Iran and you cannot access them without a VPN (Virtual Private Network).You cannot access Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, YouTube or Pinterest. You can access Instagram and Whatsapp but the rest only with a VPN.
6- Pick up a local Sim Card
You can buy sim cards at the airport or at any store. Have your passport with you and pay in cash. Irancell is an Iranian telecommunications company that operates Iran’s second largest 4G-4.5G mobile network. You can top up at any store that display the Irancell sign or using the proper codes.
7- Iran’s Uber is called ” SNAP” and ” TAP30″
When you book it you’ll get the driver’s name, their car model and their registration number, so you know you’re getting in the right vehicle. The price is determined by the app and you pay in cash once you get to your destination. There’s no metre, so the driver will take the most direct way possible with some great applications like ” WAZE”!
8- You can drink the Tap Water !
It’s totally safe to drink, so don’t worry about buying plastic water bottles everywhere you go.