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In recent years, Iran has been receiving increasing attention among overseas travel lovers. People who have traveled to Iran all say, “That’s a really good place.”
On the other hand, I think some people are worried about traveling because of their preconceptions about Iran, such as “it looks unsafe” and “Islamic country okay?”
In this article, I will answer seven questions you may have, based on my experience of traveling alone in Iran for three weeks in November 2019.
If you want to travel to Iran but are unsure, please read it. With this one article, the hurdles for traveling to Iran will be lowered.
1. Is the visa bothersome and true?
Currently, a visa (hereinafter referred to as a visa) is required to enter Iran.
The method of obtaining an application is as easy as in other countries, but having a history of traveling to Iran may cause inconvenience.
Tourist visa (e-VISA)
This is a type of visa that you must apply for at the Iranian embassy in advance or from any authorized online visa providers. The visa is valid for 30 days only.
From October 2018 onwards, Iran switched to e-VISA (Internet application), and it is now possible to easily obtain an application. The application fee is $ 25 USD.
This type of visa is applied after arriving at each international airport (Tehran, Tabriz, Mashad, Shiraz, Isfahan). Only air immigrants can apply and can stay here for 30 days. It has the advantage of quick acquisition application, but the price is higher than the pre-issued e-VISA.
Regarding insurance premiums, foreign travelers are obliged to take out “overseas travel accident insurance”, so non-members must complete the enrollment procedure on the spot. As a general rule, payments are made in euros and US dollars, but large changes are sometimes said to be “not on hand”, so be sure to have as much cash as possible.
2. What about costs and payments?
Iran’s economy is still unstable. Introducing my travel expenses as a reference value, 400 $ was enough for a tour of 7 cities for 3 weeks. Of course, accommodation, food, travel, souvenirs, etc. are all added up.
The whole process was organized by individuals, the highway bus VIP was used for transportation, and the inn used the hostel (5-8 € / night).
Iranian currency unit
The currency unit is the Iranian Rial (Rls, IRR).
Banknotes: 100,000Rls, 50,000Rls, 20,000Rls, 10,000Rls, 5000Rls, 2000Rls, 1000Rls, 500Rls
Coins: 2000Rls, 1000Rls, 500Rls, 250Rls
In reality, most of them will use banknotes. Remember 100,000 Rls, 50,000 Rls, 20,000 Rls, 10,000 Rls, 5000 Rls.
However, in everyday life, we use the unit Toman (1 Toman = 10Rls) instead of the real one. In the case of reality, the local people seem to be confused because the digits are large. Especially if you are a traveler. I was repeatedly asking “Real? Toman?” (Laughs).
Credit card/cash card circumstances
International card brands such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, etc. are American companies and cannot be used at most stores and hotels. However, in some inns that have a company outside of Iran, it is possible to make card payments at hostels.
You can also get an Iranian domestic cash card at the airport. By the way, purchasing a cash card does not cost $10 USD. There are many travelers who are sold at high prices by bad guys, so be careful.
Therefore, basically, there is no doubt if you think about the assumption that almost everything will be exchanged in cash during the travel period.
3. Means of Transportation recommend in Iran
Domestic flight travel is almost impossible for foreigners.
If you can’t do it without an airplane, be prepared to make a reservation at a local travel agency.
The following is my own experience, so please refer to it.
I asked a travel agency to book an airline ticket, and I didn’t have any cash with me, so I agreed, “Then, I’ll pay in USD tomorrow.” However, when I visited the next day, I said, “No, it was a mistake of the staff, but it’s actually EUR, not USD. I’m truly grieved.” I needed to pay the distinction on the grounds that the schedule was pushing, however, I could see my feet.
It’s a bitter experience, but when you sign a contract in any way, let’s complete it on the spot.
Later on, I decided to write a review, and when I was looking for it, it was a travel agency that did not post any information on the Internet. This is the moment when I thought, “Don’t do it, Iran!”
We recommend a long-distance bus for city travel. Iran is a country that collects crude oil, and gasoline is cheap, so you can get on at a cheap fare. In fact, even with VIP seats, you can ride a distance of 400 to 500 km for about 5 to 7 $, so you can sleep comfortably while you are on the move. In addition, there are plenty of light meals and restroom breaks, so you can have a surprisingly comfortable trip.
“Right when the transport stations and you have a 30-minute break, add a lot of sugar to chai (tea) and drink! This is a shortcut to becoming an Iranian.
Ride-hailing app – Snapp
Iran has a large number of taxis dispatched. I used it when heading to the inn from the bus terminal and when heading to sightseeing spots in the suburbs. If you share it, it will be cheaper, so you can move even more profitably.
4. Is it true that you can’t use the internet?
Iran has the second-worst net degree of freedom in the world. Of course, the internet environment is in place, but the radio waves are weak everywhere, and the government imposes access restrictions and censorship on the internet, so honestly, it is inconvenient.
The strength of the radio waves cannot be controlled, but there are ways to sneak in access restrictions and censorship by the government.
That is to use a virtual private network called VPN. By using this network, you can freely browse the site, bypassing government restrictions and censorship.
There are so many types of VPN apps, but I recommend “Sekai VPN”. The reason is that the radio waves are very good when I actually use them, and there was no problem even if I used multiple terminals at the same time.
Also, the biggest advantage of this VPN is that you can use it for free for 2 months after registration. Be sure to set up a VPN before you travel. Please refer to “VPN that any Chinese / Iran traveler knows” for the detailed setting method.
5. How do I decide where to stay?
There are two things to keep in mind when staying in Iran.
“Booking.com” is not available
Due to internet restrictions, even if you search, only 0 items will be displayed, so use another inn site. In my experience, ” Hostelworld ” was the most popular and easy to use. Since it covers everything from cheap accommodation to class A, I was able to collect enough accommodation information with this one.
I can’t make online payments
The reason is that, as mentioned above, most stores and inns in Iran do not accept credit cards. The accommodation fee is basically paid in cash, so be careful about the amount of money exchanged.
Couch Surfing, a private lodging app, is popular in Iran
In addition to hotels and dormitories, there is also a means of private lodging.
Officially, it is “illegal” for foreign travelers to stay in private lodgings. for lodgings, but there are quite a lot of travelers/locals using the private lodging app called “Couch Surfing” which is used all over the world.
Iran has a surprisingly large number of Couchsurfing registrants, and it is not surprising that a large number of accommodation offers arrive. Everyone is very kind, but of course, there are some people who are not good, so be careful when using them.
In addition, VPN is required to use Couch Surfing.
6. What are the Islamic disciplines that travelers should be aware of?
Iran is a religious nation, so it is stricter than other Middle Eastern countries. Please behave in accordance with Islamic rules. There are some locals who feel a gap in the city, but we are foreigners to the last. It’s not limited to Iran, but a respectful attitude is essential.
Get used to Persian numbers first
Iran uses Persian numbers. It’s always confusing because it’s completely different from the Western numbers we use every day (0,1,2,3, …). It is recommended that you remember in advance as all restaurant billing and bus ticket purchases are Persian numbers.
Iran, which is dominated by Islamic Shia, lives on the Iranian calendar, not the Christian era. Tickets for long-distance buses and trains are based on the Iranian calendar, so be careful when purchasing.
Also, Fridays are only worship services, but most restaurants and transportation are closed on public holidays. It’s a good idea to check in advance if there are any holidays during your travel period.
Clothes should refrain from exposing the skin
The principle is to avoid exposing the skin.
Iranian women are required to wear a hijab (scarf). Also, pagan women must wear scarves as well, cover their hair. You don’t have to worry about the color of the scarf that much.
What was interesting about traveling was that there was a gap in clothing between the city and the countryside.
Many urban women were dressed in colorful clothes, wearing gorgeous scarves softly on the back of their heads, and the more they went to rural areas, the less exposed they were, and many were wearing black monochromatic chadors.
Men are shorts NG. At check-in, I was once told, “Don’t spend your time in shorts in the inn.” Fortunately, I wasn’t a shorts T-shirt, but be aware that there are some strict inns like this.
Also, when wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt, it is said that the manners are with a collar. Wear long sleeves when entering mosques and mausoleums.
Alcohol is legal
Iran is a prohibition nation. It is not sold over the counter. Some drinks call themselves non-alcoholic beer, but it was just delicious juice (laughs).
By the way, if you want to try it, the peach flavor of “HEYDAY” in the above photo (the photo is a tropical flavor) is recommended!
As a matter of fact, I’ve heard that homemade wine and beer are made in each household, but you shouldn’t drink them unless you have a very reliable partner. The chances of getting stuck in sleeping pills and stealing your luggage are not zero. If you get into trouble in Iran, where you don’t speak English, your trip will be ruined, so be careful.
Is it okay to enter a mosque or mausoleum?
Basically, there is no problem if the building is a tourist spot. If you’re curious, watch for tourists around you. Or, ask the locals around you by gesturing.
Also, on important days for Muslims, such as Fridays and public holidays, it’s best to refrain from going all the way in.
For those who are uneasy, it is a good idea to enter with a volunteer guide near the entrance. I was touring the mosque with a guide with a friend made at the inn. It was a lot of fun to hear valuable secret stories and behind-the-scenes stories about architectural design that are not mentioned in the guidebook.
However, volunteer guides are only really famous mosques. If you can’t enter the basics, someone in the mosque will tell you. Therefore, in my experience, the conclusion is that it is okay to just check before entering.
Don’t point the camera unnecessarily
I also understand that I am fascinated by the lifestyle that is far from my country and want to point the camera at it. However, be patient and refrain from shooting without permission. Be especially careful with Muslim women and the act of pointing the lens at government buildings. Please be aware that some travelers have been imprisoned for being flirted with bad police officers.
7. Isn’t it dangerous? How safe is it?
Iran’s security is very good.
Currently, there are no areas in the country that are designated as “extremely dangerous” and no cities have travel restrictions. However, please refrain from traveling near the border between Afghanistan and Iraq due to unstable conditions.
Iran is full of hospitality
“Hospitality” is often mentioned as the temperament of the Iranian people. Especially for travelers, we offer very generous hospitality. Since it was a passing point on the Silk Road, it is said that the custom of welcoming people from distant countries still remains.
Social ritual “Tarov” that resembles Japanese
In addition, one of the social rituals of the Iranian people is the culture and custom called “Tarov (intonation is the same as” crow “)”.
For example, when you try to pay the amount at a store, you may be told “OK”. This by no means offering the service for free.
It’s a word to show courtesy and respect, so don’t really accept it and give it away. If you don’t know what you really mean and you’re in trouble, say “Tarov? Laughter” and the distance will be closer.
So far, we have answered seven questions. Isn’t this alleviating your anxiety? You may be able to go to Iran with this article! I’m glad if you think.
Last but not least, the situation is currently unstable, so don’t forget to check the travel information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I like Iran, which has a sense of intimacy. Please come and visit Iran!