Traveling to Iran for the first time promises a lot of new experiences and unbeaten paths for you. On the other side, you should have some information about the rules and culture of your destination to enjoy your trip.
With 24 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Iran is a great choice as your next destination. The natural wonders and captivating past of the country mesmerizes you during your sojourn in Iran.
There are some preliminaries that you can provide before your trip. In this article, we provide some tips and tricks for first travelers to have an enjoyable trip to Iran.
Is Iran a cash country?
Your credit cards cannot be used at Iran’s ATM or for shopping. On the other hand, carry too much cash may threaten your safety during a trip. Besides, you may have no idea how much money you should carry with you. There is another option for you, the Iranian debit card!
With a debit card you can increase your safety during travel and help you to enjoy your visit to Iran. however carrying reasonable cash is not really a bad alternative on Iran trip. So many taxi drivers, shops and people only accept cash. You just do not need to exchange all your money once and the wise idea is to change partly.
Things to know about exchanging money in Iran
There are some points you better know about the money exchange in Iran. First of all, there are two different exchange rates in Iran. One is the official rate (which is shown on Google), and the other is the market rate. You, as a tourist, deal with the market rate! Secondly, the exchange rate is different on different dates and is not fixed like many other countries. You can check out the market rate on bonbast.
You can exchange large banknotes in euros and dollars at a better rate in Iran. There are several exchange offices across border cities and big cities in Iran however, there is no currency exchange booth across the cities. Besides, the exchange offices are open only in business hours, and they are closed on bank holidays and weekends.
Rial or toman? What is Iran’s currency?
The official currency in Iran is the Iranian rial however the prices in the market and everyday life are in toman. So what should you do to solve this problem? Remember that 10 rials = 1 toman, which means that you should drop one zero from the banknote or coin you have to reach the number that means.
If someone asks you for 500 it means that you must pay 5000 rials. However depending on the situation, sometimes the zeros for thousand are also omitted.
In some situations when you are asked for 50, maybe it means that you should pay 50,000 toman or 500000 rials.
Read also: How Much Money Do You Need to Travel Iran?
Dress code matters!
As the Islamic Republic of Iran, there are some Islamic laws for wearing, which should be observed by any man or woman who enters the country.
For women, they should cover their hair with a scarf or shawl and put on long pants and long-sleeved dresses. As a woman, you can try light overcoat (manteau) to be stylish and observe the dress code.
The men are not allowed to wear shorts (except on the beach) but a short-sleeve shirt does not make any problem. The rules for the dress code are not very tight in Iran however you should observe the basics in order not to face any problem.
What is the best time to travel to Iran?
Due to the climate diversity in Iran, you can enjoy every kind of weather in any season according to the place you travel to in the country.
Maybe for intrepid traveling, it does not matter which season you travel Iran. You can spend the summer in Ardabil and enjoy cool weather or travel southern Iran in winter to enjoy the hot climate there.
However, the best season to travel Iran, as a country which is sunny and hot in most parts, is in mid-spring and early autumn. In these times the weather is good and you can enjoy yourself more!
Nowuz holiday, a two-week New Year celebration, which begins from March 21 is also a great chance to observe Persian traditions and rituals. However many places are closed during the first day and it is considered as a high season for traveling in the country, which leads to an increase in price and crowded destinations for tourists.
Read also: Best Time to Visit Iran: A Complete Guide
Transportation in Iran
Most cities in Iran have bus transportation system. In big cities like Tehran there are Bus Rapid Transportation (BRT) system as well. In big cities like Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, and Mashhad there is subway. You can also use official taxi in the cities. There is no taxi meter however you can find the price on the sticker on front window of taxis.
To travel from one city to another one you can use public transportation including bus (available in most cities), train (limited availability) and flights (available in most of big cities). Iran Car rental is another option that you can use for your domestic travels in Iran.
If you have an Iranian SIM card, you can download one of the Iranian ride-hailing apps on your smartphone. Uber is not active in Iran however Snapp and Tapsi are renowned apps that work just like Uber. You can buy an Iranian SIM card from our website.
Read also: Iran public transportation
Where to stay in Iran?
It really depends on you! There is a variety of accommodation in different Iranian cities from hostels with dorm rooms to luxury five-star hotels. Their prices vary according to your choice and the time you travel to Iran. You can have an instant booking of your favorite accommodation on Exotigo and have online payment.
Visa on arrival or before?
You can get a 30-day Iran visa at the airport or beforehand. Visitors from 189 countries can obtain visas at the international airports of Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashhad, and Kish Island.
However, it is not possible for all nationalities. Hence, you should check it before your departure. Remember that travel insurance is necessary for getting an Iran visa. However, if you do not have any, you can buy one at the airport.
Exotigo can help you during Iran visa procedures. All things you should do is to fill in the online visa application form in five minutes. It usually takes no more than 3-5 working days, and we provide you with an authentication code by which, the visa is at your hand, and you can collect your visa at an Iranian embassy or an airport in no time.
You need a VPN for some websites
While you can use social media like Whatsapp and Instagram without any problem in Iran, some websites like youtube and some other social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram.
All you need is to install a VPN (a virtual private network) to access websites and social media, which are blocked in the country.
If you want to buy a subscription at one of the websites offering a VPN, it is wise to do this before you enter Iran.
Keep in mind that it is better to have more than one VPN. In this way, you can be sure you always have access to the VPN.
Buy an Iranian SIM Card
There are also car-hailing applications, which can help you to have better transportation and with a SIM Card and its high-speed internet, you can be in contact with friends and family in your country.
Toilets in Persian style!
Remember to bring toilet paper since it may not be available everywhere.
Iran is an alcohol-free country
There is no alcohol in shops and there is no bar in the country as an Islamic country. Drinking alcohol is illegal while traveling Iran.
There is beer, but they are nonalcoholic with a different taste, just try it!
Besides, there are a great number of Persian beverages that you can enjoy very much.
Ask for Khakshir sharbat or Sekanjebin…they are delightful!
There are women-only sections in the metro and buses
On urban buses and subway, there is a special section for women in which, the men are not allowed to enter.
Usually, the front part of the buses on the Bus rapid transit (BRT) line, the bottom section of urban buses, and two carriages on the metro are allocated to women.
Although you can use other carriages of the metro as a woman if you wish, a carriage is dedicated to women and no men are allowed to enter.
Social interaction is different
Iranians are very physically intimated in social interaction, however, it is only between the same sexes.
Two friends of the same sex hug and kiss each other cheeks as a part of greeting. Although couples’ hugging and kissing are not very common in public places there is not any problem with that.
You can see couples walking hand in hand on the streets, in cafes and restaurants.
Taarof, as the Iranian-style etiquette, is an important thing you should be aware of before you travel the country.
Be aware of this Persian etiquette when you are buying something or someone invites you since they might only want to be polite and they do not mean what they say! This Persian etiquette leads to some misunderstandings for foreigners so be sure that you get what they mean.
Read also: Tips You Wish to Know about Iran Culture
You should put on chador in shrines
As a woman, when you want to enter a shrine or some mosques, you should wear a chador, a large piece of fabric cover head to toe.
Most of the time, the places loaned a chador to you when you want to visit the place.
Last but not the least
Read and search about different culture and attitude whenever you want to travel to a country, which is different from yours. It helps you to enjoy more and have great fun during your sojourn!
Iran has one of the friendliest people worldwide. Hence, there are always people who want to help you even if you have no information.