The Most Important Tips for Traveling to Iran

Shekoufeh Ahmadi June 09, 2021
Reading Time: 15 Minutes

Security in Iran

Contrary to the negative propaganda about some countries in the middle east, Iran is a safe country and does not pose a 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 spared such human rights abuses and has become known as the safe island of the Middle East. Despite the relative insecurity that prevails in the world, not a single case of the widespread terrorist incident has been reported in this country.

Residence in Iran

In the tourist cities of Iran, it is customary for the natives to rent their houses to travelers. This type of accommodation may cause problems with accident insurance. Therefore, stay in places that operate under the supervision of the Tourism Organization of Iran. Licensed local hotels, guesthouses, and houses are among the approved places. If you are traveling with a tour, trust your tour guide for accommodation.

Internet in Iran

Internet is available almost everywhere in Iran (except the depths of caves and mountains) and is very easy to access. All you have to do is to buy a SIM card from a mobile SIM card sales center for a very reasonable fee (less than $ 15). As soon as you activate the SIM card, you will have internet access with approvable speed and you can communicate with your family and friends with the help of audio and video applications. It seems necessary to have a passport to buy a tourist SIM card.

اIn Iran, 3 operators provide telecommunication and internet services. Hamrah Aval and Irancell provide services exclusively to tourists, and you can use these services by purchasing a product called "Tourism SIM Card". Remember that these SIM cards are only valid for 30 days. If you want to stay longer in Iran, you can buy Rightel SIM card operators or use other types of SIM cards like Hmarah Aval operators and Irancell. 

Iranian Money System

You can use Euros, Pounds or Dollars to pay for major travel expenses such as your accommodation or the taxi that will take you from the airport to the hotel. But for more detailed expenses, you need to exchange your money into Rial. There is a currency exchange office at Iran International Airports, and also hotels have the same possibility. Reputable exchange offices are also active in all major cities of Iran, whose services you can use. 

Cultural Taboos in Iran

Staring at people, especially Iranian women, and kissing and hugging the opposite sex in public places is not in line with Iranian Islamic culture. It is also against social etiquette for men to reach out for a handshake with Iranian women. Such cases are not very desirable in Iranian regulations. When photographing cultural landscapes, especially if the subject is an Iranian citizen, it is best to ask permission. Iranians, like many people around the world, like their privacy to be respected.  

Tip Law in Iran

Under Iranian law, it is not mandatory to tip a restaurant waiter or person who takes your luggage to your hotel room. These people get paid by their employer for the services they provide. Of course, you can give a tip voluntarily. This is different for people who are going to provide you with special services, such as carrying your backpack and belongings on a mountaineering route. A ten or twenty thousand Tomans is a good amount for a tip.

Public Beliefs in Iran

In Iranian culture, mosques and shrines are respected, and visiting them, like all other religious sites around the world, requires respect and modesty. Tourists can't visit some large mosques at noon and after full sunset due to congregational prayers. After the congregational prayer, which does not last more than a few minutes, there is no obstacle to visit.

Dress Code in Iran

Under Iranian law, women wear hijab. However, the Iranian hijab is significantly different from what is used in some countries and is diverse and colorful. Any kind of cover that is not so thin and covers the arms, legs, and hair is considered an example of Iranian hijab and there are no restrictions in terms of choosing the color and design of the dress. This level of hijab is enough for female tourists in Iran. Female tourists should have a scarf or shawl in their handbag to respect the culture of their host community so that they do not have any problems preparing it at the airport. Under Iranian law, it is not common for men to wear sleeveless blouses and trousers that are too short, although not prohibited by law, it’s not acceptable in public. 

Iranian Law in Visiting Religious Attractions

According to Iranian regulations, female tourists must use a special cover called "Chador" to visit some of Iran's religious attractions (Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, Hazrat Masoumeh shrine in Qom, Shahcheragh shrine in Shiraz, etc.). In these attractions, Chador is provided to visitors for free. The Iranian Chador consists of a large and patterned piece of cloth that is placed on the head. The use of this cover is rooted in cultural and religious beliefs and is considered a kind of respect for that attraction. Male tourists don’t need to use Chador, however, they should use the usual clothing of Iranian men (shirts and pants).  

Laws On Alcohol and Drugs

Under Iranian law, the transportation and use of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana, is prohibited in public places, and no center officially serves alcohol to its customers. However, in Iran, as in many other countries, the smuggling and underground distribution of prohibited substances and beverages is significant social harm, nevertheless, many non-religious people drink and smoke weed secretly.  

Halal Food in Iran

According to Iranian regulations, only halal food is served in this country. Halal food is not prepared or served with alcohol. The animal whose meat is to be used for cooking is slaughtered especially. Also, the meat of some animals such as pigs, dogs, mice, etc. is not used in Iran because they are not halal.

Paying Attention To Price Tags in Iran 

Most Iranians are conscientious and moral people and are fair in dealing with tourists. However, like any place in the world, there is a bit chance of abuse by traders. When shopping, pay attention to the price tag of the products so that you could prohibit any unfair payment. In many cases, prices are written in English numbers.

Behavioral Characteristics of The Iranian People 

Hospitality and being friendly 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 souvenir, enjoy seeing you, take photos with you, get your email address or Facebook account to ask about your condition later, shake your hand, and give you hugs, do not be surprised.

Public Transportation in Iran

In Iran, intercity buses are divided into men and women sections. It is better to enter the part that suits your gender. Also in Iran, the normal routine of taxi service is that 4 passengers (one passenger in the front seat and three passengers in the back seat of the taxi) get on board. If you want to be the only taxi passenger, you have to take a "Darbast", which includes more costs. In some large cities, in addition to the high-speed bus and subway system, there are taxi tracking applications such as Snapp and Tapsi. By buying an Iranian SIM card and installing these applications on your mobile phone, you can use their services.

Health Services in Iran

In hotels and many tourist places, there are toilets and you won’t have any problems in this regard. But in most public places there is no toilet and you have to use the squat toilet. Today, almost all toilets have water hoses. Keep in mind that paper towels are not used in most public toilets in and around cities. (Iranians use water for washing instead of handkerchiefs). If you insist on using a handkerchief, keep some paper sheets in your handbag or pocket. To use some sanitary services along the way, you need to pay a very small fee (500 Tomans). Of course, if you do not have small money with you and you do not pay, no one will stop you from using the health service.

Laws Related to The Coasts of Iran

According to Iranian regulations, swimming or sunbathing on the southern and northern coasts of Iran is for men and women on separate beaches. Of course, walking on the beach and sports and recreational activities are not subject to gender segregation. There’s also the issue of using the hotel pool that follows the same rule as the coasts, it’s separated for men and women.

The Best Way to Start a Conversation in Iran

Conventional Nutritional Customs in Iran

Unlike European food culture, most traditional Iranian dishes do not need a knife to be served. In most cases, you can easily eat with a spoon and fork. Some foods require only a spoon to use. Others are wrapped in bread and can be eaten by hand.

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