What’s the best time to travel to Iran?
Iran is a big country, so temperatures differ. For instance, when I was visiting Iran in late March it was freezing cold in Tabriz and Tehran, but very warm in Isfahan.
During the summer, temperatures frequently break into the 40’s (C), so it might not be the best time to visit. Especially since you need to be covered up head to toes.
I’d say that the best time to visit Iran is spring (late February – late May).
Iranian don’t hate Americans
One of the biggest myths in the Western Media is that Iranians hate Americans. I only encountered one posted at a mosque in Tehran. I had endless conversations about it with many locals and none of them expressed any hate towards Americans. In fact, American movies were shown on a local bus and people love to drink Coca-Cola.
Iran is a great place for backpacking
Many people don’t consider a country like Iran to be good for backpacking. But they’re wrong. Iran is the ultimate backpacking destination. Iran is cheap, it has hostels in major tourist places, cheap hotels and guesthouses in others, comfortable buses, and friendly locals. What more can you want when you backpack…?
I’m usually not a fan of backpacking and hostels. But backpacking in Iran is different than in some other popular places. Travelers were more mature, interested in different cultures, and not just in partying and taking usual selfies in the morning. I might be biased, but when I backpacked in other places I was rarely able to find people who wanted to join me for a trip to the museum. Not in Iran.
Rial & Toman
Rial is the official currency, but all prices are in Toman. It gets a bit confusing and you’ll most likely get a real hang of it right before you leave.
1 toman = 10 rials
But it’s not just that simple. If someone asks you for 20 it means you need to pay 200 rials, but I also encountered 20 meaning 20,000 as they just don’t want to deal with zeros.
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You won’t be granted a visa without a valid travel insurance. And in case you’re wondering EU insurance cards won’t work, as they do check whether your policy is actually valid for Iran. While you can technically buy an insurance at the airport, you’ll have to stand in another line to do so.
Iran is safe
Apart from what media portrays Iran is safe. I actually felt safer in Iran than during my last visit in NYC. Also, once you meet some friendly Iranian (read: within 10 minutes of your walk outside of the hotel), they’ll make sure that you as a foreigner have everything you need.
I never encountered people being so helpful anywhere else in the world.
Random strangers will get off the metro with you at the wrong station for them to show you the right way. They’ll escort you to your seat on the bus to make sure that you find everything right and don’t miss it. They’ll guard your stuff too.
Crossing the street is an adventure in itself
Be sure to look both ways when crossing, even on a one-way street. This holds especially true in the more central and southern parts of Tehran, where motorcycles are plentiful and come from all directions, including the sidewalk. Most drivers will not slow down even if you use the crosswalk, and cars will most definitely not stop or yield as long as you wait to the side. Take a deep breath and cross the street one lane at a time, and you will be surprised by how quickly you become a pro.
Do not take photographs of any government or military-related sites.
This is taken very seriously in Iran. ‘No photography’ signs are usually present, however if in doubt, don’t.
Embrace Iranian hospitality with open arms
Iranians are naturally very curious and friendly, especially towards foreign tourists. They will ask you many questions, even personal ones, and will be eager to speak and take pictures with you. You may even be invited for a meal out or at someone’s home. While the common sense precautions practiced anywhere remain true for Iran, know that such an invitation is not unusual, and you can comfortably accept, especially if it’s from a family.
Hotels will keep your passports until you check out
Hotel receptions will keep your passport and give it back to you upon check out. Some people might be afraid of that, but they really keep it safe. Make sure you always have a copy of your passport though!
You’ll need a VPN to browse the internet freely
While there’s the internet in Iran, similar to China, you’ll need a VPN in order to see certain websites. You’ll need to install a VPN (virtual private network) in order to access a certain website. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are blocked in Iran. Travel blogs who wrote about Israel are also blocked in Iran.
What’s not blocked? You’ll be able to access your Gmail account without any issues. The most popular social network in Iran is Instagram which isn’t blocked.
Although the rules for Islamic hijab also apply to female tourists, they are more lax. A tunic or long shirt that covers your bum and a lightly draped headscarf will suffice. Pants should not go above ankle-length, and sandals with no socks are fine. All colors are welcome, and Iranian women, who are very fashion-conscious, wear especially colorful outfits in the spring and summer.
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It’s customary for people of same sex to shake hands, hug or even kiss (mostly for women, but don’t be shocked if men kiss on the cheeks.) Individuals of opposite sex, however, tend to greet each other by bowing while holding the right hand on the chest or simple by the Indian Namaste gesture (holding palms of your hands together in front of your chest.)
Below table shows Persian numbers:
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