Many people visit Iran to experience the delights of the ancient Persian Empire. With enough pre-planning and advance research, you can easily avoid the limitations and stresses that come with travelling. Use these 10 tips of Wanderlust Tips to help get you started.
- Visas on arrival are only available at airports, and they are now valid for 30 days. If travelling on land, you will have to get a visa at a consulate ahead of time. If there is proof of entry to Israel in your passport, you cannot enter Iran.
- Vietnamese nationals need a visa, which can be issued by the Embassy of Iran located at No. 54 Tran Phu Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. This visa allows you to stay for 30 days and expires within 6 months. It will take 10 – 15 days for you to obtain a visa.
Transportation to Iran:
- From Vietnam, you can take Thai Airways from Hanoi to Tehran, transiting in Bangkok (daily direct flights between Hanoi and Bangkok). A return flight from Tehran to Bangkok departs every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Credit/Debit cards do not work in Iran. You have to bring all the money you will need in cash, and change money once in Iran. US Dollars and Euros are the best
- Prices are given in Toman, not Rials. 1 Toman = 10 Rials. People will also abbreviate: for example, if someone tells you something is “5”, they mean 5,000 Toman/50,000 Rials. It’s confusing in the beginning, but you will get it! Just add an extra “0” to the price to figure out the price in Rials.
Transportation in Iran:
- Buses are the cheapest and most common form of transportation between cities. There are also domestic airlines, for those that want to save time and don’t mind paying a bit extra.
- Want a comfortable bus ride? Get a VIP ticket. VIP buses have bigger seats that recline further, and you usually get a snack box for the road. They’re usually twice the price of mahmoolys – regular tour buses.
- Don’t sit next to people of the opposite sex unless you know them. It’s an unspoken rule, and people will often shuffle around on buses and in cars to get the order right. If there’s no other option, just sit – it’s not the end of the world.
- Any car can be a taxi. Enterprising locals will often act as unofficial taxi drivers. It’s fine to use their cars, and they’re a bit more flexible with their pricing than official taxis.
- Women have a strict dress code. Your head has to be covered, your shirt needs to cover your bum, and you can’t wear short sleeves, 3/4-length max.
- Iran has a big hotel chain – the Caravanserai and many cheap hotels and hostels. You should book early using OTA sites or professional tour providers for the best price.
- Iranian cuisine is influenced by Middleastern, Pan Asian, Russian and European cuisine, which makes it diverse. Dishes often combine many different spices and ingredients.
- Tap water is safe to drink unless stated otherwise. There are also plenty of water fountains all throughout the cities, so bring a reusable water bottle!
- Forget coffee, it’s all about tea. Tea is the drink of choice, though you’ll occasionally encounter tiny coffee shops, and coffee is more common in touristy areas
- When drinking tea, put a sugar cube in your mouth then take a sip. This is the Iranian way of drinking tea.
- You don’t need to tip. Tipping isn’t common unless you’re at a really nice restaurant, or you were very, very satisfied with a service you received.
- People often associate Iran with its famous handicraft carpets, but ceramics and glassware are also exquisite handicrafts to buy.
- Hotels will keep your passports while you stay. However, you’re required by law to always have your passport on you. Either carry around copies of your passport while outside or give the hotel copies and ask for your passport back. Make sure you have a copy of the information page and the page with your Iranian visa, including your entry stamp.
- It is okay to go to strangers’ homes. They just want to show you the famous Iranian hospitality! If someone invites you, do accept. Girls, take note: if a man invites you, it’s not proper to accept unless his wife or other women are present, or you’re travelling with a boy.
- Don’t take photos of power plants, factories, transportation hubs, or anything military or police. You don’t want to look like a spy. The government does not like spies.
Abang Fadli bin Abang Alibasah | Wanderlust Tips