As a country with an ancient history and culture, Iran is one of the most influential countries in the Middle East regarding tourist attractions. Therefore, every year, many tourists choose Iran as a tourist destination to explore this beautiful country, which is full of riddles. Of course, like other Middle Eastern countries, Iran has specific rules and regulations in terms of culture, religion, and society that attention to these points when traveling to Iran can bring you a wonderful experience of traveling to the cradle of an ancient civilization. For this reason, here are some essential tips that you should pay attention to when traveling to Iran.
Iran is a secure land and does not pose a threat to residents and tourists. In recent years, despite the rise of terrorist groups such as ISIS and the Taliban in the Middle East, Iran has been spared such human rights abuses. It has become known as the safe island of the Middle East. Despite the relative insecurity that prevails globally, even not a single case of the widespread terrorist incident was in this country.
In Iran’s tourist towns, it is common for the natives to rent their houses to passengers. This type of accommodation may cause problems with insurance. Therefore, stay in accommodations that operate under the administration of the Tourism Organization of Iran. Licensed local hotels, guesthouses, and houses are among the approved residences.
Internet is almost everywhere in Iran (except the depths of caves and mountains), and it is easy to access. All you have to do is get off your mobile SIM card at the sales market as soon as you get off your plane and buy a SIM card for a very inexpensive fee (less than $ 15). As soon as you activate the SIM card, you will have high-speed Internet access. You can communicate with your family and friends through audio and video applications. You have to have a passport to purchase a tourist SIM card.
In Iran, three operators provide telecommunication and internet services. The Hamrahe Aval mobile operator and Irancell provide services exclusively to tourists. You can use these services by purchasing a product called Tourism SIM Card. Remember that these SIM cards are available for only one month. If you want to stay longer in Iran, you can buy from the Rightel SIM card operator or use other SIM cards.
You can use Euros, Pounds or Dollars to pay for travel expenses such as your accommodation or the taxi that will take you from the airport to the hotel. But for more details, you need to change your money into Iranian banknotes. There is a money change office at Iran’s international terminals. Also, Hotels have the same possibility. Reputable exchange offices are also operating in all major cities of Iran.
Gazing at people, especially Iranian women, and touching and hugging non-homosexuals in public areas is not in line with Iranian public culture. When photographing social sceneries, especially if the subject is an Iranian resident, it is best to ask for confirmation.
Under Iranian law, it is not mandatory to reward a restaurant waiter or person who takes your luggage to your hotel room. These people get paid by their employers for the services they provide. Of course, you can give a reward voluntarily. That is different for people who will provide you with specific services, such as carrying your backpack and belongings on a mountaineering route. A five or ten thousand toman banknote is a suitable amount for a reward.
In Iranian culture, mosques and shrines are holy, and visiting them, like all other religious sites worldwide, requires respect and humility. Due to congregational prayers, tourists can’t see some large mosques at noon and after a full sunset. After the congregational prayer, which does not last more than a few minutes, there is no obstacle.
Under Iranian law, women wear the hijab. However, Iranian hijab is significantly different from what is in some countries and is diverse and colorful. Any clothing that is not too thin and covers the arms, legs, and hair is an example of the Iranian hijab. There are no restrictions in choosing the color and design of clothing. In other words, there is no restriction for hijab in Iran, and you will find out about it by looking at the Iranian citizens.
Under Iranian law, it is not common for men to wear sleeveless blouses and trousers that are too short, although not prohibited by law, in public. Women visitors in Iran need to cover some of their hair. Women tourists should have a scarf or shawl in their handbags to respect their host community’s culture so that they do not have any problems preparing it at the airport. If you do not have a shawl with you, nothing special will happen except to spend a little time and money to purchase it from the market.
Under Iranian law, the transportation and use of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana, is prohibited in public places. 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 a significant social harm.
According to Iranian regulations, only halal food is available in this country. Halal food doesn’t have alcohol. The animal whose meat is suitable for cooking and slaughtering methods are specific. Also, animals such as pigs, dogs, and mice, are not used in Iranian dishes because they are not halal.
Most Iranians are reliable and moral people and are honest in dealing with strangers. However, as everywhere in the world, there is little risk of abuse by the dealer. When shopping, pay attention to the products’ cost sticker so that you do not have to pay unfairly. In many cases, prices are in English numbers.
Companionship and expression of warm feelings is the most notable moral characteristic of Iranians. So if you come across Iranians, who invite you to their home, or give you something as a souvenir, or enjoy seeing you, or take a photo with you, do not be surprised.
In Iran, intercity buses have two separate parts for men and women. It is better to enter the section that suits your gender. In Iran, the taxi service routine is for four passengers (one passenger in the front seat and three passengers in the back seat of the taxi) board. If you need to be the only taxi traveler, you have to take a “closed-door taxi” which involves more costs. In some large cities and high-speed bus and subway systems, there are taxi tracking apps like SNAP. If you install these applications on your mobile phone, you can use their services.
There are bathrooms in hotels and many tourist places, and you will not have any difficulties with this concern. But in most public places there is no toilet, and you have to use the Iranian ones. The Iranian toilet stone is on the floor, and unlike the western toilet, it does not have a chair-like shape. To use th
e Iranian ones, you have to squat on the floor. Today, almost all toilets use water hoses. Remember that paper towels are not usual in most public baths in and around cities. (Iranians use water for washing instead of handkerchiefs). If you insist on using a paper towel, put a few leaves in your handbag or pocket. To use some sanitary services along the way, you need to pay a small fee (500 Tomans). Of course, if you do not have money with you and you do not pay, no one will stop you from using the service.
According to Iranian laws, swimming or sunbathing on Iran’s southern and northern coasts is for gentlemen and ladies on different shores. There is also the matter of applying the hotel pool.
In Iran, if you want to ask someone for a place or have a question to explain something to you, or when you enter a shop/store/museum/restaurant/cafe, etc., say greetings first. Saying greetings at the commencement of dialogue with Iranians is a kind of admiration, norm, and cultural value. The proverb “Hello brings health” shows the importance of greeting in Iranian culture.
Most common Iranian dishes do not need a knife. In most cases, you can eat with a spoon and fork. Some foods require only a spoon to use. Others are covered in bread and eaten by hand.