Traveler Guide

Questions? & Answers!

Iranian people are very friendly and respectful. There is no danger of visiting Iran if you follow the rules set forth by the government. Although the pace of the major cities is quite fast, you will always find people willing to help you in any way they can. Most people, especially the younger speak English.
Iranians love to eat and spend time in groups. You will see families and friends walking about town or spending time in restaurants. The major cities are cities that never sleep. You will find people going around well past midnight throughout the week and restaurants full of people very late. Iranians don’t eat early.
Fridays are the weekends and most stores are closed. Most large corporations are also closed on Thursdays. During the summer, because of the heat, many stores close for lunch and return to their shops after 5 PM.
Time is not of the essence in Iran and people sometimes do not arrive at the exact time required. You will see signs on storefronts for vacation time or “Be right back”. Iranians are very passionate about what they believe in, but they are also very easy-going people.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Travelling to Iran:

1- Do women have to follow the Islamic dress code?
Yes, women should wear non-transparent, loose garments covering all their bodies except for the hands and face. They should also wear a head scarf covering their hair. Any color is fine, black is not a must. It’s OK to wear flip-flops and sandals.

 

2- Do men have to follow the Islamic dress code?
Usually it’s expected that men do not wear short trousers and sleeveless tops.

 

3- Is it allowed to take drugs or alcoholic beverages?
Both carrying and drinking alcohol as well as taking drugs is prohibited on the territory of Iran.

 

4- Is it safe to travel in Iran?
The crime rate is very low in Iran, making it a safe place for tourists to travel. One of the biggest dangers here is from vehicles, with traffic accidents poising a significant threat. Exercise caution when crossing roads and make sure that you adapt yourself to Iranian driving etiquette before getting behind the wheel.
Avoid flashing cash or valuables about in view of others, especially at night. If you have far to go, taking a taxi is a safer option than walking alone. For a safe and not troublesome visit to Iran, it is essential that you respect the Islamic laws in force.

 

5- Is tap water safe?
Yes, it’s safe to drink. Mineral water is also available and it’s relatively cheap.

 

6- Is any vegetarian food available?
Yes, usually you can find a vegetarian meal on the menu, especially in the north of Iran.

 

7- Is Iranian food spicy?
No, Iranian food is delicately flavored with organic herbs and mild spices such as dill, tarragon, saffron and turmeric.

 

8- What is the Iranian Currency?
The currency in Iran is the Iranian rial. Coins are available in denominations of: 50, 100, 250, and 500 rials, while banknotes come in: 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 rials.
Iran also has another unit of currency which is Toman (a sub unit), 1 Toman is equivalent to 10 Rials. Thanks to the rapid inflation, Iranians often use Tomans and this is how they count money but it is always better to ask before giving your money to someone which unit they are saying. Sometimes people say just “5” or “5,000” for the same 50,000 Rials. Toman is more common in oral quotes, while Rial is the official unit and used in most verbal documents. Price etiquettes may come either in Rial or Toman and usually are understood by the buyers. In case of doubt, check it with the seller. It is quite confusing and you might feel you are cheated but don’t worry, eventually you will get used to it.
Do not change money on the street, as this practice is illegal in Iran. Although many shops and hotels display a Visa logo in their window, in practice, credit cards are rarely accepted in Iran, with the exception of some of the larger hotels. This makes it essential that you have some ready cash at all times. Money can be exchanged at the airport on arrival or at banks and exchange offices (“sarrafi”) throughout the country. Banks are open from Saturday to Wednesday, 07:30 to 16:00; Thursdays, 07:30 to 12:00; and closed on Fridays.
Although Iran has a functioning network of ATMs (cashpoint machines), they can only be used with locally issued bank cards, so are useless to travellers unless you open a local account.

 

iran tourist credit card

 

Iran Tourist Credit Card new service by WeGoPersia

 

 

9- Where can one exchange money?
Do not change money on the street, as this practice is illegal in Iran. Money can be exchanged at the airport on arrival or at banks and exchange offices (“sarrafi”) throughout the country. Banks are open from Sunday to Wednesday, 07:30 to 16:00; Thursdays, 07:30 to 12:00; and closed on Fridays. U.S. dollars, Euro, British Pounds, Japanese Yen and many more can be easily exchanged, but the exchange rates are not fixed and must be checked with banks.

 

10- Is it possible to pay by credit card?
No, it’s not. Visa and Mastercard are not accepted in Iran, so make sure to have enough cash for the whole duration of your stay.

 

11- What is the Internet access like in Iran?
You’ll be able to access the Internet in Iran’s cities, with many major hotels and cafes having Internet access. Expect little or no access in rural and remote areas.

 

12- Is mail service reliable?
Yes, it is. International mail normally takes about 2 weeks.

 

13- Is international driving license accepted & are women allowed to drive?
Yes, international driving license is accepted, so one can rent a car for the period of his/her stay in Iran. Women can drive in Iran.

 

14- Are roads in good condition, do all cities have airport?
Yes, roads are good and most cities have a domestic airport.

 

15- What is the electricity voltage in Iran?
220 volts AC, 50Hz.

 

16- Can one have a camera in Iran?
Yes, one can take photos and video almost everywhere in Iran. It’s not allowed to take photos of military areas, some religious places and museums. There is always a “No photo” sign stating that.

 

17- Are there any taxis or local transportation available?
Yes, taxis, buses, trains & domestic flights are easily available.

 

18- Do Iranians speak English?
Yes, especially young people can speak English and they love to practise their skills.

 

19- How many carpets can one carry as souvenirs?
Each person is allowed to take 2 pieces of rugs each 6 sq. m. with him/her or can send it via mail.

 

20- Are men and women allowed to mix in public?
Yes, men and women can mix socially within limitations. Groups of men and women or individuals can eat out or travel together but social protocol should be observed.

 

21- What vaccinations should I have before travelling?
Other than being up to date on your tetanus shot, there are no specific requirements for Iran. But we strongly recommend you consult your personal doctor and other specialized authorities in your country to make sure you are fully covered.

 

22- What are the working days and days-off in Iran?
Iranian working days are from Saturday to Thursday and Fridays are off. On Thursdays, some companies are totally off and some are working only half day.

 

23- Is it customary to tip in Iran?
In upmarket restaurants (mainly in Tehran) a 10% gratuity might be expected – on top of the 10% service charge that’s often built into the bill. But everywhere else any money you leave will be a pleasant surprise. It’s normal to offer a small tip to anyone who guides you or opens a building that is normally closed. If your offer is initially refused, you should persist in making it three times before giving up.

 

24-What about credit cards in Iran?
Unfortunately, up to now credit cards are not acceptable in Iran and cash is the name of the game. You’d better travel with U.S. dollars or Euros and exchange them in major cities at currency exchange outlets. So, don’t count on using your credit card, only some of the more sophisticated Iranian souvenir and carpet shops will accept credit cards and route transactions through a business partner in Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East.

 

25- Arrival and customs?
There is no special control for foreign citizens at the customs. However, don’t forget that The export and import of alcoholic beverages, weapons, ammunition, swords and sheaths, military devices, drugs and illegal goods is forbidden and carries with it severe penalties. Ladies should remember to put on covering clothes and head scarf before exiting the plane.

Air passengers are permitted to take one carpet up to six square meters from Iran however the export of antique carpets is forbidden. Other items that you are prohibited to take home include antiques, original works of art, calligraphic pieces, different kinds of coins and precious stones.

 

25- At the hotel?
Your hotel may ask to keep your passport for the time that you remain a guest; this is a normal procedure. Hotel administration needs it for daily reports to the police. Don’t worry, it will be safe there! Besides, you don’t need to carry your passport with you when you’re out, you basically need it only at the time of entering and exiting the country.

If you’re travelling with your partner but are not married, no questions will be asked. You can occupy one room. The rule of having a marriage certificate to stay in 1 room at the hotel applies only to the locals.

At an average Iranian hotel you will always find a bathroom with a toilet and a shower. However, expect that you will only find a squat toilet at cheaper hotels. Breakfast is usually included in the price of your stay, as well as room service. Regular 220V electricity sockets are used.

Tips to the porter, janitor and waiters will be appreciated.

 

26- At the restaurant?
As you might have guessed, you will not find alcohol in Iranian eateries. Instead you can try tasty local drinks, such as “doogh”, a yogurt-based beverage very popular in Iran. It is sometimes carbonated and seasoned with mint. Also don’t miss Iranian non-alcoholic beer with all possible flavours.
Most restaurants, especially in the hotter regions in the south, serve lunch (12.00-16.00) and dinner (19.00-24.00) at certain hours and close for a “siesta”. In small cities knowing this can be crucial, because you will not find anywhere to eat during “resting” hours.
If you travel to Iran during Ramadan, the Muslim fast, you will see that all restaurants and cafes are closed during daylight. However, some of them work secretly to serve the travellers who can skip fasting.
It’s good to tip your waiter, however, it’s OK if you don’t.

 

27-When is the best time to visit Iran?
Being a vast country; Iran has regions with different temperatures even at a specific period of time. In fact, it offers all sorts of climates and conditions. Depending on the season and the areas you plan to visit, you need to pack accordingly.
Spring and autumn are quite short seasons in Iran, between the heat of summer and the more changeable and often cold weather of winter. Winter temperature often falls below freezing, while summers, can be unpleasantly hot, especially for women. In the northern coastal areas of the Caspian Sea climate is mild and humid. The southern parts and the Persian Gulf region have always a hotter climate than Central Iran. North West Iran is about 10- 15C cooler than the rest of Iran.

All seasons have their own attractions. Thanks to such a diverse geography, you can have all kinds of climates in any season. Weather can be humid, dry, hot or cold depending on where you are. Therefore, you can enjoy winter and summer sports at the same time within a few hours.

Generally spring and autumn are the best time to visit Iran even if the weather may, on occasions, be a little uncertain with short lapses into either the coldness of winter or the heat of summer. More accurate is mid-April to early June, and late September to early November. These times avoid the long, cold northern winter, the Iranian New Year (late March) and the summer.

• If the heat doesn’t keep you away, take note that prices along the Caspian coast can quadruple during summer.

• If you would like to go skiing then you should plan your visit sometime between November and March.

• The rose and rosewater festival takes place between April and June. The hunting season in Iran commences on 23 October and lasts until 19 February; however, the high season of foreign hunters normally coincides with January holidays.

• Many people prefer not to visit Iran during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, when most restaurants are closed between dawn and dusk. They work only at specific hours in the evening, making it difficult for travellers to arrange for regular meals.

 

Potential problems:
The crime rate is very low in Iran, making it a safe place for tourists to travel. One of the biggest dangers here is from vehicles, with traffic accidents poising a significant threat. Exercise caution when crossing roads and make sure that you adapt yourself to Iranian driving etiquette before getting behind the wheel.
Avoid flashing cash or valuables about in view of others, especially at night. If you have far to go, taking a taxi is a safer option than walking alone. For a safe and not troublesome visit to Iran, it is essential that you respect the Islamic laws in force. There is special “tourist police” responsible for all issues related to tourists.
However, if you encounter any problems, you should call your embassy and look out for police. You can try crying “Komak, komak” (Help, help!) or “Dozd” (Thief!).
Emergency numbers and consulates
Iran Emergency Telephone Numbers
110 – Police
115 – Ambulance
125 – Fire Department
112 – for calls from mobile phones

 

Embassies & Consulates in Tehran:

Australia
No. 13, 23rd Street, Khalid Islamboli Avenue,
Tehran 15138, Iran
Tel: 021 8872 4456

Canada
57 Shahid Sarafaz Street, Ostad Motahari Avenue
Tehran 15868
Tel: 021 8873-2623-6

France
85 Nofl Loshato Street (rue Neauphle-le-Château)
Tehran 11348
Tel: 021 6670 60 05-08

Germany
Ferdowsi Avenue, 320-324
Tehran
Tel: 021 311 41 11

Russian Federation
39 Nofl Loshato Street
Tehran
Tel: 021 66701161

India
46, Mir Emad Street, Motahari Street,
Tehran
Tel: 021 875 51 03-5

Ireland
North Kamranieh Avenue
Bonbast Nahid Street, No. 9
Tehran 19369
Tel: 021 2280 3835

Japan
Bucharest Avenue, Corner of the 5th Street,
Tehran, (P.O. Box No. 11365-814)
Tel: 021 8717 923

Netherlands
Darrous, Shahrzad Blvd, Kamasaie Street, First East Lane No. 33
Tehran (P.O. Box 11365-138)
Tel: 021 256 70 05-7

New Zealand
No. 34, corner of 2nd Park Alley, Sosan Street
North Golestan Complex, Aghdasiyeh Street
Niavaran (PO Box 15875-4313)
Tehran
Tel: 021 280 0289

Switzerland
Elahieh, Ave Sharifi Manesh
13, Yasaman Street
P.O. Box 19395-4683
1964963751 Tehran
Tel: 021 2200 83 33

Embassy of Switzerland – U.S. Interests Section
Africa Ave, West Farzan Str. no. 59
P.O. Box 19395-4683
1968845114 Tehran
Tel: 021 8878 29 64