You're about to head off for your first overseas trip to visit Iran, a country that most people don’t know much about it. What will you find outside of your home? How Iran is going to surprise you? Are you ready to cope with it when visit Iran? How much money will you spend trying to deal with it?
Here are the top ten most important things you should know before traveling to Iran.
1. Money in Iran
Iranian Rial (IRR) is the official currency but forget about it! Everywhere you’ll encounter with Toman = 10 Rials. Prices are given in Toman, not Rial. Iranian read prices in Rial but understand in Toman! If somebody tells you something is “10”, it means 10,000 Toman = 100,000 Rials.
Forget ATMs because International cards don’t work in Iran. So you have to bring all the money you need in cash. Both Dollar and Euro are acceptable for exchange.
You had better exchange your cash at exchange agencies instead of banks. Exchanges give better rates. In Tehran you can find exchange agencies in Ferdowsi Square.
2. Stamp of Israel and Travel to Iran
If there is proof of entry to Israel in your passport, you cannot enter and visit Iran. This also applies if you have land border entry/exit stamps from countries neighboring Israel.
3. Is it safe to visit Iran
Iran is extremely safe for foreigners but don’t take photos of power plants, factories, or anything military or police. Don’t sit next to people of the opposite sex unless you know them.
No handshake between sexes, Handshaking is only between men or between women. Be careful when taking photo of people and ask them beforehand. Be respectful to Iranian religious.
4. Get ready for some ta’arof
People you meet are going to want to take you out and pay for everything. Do offer to pay yourself, but if they refuse you 3 or more times accept them.
Ta’arof is when someone offers something to be polite, not because they want to. When you are buying something, or paying the taxi, there is a chance the seller or driver won’t accept your money immediately but will start telling you that it’s not important, it is ta’arof and keep insisting to pay.
Ta’arof is a nice ritual and very much appreciated in Iran, but for sure it doesn’t mean you can just leave and don’t pay.
5. Most of the time, you can find free water and free public toilet.
Tap water is safe to drink, unless stated otherwise. There are also plenty of water fountains all throughout the cities. Almost all public toilets in Iran are squat toilets. Toilet papers are also found very rarely in public areas so bring yours. If you want to ask for a free WC, try using the French pronunciation, “toilette”.
This is an absolute must among the things to know before you travel to Iran. Instead of that you can enjoy Chai (tea) which is available everywhere or Doogh (yoghurt, mint, salt and water).
7. The weekend is Friday
As an Islamic Republic following Islamic rules and calendar, the weekend in Iran is Friday, meaning that some offices are open until Thursday evening or even until noon.
8. Buy a local SIM Card
The easiest and cheapest way to connect to Internet in Iran is using 4G or LTE of your Iranian SIM card. Although it is cheaper than using your own country’s SIM card for call. MCI, Irancell and Rightel are main operators.
9. Forget about knife in restaurants
Iranians eat the majority of foods with fork and spoon. It just happens that most of the time you won’t find a knife beside your plate on the table. If you’re stuck in the situation, don’t be shy and just ask the waiter to bring you one. It almost always solves the problem.
10. Dress code when visiting Iran
For women loose fitting tops that cover your arms and come down to your mid-thigh or knees is what’s required. Trousers are essential. Your hair must be covered with a headscarf, however your face is allowed to be fully.