1. Are Iranians Arab?
Although some may think, Iranians are not Arabs and the vast majority of them are Persian and speak Persian (Farsi) and calling them Arabs is like calling an Irish man British or English!
Also there are some people who are of both mixed Arab and Persian ethnic or cultural background. Conversely, ethnic Arabs and Arabic speakers living primarily in the Khuzestan province of Iran.
Photo by mojeh.com
2. How to get a visa?
The majority of people need a visa for traveling to Iran, but it is relatively easy for most of the tourists to receive it. You may receive a visa on arrival or even speed this up by applying an e-visa. There are a few countries, though, which need to apply for a visa in advance or book on a tour as they cannot travel independently.
3. Is it safe to Travel to Iran?
You may have heard lots of negative news about Iran and it is undeniable that stereotypes and false images around this country are overwhelming nowadays. However, most tourists who have traveled to Iran have described their experience so positive and far from what they might have previously heard.
In fact, Iran represents one of the safest places in the Middle East to travel to. If you are wondering if it is safe to travel to Iran or no, we suggest you read this article to know more about it!
4. What should I know about the money?
Iran has its own banking systems and it means that the master card and visa card are almost useless in this country. So, you need to bring your money in cash. The official currency of Iran is Rial, however, Iranian have come to call it another way as Toman which is Rial divided by ten. So, if something is 500,000 Rial, for example, is 50,000 Toman and Iranian people don’t bother themselves with all these other zeros as well and so, it would simply be 50 Toman!
The exchange rate you may see on the Internet is not the same as the exchange rate that actually is available in Iran. In fact, it is so much better. Our suggestion is to exchange a little bit of money at the airport- maybe 10 to 20 euros- just to get to the nearest city and then go to a legitimate exchange shop, but do not go to the bank because it has the same exchange rate that you see on the internet.
5. Is Alcohol legal in Iran?
Since 1979, alcohol has been prohibited for Muslim citizens and Iran is a country where alcohol is outright banned across the entire country. Therefore, the nightlife in this country is quieter. But, you still have fun at nights as Iranian love to go out after dark, especially in warmer seasons of the year.
6. How can I get around the country?
The transport in Iran is probably way better than you’d imagined. The road network is very good and the roads go all over the country.
There are buses that service nearly every single city and town and there are also trains that go everywhere.
Also, ferries service all of the islands and there are planes to every major city which is very affordable.
For taxis, make sure to download Snapp application which is Iran’s answer to Uber and it works well. The only problem is that the taxi driver may ring you to ask where you are! Getting taxis are really easy, too, but be careful about the prices.
7. What should I wear while I'm in Iran?
Any women who come to Iran, Muslim or not, have to cover up their hair, arms, and legs. Using vivid colors for clothes, however, won’t cause you any problem. The dress code for men is a lot more relaxed. However, your t-shirt better has sleeves on a regular length because wearing stringers are not common for men and they also have to wear trousers and not shorts.
8. Can I get an Iranian SIM Card?
SIM cards in Iran are really cheap and the same is true for data. You can easily buy a SIM card and charge it with for example 10 Gigs of data for around 15,000 Tomans, so it would be a very affordable option for you to use the Internet while you’re in Iran. It will also enable you to use Snapp for the taxi, too. If you plan to be in Iran for more than 30 days, you have to register your SIM card.
9. What about Internet Usage in Iran?
To use websites like Facebook and YouTube in Iran you are going to have to use a proxy as those websites are blocked here. There are many applications which are free if you are in Iran for less than 30 days.
10. Iranian hospitality
Iranian hospitality is truly incredible. Ask anyone that’s been to Iran before and they’ll guarantee you by saying the same thing. You can walk down here and people will say hello or offer you help or tea or a meal at their house or they will simply welcome you to their country!
Rick Steves in Iran. Photo by ricksteves.com
11. What words in Persian should I learn?
The most important point would be to learn the Farsi numerals before coming to Iran. In most shops around the country, the prices are written in Farsi numerals, so learning them can help you a lot and you can also practice them by looking at the registration plates while you’re on the streets. A few phrases like Salam (hello) Khoobi (how are you?) Khoobam (I’m fine), Merci (Thanks), Khodahafez (Goodbye) and Cheghad (How much?) would also help you to communicate more effectively!
12. Tea or Coffe?!
Although you may find many coffee shops which serve coffee in Iran, Iranians love to drink tea, even more than Irish or English people! Everywhere you go in Iran you’ll be offered tea and they have it with a rock candy called Nabat. You simply stick it in and you spin it around and it is absolutely delicious!
13. Should I ask for the price beforehand?
When you hail a taxi or anything else, always confirm the price, so that is clear between you and the other person. Not confirming it can cause you problems as a tourist. All products in supermarkets and shops have the price written on them (in Farsi numerals mostly). Look around the product and you’ll see it.
14. What is Ta’arof?
It is an Iranian custom by when you’re trying to pay for goods or service, the other party will refuse your payment and then you have to insist payment and then they refuse again and then you insist again until they finally accept it! It is a bit bizarre and takes a bit of getting used to!
15. What should I eat in Iran?
If you love to try new food, then you’re in for a treat when you come to Iran with such a diverse selection of foods across all cities. There are certain Persian foods you better try while you're in Iran and then you'll notice that it is a foodie’s paradise here! You can also read more about Iran's food culture here. However, if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll, unfortunately, have fewer options. Don't worry, though, because you're going to find a vegetarian option in most restaurants among traditional foods like Mirza Ghasemi or Kashk-e Bademjan.
16. Toilets in Iran
Although you can find regular toilets in many restaurants or public places in Iran, I hope you haven’t been skipping leg day because most toilets in Iran are squat toilets which basically are holes in the ground that you have to squat over! Remember that the public ones don’t have toilet paper so it would be better to carry tissue around with you all the time or use hoses like locals!
17. Should I take off my shoes?
It is a part of Iranian's custom and you’ve got to take your shoes off everywhere, especially when you’re entering someone’s home and you normally swap them out with some slippers. It would be easier to get used to it when you spend your time with the locals.
Photo by Robert Scharder
18. Segregation in public transportation
There are “women only” sections on most forms of public transport. However, women actually don’t have to use these sections, but if they’re alone or in groups with other women, then they tend to make use of them. Also, men and women can’t go to the gym at the same time in Iran.
19. Can I shake hands with women in Iran?
Shaking hands with the opposite sex are hit-and-miss here. Some women do shake hands and some don’t. If they don’t, you can simply put your hands on your heart and they do the same with a smile.
20. Is it normal to blow my nose in public?!
Blowing your nose in public is considered extremely strange so just avoid doing it at all, otherwise, everybody will stare at you and think that you’re a weirdo!