Planning on traveling to Iran? Here’s a list of 10 tips you should know before heading to Iran, especially if you’re an American traveler.
IRAN IS A MUSLIM COUNTRY
Iran is a Muslim country and due to its low tourists must be careful in what they wear, eat and drink. Younger people’s styles show a stronger Western influence than those of older people.
Much like in the West, younger men tend to wear leisure items indoors, such as polo shirts, T-shirts, and sweatshirts, which are often used as sleepwear too.
Drinking alcohol is against the law in Iran and no shops are permitted to sell it. Anyone caught in possession of alcohol faces arrest and in the case of a tourist face deportation.
DON’T MISS KISH ISLAND
Kish Island is the best one to travel to. It is a resort island filled with hotels, shopping centres, malls, as well as beaches.
For natural beauty, Qeshm is generally considered the best, as there has been less impact on the island by tourism and wildlife flourishes more there.
This makes it the ideal location for Scuba Diving, amongst other things.
YOU CANNOT USE YOUR CREDIT CARD IN IRAN
Due to the imposition of financial sanctions international credit cards are not currently accepted in Iran. It is advised for travellers to bring cash with them.
The lifting of some sanctions, however, should see some progress on this front with Japan Credit Bureau as well as China UnionPay cards expected to be accepted by late 2016 and negotiations are ongoing between Iranian authorities and MasterCard and Visa about their cards being accepted in the near future.
FOODS IN IRAN
To Iranians, the preparation and cooking of food is a prime expression of a woman’s loving care, which transforms even the simplest of meals into nourishment for body and soul.
When the new rice crop is harvested in early autumn, many Iranians buy their yearly provision of rice.
In the past rice was only eaten on special occasions, but in recent years consumption of rice has risen together with the population and living standards.
US CITIZENS CAN TRAVEL TO IRAN
US citizens will have to have their itinerary and tour guide approved beforehand.
Sticking to the itinerary is part of the conditions of visa approval, so sticking to the itinerary and the instructions of the tour guide will ensure that there are no problems.
The Iranian government is highly sensitive for historical and political reasons of any foreign involvement in the political process, in particular this applies to the United States.
Avoiding political demonstrations and making any public political statements is another way to avoid any trouble.
Otherwise, Iranians will be keen to demonstrate their hospitality to US citizens and will offer to host them for lunch or dinner.
Hostility towards particular actions of the US government, doesn’t stop the people of Iran having nothing but the warmest feelings for Americans themselves.
YOU CAN NOT DRINK ALCOHOL AND EAT PORK IN IRAN
Drinking alcohol is against the law in Iran and no shops are permitted to sell it.
Anyone caught in possession of alcohol faces arrest and in the case of a tourist face deportation. People in Iran tend to drink tea, Sharbat (a cool, sweet drink known as the world’s first soft drink) or doogh (a savoury yogurt drink).
Alcohol free beer is also available. Pork is not available. When it comes to meat most Iranians tend to eat chicken, beef or lamb, all of which are widely available.
BEST TIME TO VISIT IRAN
It depends on what you want to do! In most places in Iran summer is hot and winter is cold, with snow in some places.
During the month of Ramadan it can be difficult for travellers as many food stores are close during the day.
At times around the Iranian New Year which occurs on March 21, more people inside Iran go on holiday, so it can be more difficult to secure accommodation.
LOCALS ARE SUPER FRIENDLY
Just about everyone who travels to Iran comments on how friendly the people are.
Hospitality will be extended to all visitors in just about every part of the country and on a regular basis. Many will start conversations with you about where you are from, why you are in Iran, your job etc.
AS A HITCHHIKER: THUMBS UP SIGN MEAN MIDDLE FINGER
Hitchhiking is not common in Iran, however, so don’t expect people to know what you are looking for and remember the thumbs up sign in Iran is like giving someone the middle finger in other countries, a sign of disrespect.
IRANIANS ARE MAD FOR TELEGRAM AND INSTAGRAM
Iran forces chat apps to store all data about Iranians in the country.
Many videos on YouTube, which is blocked in Iran, can now be easily shared via Telegram.
Also Instagram is extremely popular in Iran. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which remain blocked, Instagram is accessible to Iranians.