Iran - tips

In short A huge, very varied country with lots to see and a wonderfully hospitable population, far from the Western "picture" of the intolerant Muslims. Some (such as the ultra-conservative president Ahmedinejad) are, but the majority of the people are not.

Iran is probably the country in the world where you'll find the biggest difference in between the stupid rethorics of the government and the friendliness of the Iranians. Iran must be the most underestimated country in the world.

Highlights Esfahan! If you are only going to visit one single place in Iran, Esfahan should be the one.

Otherwise, Yazd, Bam, Bandar-e-Abbas and (of course) Persepolis are places not to miss, and so is Masshad, the holiest Shiite place in Iran, and also the colourful Thursday market at Minab (at the Gulf). For meeting young Iranians, the pleasant city of Shiraz is worth visiting, although the closing down of most of the "sinful" tea shops is quite sad.

Find some Iranian photo samples HERE.

Places to avoid None. Well, maybe Tehran if you suffer from traffic paranoia. Probably the second worst traffic in the world, only surpassed by New Delhi.
Seasons There is no "perfect season" in Iran. No matter when you go, there is always some place which is nice and pleasant and some which are not.

In the summer, you'd like to avoid the blazingly hot coastal climate, while Masshad and the Caspian are about perfect. In the winter, the mountains in the nort-east and, in particular, in north-west (Tabriz region) are extremely cold.

In general, spring and fall are probably the best. The central plateau (Esfahan and Shiraz regions) are perfect, however, try to avoid the No-Ruz, the Iranian new year which is running 14 days from the equinox at 21st of March. Then, the whole of Iran will be getting together in buses and trains to visit family and it's crowded everywhere. From mid-April, you are "safe".

Do's and don'ts Strictly Islamic country and conservatism is called for, despite the fact that everybody hate the government for that. All women must cover their hair and wear discreet clothing. Men don't wear shorts and a long-sleeved shirt is better than t-shirts.

The Iranians are probably the most hospitable people on earth, so be happy to accept any invitation you may receive. Being paranoid won't help you at all.

Visa Required by all. Availability is very dependent upon the world politics and may fluctuate badly - also depending on your own nationality.
Value for money Absolutely magnificent, even though the government try to overcharge tourist with regards to entry fees and hotels.
Others Large distances in remote places. Use the night trains whenever possible. Hitch-hiking is easy anywhere.

Don't be alarmed by the rigid religious codes of behaviour. The difference in between the moral government and the much more relaxed people is quite big, in particular in university towns such as Tehran and Shiraz and the dreaded religious police is far less active than a few years ago.

 

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