7 THINGS TO KNOW
1. The famous “Taarof”
Don’t underestimate the power of “Taarof” before traveling to Iran! This courtesy concept of the Iranian culture can’t be explained in just a few words… Here are a few links to help you understand:
- Definition Wikipedia
- Video : Taarof at an intersection
- Video : Learn Persian – About Taarof
- Video : What is Taarof ?
The Taarof may drive you crazy… But so sweet at the same time!
It is complicated BUT on the upside you’ll be a millionaire!
First things first, you can’t withdrawal cash nor can you pay with your credit card in Iran – You will have to bring enough cash to cover the entire cost of your trip.
The currency is the Iranian Rial, but Iranians talk in Toman: 1 Toman = 10 Rials. It can sometimes be a bit confusing!
Finally, there are two exchange rates… yes, two:
- Bank rate: Not interesting
- Exchange office / Black Market: Very interesting
Iranian Rial currency rate isn’t stable at all… The best website so far to track from abroad its rate is Rial Converter.
Last Update – July 2018: 1€ = 108,000 Rials
Cost of living in Iran
Prices are given in Iranian Rials as the exchange rate is frequently changing – Shopping in Tehran (Sept. 2017):
- 1 liter gas: 0,20 €
- 1 kg rice: 2 €
- 1 kg pasta: 1 €
- 1 liter water: 0,25 €
- 1 liter coca cola: 0,50 €
- 1 kg tomatoes: 0,70 €
- 1 kg bananas: 0,8 €
- 1 km en taxi: 1 €
- 1 metro ticket: 0,25 €
- 1 full meal (rice + meat): 5 €
- 1 burger: 4 €
- 1 night in a hotel: From 50 € / night
- 1 night in a hostel: From 12 € / night
- 50cl beer in a bar: *Data Base Error*
Tehran is the most expensive city in Iran. Prices for such products are similar in big ski resorts and slightly cheaper everywhere else.
3. Rules to follow
Iran is an Islamic republic and certain rules must be respected:
- Alcohol and drugs are explicitly forbidden
- Avoid public display of affection
- Women must cover their hair with a scarf (a light scarf or a beanie is enough) and cover their buttocks (long shirt / coat)
- Do not photography sensitive areas (military base, police officer, fabriques, government buildings)
4. Communicate with Iranian
The official language is Farsi also known as Persian. The Perso-Arabic alphabet is written and read right to left. The latin alphabet is sometimes used on the web, social networks or to write SMS.
Not all Iranians are native Farsi speakers. Iran is a melting pot of cultures, languages and dialects: Turkish, Arabic, Lori, Balutch, Georgian, Armenian…
In cities, most young people speak English. Expect to engage conversation in parks, metro, bus and other public areas as soon as you have been spotted as a tourist. In rural areas, English speakers are more rare.
For direction: the big majority of signs are translated into English.
5. Internet and cellphone
No problem to get connected!
Don’t expect a 40mb connection… but enough to check websites and watch videos. Iranians are technology fans and love sharing tons of photos / videos on Instagram (these are authorized and it is the most widely used social network in Iran).
When travelling for more than a couple of days, buying a SIM card can be wise. IranCell, one of the main operators, provides good network coverage and cheap 3G/4G charges: About 200,000 Rials for 5gb of Internet!
For charging your mobile and laptop, no worries : 220V and same plugs as in Europe (Except UK).
6. How to go to Iran?
A VISA is mandatory to enter Iran. At the airport, a 30 days pass “on arrival” will cost 75€ (Sept. 2017). Entering the country through a border requires you to get the VISA in advance – See this page.
More and more direct flights are connecting Teheran to Paris, Bruxelles or Frankfurt. Another option is to make a stop in Istanbul – you can then easily reach all major Iranian cities with direct flights: Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz or Mashhad.
From Europe, you can find cheap round-trip flights for less than 300€ – depends on your booking date. If you plan to bring your ski gear, be sure to check the extra baggage charges.
For those with time and motivation, you can travel to Iran by bus, car, bike or even hitchhiking – Take a look at this post if you want to go by bus.
7. Transportation in Iran
The transportation infrastructure is well developed in Iran. Regular bus, train and plane services connect the main cities. A 600km trip at night from Tehran to Tabriz with a VIP bus (comfy seats) will cost about 9€ to 13€.
Regular / super-cheap shuttles or “minibuses” also connect the main cities to villages. The easiest and fastest way to reach ski resorts is with your own car. Taxis are also easy to find and relatively cheap for westerners.
In cities, public transportation (bus, metro, taxi) is well organized. In Tehran, download the UBER style application “SNAPP“, which allows you to find cheap rides all around the city – Even to Shemshak (70km mountain road) for less than 14€…
You’d like to keep your freedom of movement and experience the Iranian driving style? Then you might like to rent a car.