- Internet is a commodity in Iran. It is very slow, censored and it develops into the nation’s main pain point.
- Many applications/sites (Facebook, Couchsurfing) are filtered, but everyone in Iran uses a VPN app that changes the identity of the Internet user. At the time of my visit in Iran, I downloaded “Iran VPN Free” and it worked well.
- Download Maps.me app and the local map of the towns/cities where you are going to spend some time. This map application works offline and allows you to pin, do notes, create lists while you travel and all offline.
- Many hotels/hostels concierge desks allow you to access Internet from their laptop/PC for free.
- Got questions about Iran or your future trip to Iran? The Facebook Group called “See You In Iran” is an amazingly active 150,000 people community. My 12 points go to this resource for sure.
- Iranian food at its best in within the family walls. Eating out is regarded to be a less quality food experience.
- Hotel breakfasts are repetitive: water melon, bread, soft spreadable cheese, tomato, cucumber, dates, boiled or scrambled eggs, honey, jam, yogurt, tea, coffee.
- Juice bars are dotting the towns. Enjoy freshly squeezed carrot, apple, melon (and so on) juices or smoothies made up with avocado, mango, banana for less than 1 euro.
- Iranian palates are addicted to sugar. For an Iranian, there is no limit to sugar. So know yours!
- The country is an Islamic republic with clear rules but also with a lot of flexibility (driving, dressing-up, eating, drinking) depending on the context.
- Ta’arof is the unwritten politeness law and warms up interpersonal relations. Basically if you are offered something, according to Ta’arof you need to refuse 3 times. The same should apply for your offerings (say, a present, a sweet etc). Insist 3 times! What happens next? If you offer and you really mean it, insist with your offering and read the body language of the other person. If the other person is firm, than do not go ahead. If s/he wanted to receive your gift from the beginning, after the third offering they will open up and say OK, thank you!
- Don’t book anything on your own. Ask the receptionist in your current hotel to call and book you the hotel in the next city you are travelling to. Ask for the price in local currency plus a discount if s/he is not doing it already on your behalf.
- Don’t book anything in advance. Iran is the perfect country to let yourself go with the flow. You never know when you will meet the most wonderful person in your life that will invite you to a party, a dinner, a wedding, to the family house in the countryside shuffling your plans.
- Have an idea of the fare of your trip and settle the price with the driver before you get in the car
- Ask hotels to call a reliable taxi for you
- Use the Snap app to benefit of lower taxi fares (up to 40% lower). I guess it works with local SIM cards/phone numbers as the drivers call you when they arrive. Alternatively you can ask an Iranian friend to order a taxi for you via Snap.
- Example of fares:
- Tehran International Airport – Tehran city center: 750,000 Rials (12 euro)
- Tehran National Flights Airport – Tehran city center: 270,000 Rials (4.5 euro)
- Shiraz city center – Shiraz Airport: 200,000 Rials (3.3 euro)
Long Distance Buses
- Long-distance buses are cheap and comfortable: 200,000 – 300,000 Rials (3.3 – 5 euro)
- Inquire in advance about the travel times. Distances between cities may look like an hop on your tiny Lonely Planet guide map, but the shortest bus ride I has was 5 hours. This tip is important when you plan a trip say from Isfahan to Yazd and you believe that on the same day you will get time to visit half of town upon you arrival.
- If you can, choose the VIP buses: their seats are larger and super comfy! The price difference between standard buses and VIP ones is not notable.
- Pack a sandwich/fruit/water in advance as the bus attendant will serve only sugary drinks, cakes/snacks.
- I was amazed with the high number of domestic flights running from small airports such as Shiraz Airport
- It is easy to buy a last minute flight. In Shiraz I used Pars Travel Agency
- For my Shiraz – Tehran flight I paid 2,000,000 Rials (28.5 euro)
- The choice of hotels, guest houses or hostels is huge and covers a great range of prices. I will list the accommodation I used and I would recommend it at time to anyone.
- Tehran: See You In Iran Hostel (double-bed room: 50 euro, dorm: 12 euro): housed in an Art Deco building from late 30s, early 40s, pastel colours and great terrace with huge mulberry trees (plenty of mulberries around in May). The place is ran by an association that runs many cultural activities in its main hall and patio enabling a direct contact between locals and internationals. It is a truly idea and mind fermenting center.
- Kashan: Puppet Theatre & Guest House (double-bed room: euro): this place has a soul and it will melt you down. The puppet museum in the basement is free for you to visit plus the puppet theatre show periodically put up by Amir (the owner of the place) will bring up the child from the inner you. The 5 rooms around the patio are large and decorated with good taste. Seems that all the staff here is specially selected based on their beautiful souls and empathy.
- Isfahan: Isfahan Traditional Hotel (double-bed room: 30 euro): located in a super silent and calm island in the historic area of Hakim Mosque. I will always remember this place for the personnel from the reception. If you need to teach first class customer care you will need to employ the ladies from this hotel’s reception. Chapeau!
- Yazd: Hobab House Hostel (I got an entire double-bed room, 10 euro): brand new boutique hostel in the heart of the historic center of Yazd. If you don’t mind sharing common bathrooms, the comfort offer by this place outputs many hotels in town: rooms are organized in a historic house, super spacious (at least 2 times larger than a hotel room), tall ceilings, stain-glass windows, breakfast included, fastest Internet wifi connection I experimented in Iran and the best hosts ever: Meysan and Saman. You guys rock!
- Shiraz: Niayesh Boutique Hotel (single-bed room: 1,000,000 Rials/15.7 euro). My room was nested on the roof terrace with wonderful views to the surrounding domes and mountains. I noticed that the place was extremely well organized and maintained.