Traveling to Iran

Islamic Republic of Iran
Iran is a country in Southwest Asia in the Middle East region. It is officially known as Islamic Republic of Iran. The capital city of Iran is Tehran. Comprising an area of 1648195 km2, Iran is the 18th largest country in the world. According to recent statistics, Iran’s population is about seventy-four million and annually one million populations is added to this number. Iran as an ancient country and as an old nation has an ancient history. It is also one of the most historic countries in the world.
Race and language
The population of Iran is divided into tribes such as: Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Lar, Bakhtiari, Baloch, Mazandaran, Gilak, Qashqai, Arab, Lak, Taleshi, Turkmen, Khalaj, Assyri, Keldani, Mandaean (Sabi), Tat, Georgian, Sistani, Armenian, and Jewish
Totally, different People from different regions in Iran talk in seventy-five different languages and dialects. The most important ones are Persian, Turkish, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Turkmen, Gilaki, Mazandaran, Khalaji, Taleshi, Lori, Bakhtiari, Arabic, Baluchi, Laki, Dilami, Tati, Armenian, Assyrian, Mandaean, Georgian, Hebrew, Chaldani and so on.
Getting visa

Since 2006, travelers from some countries can get visa at the airport under the condition of having a photo and paying $ 50. travelers who are from the following countries can get visa at the airport: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, China, Colombia Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, North Korea (Republic of Korea), South Korea (Republic of Korea), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia , Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam. These Travers are allowed to stay in Iran for one week. If they want to stay for a longer time, they should get a long term visa before they enter Iran.
To extend visa for next trips, visa should be delivered to Tehran to be extended. In this case, visa can be extended for a longer time. If you got one-month visa for traveling to Iran in your last trips, next time you can get a three-month visa. The photo of the visa for women should be with Hijab.
Tourists can receive their visa electronically in less than 72hourse. By visiting Iranian Foreign Ministry website and feeling out some forms you will be given a code, then you can confirm your visa and say that you want to get your visa in Imam Khomeini International Airport or in one of the tourist agencies of the origin country.
You don’t need visa to see the touristy area Gheshm Island and you can stay in this spectacular island for 14days.

Traveling to Iran
How to travel to Iran
By airplane
Imam Khomeini International Airport is located 30 kilometers southwest of Tehran. Except Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz and Esfahan has direct flight from so many countries in this airport.
There are direct flights from Dubai to Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kerman, Lar, Mashhad, Tabriz, Kish Island, Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, and Zahedan.
For travelling to other cities of Iran, you can go to Mehrabad airport which is 30kilometer faraway Imam Khomeini International Airport
By train
From Turkey
There are trains from Istanbul Turkey to Iran every week. This train passes through Ankara and approach Lake Van, It then enters Iran and stops in Tabriz and finally move forward to Tehran. Once you live turkey by train, it takes 69horse (three days) to arrive in Iran.
Tabriz- Van: it moves from Tehran Istanbul railway to Tabriz Iran and Van, Turkey weekly.
From Syria
This train does not cross over Iraq, it moves from Dameshgh, it stops in turkey then enters Van, Turkey and afterward enters Iran. This journey takes 54hourse (two days.)
From Afghanistan
The railroad of Tehran to Herat is being constructed. It already has been built from Mashhad to Khaf, Iran (a city near the border of Afghanistan).
From Iraq
The railroad of Khorramshahr to Basra is being constructed and it will connect Iran to the railways of Iraq, Karbala and Najaf. A railway is also going to be constructed to connect Kermanshah to Khanaqin.
From Pakistan
Kut- Zahedan: the trains move to Zahedan every first and fifteenth of the month. This journey takes about 11hourse. After you arrive in Zahedan you can move forward to other cities of Iran. The nearest cities to Zahedan are the historical cities Bam and Kerman which has so many historical attractions and sightseeing.
From Azerbaijan
The Nakhichevan –Tabriz trains which move from Nakhichevan to the border city Jolfa and then arrive in Tabriz. This railway had been used to travel from Tehran to Moscow in the past which was blocked after the war Armenia and Azerbaijan.
There are also trains from Baku to Azerbaijan border. you can use this railway to go to Astara and cross the border of Iran on foot. Tehran- Zanjan – Rasht railway is going to reach Baku- Azerbaijan border railway.
From Turkmenistan
Every day, there are trains from Mashhad to Sarakhs. When it reaches Sarakhs it switches the way to somewhere else. On the other way, you can travel to this region from Ashgabat and Merv.
By car
So many people from Turkey travel to Iran by car. There are good highways in Iran for travelling Turkey to Iran. But, you must have international driving license or you must pay tax. If you change your driving license to an international one and translate it to Persian language it will help you a lot.
By bus
From Armenia
There are so many good buses from Yerevan to Tabriz and most of them move forward to Tehran.
From Pakistan
You can come to Taftan in Pakistan then move forward to Zahedan, Iran. But take note that no visa is given in the border of Iran. You have to take visa from Kut or somewhere else. Then you can enter Zahedan and move to Bam, Kerman and Yazd.
From Iraq
These buses move from Abril to Urmia and also from Sulaymaniyah to Sanandaj and Kermanshah
From Afghanistan
The buses move from Herat to Mashhad every day. These buses move from Herat and arrive in Islam Qala and then reach Dowqarun border, finally move forward to Mashhad. This road was built by Iran and is safe.
By ship
There are ships which move from Baku to Bandar Anzali. There are also ships from Gulf cities to Iran with cheap prices. There are also luxurious ships that move from Dubai to Kish Island. You don’t need visa for travelling Kish Island.
Some ships move from Bandar Abas to Dubai and Sharjah. There are also ships from Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain to Bushehr.
Inside Iran
Transportation inside the country is in high quality and airplane tickets are not that much expensive. There are so many ways available for transportation in Iran.
By airplane
There are flights from Tehran to other cities and you can choose any types of airplane. Iran National airplane is called Iran Air and most of the time there are tickets available in the airport and tourism agencies, but in summer it is a bit difficult to get tickets. Iran Air tickets are also available in Dubai and Iran Air offices.
Safety tips
The Crime rate in Iran is low. In fact, Iran is safer than many western countries. If you want to travel to cities such as Zahedan, Zabul, Mirawawa you need to be more careful. But, do not care about things people say about dangers of travelling to these cities. Because, almost all the residents of these cities are Baloch and they are so kind and hospitable, they help tourists (especially foreign tourists) a lot. The problem is just the drug dealers who smuggle drugs in these areas. Once, you see the original people of these cities, you will understand how kind and friendly they are. They are even more hospitable than people of the cities like Esfahan. Chabahar is also in the southern of Sistan and Baluchestan and is a very safe city.
Iranians are not against western countries and America. You may have heard they say things like damn with America, but they are not enemies of these countries. If you see them, you will understand that they try their best to help you. Once you are in Iran, if people want to show you a direction or help you in any way they ask, don’t afraid, they really want to help you.
Don’t see Iran as a Military country, and don’t think you will be arrested if you come to Iran. If you are not the fans of opposition groups out of Iran, there is nothing to afraid of. You just should obey the rules and regulations.
There is no difference between Iranian women and women from western countries. Women like men can go anywhere they want and they even wear dresses like western. There are also women who chose to have Islamic hijab and believe in hijab.
In Iran, you can call 115 for emergency health services, call 110 if you need police and call 125 for firefighter. Almost they can speak English.
Health tips
Do not forget to drink water a lot in hot cities such as Yazd, Zahedan, Chabahar, and Bushehr
Iranian people are so friendly and they treat you warm and intimate. They help foreigners in different ways.
Iranians respect their history very much. Never call Persian Gulf Arabic Golf when you are talking to an Iranians, because they get it so offensive and they get upset.
Never call Iranians Arab or Muslim, because Iranians are not Arab and their religion (Islam) is different from Islam in other parts of the world. For instance, they are not like Bin Laden at all.
Women should have hijab in Iran. They should cover their hair by scarf and cover their wrists and their ankles. They may be asked to wear Chador in holy shrines and mosques. And Men should not wear shorts in public.
If you see an Iranian couple, don’t shake hand with your opposite sex. And avoid staring at the eyes of opposite sex.
Iranians are so polite. For instance, when they want enter a room they ask you to come first. Even a worker makes some compliments when he is given his salary by refusing to accept it at first.
Compliments are a way of welcoming guests and showing hospitality. Imagine that you are in a hotel and want to pay for bills, but the reception tells that you are our guest and you don’t need to pay. You should appreciate them and pay for the bills. Or when you go on shopping with somebody else the person you are with offer you to pay for the things you buy or the food you eat. This is a compliment and you should appreciate them.
Holly places
Iranian people like to introduce the holly places of their country to you. Women should wear chador for entering these places. You should also take off your shoes before entering these places. Once you want enter a house you should also take off your shoes, if not, they may get upset.
The holy places of Qom and Mashhad are so beautiful. Friday Prayer or Congregational Prayer may be also attractive for you to visit on fridays.
Thumb in Iranian culture has the same meaning as middle finger in western countries. Never point your thumb at somebody in Iran. For instance, do not point your thumb at bus driver once you want to give your ticket
Unlike some Muslim people, Iranian people are not bias. And since they have been in contact with Christian and Jewish for so many years, they respect people of any races and religions. And even non-Muslims respect the way Muslims dress.
The taxi drivers may ask you what kinds of music you like. He may play the newest songs for you in the car and you can enjoy it.
By bus
Bus transportation in Iran is very cheaper than other parts of the world. Buses are fast way of transportation. They move 100km/h. For instance it takes 20 hours to arrive in Mashhad from Shiraz by bus. There are different types of buses. You can easily buy bus tickets all the time except high seasons like summer.
There are also urban buses. You must pay an amount of money or buy tickets to use buses.
By train
You can travel to any part of Iran by Raja trains; from Tabriz to Zahedan, from Mashhad to Ahvaz, from Gorgan to Bandar Abbas and so on. Trains has so many benefits, for example, are safe and cheap, you can communicate with other passengers in trains and see other passengers. There are different foods in trains. You can buy train tickets one month in advance and on the internet you can buy tickets on a discount.
There is also subway in Tehran and in other cities it is being built. Subway in Tehran connect east, west, north and south to each other.
By taxi
You can easily take taxis inside and across the cities.
By car
You can easily travel to any part of Iran by car if you have international driving license. And the good news is that gasoline is cheap in Iran. You even can hire a car by paying 20 to 50 dollars. There are many highways that you can drive in above 160km/ h in iran.
Driving in Iran
How to drive in Iran?
According to Iran law, people in Iran are allowed to drive car under two conditions:
• They must be eighteen years old and older
• They must take written and practical tests and if they pass the tests they will be given driving license
Foreign tourists are allowed to drive in Iran under certain conditions as below:
1. If they have international driving license. Non Iranian tourists who have international driving license are allowed to drive in Iran for six months from the time they arrive Iran. (It is in fact the best choice for non-Iranian who wants to drive in Iran.)
Note: international driving license which are issued by Iraq and Afghanistan are not accepted by the Police of Iran. Iraqis and Afghans can choose the following way:
2. Driving car with foreign driving license temporarily. Iranian or non-Iranian who have driving license of any countries are allowed to drive in Iran for three months from the time they arrive under the condition of having the following documents:
a) The original valid driving license
b) The translation of the driving license by the embassy of the country that issued license. It should also be stamped by the embassy of that country.
c) The copy of the first page of passport and the stamped page of entrance to Iran
d) The copy of the 22 nd article of rules and regulations of issuing driving license, stamped by the police of Iran (in Shahrak-e Azmayesh-e Tehran).
3. Exchange the driving license for a long term (this type of driving license is not recommended to tourists because of its too long official process).
If non Iranian including tourists have valid driving license issued by their countries or any other countries, they can exchange it with Iranian ones and drive easily in Iran roads.
Exchanging driving license for a long term is done in two ways:
a) Exchanging the valid driving license which is issued by foreign countries. Note that these foreign countries are those which accept Iranian license in their region. The translation of the license, the original license, the mental and physical checkup of the requester and some other documents are needed to exchange driving license for a long term.
b) Other forms of exchanging driving license are done under confirmation of the Interior Ministry of Iran and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This option is suggested to those whose countries do not accept the official Iranian license. These group of people should refer to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministry of Iran for exchanging their driving license.
The driving licenses of the following countries are changeable to Iran driving license:
Argentina, Portugal, Sudan, Lebanon, Germany, Tanzania, Somalia, Libya, Indonesia, Turkmenistan, Sweden, Poland, Algeria, Turkey, Switzerland, Malaysia, Armenia, Tunisia, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Oman, Mauritania, Austria, Czech Republic, Philippines, Hungary, Spain, China, France and Mexico, Slovenia, Russia, Finland, Niger, Italy, Romania, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, Kyrgyzstan, Norway, Belgium, Zaire, South Korea, Nicaragua, Bulgaria , Japan, Kenya, India, Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Croatia, Yemen, Bangladesh, Syria, Guinea and Greece.
Note a) tourists from Armenia and Azerbaijan must take practical test in order to get long term driving license.
Note b) tourists from South Korean must take written exam related to the rules and regulations of driving car in Iran.
The official language in Iran is Persian language. Most people can rather speak English especially in big and touristy cities like Esfahan and Kish island. Take note that in some parts of Iran people speak Azeri, Kurdish and Baluchi. But almost everyone can speak Persian.
official unit of Iranian currency is rial. But people subtract one unit of the currency and consider it toman. For instance, 100rial is 10toman.
Launch is eaten between 1:00pm to 3:00pm in Iran and dinner is eaten after 9:00pm. Alcoholic drinks and pork meat are forbidden in Iran. There are so many delicious foods in Iran for those who travel to Iran from outside the Middle East. For example, Kebab and rice are common foods in Iran. Rice is eaten with so many other foods. Baked rice is called Chello and if it is served with grilled meat it is called Chello Kebab. Baked rice with baked chicken is also called Chello Morq. When rice is mixed and baked with vegetables it is called Sabzipolou or Baghalipolou.
The especial soup of Iran is also called Aash that is so delicious.
There are different kinds of bread in Iran which are served with white chesses in breakfast. Sangak, Taftoon, Lavash, and Barbari (which is originated from Azerbaijan but is easily find in all parts of Iran.) are different types of Iranian bread.
International foods
Different types of food of different countries such as Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian and vegetarian foods are served in some Iranian restaurants in Tehran and big cities.
Fast foods
There are different kinds of fast foods such pizza and sandwiches in Iran. Sandwiches in Iran are sold at 100000rial and more, pizza are 200000rial and more.
Fruits and sweets
Different sweets are found in all parts of Iran. Esfahan has a sweet product that is called Gaz. It is kind of sweet with nuts in it. Sohan is the souvenir of Qom. it is a kind of sweet with pistachios in it.
Fruit leather which is called Lavashak is another delicious homemade product in Iran that is made of fruits and it is in the form of thin layers.
There is kind of salad in Iran made of lettuce and is called Season Salad. Falafel is another food which is found in Iran. It is made of chickpea and it is originally an Arabic food. There is also another vegetarian food called Kookoo Sabzi which is baked in oil. There is also another vegetarian food called Aash in which vegetables are baked in it with no meat.
Iranian foods are healthy and they are halaal (refers to what is permissible or lawful in traditional Islamic law) according to Islamic law.
Tae is the most popular drink in Iran which is drank with sugar loaf. Different kinds of coffee such as French coffee and Nescafe is also found in Iran. There are also so many stores which sell fruit juices. Such as cranberry juice, cantaloupe juice and watermelon juice. The mixture of milk and banana is another common drink in iran.
There are also various carbonated beverages in Iran. The most international one is Zam Zam which is found in many countries.
There are so many hotels in Iran and some cheaper ones such as hostels and motels.
Sex in Iran
In Islamic law of Iran, sex is legitimate if two persons are married, if not, it is recognized as adultery. It means that if two people have sex with each other without getting married they will be punished according to Islamic law. There are two kinds of marriage according to Islamic law: temporary marriage, or nikah mut’ah and permanent marriage. Anyway, having sex without getting married have become so common in Iran especially in big cities. As a result, the responsible authorities do not keep track of finding and punishing people who have sex without getting married, unless there is a plaintiff. In most cases, if somebody is raped, there is a plaintiff.
If you are travelling to Iran as a tourist, be so careful about having sex and in case of getting accused of having sex with somebody, do not confess to it at all until you see your lawyer.