It’s time for another guest post! This time, the contributor is Lena from Ladies Abroad, a Swedish travel blog written by a mother and daughter. I recommend to check out their blog for travel inspiration and great articles. In this post, Lena writes about how it is to travel in Iran!
Travelling in Iran differs a bit from travelling to other countries. But there are no insurmountable obstacles, and with a little planning everything will work smoothly.
In the guidebooks you usually read about Indian or Thai clothing “Do not show your shoulders, do not show your knees” etc. But when you get there you discover that all other tourists are wearing singlets and shorts. Meaning actually no one cares about the clothing guidelines. Well, in Iran the clothing guidelines are to be respected; otherwise you might end up in jail. Yes, it is true. The police actually arrest females Iranians who do not cover up. As a tourist they will hopefully just tell you to cover, but if you are unlucky you might get arrested as well.
And what is the dress code? All females are to cover their hear wearing a scarf, and the jacket or blouse should always cover the hips. The jacket or blouse can be slimmed, but not tight, and should be in a ticker woven fabric, not in jersey. The sleeves should be at least three quarters long. It is OK to wear slimmed jeans or even tights as long as the hips are covered. Needless to say; no deep necklines.
The dress code is the same for tourists as for the locals.
Before we left we had been told that the locals are very friendly, so we were prepared for that. What we were not prepared for was that almost everyone spoke English. Big surprise! I never had use for the note my colleague had written for me in Persian, saying that I do not eat meat but fish is OK. We hardly had any problems communicating with anyone. All restaurant menus were also in English, and we ate at several restaurants with locals only.
Also; it was true that they are very friendly. We were stopped on the street a minimum of ten times every day by locals who wanted to talk to us. Often did they just ask where we came from, everyone knew the country Norway when we answered, and asked which other places we had visited in Iran. Everyone we talked to sometimes during the conversation said “welcome to Iran” and it felt like they had been thought in school to say so to all tourists. We were also offered biscuits by strangers and invited to join families drinking tea in the parks or on the old bridges.
Hanne and I were also extremely popular photo objects! All of them wanted to pose with us, and I guess we are figuring on more than hundred Iranian Facebook and Instagram accounts as “my European friend”. If those Instagram accounts could do with a boost they should get free instagram followers to increase the number of people that enjoying their travels.
All internet traffic in Iran is strictly controlled by the government. Examples of sites being censured are Facebook, Snapchat as well as major newspapers (even Scandinavian). Instagram is allowed. The way to get through the censure is to download a VPN client before you enter Iran, I could not download anyone after entering the country. You will also need to get a secure Antivirus tool to stay protected while during your stay. You could check out websafetyadvice.com for the best VPN reviews.
WIFI is to be found on all hotels and most of the restaurants.
Reserve hotels and bus tickets
Iran has restrictions regarding money transfers over the border, meaning that is it not possible to reserve and pay for hotels and transportation online in advance. You can either google hotels and contact them to make a reservation, wait until you get to the country or use a travel agency. We chose to do the latter, which probably cost us 10 to 20% extra, but it was very convenient having all hotels, transportation and yours arranged.
I cannot tell how many times I got the question “Is Iran safe?” or the statement ”You must be crazy to travel to females to Iran” before we left.
Did I feel unsafe during my trip to Iran? Not a second. Not in the bazars, not on the VIP night buses we used to travel between cities and even not when Hanne and I split up one night and I went to a mosque on my own and she went to the hotel.
So, do I recommend Iran as your next vacation destination? Definitely. Would I go there again? Absolutely; I have only seen parts of the country and it is so much to experience in Iran. And for female travellers; no problem at all. I would even go that far saying solo female traveling should not be a problem in Teheran, Isfahan or Shiraz, which were the cities we visited.
Want to read more about Iran? Check out LadiesAbroad.se!