Despite being voted as one of the best travel destination choices every year since 2014, many people aren't entirely sure on how to plan the perfect trip to Iran. Given that Iran is still a relatively new tourist destination, visitors feel unprepared and even the most experienced travelers have the urge to ask a thousand questions. Perhaps this is the reason that many visitors still prefer a book instead of an organized tour.
Every day I am faced with lots of questions about Iran. So, I thought it would be more logical and easier to combined everyone's questions into a single article. This way it can be retrieved quickly for reference for all of you that plan to travel to Iran in the future.
This first article provides you with all that information that you need to know concerning the 'before you get there' stage. Future posts will be aimed at what to expect and do when you arrive in Iran.
My first tip is not to coincide your trip to fall on Nowruz. Given the amount of hype placed on the celebrations of the Persian New Year, it's unsurprising that many of you want to go and see for yourself what all the commotion is about. Although, visiting during Nowruz is something that you need to consider carefully. Imagine millions of people all travelling from one place to another at the same time. This leads to tourist sites becoming more overcrowded than usual, some usually busy cities emptier than normal and some of the shops that you wanted to go to – closed. This is without mentioning the extortionate prices that hotels will charge.
I have only experienced a bit of the above, after arriving in Iran on the last day of Nowruz. Although many of the restaurants were ready for guests, lots of shops in the center of Tehran were closed. Crucially, so were exchange offices! Luckily I had some Rials with me from my last visit, but this is an important issue for first-time travelers.
My next tip is very simple but often ignored: plan ahead. Plane ticket prices fluctuate greatly and can be very expensive. I highly recommend spending time searching through comparison websites to ensure that you get the best price possible. It might take time, but it will save you money. Plenty of airlines go directly to Iran International airports, including Emirates and Qatar Airways.
I also recommend checking out Iran airlines. IranAir and Mahan Air are both great choices.
Perhaps the most crucial tip I can give you is always to check the visa requirements. Back in October 2015, Iran allowed 58 nations to purchase visas upon arrival at the airport. Also, they are beginning to issue 30-day extended visas for 180 nationalities. Given this, it's unlikely that you will have any serious problems, but to guarantee this make sure to contact the Iran embassy in your country to avoid any hurdles.
Lastly, I highly recommend getting yourself a tour guide. Of course, you can travel independently if you wish. This is particularly easy in new locations such as the major cities as they are tourist-friendly, and it's also safe for solo female travelers. Despite this, a tour guide would be most beneficial if you want to experience more rural and less accessible areas such as Khuzestan. This is particularly worth considering if you can't speak a word of Persian!
So, above is all you need to think about before you travel to Iran. Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog about what to do when you get to Iran.