Iran also call Persia is a wonderful and fascinating country and the people are very kind, with great hospitality, warm reception of guests and strangers and foreign tourists. The people are very helpful and polite and will make you feel very welcome. There's so much bad news and nonsense about Iran in western media, just ignore it all, read some true practical info about incoming tours and experience travel to Iran yourself, do not believe and rely on western propaganda only.
We would like to share our information with adventurous traveler to Iran, we highly recommend to read this topic and some useful and informative pages in Lonely Planet from tourists who have visited Iran in 2010 and are just back with most updated info about Persia, they mention "Absolutely fantastic people, and a very interesting country" and "Most things are cheap in Iran".
Safe for Americans in Iran?
Iran - just back and these are my tips
Beginning of a Mt Damavand Summer Tour
Photo by A.Soltani
Don't Be Scared
Just be a little brave! You won't be arrested as a hostage at airport! There is no 'morality police' any more!
Iran currency is Rial, but people prefer to deal in Tomans, If you change 100 USD you become a multimillionaire! 10 Rials = 1 Toman
This is an approx exchane rate ( April 2010 )
To make things easy and understand the Iranian money just ignore all the zeros on the Iranian banknote money, that is all !
10,000 Rials= 1 USD
20,000 Rials= 2 USD
50,000 Rials= 5 USD
Due to international sanctions against Iranian banks and possibility of international community considering boycotting of even more Iranian goods and the source of incomes please remember:
1- You can not use ATM system in Iran and can't get money out of the bank using electronic funds transfer at point of sale (eftpos).
2- You can not use your credit card to buy goods, only a few carpet shops will take credit cards and they'll charge you more.
3- Bring enough money in cash with you.
4- When transferring (the deposit) money from your country to your Iranian business partner, do not mention the name of Iran, you may just mention another term such as Mt Damavand Tour.
5- You may change money upon arrival at IKA International Airport, the rate is quite fare, there is not a major difference between exchange rates in bank and free market money exchange shops.
6- There is no problem for changing US$ or Euros, money exchange shops are available in most cities and hotels.
Ghar Katalehkhor, Zanjan Iran, Photo by A.Soltani
Holidays in Persian Calendar
Be aware of Iranian holidays and weekends specially Iranian new year. These holidays makes some problems for incoming tours, most shops and tourism sites such as museums are closed and there are big traffic jams on the roads. Iranian weekend are Thursday and Friday. Friday = the weekend.
Nowruz or Now Rooz, 21 March to 2 April, is the traditional Iranian (Persian) new year holiday celebrated in Iran which marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Persian Calendar.
There are 25 holidays. Dates for anniversaries are based on the Persian calendar, Lunar calendar or Zoroastrian calendar; the dates on the Gregorian calendar can vary from year to year. Nowroz , is not recommended for damavand climbing too, during this time you can not find public transport , and the roads are in the worst possible traffic condition.
It is a good idea to have guide, If you're not with a guide, have some extra time to find out about local things. Iran is a good country for group travel and guided tours, sometimes complicated to arrange and handle everything things alone, some places should be open but closed in some occasions without any notice!
When traveling to Iran for an adventure tour such as a Mt Damavand tour, remember the safety of your team and the quality of your tour are the main priorities, if some tour operators and organizers offer you very low costs for your trip, be aware that the quality of their services may be very low too.
Karaftou, Kurdestan Iran, Photo by Aredeshir Soltani
Internet cafes are available in most cities, but as you may follow the latest news on Iran, there are some restrictions and limitation to internet for some particular websites, specially in some occasions access to the internet is almost impossible, this limitation is not an international sanction, it is done locally by the Iranian authorities, ie Facebook is banned and some other sites, may be temporary blocked, but come back online later. Most Iranians know how to get around it and cafe employees may help you too.
In Iran people speak in Farsi (or as you may call it Persian), although you may continue with English, it's a good idea to learn some Farsi phrases too, as someone will certainly speak enough English to translate for you, or show you in the right direction. Most street signs in major cities such as Shiraz and Isfahan are also in English.
A light-weight scarf and manteau or a long top and pants are fine.
No problem for open shoes, sandals acceptable, showing some fringe and make-up.
Wear long pants, but short sleeves are fine.
AliSadr Cave Photo by Ali Majdfar
Food and Drink
Don't be worried about eating local food, just ask people or bring a guidebook to find good restaurants. Most restaurant in major cities have good and fresh food, tasty and healthy. Bottled water is available everywhere and very cheap. On the road you can easily find good restaurants, look for the places where the truck driver stop ! A lot of small stores sell food, bread, chips, chocolate, milk, water and ice cream, the Iran's ice cream is nice. Hotel breakfasts are usually bread, cheese, butter, feta, tomato, boiled or fried eggs, it is hard to find coffee in restaurants, there are Nescafe 3-in-1 variety.
Camera and Memory Cards
It's not difficult to find camera or memory SD cards, batteries, etc , it's easy to find almost everywhere, and prices are low. You may be able to use your phone cameras at some places which you have to leave your camera at the door!
In case you get sick, pharmacies are everywhere and staff are attentive and prices are very cheap.
Shapour Cave Kazeroon Fars, Iran
Photo by A. Soltani
Alternate names, spellings and pronunciation (few incorrect)
for Mount Damavand Iran:
Dam•a•vand (dăm'ə-vănd', dä'mä-vänd)
DAMAVAND, damavad, damavan, damavend, damāvand
DAMAWAND, damawad, damawan, damawend, damāwand
DEMAVAND, demavend, demawand, damawend, demāwand.
mount damāvand, damawand mountain, damavad volcan, demavand volcano, damawand, damawend, DAMAVAND.
Mount Damavand Summit
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