From Halal Food & Travel
Iran (Persian: ایران) is a large country between the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea. It was renamed Iran in the early 20th century; before that it was known as Persia. It is bordered by Iraq to the West, Turkey, Azerbaijan's Nakhchivan enclave, Armenia, and Azerbaijan to the northwest, Turkmenistan to the northeast, and Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east.
Iran can be considered part of the Middle East, and thus it is included as part of that region here. However, it is also very much a part of Central Asia; indeed the Persian Empire was the dominant power in that region for many centuries.
- 1 An Introduction to the regions of Iran
- 2 Other Muslim friendly Cities in Iran
- 3 Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Iran
- 4 Iran Halal Explorer
- 5 Travel as a Muslim to Iran
- 5.1 Visa & Passport Requirements to enter Iran
- 5.2 Buy a Flight ticket to and from Iran
- 5.3 Muslim Friendly Rail Holidays in Iran
- 5.4 By car
- 5.5 Travel on a Bus in Iran
- 5.6 Book a Halal Cruise or Boat Tour in Iran
- 6 How to get around in Iran
- 7 Local Language in Iran
- 8 What to see in Iran
- 9 Top Muslim Travel Tips for Iran
- 10 Muslim Friendly Shopping in Iran
- 11 Halal Restaurants in Iran
- 12 Muslim Friendly Hotels in Iran
- 13 Study as a Muslim in Iran
- 14 How to work legally in Iran
- 15 Stay safe as a Muslim in Iran
- 16 Medical Issues in Iran
An Introduction to the regions of Iran
|Sistan and Baluchestan |
|Caspian Iran |
|Central Iran |
|Persian Gulf Region |
|Iranian Azerbaijan |
|Western Iran |
Other Muslim friendly Cities in Iran
Nine of the most notable cities are:
- Tehran GPS: 35.696111,51.423056 (Persian: تهران) – the vibrant capital, a beautiful city that suffers horrendous traffic and air pollution
- Hamedan GPS: 34.8,48.516667 (Persian: همدان) – one of the oldest cities in Iran
- Isfahan GPS: 32.633333,51.65 (Persian: اصفهان) – a former capital with stunning architecture, great bazaar, and tree-lined boulevards. Most popular tourist destination in the country. There's a Persian saying that "Isfahan is half the world."
- Kerman GPS: 30.17,57.05 (Persian: کرمان) – this south-eastern city is one of the five historical cities of Iran.
- Mashad GPS: 36.3,59.6 (Persian: مشهد) – the greatest city of eastern Iran, with an important mosque, the shrine of the Imam Reza
- Qom GPS: 34.64,50.876389 (Persian: قم) – one of the holiest cities in the Middle East, considered the Jewel of Iran
- Shiraz GPS: 29.616667,52.533333 (Persian: شیراز) – a former capital, home of famous Persian poets such as Hafiz and Sa'di; known for gardens, especially roses. Very close to the famous ruins of Persepolis.
- Tabriz GPS: 38.066667,46.3 (Persian: تبریز) – a former capital with a great historical bazaar, now a provincial capital in western Iran; it's been suggested that this is the site of the Biblical "Garden of Eden"
- Yazd GPS: 31.897222,54.367778 (Persian: یزد) – a remote desert city – circumstance influenced special architectural themes where water streams run in underground rooms in houses and wind-towers to keep them cool.
Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Iran
- Alamut GPS: 36.444722,50.586389(Persian: الموت), near Qazvin – castle of the legendary Assassins.
- Dizin GPS: 36.049167,51.417222(Persian: دیزین) – one of the highest ski resorts in the world, two hours north of Tehran. Great powder snow, affordable prices and few international visitors makes this is a great place for a ski holiday.
- Kish Island GPS: 26.533333,53.966667(Persian: کیش) – a free trade zone in the Persian Gulf, it is regarded as a consumer's 'paradise', with numerous malls, shopping centres, tourist attractions, and resort hotels. There is also Iran's first marina on the east side of the island.
- Qeshm Island GPS: 26.695278,55.618333(Persian: قشم) – Iran's largest and the Persian Gulf's largest island. Qeshm island is famous for its wide range of ecotourist attractions such as the Hara marine forests. According to environmentalists, about 1.5% of the world birds and 25% of Iran's native birds annually migrate to Hara forests which is the first national geo park.
- Pasargad GPS: 30.2,53.179444(Persian: پاسارگاد) – the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire, and home to the tomb of Cyrus the Great.
- Persepolis GPS: 29.934444,52.891389 - impressive ruins of a vast city-like complex built over 2,500 years ago, near the modern city of Shiraz. It was set on fire by Alexander of Macedon and further ruined by Arabs. Called TakhteJamshid in Persian, Persepolis is the symbol of Iranian nationality.
- Susa (or Shush) GPS: 32.190556,48.257778(Persian: شوش) – 200 km north of Ahvaz, was Iran's most ancient city.
Iran Halal Explorer
Iran, the wellspring of one of the world's great civilizations, is a country of striking natural beauty and gorgeous tiled mosques. Its landscape is incredibly varied. Its recent history has been tumultuous.
History of Iran
Persia has always exerted a large cultural influence on its neighbors, especially Afghanistan, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Persian influence can be seen in the art, architecture and languages of much of Central Asia.
Throughout history, Persia has generally been an empire, one whose fortunes varied enormously. During the Achaemenid Empire, Persia controlled most of what we now call the Middle East, and after Cyrus the Great's conquest of Ionia, Persia came close to conquering Greece in the Greco-Persian Wars of 499-449 BC. In 331 BC, Alexander conquered (among other places) the entire Persian Empire.
Sassanid rule from 205 AD to 651 AD is considered to be the most influential period of ancient Iran. In 651 AD, immediately after the death of Muhammad, the brutal conquest of Persia by the Arabs brought an end to the Sasanian Empire. Persian and other languages of the region are still written with the Arabic alphabet. In 1221 AD, Persia was overrun by Genghis Khan and the Mongols. Marco Polo passed through later in that century, learned Persian, and wrote extensively of the region. Tamerlane conquered Persia in 1383, and after a revolt in 1387, killed hundreds of thousands of people and built a tower with their skulls.
The Safavid dynasty re-united Persia as an independent state in 1501, established Shi'a Islam as the official religion, and ushered in a golden age of Persian culture. The dynasty was overthrown in 1736 by Nader Shah, the last great Asian conqueror, who expanded the empire to again include Afghanistan and much of India. His short-lived dynasty and its successor, the Zand dynasty, lasted until 1795.
The Qajar dynasty ruled from 1795-1925.
How is the Climate in Iran
Iran has a diverse climate. In the northwest, winters are cold with heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures during December and January. Spring and fall are relatively mild, while summers are dry and hot. In the south, winters are mild and the summers are very hot, having average daily temperatures in July exceeding 38° C (100° F) and can hit 50° C in parts of the desert. On the Khuzestan plain, summer heat is accompanied by high humidity.
In general, Iran has an arid climate in which most of the relatively scant annual precipitation falls from October to April. In most of the country, yearly precipitation averages 25 cm or less. The major exceptions are the higher mountain valleys of the Zagros and the Caspian coastal plain, where precipitation averages at least 50 cm annually. In the western part of the Caspian, rainfall exceeds 100 cm annually and is distributed relatively evenly throughout the year.
How is the Landscape of Iran
Rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts. The highest point is Mount Damavand (5,610 m).
Desert: two great deserts extend over much of central Iran: the Dasht-e Lut is covered largely with sand and rocks, and the Dasht-e Kavir is covered mainly with salt. Both deserts are inhospitable and virtually uninhabited.
Mountain: the Zagros range stretches from the border with the Republic of Armenia in the north-west to the Persian Gulf, and then eastward into Baluchistan. Zagros is extremely hard, difficult to access, and populated largely by pastoral nomads. The Alborz mountain range, narrower than the Zagros, runs along the southern shore of the Caspian to meet the border ranges of Khorasan to the east.
Forest: approximately 11% of Iran is forested, most extensively in the Caspian region, and is densely populated. Here one finds the broad-leafed, vigorous deciduous trees, usually oak, beech, linden, elm, walnut, ash, and hornbeam, as well as a few broad-leafed evergreens. Thorny shrubs and fern also abound. The narrow Caspian coastal plain, in contrast, is covered with rich brown forest soil.
Travel as a Muslim to Iran
Visa & Passport Requirements to enter Iran
The Iran tourist visa is issued for up to 30 days and is extendable. It must be obtained before travelling to Iran and valid to enter for 90 days from the issue date. Approved Iranian travel agents can apply and get visas for most foreign nationals.
To apply and get your visa you must contact an approved Iranian travel agent, or go to an Iranian consulate. After receiving your personal data, they apply to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Your visa will then be authorised by the MFA and faxed to the Iranian consulate near you. Your travel agent gives you a visa authorisation number with which you can refer to the consulate to get your visa. The visa authorisation number, however, is valid only in the consulate you have asked them your visa to be issued in. The number they give you is just an "authorisation". This reference number means that your visa has been authorised and approved by the MFA but is not the visa.
Depending on your nationality, you may be required to present at the Iranian consulate in your country to have your fingerprints taken. British and American passport holders will be fingerprinted upon arrival.
After your travel agent tells you your visa authorisation number you should first get a visa application form from the consulate and follow the requirements of the application form (you may either personally go to the consulate to get the application forms or, if the service available, download it from the web site of the Iranian embassy in your country). Then, you should refer to the consulate to lodge your passports and application forms with the visa number they gave you (it can be either a physical presence or by post). Then it might take from 1-5 days for the consulate to issue your visa.
You may also need to provide a letter of recommendation from your embassy if you are applying outside your home country, a photocopy of your air tickets in and out of Iran and any student or press card.
Normally, all tourist visas issued by Iranian consulates have a "3-month" validity. The visa allows you to stay in Iran for up to 30 days, (sometimes you can get the tourist visa up to 90 days), although the duration of your visa is at the discretion of the MFA. (All tourist visas will be issued as a single entry, unless you request the approval from Tehran.) Tourist visas must be used within 14 days from issue, but the maximum duration of your stay is still 30 days.
Rarely, you may be asked to provide a letter from your employer or proof of funds. Visas are generally valid for three months that is you must enter Iran within three months of issue.
Depending on your nationality, issuing a visa may take 30 days or more.
There are reports that it is possible to get a visa in 10 days in Istanbul consulate, especially for German passport holders.
Types of visa: Entry, Transit, Business, Tourist and Journalist. Fee varies according to nationality of applicant, type of visa and the existing regulation between countries.
A visa cannot be issued for passports which have a validity of less than 6 months. Exit permits required by all (often included with visa).
- Transit visas have a maximum of 10 days.
Transit visas are usually easier to get than tourist visas (usually for one or two weeks) and very useful for people travelling between Europe and South Asia. Various travel agents inside Iran help you obtain visas, often through their home pages.
You can get an extension for your transit visa usually valid for five or ten days, inside Iran easily but once for the same number of days as the original visa.
For foreign drivers carrying cargo to Iran or other countries, it's necessary to co-ordinate in advance with the diplomatic missions of Iran.
- Tourist visas require a passport, an application form, four passport-sized photos, and a special authorisation in the form of a reference number issued by the Foreign Ministry in Tehran.
Extending a tourist visa is very easy and can be done in most cities. Some travel guides say not to do this in Tehran as it is very time consuming. This is no longer the case and the process of extending a visa in Tehran can be done in just 1 hour (including tea offerings and being the object of curiosity in the office). Extending a visa a second time requires the passport to be sent to a department in Tehran (no matter where you extend your visa from) and thus takes longer time than doing this the first time. The tourist visa can be extended once or twice at most, each time you can get 15 days more. The price of extending a visa is fixed rate 300,000 rial.
To extend your visa in Tehran, the first or second time, you should go to the Passport and Immigration office situated on Parvin Street, at the crossing with 150 East Street and 123 Khovat Street, very close to Tehranpars metro station.
Although it has become easier to get a tourist visa, whether the process takes one day or one month depends largely on your nationality and the staff of the embassy you are applying to. Your best option is to apply to the Iranian embassy in your own country at least three months before your departure, but it is possible to obtain one while travelling in other countries, with varying degrees of difficulty. Women need to make sure they are wearing the hijab or a head scarf in their submitted passport-sized photos.
- Business visas require a passport, an application form, 4 passport-sized photos, a special authorisation in the form of a reference number issued by the Foreign Ministry in Tehran, and a business letter. Business visas are extendable once, sometimes twice up to two weeks each without difficulty. One extension of one month may also be possible in some cases.
Visitors from the Persian Gulf States need no visa to enter Iran. These states are: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. People from Macedonia and Turkey can get a three-month tourist visa on arrival. People from Japan can get a three-month tourist visa at an Iranian embassy with no difficulty.
Places known to extend visas happily in Iran are Tehran, Mashhad, Tabriz, Esfahan, Shiraz, Kerman and Zahedan. The extension process is normally handled at provincial police headquarters.
Visa on arrival
A valid passport and a visa are required for the citizens of most countries for travel through Iran.
A 30-day tourist visa on arrival (VOA) is issued on arrival at the airports of Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz and Tabriz to people from about 58 countries, including Azerbaijan, Albania, Germany, Austria, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Spain, Australia, Slovenia, Slovak, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Ukraine, Italy, Ireland, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunet, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, Romania, Japan, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, France, Palestine, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Croatia, South Korea, North Korea, Colombia, Cuba, Kuwait, Georgia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Poland, Malaysia, Hungary, Mongolia, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Venezuela, Vietnam, Netherlands, India, Yugoslavia, and Greece. If you ask nicely, they might even give you up to 90 days instead of 30. Tourist visa on arrival can be extended by 15 more days. 3-month tourist visa on arrival are issued to Chinese tourists (including Hong Kong and Macau) as well. Muslims of the USA, UK, Canada, Somali, Bangladesh, Jordan, Afghanistan and Pakistan cannot obtain visa upon their arrival in airports, and they are required to have the visa stamped in their passport in advance. Instant visa is obtainable for tourists from the above-mentioned countries and it does not apply to those who hold official passports, businessmen or journalists. There is no restriction for foreign tourists to obtain a visa upon their arrival at Iranian airports several times within a year.
To get the visa on arrival, be sure to have a legitimate confirmed accommodation for at least a night in Iran, e.g. hostel or hotel. Write down the hostel name, the address, and the phone number as the visa officer will call your accommodation. Entry could be denied if you just write down a random hostel or hotel as they won't be able to confirm you to the visa officer. The visa generally costs €75 for most countries (Europeans and Thais). However, the visa cost differs from nation to nation, for example for Indonesians, it costs €45 and for Croatians €50. There is no need for passport photo, the visa is issued with a copy of the photo in your passport.
Insurance is mandatory and you will need to show proof of it to get the visa. Have a confirmation by your insurance ready that clearly states that it is still valid and that it covers Iran. If you don't have insurance, or if your insurance is rejected, you'll have to buy insurance there for around US$16 or €14.
Buy a Flight ticket to and from Iran
All international flights to Tehran land at the new Imam Khomeini International Airport http://ikia.airport.ir/ GPS 35.416111,51.152222 (IATA Code: IKA) based 37 km southwest of Tehran. Pilgrimage flights to Saudi Arabia still fly from Mehrabad airport. There are 70 smaller regional airports, for example those in Shiraz, Mashhad, and Isfahan, and these have daily flights to many international destinations.
Dubai has scheduled flights to many Iranian cities, including Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kerman, Lar, Mashhad, Tabriz, Kish Island, Bandar Abbas, Bushher, Zahedan, Kermanshah, Chah Bahar and is therefore worth considering travelling to Iran from. Flights are operated by Iran Air, Emirates (for Tehran), Iran Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and other Iranian companies. Fares are relatively affordable on Iranian carriers, ranging from US$100-250 for a return trip depending on your destination and time of booking.
Iran Air and Mahan Air connect Tehran with some of the major European cities as well as destinations in Asia and Middle East. European companies landing in Tehran include Lufthansa, KLM, Alitalia, Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot and Middle-Eastern airlines: Saudi Arabian Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad. There are also frequent flights to Armenia's capital of Yerevan. So finding a flight to Iran should not be hard.
Qatar airlines offers several flights to Iran and provides non-stop service to Doha from to many US cities.
Low-cost carriers (LCC) also operate flights to Tehran or other cities in Iran.
- Pegasus Airlines has flights to Tehran via Istanbul.
- Air Arabia has flights to Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz via Sharjah.
- Jazeera Airways has flights to Mashhad via Kuwait.
- Turkish Airlines has flights to Tehran, Kermanshah, Tabriz, Mashhad, Isfahan and Shiraz via Istanbul.
- Air Asia has flights to Tehran from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.
If you are not staying in Tehran and planning to get to any city other than Tehran upon your arrival, you would have to switch airports, from Imam Khomeini to Mehrabad, 40 km away, to get to your domestic flight. Allow at least 3-4 hr between the flights. If going to Mashhad, you may be able to avoid the plane change in Iran using Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways, Jazeera Airways, or Qatar Airways. If going to Shiraz, several flights from Persian Gulf States are available. For Tabriz, you can try travelling via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines or via Baku on IranAir.
Sanctions have prevented airlines from buying new planes and the fleets of all airlines are old. Among Iranian based airlines Iran Air, Mahan Air and Aseman Airlines have been completely safe with no serious incidents. Flying with other airlines is not recommended. The service and flying skill of Iranian pilots are fairly well known.
From Damascus in Syria there are charter flights to Tabriz, Tehran, Yazd, Isfahan, Mashhad. There are agencies in Seyyedeh-Zeinab district (a popular place with Iranian pilgrimages) that can sell you empty seats of these charter flights for less than US$100. Please refer to the article on Syria for information about safety and service disruptions.
Muslim Friendly Rail Holidays in Iran
A train runs once a week between Van and Tabriz. Eastbound this leaves Van Tuesday 21:00, with lengthy stops at the border, to reach Tabriz by 07:30 Wednesday. To connect with this service by rail from Istanbul you'll need to set off on Saturday. Take local transport to Pendik in the eastern suburbs and then the frequent fast YHT train to Ankara and stay overnight. From there, a train leaves around 11:00 Sunday (and Tuesday) taking 25 hours to reach Tatvan. An occasional ferry takes four hours to cross the lake to Van, or frequent dolmuses wind around by road; overnight in either Tatvan or Van. Then onward Tuesday night to Tabriz, thence Tehran. So reckon four days; and they wonder why people prefer to fly. The Ankara-Tehran through-service "Trans-Asia Express" remains suspended.
Westbound is similarly laborious. First get to Tabriz, from where the train for Van leaves around 23:30 Monday, to arrive by 07:00 Tuesday. As you do so, the onward train to Ankara is just departing from Tatvan on the other side of the lake. So either stay in the area for the Thursday departure (for Ankara by 08:00 Friday, you should reach Istanbul by evening) or lose patience and take a bus from Van.
All trains between Iran and Syria are suspended indefinitely. See also the article on Syria.
- The Mashad -Herat railway which is under construction is completed until the city of Khaf near the Afghanistan border. The affordable daily service from Tehran to Khaf is about US$5.
- The Khorramshar -Basra railway will connect Iranian railways to Iraq. There will be special train routes for Iranians going as pilgrims to Najaf and Karbala. There is another project that will be completed later going through Kermanshah to Khanaqin in Iraq.
- The Quetta-Zahedan line connects Pakistan and Iran by rail. A train leaves every 1st and 15th of each month from Quetta and the journey takes 11 hr and costs about €8. In opposite direction the train leaves every 3rd and 17th of each month from Zahedan.
There is no passenger service on the Bam-Zahedan link, so you have to take a bus or taxi.
- The Nakhchivan-Tabriz service connects Nakhchivan (city) with Tabriz and crosses from the Jolfa border. Train continues until Mashdad and goes trough Tehran. The route used to be a part of Tehran-Moscow railway line which is closed due to Azerbaijan-Armenia conflicts.
- There is a railway from Baku to the border city of Astara. From there you can walk through the border to Iran. The railway is going to be joined to Tehran via Rasht and Qazvin.
- There is a daily service between Mashad and Sarakhs border every day. The train does not go further because of the gauge changes. At the other side of the border there is train to Merv and Ashgabat.
- A railway from Gorgan has been built up to the Inche Borun border which will continue to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
Many people drive a car to Iran via Turkey.
This requires a Carnet de Passage unless you wish to pay import duty. A Carnet can be acquired from your local drivers association (such as the RAC in the UK). An international driver's license is highly recommend with translation into Persian very beneficial. Also there are some car rental agents in Iran like europecar, saadatrent and tappresia that you can book cars from their websites.
Travel on a Bus in Iran
From Armenia there are daily, modern buses from Yerevan to Tabriz and even further to Tehran. Tickets can be bought around Republic square in Yerevan, check Tigran Mets Street for signs in Persian. Tatev Travel on Nalbandyan also sells the tickets - 12,000AMD to Tabriz or 15,000AMD to Tehran.
The only Iran/Armenia land border at Nuduz/Agarak is poorly served by public transport. On the Armenian side you can get as far as Meghri by one marshrutka a day from Yerevan. In both directions the Marshrutka leaves quiet early in the morning. From Meghri it is around 8 km to the border and hitching or a taxi is the only option. On the Iranian side the closest public transport can be found around 50 km to the West in Jolfa, so a taxi for around US$10-15 is the again only commercial choice. Expect to be asked a lot for all taxi rides, so hard bargaining is essential. Make clear, or at least pretending that you have other choices may assist you to get fairer prices.
The border is not busy at all, so when hitching you have to mainly stick with the truck drivers and Russian or Persian helps a lot here. Consider for yourself whether this is a safe option.
You can find Seir-o-Safar agencies in Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara to buy affordable bus tickets for Tehran. A one-way ticket between Istanbul or Ankara and Tehran costs US$35.
- Dogubeyazit/Bazergan This Turkey/Iran border crossing is easily (and fast) done by public transport. Take a bus to Dogubeyazit and a frequent minibus (c. TRY5, 15 min) to the border. Cross the border stretch per pedes, take the customs taxi (give the driver some 1,000 rials bakschis) to the next village and take a taxi (US$3-4) to the bus terminal in Bazergan. There could also be buses to Bazergan, but the taxi drivers approaching you at the border are not the right people to ask for that. From there you can easily get buses to major tourist destinations in Iran. Check the security situation in the region, due to the unsolved PKK conflict. Make sure you get a clear idea about exchange rates if you want to change Turkish lira or rials as the official bank at the border does not exchange these currencies and you have to deal with the plentiful black market.
- There are also buses from Van to Urmia crossing from the Esendere-Sero border. The buses cost €13 and takes more than 6 hr to finish the 300-km route because of bad roads on the Turkish side and the many checkpoints on the Turkish side (more than 5) because of the Kurdish (PKK) insurrection.
- You can also take mini buses to the town of Yüksekova near the border and ask for taxis to bring you to the border. Cross the border check point on your own since the taxis won't cross into Iran.
You can also (depending on the political situation) enter from Pakistan via the border crossing between Taftan (on the Pakistani side) and Zahedan (on the Iranian side) as long as you have a valid visa for Iran. You can not get a visa on the border. Overnight buses leave from Quetta arriving in Taftan in the early morning, from there you can either hire a taxi to the border or walk a couple of kilometres. Once across the border (which can take some time on the Iranian side, you need to organise transport to Zahedan (the local town) where buses depart for destinations in Eastern Iran such as Bam, Kerman and Yazd. See the Istanbul to New Delhi over land 3.9 Iran-Pakistan border, for more details on the crossing.
There are daily buses from Arbil to Urmia, also there are daily buses from Sanandaj and Kermanshah to Sulaymaniyah. From Tehran, there are also buses to Sulaymaniyah and Arbil.
There are daily buses between Herat and Mashad. The buses go through Dogharoun border. The road has been built by Iran and is reported safe.
A bus service also runs between Ashgabat and Mashhad.
Book a Halal Cruise or Boat Tour in Iran
It is not possible to get a Visa on Arrival if arriving by boat. Therefore if you wish to enter Iran by this method you must get a visa in advance.
There are some scheduled services from Baku to Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea and from cities on the Persian Gulf to cities on the Iranian coast. They are usually of low quality.
High quality semi-luxurious ferry service is available between Kish Island and Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This service costs US$50, and the journey across one of the busiest stretches of water is sure to entertain. You should confirm what the Customs and Entry Visa process is like using this service however as the boats do not enter via the airport. While the entry/exit process at the airport is fairly well established, it is unknown if the process is as well managed when entering via the docks. It is likely to be more chaotic and visas may not be issued on the spot as is the case at the airport.
There are ferries from Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to Bandar Abbas.
From Qatar to Bushehr.
Ferries from Kuwait are operated by Valfajr Shipping Company. Rates depend on your exact journey, but as of March 2022, Bandar Abbas-Sharjah (UAE) was sold for 795,000 rials (about US$80). Boats run twice a week (Monday & Wednesday), departing Bandar Abbas around 20:00. Tickets can be bought from one of the agencies listed on the website. Expect to be the only non-Iranian on board. Plan loosely around the boat trip, as schedules are not strictly enforced.
How to get around in Iran
Iranian transport is of high quality, and is very affordable. There are few places the very affordable buses don't travel to, the train network is limited but comfortable and reasonably priced and travel by air is not expensive. The ticket prices are always fixed and you don't have benefits of early bookings.
However, train stations and bus terminals are often located on the outskirts of their cities. As an extreme example, Shiraz Station is located farther away from the city center than Shiraz International Airport. Since city transport is notably underdeveloped, the cost of an intercity trip could mostly consist of taxi fares.
Buy a Flight ticket to and from Iran
For anyone on a tight deadline, affordable domestic air services are a blessing. The major national carrier Iran Air, and its semi-private competitors such as Iran Aseman Airlines - Aseman meaning "sky" in Persian, Mahan Air and Kish Air link Tehran with most regional capitals and offer inter-regional flights for no more than US$60.
Their services are frequent, reliable and are definitely worth considering to skip the large distances within Iran. Planes are aging (although improved relations with Europe in recent decades has led to many orders and some deliveries of new planes), and maintenance and safety procedures are sometimes well below GCC standards, but it still remains the safest way to get around Iran, given the huge death toll on the roads.
Tupolev Tuesday - 154 and other Russian planes aren't used by some carriers and they change with MD82 or 83. However, the odds are you will board a Shah-era B727 or some more recent Fokker, ATR, Airbus A310 or even A320 if you're lucky. Busy domestic routes were sometimes flown by B747SP, and the extra boarding and run-up time are worth the thrill of flying in one of the last of these shortened Jumbos still operated in the world. Saha Air, another internal Iranian airline, was also the last operator of the Boeing 707 in scheduled commercial passenger service. However, time has caught up with these aging machines, and they are no longer in service. If you insist on flying, try getting some of the new planes leased from Russia, or the newer Airbus ones.
Tickets can be bought at airports or travel agents dotted through the most major cities. Book early during the summer months of August and September since finding seats at short notice is virtually impossible. It is possible to pay extra to get onto a booked flight by bribing someone or paying them to take their seat on the plane. Some flights will auction off the last few seats to the highest bidder. For westerners, the conversion makes it easy to outbid everyone.
You can also find domestic tickets in some Iran Air offices abroad, such as in Dubai. Expect to pay a little more due to the exchange rate applied. Domestic tickets for other companies must be bought inside Iran.
If you are from a "western" country, some agencies are reluctant to let you book a domestic flight.
Travel on a Bus in Iran
The Iranian domestic bus network is extensive and thanks to the low cost of fuel, very cheap. In fact the only drawback is speed: the government has limited buses to 80 km/h to combat lead-footed bus drivers so long haul trips such as Shiraz to Mashhad can take up to 20 hours.
There is little difference between the various bus companies, and most offer two classes: 'lux' or 'Mercedes' (2nd class) and 'super' or 'Volvo' (1st class). First class buses are air-conditioned and you will be provided with a small snack during your trip, while second class services are more frequent. Given the affordability of first class tickets (for example 70,000 rials from Esfehan to Shiraz), there's little financial incentive to choose the second class services, especially in summer.
Buses start (and usually end) their journeys at sprawling bus stations, called "terminal" (ترمینال) in Farsi. On important routes such as Tehran–Esfahan they don't stop along the route except at toll booths and rest areas. This probably shouldn't discourage you from leaving a bus before its destination because most travellers would take a taxi from the terminal anyway.
You can buy tickets from the bus terminals or ticket offices up to a week in advance, but you shouldn't have a problem finding a seat if you turn up to the terminal an hour or so before your intended departure time.
Most cities operate comprehensive local bus services, but given the low cost of taxis and the difficulties of reading Persian-language signs (which, unlike road signs, do not have English counterparts) and route numbers, they are of little use to the casual travellers. If you're cash strapped and brave enough to try, however, remember that the buses are segregated. Men enter via the front or rear door and hand their ticket to the driver before taking a seat in the front half of the bus. Women and children should hand their ticket to the driver via the front doors (without actually getting on) before entering via the rear door to take a seat at the back. Tickets, usually around 500 rials, are sold from booths near most bus stops. Private buses accept cash instead of tickets. There is also rechargeable credit ticket cards accepted in buses and metro stations (in Tehran, paper tickets are not accepted in buses).
Muslim Friendly Rail Holidays in Iran
Raja Passenger Trains is the passenger rail system. Travelling by train through Iran is generally more comfortable and faster than speed-limited buses. Sleeper berths in overnight trains are especially good value as they allow you to get a good night's sleep while saving on a night's accommodation.
The train network is comprised of three main trunks. The first stretches east to west across the north of the country linking the Turkish and Turkmenistan borders via Tabriz, Tehran and Mashhad. The second and third extend south of Tehran but split at Qom. One line connects to the Persian Gulf via Ahvaz and Arak, while the other traverses the country's centre linking Kashan, Yazd, Kerman and Bandar Abbas.
Departures along mainlines are frequent. 6 to 7 daily train services leave Tehran for Kerman and Yazd, with additional three bound for Yazd and Bandar Abbas. Mashhad and Tehran are linked by some ten direct overnight trains, not counting services to Karaj, Qom, Kashan, etc. Direct services between main lines are rare, if any. For example, Esfahan and Yazd are connected by one train running every second day.
There are high-speed trains from Tehran to Mashhad and Bandar Abbas called Pardis. Another high-speed line connecting Tehran, Imam Khomeini Airport, Qom and Esfahan is under construction as of 2022.
Tickets can be bought from train stations up to one month before the date of departure, and it is wise to book at least a couple of days in advance during the peak domestic holiday months. First class tickets cost roughly twice the comparable bus fare.
Known as a "ghatar" in Persian; trains are probably the cheapest, safest, most reliable and easiest way to travel around the country. As an added benefit; you'll get to meet the people, sample food and see other tourists. You also avoid all the checkpoints you will encounter driving on the road. Trains are frequently delayed so leave plenty of time between destinations.
By metro (subway)
Tehran has 5 metro lines. One of these is essentially a suburban line going to Karaj and beyond.
Mashhad has 1 underground line. It runs from Vakil Abad to Ghadir. Two further lines are to be added in the near future.
Shiraz has one metro line.
Isfahan has one metro line that connects Terminal-e Kaveh with northern parts of the city.
Best way to travel in Iran by a Taxi
Low fuel costs have made inter-city travel by taxi a great value option in Iran. When travelling between cities up to 250 km apart, you may be able to hire one of the shared savāri taxis that loiter around bus terminals and train stations. taxis are faster than buses and Taxis will only leave when four paying passengers have been found, so if you're in a hurry you can offer to pay for an extra seat.
Official shared local taxis or Savari, also ply the major roads of most cities. The taxis are generally yellow, and on busy routs there are green vans with a capacity of 11 passengers. They offer a lower fare for each passenger. They usually run straight lines between major squares and landmarks, and their set rates between 2,000-10,000 rials are dictated by the local governments.
Hailing one of these taxis is an art you'll soon master. Stand on the side of the road with traffic flowing in your intended direction and flag down a passing cab. It will slow down fractionally, giving you about one second to shout your destination--pick a major nearby landmark instead of the full address--through the open passenger window. If the driver is interested, he'll slow down enough for you to negotiate the details or simply accepts your route.
If you're in a hurry, you can rent the taxi privately. Just shout the destination followed by the phrase dar bast (literally 'closed door') and the driver will almost be sure to stop. Negotiate the price before departure, but since you are paying for all the empty seats expect to pay four times the normal shared taxi fare.
You can also rent these taxis by the hour to visit a number of sites, but you can expect to pay from 40,000-70,000 rials/hr, depending on your bargaining skills.
Most of the taxis have "taximeters" but only 'closed door' green taxis use it.
A large road network and low fuel costs (10,000 rials/L for Iranians in November 2022) have historically made Iran an attractive country for exploring with your own car. However a government fuel tax on foreigners entering Iran by private car has somewhat dimmed the allure.
Foreigners arriving in Iran with their own car must have a Carnet de passage and a valid international drivers' license. Petrol stations can be found on the outskirts of all cities and towns and in car-filled Iran, a mechanic is never far away.
Do not underestimate the sheer chaos of Iran's traffic. The often ignored road rules state that you must drive on the right unless overtaking and give way to traffic coming on to a roundabout. Drivers frequently top 160 km/h (100 mph) on intercity highways. Laws requiring car occupants to wear seat belts for rear passengers are not always complied with.
Motorcycles are sometimes seen transporting up to five people, without helmets.
Avoid large rocks in the middle of highway. These are often placed there in an attempt to burst your tires. Afterward, a passerby will offer to replace your tire for US$50. This is of course a scam that occurs mostly at nighttime but has diminished due to aggressive policing.
You can also rent a car, usually for US$20-50 a day. Insurance and legal liability may make you think twice about renting a car, especially considering the fact that renting a car with a driver usually costs the same.
People are not allowed to carry their pet even in their private car and will receive driving penalties if caught by the Police.
Iranian roads and major streets usually feature traffic enforcement cameras.
Local Language in Iran
See also: Persian phrasebook
Persian (called fārsi in Persian, فارسی), an Indo-European language, is Iran's national and official language. Although Persian is written with a modified Arabic alphabet, the two languages are not related; however, Persian does contain a very large number of Arabic loanwords (that may differ in meaning), many of which are part of basic Persian vocabulary (see section on "Iranian nationality" under "Respect" ).
Many young Iranians in major cities, and almost certainly those working at international travel agencies and high-end hotels will know conversational English, but for the tourist knowing basic Persian phrases will definitely be of use, particularly in rural areas.
Road signs are often double signed in English, but few other signs are. As an extra challenge, most Persian signage uses an ornate calligraphic script that bears little resemblance to its typed form. This can make comparing typed words in phrase books--such as 'bank' and 'hotel'--to signs on buildings quite difficult. However it is still worth memorising the Persian script for a few key words such as restaurant, guesthouse, and hotel (see relevant sections below for the script).
Being able to recognise Persian numerals is extremely helpful in situations where one needs to deal with directions (e.g. finding a bus at a bus station) and sums (e.g. understanding what is written on a restaurant bill). The numerals are:
Be aware that Kurdish and Azeri languages are also spoken in areas of large Kurdish and Azeri populations.
What to see in Iran
Na'in or '''Naeen''' or Naein is a small pre-Islamic city in central Iran with over 2000 years of history. It's a small pattern of an ancient desert town. The locals in Na’in still speak in ancient Zoroastrian dialect.
Tombs of some famous people
Squares and streets
Top Muslim Travel Tips for Iran
Desert trekking and desert excursions
Though the northern part of Iran is covered by dense rain forests called Shomal or the Jungles of Iran. The eastern parts consists mostly of desert basins such as the Dasht-e Kavir, Iran's largest desert, in the north-central portion of the country, and the Dasht-e Lut, in the east, and some salt lakes. There is also the Central desert which as can be understood from its name is located in the central regions. This is because the mountain ranges are too high for rain clouds to reach these regions.
There are a lot of activities that can be done in the desert areas including; desert tracking, camel riding, bicycle riding and 4x4 driving excursions.
In some parts of the deserts there are some camping sites available. The easiest budget-priced desert tours can be organised in Na'in and Kashan.
There are five ski pisted around Tehran. They are at Dizin, Darbandsar, Tochal and Shemshak.
The longest one is the Dizin piste, this is north of Tehran and reachable during winter by using either Chalous Road or Fasham Road.
The more professional slope is at Shemshak and that is the one used for national and international tournaments.
The ski pistes near Tehran are all normally accessible by road in around 1-2 hr.
Iran has coastline along the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. A popular place for its beaches is Kish Island in the Persian Gulf that men can enjoy it all the year & women are limited to use only covered beaches.
eHalal has one itinerary for a route that is entirely in Iran:
There are also several for routes that pass through the country:
Muslim Friendly Shopping in Iran
Money Matters & ATM's in Iran
The rial, denoted by the symbol "﷼" or "IR" (ISO code: IRR) is the currency of Iran. eHalal.io Travel Guides will use rials to denote the currency.
Coins, which are rarely if ever used, are issued in values of 50, 100, 250, 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 5,000 rials. Banknotes are produced in 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 denominations and banknotes called "Iran Cheques" are produced in 500,000 and 1,000,000 denominations.
Confusion with the currency is standard for a visitor, not just because of the large numbers but because of the shorthand routinely used. Prices of goods may be verbally communicated or written in toman (تومان) (sometimes denoted "T") instead of in rial. One toman is equal to ten rials. There are no toman notes - prices are quoted as such just as a shortcut. If it is not obvious, be sure to clarify in which currency the price is quoted.
ATMs and merchants in Iran generally do not accept foreign (non-Iranian) cards due to the sanctions, so bring all the money you might need in cash, preferably in US dollars or Euros.
Bills in good condition as well as large bills (US$100 or €100) tend to be preferred at currency exchange offices. Small denominations can be useful for small purchases before you get to an exchange office, although many exchange shops will not exchange small bills. On arrival at Tehran International Airport, the maximum amount that may be exchanged at night is to €50 per person.
The best places to exchange money are the private exchange offices (sarāfi) scattered around most large cities and major tourist centres. Their rates are usually 20% better than the official rate offered by the banks, they are far quicker and don't require any paperwork, and unlike their black market colleagues, they can be traced later on if something goes wrong. Exchange offices can be found in major cities, their opening times are usually Sunday to Thursday from 08:00 to 16:00. Most are closed on Fridays and on holidays. There is little point in risking the use of black market moneychangers who loiter outside of major banks and only offer marginally better rates than the banks.
The most widely-accepted currencies are US dollar ($) and euros (€). Other major currencies such as the British pound, Australian or Canadian dollars and Japanese yen are accepted at a lot of money changers. Non-major currencies usually cannot be exchanged. US$100 and large euro unfolded notes tend to attract the best exchange rate, and you may be quoted lower rates or turned down for any old or ripped notes or small denomination notes.
Travellers' cheques: Cashing travellers' cheques can be hit-or-miss and it is advised not to rely on travellers' cheques issued by American or European companies.
Prepaid debit cards can be bought at Iranian banks and serve as a good alternative to carrying a large wad of cash around the country. Make sure that the card you buy has ATM withdrawal privileges and be aware of the daily withdrawal limit. The ATM network in Iran is subject to outages so make sure that you withdraw the entire balance well before you leave the country.
Bank-e Melli-ye Iran (National Bank of Iran) which is a government-owned bank in Iran, provides an ATM debit card service (plastic magnetic card) for tourists who visit Iran. Tourists just need to head the nearest branch of this bank. Sepah Bank or Bank -e- Sepah is a governmental bank that has a current account service for Foreign Muslims which provides an ATM debit card and a cheque-writing option.Another way to prevent having your money stolen, is going to the nearest bank and getting a gift card (Kart-e Hadiyeh کارت هدیه). They are exactly like ordinary ATM debit cards, but once they get empty, they cannot be recharged. The two first ways are more recommended.
Large Iranian banks, like Bank-e Melli-ye Iran (BMI), Bank -e- Sepah, Bank Mellat, Bank-e Saaderaat-e Iran (BSI), Bank-e Paasaargad and Bank-e Saamaan (Saamaan Bank), and Beank-e Paarsiaan all have branches outside the country that can be found at their websites. You can open a bank account abroad before arrival. This might be possible even in some European countries. You can find the addresses of these banks' websites using famous search engines; then you need to click the link to the English section of their sites which is usually shown using the word English or the abbreviation En.
Bazaars and bargaining
While the shops offer a wide selection of quality goods, local items can be bought in the many bazaars. Purchases include hand-carved, inlaid woodwork, painted and molded copper, carpets, rugs, silks, leather goods, mats, tablecloths, gold, silver, glass, and ceramics. There are restrictions on which items may be taken out of the country and many countries restrict the amount of goods you can bring in due to sanctions.
Bargain ruthlessly when buying handcrafts, rugs or big ticket items and modestly when hailing private taxis. In most other aspects of life prices are fixed.
Tipping is generally not expected, but locals will generally round up the bill in taxis and add around 10% in restaurants. Porters and bellboys will expect 5,000 rials. A discreet gift of a few thousand tomāns may help grease the wheels of Iranian society and serve to thank an extraordinarily helpful local.
Due to an extremely volatile exchange rate and high inflation, the prices estimated by many guidebooks and travel agencies are outdated immediately.
If you are prepared to stay in the cheapest guesthouses, travel only by bus and eat only at fast food outlets or kabābi, you can get by in Iran on a minimum of around 500,000 rials per day. If you want to eat a decent restaurant meal every now and then and stay in mid-range accommodation, a more realistic budget is around 1,000,000 rials. If you want to eat and sleep in luxury and fly between major sights, you can easily spend 3,000,000 rials per day.
Halal Restaurants in Iran
Meal times in Iran vary considerably from those in Europe and the US. Lunch can be served from 12:00-15:00. and dinner is often eaten after 20:00. These and other social occasions in Iran are often long, drawn-out affairs conducted in a relatively relaxed tempo, often involving pastries, fruit and possibly nuts. As it is considered rude to refuse what is served, visitors should accept the items offered, even if they do not intend to consume them.
The good news for Muslim travellers is that Iranian cuisine is superb. A wide range of influences from Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, Europe and the Middle East have created a diverse, relatively healthy range of dishes that focus on fresh produce and aromatic herbs. The bad news, however, is that Iranians prefer to eat at home, rather than in restaurants, so decent eateries are scarce and stick to a repetitive selection of dishes (mainly kebabs). An invitation to an Iranian home for dinner will be a definite highlight of your stay. When visiting an Iranian household for the first time or on a special occasion it is customary for Iranians to bring a small gift. Flowers, sweets or pastries are popular gift choices.
Iranian cuisine is related to the cuisines of neighbouring Middle Eastern and South Asian countries but is in important ways highly distinctive.
Fragrant rice (برنج, berenj) is the staple of Iranian food. Boiled and then steamed, it is often coloured with saffron or flavoured with a variety of spices. When served plain as an accompaniment it is known as chelo (چلو). The two most common meat and chelo combinations are Halal kebab variations (chelo kabāb, چلو کباب) or rotisserie chicken (chelo morgh, چلو مرغ). Flavoured rice, known as polo, is often served as a main course or as an accompaniment to a meat dish. Examples include shirin polo flavoured with orange zest, young cherries and honey glazed carrots, the broad-bean and herb heavy bāghli polo and sabzi polo laced with parsley, dill and mint.
The rice and Halal kebab dish chelo kabāb (چلو کباب) and its half-dozen variations are the most common (and often the only) items on Iranian restaurant menus. A grilled skewer of meat is served on a bed of fluffy rice, and accompanied by an array of condiments. You can add butter, grilled tomatoes and a sour spice known as somāgh to your rice, while some Halal restaurants also provide a raw egg yolk. Raw onion and fresh basil are used to clear your palate between mouthfuls. Variations in kabāb dishes come from the meats they are served with. You will commonly see:
At home people most often eat rice with a thick stew (khoresht, خورشت) containing a modest amount of meat. There are dozens of khoresht variations such as the sweet and sour fessenjān made from ground walnuts and pomegranate syrup, most popular ghormeh-sabzi is based on fresh herbs, dried limes and kidney beans, gheimeh flavoured with split-peas and often garnished with French fries.
Hearty Iranian soups (āsh, آش) are meals in themselves. The most popular is the vegetarian āsh reshteh (آش رشته) made from herbs, chickpeas and thick noodles, and garnished with kashk (which looks like yoghurt but is another thing) and fried onions.
Flat bread (nān, نان) is another pillar of Iranian food. It is served at breakfast with herbs, feta cheese and a variety of jams, or as an accompaniment to meals. Sangak (سنگك) is a dimpled variety cooked on a pebbled oven while lavāsh (لواش) is a thin and bland staple .
There are several good international restaurants which offer Chinese, Japanese, Italian and French food as well as vegetarian menus in Tehran and other major cities.
Fast food and snacks
Most food outlets in Iran are either kabābis or fast food outlets serving a standard fare of burgers, sandwiches, felafels or pizza (پیتزا). A burger and a soft drink at a snack shop will fill you up at lunchtime for around 40,000 rials, while pizzas start at 50,000 rials.
Many teahouses (see Drink below) also serve traditional snacks and light meals. The most common of these is ābgusht (آبگوشت) a hot pot made from lamb, chickpeas and dried limes that is also known as dizi, also the name of the dish in which its served. You will be given a bowl (the dizi) containing the ābgusht and another, smaller one. Drain the broth into the smaller bowl and eat it like a soup with the bread provided. Then pound the remaining meat and vegetables into a paste with the pestle provided and eat with even more bread, pieces raw onion and wads of fresh herbs.
Sweets and desserts
The never-ending demand for dentists in Iran lies testament to the country's obsession with sweets and pastries, known collectively as shirini (شیرینی).
Iranian baghlava tends to be harder and more crystalline than its Turkish equivalent while the pistachio noughat called gaz (گز) is an Isfahan speciality. Sohan is a rich pistachio brittle popular in Qom, and freshly-baked pastries are often taken as gifts to people's houses. Lavāshak fruit leathers are delicious fruit leathers made from dried plums.
Honey-saffron and pistachio are just two local flavours of ice cream, while fāloodeh (فالوده) is a deliciously refreshing sorbet made from rosewater and vermicelli Noodles made from starch, served with lashings of lemon juice.
It's a safe bet that most food in Iran is Halal (حلال, ḥalāl, halaal) and will conform with Islamic dietary laws as specified in the Qur'an, the exceptions being some shops in districts with large Christian communities. However, those seeking a strict kosher diet may have to concentrate their efforts in the districts with higher numbers of Yahudi inhabitants. If in Tehran look in areas such as older parts in the south of the city, like Udlajan or the Yusef Abad neighbourhood. Black Tea (chāi, چای) is the national drink of Iran. It is served strong and with crystallised or cubed sugar (ghand, قند) which is held artfully between the teeth while tea is sipped through. You can try asking for milk in your tea, but expect nothing but strange looks or a big delay in return. Tea houses (chāi khāneh, چای خانه) are a favourite local haunt for men (and less commonly families) to drink tea and puff away on a water pipe.
Coffee (ghahveh, قهوه) is not as popular as tea. Where available, it is served Turkish style, French coffee or espresso. Imported instant coffee (nescāfe, نسكافه) and instant Cappuccino are available also. Coffee shops (called "coffeeshop" in Persian, versus "ghaveh-khane" (literally, coffee house) which instead means a tea house) are more popular in affluent and young areas.
Fruit juices (āb miveh, آب ميوه) are available from shops and street vendors. Also available are cherry cordial (sharbat ālbāloo, شربت آلبالو) and banana milkshakes (shir moz, شير موز).
Soft drinks are widely available. International products such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and their brand names including 7Up, Sprite and Fanta have sold alongside local brands such as Zam Zam Cola ( زم زم كولا , Zam Zam Kola). The local cola has a taste not unlike "Coca-Cola Original" or "Pepsi Original". Coca-Cola and PepsiCo's concentrates entered Iran via Irish subsidiaries and circumvented the US trade embargoes. Zam Zam was launched in 1954 as a subsidiary of the Pepsi Cola company. As an intriguing outcome of the Iranian cola wars the real coke was generally sold in plastic bottles and the non-genuine coke, using a substitute syrup devised to overcome earlier Clinton-era U.S. embargoes, was distributed in the real thing bottles that the then syrup-less bottler was left stuck with at the time.
Doogh (دوغ) is a sour drink made from yoghurt, salt, and water (sometimes gaseous) and sometimes flavoured with mint or other plants. It takes some getting used to, but will rehydrate you quickly in the heat of Iran's summer. It is the same as Turkish Ayran. It can be purchased at almost any establishment and is often consumed in the afternoon while eating kababs. It comes in two main varieties fizzy (gaz-daar) and non-fizzy (bigaz).
Muslim Friendly Hotels in Iran
Accommodations in Iran range from luxurious, if a little weary, five star hotels (هتل) in major cities to the small, affordable mosāferkhaneh (مسافرخانه) and mehmānpazir (مهماﻧپذیر) guesthouses that are littered about most centres. Moreover, staff in mosāferkhuneh often are so happy to provide room for non-Iranians, as these facilities have a recommendation from local governments to serve all tourists. For longer stays, villas with all facilities (including central air conditioning, pool and Internet connection) can be rented in Tehran and all other major cities at reasonable prices.
Also, you can find traditional hotels in central Iran including Isfahan, Shiraz and in particular Yazd.
Study as a Muslim in Iran
Iran has a large network of private, public, and state affiliated universities. State-run universities of Iran are under the direct supervision of Iran's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (for non-medical universities) and Ministry of Health and Medical Education (for medical schools).
How to work legally in Iran
Foreigners with special expertise and skills have little difficulty in obtaining permits. Work permits are issued, extended or renewed for a period of one year. In special cases, temporary work permits valid for a maximum period of three months may be issued. An exit permit must be obtained for a stay longer than three months.
The maximum working week is 44 hours, with no more than eight hours any single day unless overtime compensation is provided. Overtime could not exceed four hours per day. Friday is the weekly day of rest. Overtime is payable at 40 per cent above the normal hourly wage. There are allowances for shift work equivalent to 10, 15 or 22.5 per cent of a worker's wage, depending on working shift (e.g. evening, morning and night)
Workers are entitled to public holidays and a paid annual one-month leave. For workers with less than a year of employment, annual leaves are calculated in proportion to the actual length of service. Furthermore, every worker is entitled to take one full month of paid leave or one month of unpaid leave (if no leave is available) once during his or her working life in order to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The employment of workers less than 15 years of age is not allowed. Young workers between 15 and 18 years of age must undergo a medical examination by the Social Security Organisation prior to commencing employment. Women are entitled to a 9-month maternity leave.
There is a minimum national wage applicable to each sector of activity fixed by the Supreme Labour Council. Workers and employers have the right to establish guild societies. Collective bargaining is allowed. Membership in the social security system for all employees is compulsory.
To have a valid contract concluded under the law, the following provisions must be included:
Stay safe as a Muslim in Iran
Iran is still a relatively low-crime country, although thefts and muggings have been on the increase in recent years. Keep your wits about you, and take the usual precautions against pickpockets in crowded bazaars and buses.
Due to US sanctions, using international credit or debit cards in Iran is not possible, but you can buy from Iranian banks prepaid no-name gift cards to withdraw money from more than 11,000 ATMs around Iran for free. Purchasing gift cards has no extra charge or service fee and you can withdraw or spend all the money you put on your gift card. Some of the gift cards have no ATM withdrawal feature and are only for use at point-of-sale in shops and stores, so make sure you an ATM enabled gift cards before purchasing it from a bank. There is a 2,000,000 rials daily withdrawal limit for most of the Iranian bank cards, so purchasing several card lets you withdraw more money from ATMs per day. Gift cards usually are non-reloadable. Some are pre-loaded with a designated amount but some banks let you load them for your desired amount when you purchase. As they are anonymous, there is almost no way to report a stolen card and get a duplicate. Always keep passwords and cards in a safe place. Having a couple of used empty cards with passwords written on them may help you in case of being mugged for money! There is no cash-back feature in Iranian POSs but in case of an emergency and having no access to ATMs you may ask a shop owner with POS to give you cash-back. They may charge you for bank service fee (1% - 5%). Withdraw your leftover money in cards a few days before leaving Iran to avoid any problem which may be caused by a very rare network failure. It is common that ATMs do not work for an hour between 00:00 and 01:00 due to a database update. When using an ATM be alert. Better to use it in not very quiet areas.
Other safety issues
In particular, the tourist centre of Isfahan has had problems with muggings of foreigners in unlicensed taxis, and fake police making random checks of tourists' passports. Only use official taxis, and never allow 'officials' to make impromptu searches of your belongings.
Iranian traffic is congested and chaotic. Guidelines are lax and rarely followed. Pedestrians are advised to exercise caution when crossing the roads, and even greater care when driving on them - Iranian drivers tend to overtake along pavements and any section of the road where there is space. In general, it is not recommended for inexperienced foreigners to drive in Iran. Watch out for joobs (جوب), the open storm water drains that shoulder every road and are easy to miss when walking in the dark.
Travellers should avoid the southeastern area of Iran, particularly the province of Sistan va Baluchistan. The drug trade thrives based on smuggling heroin from Afghanistan. There is plenty of associated robbery, kidnapping and murder. Some cities, such as Zahedan, Zabol and Mirjaveh are particularly dangerous, although not every place in this region is dangerous. Chahbahar, which is close to the Pakistani border, is a very calm and friendly city.
Iranian perceptions of outsiders
Even though travellers may arrive with the image of a throng chanting "Death to America", the chances of Westerners facing anti-Western sentiment as a traveller are slim. Even hardline Iranians make a clear distinction between the Western governments they distrust and individual travellers who visit their country. Americans may receive the odd jibe about their government's policies, but usually nothing more serious than that. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution and avoid politically-oriented conversations, particularly in taxi cabs. In addition, a few Iranian-Americans have been detained and accused of espionage, as were three American hikers in 2009 who strayed across into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan. These kind of incidents are rare, but still the broader implications are worth considering and bearing in mind.
There are a lot of military and other sensitive facilities in Iran. Photography near military and other government installations is strictly prohibited.Any transgression may result in detention and serious criminal charges, including espionage, which can carry the death penalty. Do not photograph any military object, jails, harbours, or telecommunication devices, airports or other objects and facilities which you suspect are military in nature. Be aware that this rule is taken very seriously in Iran.
Female travellers should not encounter any major problems when visiting Iran, but will undoubtedly be the subject of at least some unwanted attention but they should obey local laws. Contrary to popular belief, Iranian women typically differ little from those in the West, although differences may be more prominent in highly religious families. In Tehran and several bigger cities Western clothing and formality is accepted but wearing a hijab may be required in most of rural areas. Women by law must wear a headscarf in public.
Although Iran has very tough legislation against homosexuals, the country is friendly to transgender people and those who are going to change their gender. Iran is the 2nd country in the world by transgender population and medical services are widely available. Also, after official gender changing process you can grant affordable loans for the business or any other purposes, which can be helpful for socialization.
Emergency services are extensive in Iran, and response times are very good compared to other local regions.
Other Emergency Services are also available.
Earthquakes may occur in much of the country.
Medical Issues in Iran
Iran has state-of-the-art medical facilities in all its major cities.
Apart from being up to date with your usual travel vaccinations (tetanus, polio, etc.) no special preparation is needed for travel to Iran. For minor ailments, your hotel can contact an English-speaking doctor. In case of serious illness or accident, you can ask to be taken to a hospital with English-speaking staff (such as Milad Hospital, Atiyeh Hospital, Mehrad Hospital, Day Hospital or Khatam ol-Anbia Hospital in Tehran). Make sure that your health insurance covers illness or accident on holidays since free medical service is not available in Iran.
Tap water is safe to drink in most of the country (and especially the cities), although you may find the chalkiness and taste off-putting in some areas (mainly Qom, Yazd, Hormozgan and Boushehr provinces). Bottled mineral water (āb ma'dani) is widely available. Also, on many streets and sites, public water fridges are installed to provide drinking water.
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