Why the “dangerous” Iran?
When I told my mum I was going to Iran, she thought I was losing it. She repeatedly tried to convince me to forget about it. I lied, admitting she was right and that I would choose somewhere else to travel to. Instead, I was more convinced. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been told stuff like:
Iran? They are bombing people around there.
I think there are many countries to travel to, why would you choose this one?
You are crazy. Please, make sure you come back
Well, I want to join your trips but definetely not to Iran.
You can’t go there without a man…and you have to cover your hair, you know that? No way.
That’s how much you appreciate your life?
Well, if something happens I don’t want to know about it. It was your choice.
And I could continue. All I heard was negative opinions and comments, mainly with ignorant thoughts about such country. I knew people had no idea what Iran is and what is really going on in the country. I like challenging myself and be adventurous, but I am not that naive to choose a place where I can risk my life. Something inside me was sure about that.
My answer to all of these comments?
Well, I want to see how bad it is by myself.
I have to admit that a few days before the trip I was freaking out. Mainly, because all these negative talking ended up affecting me somehow. But I was mainly EXCITED for the new adventure!
So how do I plan a trip to Iran?
Most of my trips are just spontaneous without much prior research. However, it was a very unique trip for me and I wanted to know as much as possible about Persian culture and the country. I tried to find blogs with personal experiences to have an idea of what I was going to encounter.
A very good idea was, indeed, finding locals on Couchsurfing. It’s my priority for every trip and I had got the most precise information and traveling tips directly from Iranian people.
Once I had that, I planned my two weeks trip having in mind I was going to change it once started. My advice? Try to be flexible and don’t get stick too much to your itinerary. Trust me. Because you will have many suggested plans once in Iran.
This is a possible 2 weeks plan around Iran, getting to see most of the important main cities. The plan was thought to be done by road -mainly by bus due to the excellent quality-price that offer-.
However, my plans changed quiet a lot once in Iran. I never made it to neither Yazd nor Kashan. Personally, these cities were kind of similar to Isfahan and Shiraz. I wanted to see something way different and I headed to the warm Kish island instead. Some beach time please!
Getting to Iran
One of the reasons most of the people skip this country -a part from thinking it’s unsafe- is because of the pricy flights. Yes, from Europe or America it can be an expensive journey. However, there are a few cheaper ways to get there.
My choice was the Turkish low-cost Pegasus Airlines. It offers direct flight Istanbul-Tehran for very reasonable prices. If you don’t mind switching flights, find a flight to Turkey (you can even spend a couple of days in Istanbul) and then fly out to Tehran. Flights Europe – Turkey are way cheaper. Try to arrange it two months before, and you can get a great deal. My flights were Antalya-Istanbul-Tehran, and the same for the way back. I booked two months before my trip. I paid only 150€!
You can, as well, get there by land. Have in mind that Iran is a very big country and you need time to get from one place to another. However, transportation is insanely cheap and you could easily get there from Turkey as well.
Are two weeks enough?
Well, it’s never enough, right? Two weeks it’s all I had, but I could see quite enough to enjoy, rest and have the best time. You can stay two weeks in Tehran and still not see it all. Iranian cities are way bigger than I expected, and even though it’s a strict country when it comes to have fun, you have plenty of things to do.
Regarding to Isfahan and Shiraz, I consider them a must when visiting Iran for the first time. They both offer amazing historical sites and architecture that are primordial in the Persian history. I was planning to stay 3 days in each one, considering I’ll need time to check all the must-sees. Luckily for me, I had the chance to meet lovely Iranians that drove me all around and were my guides for a day. This helped me so much to see as much as possible in two days for each city, so I had more time for the modern Kish island.
What to have in mind
- Taroof: Have in mind that taroof is something very common in the Persian culture. It means that they will always offer you things, specially for free, but it’s just in a polite way. It’s kind of a “no, thanks” denying because they are just trying to be nice with you. If a taxi driver tells you to not pay, he obviously expects you to do so (and that happens pretty often), it’s just taroof.
- Toilettes: The struggle is real. Be ready to asian/arab toilets and no toilet paper. Even though you find public restrooms almost everywhere, some can be unpleasant.
- Traffic: I feel like I spent half of my time in the country inside a bus/car getting from one place to another. Keep calm. Petrol is so cheap that no one really uses public transport and people just drives around all day long, even as a way to “hang out”. Just try to have some chit-chatting with taxi drivers or Iranian friends/locals you share the taxi/bus with.
- Private parties: Be ready to be invited to several events, meet-ups and private home parties. This is the funnest part of Iran. Even though you may think it’s all forbidden, Iranian do know how to have fun and they will make sure you have best time.
- Farsi: It is, indeed, a difficult language. Obviously, for a short period of holidays you won’t learn it. However, I always try to get to know some basic and useful words, specially in countries that English isn’t that well known by locals. I was surprised by how many people did speak English pretty well, however I prepared this “Farsi to survive” document that really helped me to make myself more understandable and share some laughs with locals.
I loved every single thing about Iran. I am so proud I ignored peoples’ opinion and followed my desire of getting to know such country. All I have to say about Iran is positive. If I am honest, I enjoyed so much, more than what I expected.
Iran is a country that has so much to offer. Give it a try! If you are really considering it, don’t hesitate to message me any time. I will be glad to give you my advice and encourage you to check this beautiful country out of your bucket list!
Keep an eye on my blog for my next post! I’m sure you are going to like what’s coming next