Useful Information about Iran
Use of Credit Cards in IRAN
There is still No Credit Card System in Iran .
You cannot make any use of your credit cards (visa, master card, American express etc…) here. The ONLY way to pay for things is by CASH.
Enter Iran with Dollars and Euros that you can exchange at exchange shops called “Sarrafi”.
Once you have exchanged your cash, you can go to a bank and turn it into Iranian traveler's checks.
Make sure you have your passport to show to the bank clerk .
The exchange rate in Iran goes anywhere from 1$ for 9000 Rials to 10000 Rials.
The formal currency is RIALS, the number that you read on all bills.
However, Iranians function with TOMANS.
Subtract one zero from the number of Rials and you will gain the equivalent in Tomans.
Example: 1000 Rials = 100 Tomans
500 Rials = 50 Tomans
If you are a man and a woman traveling together and want to stay at a hotel or a hostel, you must say that you are husband and wife in order to be able to get a room together.
In Iran, that is a rigid Islamic rule that must be observed by hotel and hostel owners.
At every reception, you will be asked whether you are married or not before they give you a common room.
The prices for rooms are much more expensive for foreigners than for Iranians.
You can expect to pay around $120 for a room at a grand hotel (Hyatt) down to $ 40 at less expensive hotels.
Fortunately, there are also a number of hostels and Guesthouses (called mehmaan khaaneh or caravan Sara) to stay at.
The prices range anywhere from $40 a night to $7 at the cheapest.
Please click here to find out the list of cities (hostels &hotels).
Staying with the locals
You will notice that most Iranians are very hospitable and will offer you to stay at their homes.
However, it is illegal by law for them to host foreign travelers at their homes unless they have informed the authorities about it, who will in turn have the travelers go through a procedure of inquisition to make sure that they are not spies of any sort.
Ironically, most locals are not aware of this law and are unlikely to ever contact the authorities about your stay.
Nonetheless, if you are invited by a local and they end up calling the authorities to let them
know about your stay, don't think that they are plotting against you.
They are simply following the rules and regulations of the system.
If you are invited to someone's home, you will most likely be offered to have tea and food with them.
It is considered impolite to refuse their offer for tea or food, as it is an act of love and friendship to the locals.
When entering their homes, ask whether you should take off your shoes at the door or not.
Saying Hello and Goodbye is most commonly done by shaking hands whereas hugging is unfamiliar to Iranians.
If you are a man, do not try to shake hands with a local woman unless she initiates it.
Iran is mainly a meat eating country.
However, while traveling you can stop at many restaurants on your way and manage to get a hold of a few vegetarian dishes.
For example, you can always get rice everywhere, as well as yogurt that is most commonly eaten along with rice in Iran .
You can also ask for a mix salad, an eggplant dish, like baba ganoush (called kashkeh baademjoon), eggs and olives (zeytoon parvardeh).
You can also find many stores that sell delicious nuts and dried fruits as well as fruit and vegetable shops everywhere.
Traditional meals include meat/chicken kebab with rice, meat stew (called Dizzi), and various other meat/vegetable stews.
The most traditional drink in Iran is “Doogh”, which is a sour yogurt drink, which resembles the Indian Lassi.
In Tehran , there are many restaurants and many options for food.
You can find vegetarian restaurants, Lebanese fast foods and other non-meat options.
All women must observe the Islamic “Hejaab”, which consists of a headscarf and a vest or a shirt with long sleeves, that covers the body all the way to the knees.
Under this vest or shirt, they must of course wear a pair of pants.
The better women observe the Hejaab, the less they will get unwanted attention from local men.
All men must wear long pants, as shorts are not permitted.
Other rules and regulations
Couples (boy friend/girl friend or married) CANNOT kiss in public.
Hugging in public is also not suggested.
Iranian women may be unlikely to shake hands with men and Iranian men will rarely shake hands with women either.
If you ever encounter a religious person of the opposite sex who is unwilling to look in your eyes as they speak with you, understand that it is a matter of religious boundaries to them and not an offense or a disrespectful act towards you.
It is advised that you carry your passport along with you as you walk in the streets in case the authorities stop you for questioning.
Phone and Internet Use
The international code of Iran is 98.
The code for Tehran is 021.
If you are contacting someone's cell phone, you must first dial 0912.
Useful numbers :
There are many Internet Coffee shops in Tehran and other cities.
They are usually labeled as “Coffee Net”
The cost of one hour of internet use is about 1000 Tomans ($1)
The most common connecting system in Iran is Dial up, so the system is fairly slow.
DSL has come around for the past two years, but isn't widespread yet.
At most Coffee Nets, you can also make international phone calls for about 40 U.S cents a minute.
Inland flights are quiet cheap in Iran .
For example you can fly from Tehran to Esfahan for only $30.
Railways cover 90% of the country and traveling by train is also very cheap.
Again, you can take the train from Tehran to Esfahan for only $5.
Buses are also available for traveling from city to city and are slightly more expensive than trains, although still fairly inexpensive.
Within the city of Tehran , you can get around by shared taxis or the metro.
A metro ticket costs only 10 U.S cents and can get you around Tehran quiet quickly.
We don't advise to travel by bus within Tehran as you may spend a lot of time waiting.
Shared Taxis are a common and popular way for getting around the city.
They are regular cars that stop for people on the side of the streets and load up to 4 people.
They have specific rates according to their destination, going from 20 U.S cents to 50 U.S cents.
If you are asked by any driver to pay in dollars or to get in their cars for a private ride, refuse by all means.
Chances are, they are trying to take advantage of you because you are a foreigner and do not know the rules.
Simply pay your regular fare and get off.
Hitch hiking is not recommended in Iran .
It is not a common tradition for locals to pick up people on the sides of the roads, although it may happen in rare occasions.
If you are a woman traveler standing on the side of a road, waiting for a lift, you may be taken for a prostitute by local drivers.
For security reasons, we strongly discourage women to try to hitch hike in Iran .