How to plan a great trip to Iran
Iran is at the top list of tourist destinations every year but many travelers don't have enough information about trips to Iran and still don't know how to plan the perfect trip to Iran. Although Iran is an old tourist destination but is a new vacation spot, travelers still don't feel prepared and have different questions. This causes some to prefer to book tailored-made tour programs, even though more and more tourists are already starting to venture independently trip. An organized tour is much easier and better than an independent tour. Although we pay more, the result would be more valuable.
1. Nowruz the worst time
It is a fully crowded time all over Iran thus never select this time ( March 21- Apr 3). It is a holiday that all trips are based on, and everyone is trying to arrange a trip and have the best national holiday of the year. This will cause to book all hotels and domestic transportations primary and all the urban trains/flights and buses are sold out at higher prices and you will hardly find any seats. Some cities (Tehran, first and foremost) almost are empty and closed shops and, finally, soaring prices for hotels and sometimes restaurants. If you are serious about such time, be sure to contact a tour operator
2. The best time to visit Iran
Iran is a four seasons country with spectacular views for each season. After the Nowruz holidays ( March 21- Apr 3), is the best time that you can enjoy pleasant weather, colorful flowers, and a calm situation because everything is back to normal and will guarantee a perfect trip. The seasons have their own specification.
Summer is very hot overall, especially in central Iran but it is moderate in the mountainous and west of Iran.
Autumn is mild in central Iran and dreamy at Hyrcanian Forest and Alborz and Zagros forest.
Winter is ideal for the south of Iran (Persian Gulf Islands) and if you are a ski lover the untouched ski slopes of Iran are calling you.
3. Prior planning
Since there are different flight services companies to Iran, searching on travel sites and Google search engines will definitely help you save money. Many airlines serve Iranian international airports. There are also Iranian airlines, like IranAir and the very good Mahan Air.
4. Visa requirements
Currently, citizens of more than 40 countries can travel to Iran without a visa. They can apply for a fifteen-day V.O.A tourist visa (visa upon arrival). These offices are available in the visa section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs situated in Iran’s Imam Khomeini, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, and Isfahan Airports. But just to make sure you don't have any nasty surprises, contact the Iranian embassy to check their visa requirements. Currently, visa formalities are very simple and fast. The Iran visa process is currently 72 hours.
5. Getting a guide
There are a lot of websites about the main Iranian tourist cities and they can help you well. They are safe and comfortable, even for women traveling alone. If you don't speak a word of Persian, the guide will be useful, especially if you are going to go to less popular provinces like Khuzestan or the eastern provinces. Iran is a very diverse and complicated country with different nations and dialects thus the insight and experience of local guides is the best guide at the detour roads and places.
6. Hotel reservation
Although there are online hotel reservations at some hotels 5-star hotels, it is very limited in smaller towns and lower hotels. The hotel booking via tour operators will guarantee your lowest price and safe reservation. Thus, booking a hotel through travel agencies will get you a reasonable discount, and a safe reservation. On hotel booking sites like Booking or TripAdvisor, you can only find a few options, while using Iranian tour operators have more and better options. If you are going to apply for a VOA visa, you need a confirmed hotel reservation, while you are on an organized tour the operator will have made the invitation letter prior.
7. What to pack for a trip to Iran
There are different and big Malls and supermarkets that have all brands of products. Thus don't worry if you forget to pack something, there is nothing to worry about. you can find pretty much everything for a low price. Just, remember to pack a scarf in your hand luggage as you will need to wear it when exiting the plane. If you are taking medication, you must bring it with you.
8. Use local transport
Public transportation in Iran is very affordable for independent travelers. Urban Taxis and public buses are quite cheap while Tehran's subway system is vast and cheap, you can get reach most of the sights in Tehran and when there is traffic it also takes much less time. The fastest way to travel to different parts of Iran is by plane, Iranian airlines like IranAir and Mahan Air cover many routes. Also, extensive and regular bus and train services are among the best facilities to visit Iran.
9- Iranian money: Tomans against Rials
Iran's local currency is the rial, you will hardly hear it. Why? Because the Iranians speak by Toman. 1 Toman equals 10 rials, so far quite simple. Problems start to arise when you actually have to use the money. Due to the enormous volatility of the Iranian currency, you will have to deal with “millions” which will confuse matters.
Regardless of the amount of Toman, you need to add a zero and these will be the rials you need to give.
So, for example, if you pay for a meal of around 80,000 tomans (around 3 euros), you have to give 800,000 rials.
10. Currency exchange in Iran
Iran's local currency is the rial and the exchange rate varies a lot. No credit cards are accepted in Iran. On a rule of thumb, you calculate how much money you need for such as hotels, food, transportation, and entrance fees for major Iranian tourist attractions, and then some more in case of emergency or personal shopping. You can change the amount of money on arrival or can also get what's called a "tourist bank card". It is useable as an ATM or credit card all over Iran to avoid carrying too much money. You can refer to the Bank Melli branch of Tehran Imam Khomeini airport on arrival. It's open 24/7 and they'll give you a better explanation of how it works and if it's already up and running(also your travel agent can inform you well). An alternative is to purchase the Mah Card, a prepaid travel debit card for use in Iran.
11. Iranian SIM card
During your travel, you may be in contact with relatives and friends. However, on your roaming SIM card, you will have extra charges, which could regularly increase your costs. That is why we advocate which you get an Iranian SIM card. As a tourist, you may put together a SIM card registered together along with your passport, it is worth spending your time. There are numerous SIM card carriers in Iran, however, the fine ones are Irancell and Hamrah e Aval.
In Iran, a few social networks and websites are filtered. If you want to use them you need a VPN (Virtual Private Network). There are many VPNs in Iran's social media market, a few are cheap, a few are even free. Your local tour guide helps you well.
13. Join the social pages
The social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Trip Adviser are excellent useful resources in case you want any tips from locals on how to plot a super experience to Iran. In those groups, you could ask Iranians and foreigners who've already traveled to Iran. They inform you and provide practical and experimental solutions. They have useful records approximately visa inquiries, quality restaurants, accommodations, and something you could assume of.