When you like undiscovered countries and exploring other cultures, you definitely need to visit Iran once in your life. I (Anouk) visited Iran for 10 days with family. When my father in law told us he wanted to go there with the whole family, my first reaction was that I wouldn’t join. Two days later I changed my mind and we decided to visit Iran. It was an exciting idea to visit a total different country. At the same time I was a bit nervous. Now back in the Netherlands, I can only advise you to go there and to visit one of the most hospitable countries and families I’ve ever met in my life.
How to travel
It’s possible to visit Iran and travel by public transport with a backpack. We decided to contact a local driver, Mohsen and he drove us around. We were extremely lucky because besides being our driver, Mohsen told us a lot about the history of the country and about the places we were planning to visit. He took care of us and showed us some beautiful places. He joined us more than once for dinner and tried to give us a bit of an insight in the culture. I can only recommend you to get in contact with Mohsen as well, he will not disappoint you!
Iranian people are really hospitable. Almost everybody is interested in why you visit Iran and they want to practise their English. We were invited a couple of times for lunch or dinner at home with an Iranian family. Once we accepted the invitation and our driver joined us. It was just so amazing and an honour to be there and learn more about the culture. The Iranian culture is totally different than the Dutch or any other European culture. It is important to read about it before visiting Iran so you can prepare for your departure and stay.
You definitely need to take into account that you need to dress in a different way than you are used to. Woman do need to wear a headscarf and are required to cover everything but their face, hands and feet. During my stay I did wear leggings and jeans with longer blouses, dresses and shirts which came to my knees/at least covered my ass. Most of the time I did wear my flipflops or sneakers.
When visiting a holy shrine or in some mosques, women do need to wear a chador. In most places you can borrow one when you ask at the entrance. In this case, most of the times you will be accompanied by a guide as well while entering the holy shrine.
For men it’s slightly easier. They can wear short-sleeved shirts and t-shirts during the day. Shorts are only allowed on the beach.
Before I started our trip, I was quite impressed about the dress code but believe me, you will get used to it very fast. As a woman you need to wear your headscarf as soon as the plane arrives. It feels a bit weird but after a while you are used to it and in some way it’s fun to combine the scarfs with your clothes. When I entered the plane to get back home, it felt really strange to take off the scarf.
Of course, you can request your visa already before you visit Iran. It’s also possible to arrange this at the airport upon arrival. This is how we arranged the visa ourselves as well. Have a look on the internet because over here you will find the visa application form to fill in and prepare for the request. Furthermore, you need to take photos of yourself. For any questions and to make sure you do the right thing, contact the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in for example The Hague.
It’s impossible to use your credit or debit cards in Iran. For this reason, you do need to bring cash in for example US dollar for the duration of your stay to exchange upon arrival. You can found the exchange shops all over Iran so that’s not a problem.
Have you ever been to Iran? Tell us your great story! Do you want to go there? Stay connected! Next week, we will tell you more about our traveling route!