The Iranians are wonderful, hospitable and polite people. But they live by completely unaccustomed to us rules and laws. Many of these eastern laws should be obeyed not only by local residents but also by guests of the country. We hope that our article will help you to prepare for your journey to Iran and avoid a lot of embarrassing situations and misunderstandings. So, what should a tourist planning a trip to Iran know?
One of the main rules that should be taken into consideration when traveling to Iran is the implementation of the dress code. Like other Muslim countries, Iran has its own laws for both women’s and men’s outfit. Local authorities are very strict about the law on the dress code, so, in order not to get behind bars, it will be better to change your clothes in the plane.
An obligatory outfit for women is a loose tunic that is worn over the main garment. Clothing should also cover the hands to the wrist and feet to the ankles. The head must be covered with a headscarf or hijab (upper garment). There are no restrictions about the color of a headscarf. In some Iranian cities, only black hijabs are worn, but in the capital, women are more modern; you will see women in modern garments.
For shoes, you’d better choose comfortable flats, for example, sandals. This is a quite acceptable type of shoes, in addition, you will be able to explore city walking about the streets and feel no discomfort.
What you need to know before visiting Iran: How to communicate with locals?
Ta’arofu is a polite form of communication, the art of etiquette, part of the tradition and culture of Iran, which is accepted mainly among locals. Of course, the best way to avoid misunderstanding when dealing with the Iranians is to learn about this tradition in advance. There are a lot of unwritten rules in the country, for example, a seller or a taxi driver can refuse to take your money, assuring that there is no need to pay the bill. In other countries you can safely thank and leave, however in Iran it is ta’arofu: keep insisting on payment. Sellers may refuse to take payment for the goods, and strangers may invite you to visit. Remember – this is just a formal courtesy, in your turn you should refuse and insist on payment. If you accept such a proposal, you can put a person in a very embarrassing situation.
For foreigners, such courtesy rules may seem very complicated and confusing, so we strongly recommend studying this issue before traveling to the country.
What you need to know before visiting Iran: Relations between men and women
In Iran, all public places are divided into two parts: for males and females. It is strictly forbidden to violate this law, and guests should also obey. In the capital, and throughout the country, transport is divided according to genders. In the hotel, couples can be requested a marriage certificate for accommodation in a double room. Of course, for guests, it may seem wild, but these are the laws.
In addition to gender separation, handshakes between men and women are strictly forbidden. Never stare at a stranger for a long time: this can be interpreted as а flirt. It is strictly forbidden to kiss and hug in public places, for the locals it is unacceptable.
What you need to know before visiting Iran: Prohibitions
One of the main prohibitions in Iran is the use of alcoholic beverages. If you still manage to get alcohol into the country, be careful: you will have big trouble if caught with alcohol.
In cities, it is forbidden to photograph people without their permission. Since the Iranians are extremely friendly, they eagerly let you get photos, but still, it is worth following the rules. It is also forbidden to photograph military objects and servicemen in uniform.
When entering the country, you should have cash with you to exchange at the airport. In Tehran, you can pay with bank cards. For the exchange of currencies, there are special exchange offices, which are mostly located near the main sights. In small towns, you may have problems with non-cash payment, so always have cash with you.
Tip in Iran is accepted, but this is not a part of the etiquette. The Iranian will not refuse to take the tip, but if you do not leave tip, it won’t be considered bad form. Tipping is welcomed in hotels.
Shopping in Iran is one of the most exciting activities. Each city has its own big bazaar, around and inside of which life has its own rhythm (read about the top bazaars in Iran here). In Iran, is it not embarrassing to bargain, moreover, it is welcomed. Shop-man can wait but bargain with you, and in the end, you can end up at a very reasonable price. You can bargain not only in bazaars. In a taxi you can try to get a discount; of course driver can refuse your offer, still, there is always a chance to get a discount.
What you need to know before visiting Iran: Transport
Public transport in Iran is at a high level. Find out more about transport in Iran here.
If you use a taxi, have a pre-recorded address on a piece of paper with you: this will save you from the long search of the right place.
Car rental service in Iran works, but it is not welcomed. The traffic in Tehran is very dense and dangerous, so beginners should definitely stay away from driving in Iran.