Traveling to Iran: Our Top 5 Misconceptions
Our favorite misconceptions about Iran:
Iran – easily one of our collectively favorite destinations here in the office at Global Village Tours. For many reasons Iran is changing rapidly and becoming increasingly popular. We think NOW is the optimum time to visit as it is more open to international tourism than ever before while still maintaining its raw and unspoilt edge. The only reason its not quite yet ‘the cool kid’ on the adventurous travelers map is well, because people know much about what it has to offer. Here are five our favorite misconceptions about Iran:
- Dont talk to strangers! False. Iran is famous for its age old culture of hospitality. In our humble Global Village opinion, Iranians are some of the warmest people you will encounter anywhere in the world. Invitations to Iranian homes from passers by are very common – they are curious about tourists and will often want to cook you the best Iranian food you have ever eaten, so dont be afraid to say yes please. But girls, just be aware that if a man invites you it is not customary to accept unless the mans wife or another woman is present, or if you are traveling in the company of another man.
- Some of the travel reviews arent very good! Ok here it is in a nutshell – Iran until recently was verrrry closed off to the world. Recent years have seen it become far more developed and open to tourists, but be aware that some of the information about traveling there has yet to catch up. We typically stand by everything in Lonely Planet, however even their last edition (2012) is now pretty outdated. With the recent change in visa policies, the abolition of sanctions and the ever growing freedom of information – Iran is quickly becoming the next ‘hot’ destination. No pun intended…
- ISIS! No you will not encounter ISIS. ISIS have never occupied any part of Iran so you’ll be fine! As for violent crime – statistically Iran is one of the safest places in Asia to travel to, in fact petty theft is extremely rare.
- Its not suitable for women. Of course this is not true. Female tourists are treated with respect and equality in Iran. However be aware that Iranians do have certain customs according to gender that you may not see in the West. For example, its not normal to sit next to someone of the opposite sex unless you know them. It’s sort of an unspoken rule, you’ll often spot people shuffling around on public transport to make sure they’re matched correctly! If you find yourself without options dont worry, it aint the end of the world.
- Be careful what you drink! Mmmm not really. Iran is quite clean and unlike most parts of Asia, the tap water is completely safe to drink. Coffee can be found but tea is the drink of choice. To drink tea like an Iranian, you should pop a sugar cube in your mouth and sip through the sugar cube. Not our healthiest dietary advice ever but hey you’re on holidays! Alcohol – although prohibition forbids the sale of alcohol, you will most likely end up guzzling the finest of booze in an Iranian homestay. Just be wary that drinking in public is a no no.
We run independent tours to Iran all year round and group tours 2 – 3 times a year.