What to prepare before going to Iran

Planning your first trip to Iran? Feeling a little nervous? Don’t be! Travel to Iran can be a breeze, as long as you’re prepared. Here are 6 essential things to prepare before going to Iran.

 

Morality police. No alcohol. Islamic law. Traveling to Iran seems pretty intimidating at first, but we assure you, no need to worry! It’s extremely rewarding, and Iran is quite easy to get around in. But that doesn’t mean you can cruise in unprepared! There are several essential things to prepare before going to Iran.

6 things to prepare before going to Iran

Things to prepare before going to Iran: an Iran visa, of course! - Lost With Purpose

1. A visa

The most important part, of course! You can’t travel to Iran if you don’t have a visa, can you?

These days, tourists can get a 30-day visa on arrival from any of Iran’s international airports, and some people have received visas on arrival at the land border crossings with Armenia and Turkey. It’s also possible to extend your Iranian visa once in the country.

The exception: citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They must travel with a tour/guide at all times… or find a way around the visa restrictions. If you need assistance with getting a visa, contact 1stQuest.

Don’t miss our guide on getting an Iranian visa if you haven’t considered visas yet. Or check out Rucksack Ramblings’ guide to getting a visa on arrival.

 

Things to prepare before going to Iran - Having enough cash - Lost With Purpose

2. Dolla dolla bills (cash)

At the moment there are no ATMs that accept foreign credit cards in Iran. A result of economic sanctions on the country, this means you need to bring in all of your trip money in cold, hard cash.

But never fear, it’s easy to exchange money in Iran! US dollars are best, though you can also exchange Euros in major cities.

Remember, better to overestimate than underestimate—you don’t want to be caught cashless in Iran! If worst comes to worst, some carpet sellers in the more touristy areas can charge your card and give you cash for a hefty service charge.

Extra, Extra! Never leave home without proper travel insurance. Not to Iran, not anywhere! We use World Nomads

Accommodation in Kashan, Iran - Lost With Purpose

Chilling at a part of the beautiful Noghli House in Kashan.

3. Accommodation

Finding accommodation in Iran can be frustrating. Guidebooks are outdated, guesthouses fill up during the high season, and most major booking websites don’t cover Iran since it’s disconnected from the global banking network.

More importantly, you don’t want to schlepp luggage around for several hours searching for a hotel when it’s a million degrees outside.

For those of you that like to book ahead and/or avoid the sweaty struggle, Pintapin is the only Iranian hotel booking website that lets you pay with a foreign credit card. It’s a young business and there’s still room for improvement, but the interface is clear, and paying ahead saves you from having to bring an uncomfortable amount of cash to Iran.

Things to prepare before going to Iran - Lost With Purpose

4. The right clothes

Boys, you can tune out here—as long as you don’t walk around in tank tops and shorts, you won’t offend anyone.

Girls, you’ll need to pack more carefully for your travel to Iran. Women in Iran must dress according to the rules of hijab, Islamic modest dress. In practical terms, this means you need to pack:

  • A scarf to cover your head. Make sure to be wearing it when you go through customs! Also, avoid slippery silk—it’ll fall off your head more often than not.
  • A long-sleeved shirt that covers your bum. A cardigan is fine, as are ¾ length sleeves.
  • A shirt with a modest neckline. Cleavage is a big no no, so put your tatas away for now.
  • Pants that go down to your ankles. Skinny jeans are totally fine!

One last thing to remember: Iran isn’t just scorching deserts. You can find all kinds of climates in Iran, so don’t forget an extra layer in case you need to bundle up!

 

Travel to Iran can seem quite intimidating, but there's nothing to worry about... as long as you're prepared! Click through for 6 things you should prepare before going to Iran.

 

 

Things to prepare before going to Iran - A VPN - Lost With Purpose

Hiding your web browsing in Iran is highly recommended.

5. A VPN

Plan on checking Facebook while in Iran? Need to Skype with your family? Want to upload your travel videos to YouTube? Have a crippling porn addiction? (At least you’re honest.)

You’ll need a VPN while in Iran. Iran’s government, being opposed to all things fun and/or useful, has blocked most major social media networks and many news websites.

Blocked in Iran: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Play, Apple App Store, Whatsapp, Viber, New York Times, BBC News, CNN, major porn sites, etc.

VPNs help you avoid the blockade. A VPN is a program you run on your computer, tablet, or mobile to make it look like you’re connecting to the internet from somewhere-not-in-Iran. Voila, the government can no longer limit your internets, and you’re free to roam! They can also provide extra layers of security for your devices. See our post on accessing blocked websites in Iran for more information and VPN recommendations.

Know you must get a VPN before going to Iran. Once you’re within Iran’s borders, getting a VPN becomes exponentially more difficult since VPN websites are blocked, as are app stores.

 

Things to prepare before going to Iran - Gifts for your hosts - Lost With Purpose

6. Gifts

Iranians have a reputation for being some of the most hospitable people in the world, and it’s totally justified.

You’re guaranteed to be invited for tea, possibly dinner, and if you’re lucky, an overnight in someone’s home! It’s a nice gesture to bring gifts for your hosts, but you don’t want to weigh your luggage down with presents for people you haven’t yet met.

An easy solution: postcards. Iranians love seeing photos of tourists’ countries, so bring a couple of postcards from home and write personal messages for your hosts on them when it’s time to part ways.

Another solution: low denomination bills of your home currency, if they’re not worth too much. It’s an Iranian custom to gift small rial notes with a message written on them, and they’re happy to receive the same.

 

Travel to Iran can seem quite intimidating, but there's nothing to worry about... as long as you're prepared! Click through for 6 things you should prepare before going to Iran.

 

 

 

Yay transparency! This post was sponsored by Pintapin, but the thoughts are our own! Never fear, we’d never recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves, and we’re totally serious about avoiding extra effort/melting into a puddle whenever possible.

Alex

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

24 thoughts on “What to prepare before going to Iran

    Haya says:

    Thanks for this guide! We were planning on going to Iran last summer but, it just never happened. I want to try again next year. You guys actually motivated me to start my own blog about my travels

    No problem. Glad it’s useful. You should really go, Iran is an amazing country. Go in spring, though. Summer can be bloody hot!

    Antonio says:

    Regarding Euros: anywhere we went there were delighted to exchange them for you. We even payed some hotels with them. Official exchange rate was about 34000IRR/EUR, we always exchanged between 38-40000. No need to bring USD from Europe at all.

    The feel I got is that they are desperate for hard currency. My friend brought 2 100 USD bills from the early 90s that someone in his family gave him. He was worried that they would not want them because they looked really really old. In the first try he exchanged them with a 5-7% discount if I remember correctly xD.

    That’s good to know. Thanks for the update!

    Liliia Sokotun says:

    actually, whenever we asked to exchange euros, we have been offered the same rate as dollars. So unless you are willing to lose money on purpose, it is better to bring usa dollars.

    And, guys, great article, as always!
    bringbabyabrod

    Antonio says:

    Not true in my experience, maybe they were trying to scam you or you misheard. When I was there last summer the exchange rates were 38-40k per euro and around 35k per dollar. And we exchanged in maybe 10 differenet places. Even in the street.

    Liliia Sokotun says:

    what a different experience we had. Anyway, from personal experience i would still recommend to bring dollars just to avoid this situation.

    I guess you have to be more persistent if you want to change euros. We usually advice bringing usd. They’re more widely accepted, and are especially useful if you go to several countries.

    Lena says:

    Nice guide Alex! Always had Iran in the back of my mind for something spice and special. Heard many times that it’s a rewarding experience.

    Cheers Lena! Iran is most definitely a rewarding experience. Be sure to get there soon, before it becomes too swamped with tourists 🙂

    WanderingRedHead says:

    Really enjoyed reading this! Love your writing style. Can’t wait to visit Iran sometime!

    Thanks! Here’s to hoping you can get there soon — tourism there is really taking off, and we expect it will be quite busy in a few years.

    Karina Lila Astrup says:

    Great articles and travel blog, we are going to Iran in Feb and have really enjoyed what you have put out there about it!

    Glad we can be of use. Enjoy your trip. We’re sure you’ll like it.

    Ria says:

    If you are dutch…. dan spreek je nederlands🙂
    Ik had een vraagje over pintapin. Is het betrouwbaar? Want als ik wou betalen met mijn visa kwam erbij dat het niet veilig is! Nu vind ik niet veel van mensen die er nog met gewerkt hebben.
    Groeten en leuke blog.
    Ria

    Hoi Ria. Voor zover wij weten wel. Wat voor een melding krijg je precies? Het kan zijn dat de beveilig van de website niet helemaal op orde is (een zogenaamd SSL certificaat ontbreekt dan). Als je ons laat weten wat de melding precies zegt, kunen wij kijken wat het probleem is, en desnoods contact met pintapin opnemen. Groetjes.

    Ria says:

    Hallo,
    Als ik mijn visa nummer ingeef en akkoord ga voor betaling komt er een vraag te voorschijn: ben je zeker dat je wil doorgaan?dit is geen beveiligde site.
    Ik heb alwel een paar bookingen ermee gedaan en hoop dat het in orde is.
    Maar dat zal wel.
    Dank u om te reageren, dat stelt me toch gerust.
    Nog veel reisplezier.
    Ria

    Mohammad says:

    hey everyone! nice blog and helpful
    hope to see you in iran my country,
    it wud be my pleasure to meet u and show you around and maybe your host for a night or even more if u dont have a place yet.feel free to call me or send a msg on whatsapp +989195515481
    instagram: mohammadborjiii
    ps: whatsapp is not blocked hopefully lol.
    see you guys

    Sebastiaan says:

    Thanks a lot! Hope our readers will find you. Are you on Couchsurfing?

    Viz says:

    Awesome read! Really quite helpful. I’m heading to Iran in a few weeks as a solo female backpacker with hardly anything booked so far (I know, I’m horrible). So glad theres a site there to help me with accommodation because that was one of the things I thought I might just have to sort in person and cross my fingers its not too difficult.
    A great read again so thank you 🙂

    Sebastiaan says:

    Glad it’s helpful. You’ll have a great time. And don’t worry about the lack of plans, we travel like that too, and are still alive 😉

    Mani says:

    Hello,

    WhatsApp is not blocked.

    Just to update the text.

    Bróna says:

    Just to update you, I received the following message on the World Nomads insurance site:

    Sorry, we’re currently unable to provide cover for Iran. Please remove it from your quote.

    Have you come across any alternatives recently?

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