3 weeks in Iran: Tips & Budget

3 weeks in Iran: Tips & Budget

From Turkey, we passed through the border post of Bazargan in Iran, just after Dogubeyazit. After the paperwork and waiting in line, we crossed the Iranian soil, on foot, for a period of three weeks. In this article oriented "practice", we hope to answer the questions that can be asked before organizing such a trip.

1. Our itinerary in Iran over 3 weeks

3 weeks in Iran: Tips & Budget

  1. Tabriz, time to acclimatize
  2. Isfahan, discovery of the Iranian way of life and a jewel of Persia
  3. Kashan, the city on the edge of the desert
  4. Yazd, its alleys, badgirs and our favorite
  5. Shiraz, Persepolis and Necropolis
2. To move
Buses and trains
It is very easy to find a bus or a train to get around Iran and jump from city to city. At the bus station, we are quickly taken care of, just out of the taxi. Then just say where you want to go and take you to the right ticket office.

There are two kinds of buses: standards and VIPs. These are very comfortable with air conditioning, space for the legs (especially in version 2 + 1) and reclining seats to sleep well. A snack is always provided on the bus with a drink, all for free. When we took the night bus between Tabriz and Isfahan, a meal was included in the price of the ticket.

We also took a night train between Shiraz and Tehran. We paid for the meal in addition to the price of the ticket but a snack with biscuits is distributed free of charge, just like tea. Our compartment was composed of 4 berths, it was a very comfortable trip.

Summary of our travels in Iran:
  • Maku - Tabriz: bus (145,000 rials / person)
  • Tabriz - Isfahan: night bus (720,000 rials / person)
  • Isfahan - Kashan: bus (175,000 rials / person)
  • Kashan - Yazd: train (325,000 rials / person)
  • Yazd - Shiraz: bus (320 000 rials / person)
  • Shiraz - Tehran: night train 1,150,000 rials / person with meal)

Taxis and the Snapp app
In town, there are many taxis, yellows, whites, officials, unofficial. Generally, they all come to you before you know for yourself whether you are taking a taxi or not! If you walk quietly in town and are waiting to cross, a taxi will always be there to say "Taxi?". Many Iranians also offer driver and guide to get to the tourist spots (like Persepolis from Shiraz). Feel free to negotiate the price if you do not go through an agency. If your driver speaks English, he can also act as a guide. As a general rule, even for a small race, negotiate the price and fix it before getting into the car. When we had a good feeling with a driver, we left more than expected and there you will be entitled to the most beautiful smile!

There is also an Uber-style application in major Iranian cities called SNAPP. The price is fixed in advance via the app and is usually half as much as an official taxi. We pay the driver in cash at the end of the race. No ambiguity possible.To download the application must do a small manipulation because it has been removed from the stores because of sanctions. Follow the instructions in this article to have Snapp.

3 weeks in Iran: Tips & Budget
The Imam Square in Isfahan

3. Staying
The main cities offer many accommodations, from the luxury hotel to the hostel. There is therefore for all purses, for all desires. You can also stay with Iranians (even if it's not allowed) thanks to the Homestay website (a kind of Airbnb) or free thanks to the Couchsurfing network or Warmshowers (for the cyclo-travelers). Small note about Couchsurfing: many Iranians charge their guests, some are very explicit in their announcement as our host in Kashan, others are less so. They also often offer guide services, so we do not know if it's the money or the meeting that takes over. It's up to you to make your own opinion via the different ads, but Couchsurfing in Iran is not the same as in other countries.

Booking does not work in this country and very little hosting is referenced on Google. We have worked a lot by word of mouth or by searching blogs and forums. Now we have to give you our good addresses:

  1. Isfahan: Ragrug Hostel
  2. Yazd: Kalout Hostel
  3. Shiraz: Taha Hostel
Shiraz Bazaar
Shiraz Bazaar

4. Feeding themselves
This is the point where we had the most trouble. Coming from Turkey, where the country is teeming with restaurants, terraces, picnics and lahmacun, it is disenchantment when one wants to eat on the run, or even find a small restaurant. In some cities, we walked long enough to find a place to eat something other than ice. There is a lot of fast food with burgers and pizzas not very good and very fat. To eat more typical, we had more trouble. But all is explained: in Iran, we rarely go to the restaurant and even less family. Cooking is a mark of respect for its guests (especially when it comes to stepmom!). In youth hostels we sometimes cooked ourselves: pasta, tomato salad and cucumbers,

But do not be discouraged, we also ate very good food and made some great culinary discoveries: Dizi, Ghormeh Sabzi, Kabab, carrot jam. Jerome tested the national drink, the Doogh (a yoghurt drink) but he preferred the Turkish Ayran (difficult to compete with Turkish cuisine in this region of the world!).

We also like to sit on the terrace and have a drink. It was done in Yazd, on a roof and in Shiraz on the square of the Vakil mosque.

Our addresses (not very many):
  • Shiraz: Qavum for a good Dizi / Joulep for a drink
  • Yazd: Baam cafe / Tourist free library (for a tea on the roof of the terrace)
Sunset from the roof of the tourist library in Yazd
Sunset from the roof of the tourist library in Yazd

5. Buy a sim card in Iran
We bought our SIM cards in Tabriz. This was not necessarily obvious because not all phone stores sell SIM cards to tourists. First we went to Irancell who sent us to a shop next door. Anyway, there will always be a solution and we will direct you to the good shop. On the spot, the seller will activate the sim card and you can come out with your new package. You have the choice between several packages in a credit call + data internet package (2, 5 or 10 GB). We took a sim card with 10 GB of internet data (the eyes of the salesman when he knew it was a 20 days!) And another sim with 2 GB.

Rate of sim cards: 400 000 rials for 10 GB of internet and 250 000 rials for 2 GB.

Before you arrive in Iran, make sure you download a VPN on your smartphone. It will serve you to go to blocked sites: Facebook, twitter, Netflix etc ...

Roof of Kashan Bazaar
Roof of Kashan Bazaar

6. Dress
Let's start with men because it's faster, it will just put in pants. You can stay in a t-shirt (we still avoid the tank tops). For women, the list is longer, it will take:

  1. Cover your legs with pants or a long skirt. I had read several times that it needed something wide, but on the spot I realized that many Iranian women were wearing slims jeans. So, I had the impression of looking like a potato bag with my clothes wide. Sometimes I swapped my pants for leggings;
  2. Cover the buttocks with a tunic, a vest or other that comes to half of the thighs;
  3. Have long sleeves that cover at least half of the forearm. Under my long-sleeved tunic, I put on a merino t-shirt for less heat and to avoid sweating too much. Rather effective;
  4. Cover your hair with a veil. Think of a light and fine material so as not to be too hot. So that the veil does not fall at the slightest breeze, I made a high bun;
  5. For shoes, you can show your feet. I stayed in sandals the whole trip and I was able to polish my tan with beautiful zebra marks!

Once there, you will see that Iranian women perfectly combine fashion with their clothing restrictions. They are very tasteful, are very classy and also very pretty. Some also have the veil very far back and let a good part of their hair appear (I noticed that it was much the case in Shiraz).

7. The detailed budget
We were in Iran in the low season, from 4 to 24 July 2018. At that time, the exchange rate was 1 € = 90 000 - 92 000 rials. Since the new American sanctions, the rate has completely changed and is only changing (for the greatest misfortune of the Iranians). To keep you updated, you can consult this conversion site (price in toman, I explain you just after the difference), XE does not have the right rate.

Toman, rials, how to cope? The official currency is the rials but everyone speaks in Toman. Fortunately 1 toman = 10 rials, so conversion is easy. A little gymnastics to have when we announce a price (convert to rials, then euro!).

As it is impossible to withdraw from vending machines in Iran, we share our detailed budget, so as to have a rough idea of ​​the cash to be had. Do not change all your money at once, because you will come out with a 70 L bag of tickets! We had no problem changing money in banks, on the street (even if it's supposedly not recommended) or in a bazaar. Sometimes we paid directly in euros too.

  • Transport (bus and train): 5,670,000 rials
  • Transport (taxi and snapp): 2,244,000 rials
  • Accommodation: 10 350 000 rials + 137 €
  • Outings / Visits: 7,210,000 rials + 20 €
  • Meals: 7,715,000 rials + 18 €
  • Various (races, souvenirs, sim cards ): 4,389,000 rials
Amounts are for two people over a period of 21 days.

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