The Practicalities of visiting Iran
When discussing Iran, especially for tourists, it is important to understand the legal and practical aspects of arranging a trip to the country and what you can expect there. Especially for western travelers, Iran is a very different culture to what you may be used to, and being prepared for this can ensure your trip runs smoothly and is as enjoyable as you want it to be.
The first thing to think about is visa requirements, and this depends on where you are from. For those from the European Union, a visa can be obtained from the Iranian Embassy on your country or apply when you land. It is a similar story for most other countries with some exceptions. Several countries are not allowed Iranian Visas on arrival, and must apply before they travel at a local Embassy, these countries are:
However, this can be further complicated in countries that have little to no diplomatic relations with Iran, where there is no embassy to visit. For UK citizens for instance, that means visiting the Iranian Embassy in Paris or Dublin. American citizens will only be able to travel to Iran if they are part of a tour group and accompanied by a guide. Solo travelers from the U.S. will not be admitted into the country.
The next thing to remember is that Iran is a country with a dress code, and while visitors do have a little flexibility, it is local custom and it is right that visitors should respect those. For female travelers, this means a headscarf must be warn at all times. This includes the moment you get off the plane at an Iranian airport, so it is crucial to remember to pack a headscarf into your hand luggage for the flight.
Other than a headscarf, the requirement is loose clothing that covers your body, and in general if you follow those simple rules everything will be fine. One trip to the bazaar and you will have plenty of suitable clothes to last for your trip and long after too, there is no shortage of style in Iran. Three-quarter length sleeves are acceptable, and can make a difference in the heat, while open-toe sandals are also fine and help keep you cool. Don’t forget to pack some sturdier shoes if you plan on taking in some of the sights, you can do a lot of walking in the rush to see something else that grabs your attention.
The local language is Farsi (Persian), although most places you go there are people who speak English, and the local currency is the Iranian Rial. Note that internet access can be somewhat limited, it is slow compared to what most people will be used to, and most social media sites are blocked throughout the country.
While Iran may be a destination that is a little more complex to visit than most, the friendly people and amazing sights make it well worth the trouble. This is a country that welcomes visitors and has so much to offer, that any visitor will remember it for a lifetime.
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