First of all, forget everything you’ve heard about Iran. Western world has painted an unreal picture. Iranian are very hospitable people who find pleasure in helping foreigners. The rich culture of Iran, along with its ancient history and natural attractions, has made it possible to have a great experience. Iranian welcome you with open arms and utmost respect.
Iranian rials are the official currency of the country. Prices are given in toman, not rials. 1 toman = 10 rials. People will also abbreviate: for example, if someone tells you something is “5”, they mean 5,000 toman/50,000 rials. It’s confusing in the beginning, but you’ll get the hang of it! Just add an extra “0” to the price to figure out the price in rials. Luckily, people in Iran are very honest, and will let you know when you’re making a mistake. Tourist establishments are the exception to this–they usually list prices in rials.
Iran is extremely safe for foreigners. You won’t have to worry about violent crime, and petty theft is very rare. As for worries about ISIS? Um, ISIS has never occupied any space in Iran. You’ll be fine.
Note that Hotels will keep your passports while you stay. However, you’re required by law to always have your passport on you. Either carry around copies of your passport while outside, or give the hotel copies and ask for your passport back. Make sure you have a copy of the information page and the page with your Iranian visa, including your entry stamp. You can do this once in the country–there are cheap copy shops everywhere.
Buses are the cheapest and most common form of transportation between cities. There are also domestic airlines, for those that want to save time and don’t mind paying a bit extra. Many city buses require transportation cards. The cards are sold at little huts next to bus stops. The price of a ride with the card is several hundred rials cheaper than without. Iranian drivers will surprise you. You’re going to see a lot of speeding, swerving, and sparse seatbelt usage.
Iranians love treating foreigners. People you meet are going to want to take you out and pay for everything. Do offer to pay yourself, but if they refuse you 3 or more times (tarof), just give in and go with the flow.
You don’t need to tip. Tipping isn’t common unless you’re at a really nice restaurant, or you were very, very satisfied with a service you received.
Tap water is safe to drink, unless stated otherwise. There are also plenty of water fountains all throughout the cities, so bring a reusable water bottle!
Try to learn the numbers so you can understand prices and times. You can use bus rides to learn the numbers from road signs along the way.
Women have a strict dress code. Your head has to be covered, your shirt needs to cover your bum, and you can’t wear short sleeves–3/4 length max. Yay freedom! Tight pants are okay, though.
Iran has many different cultural groups such as Azeri, Kurdish, Persian, etc, each proud of their own culture and of being Iranian. Due in major part to the long history of Iran and its invasion by other countries over centuries, Iranians are very sensitive about certain things.
Sights: Iran has destinations to offer any type of interest. From mountains for skiing and hiking to beaches for swimming, to cities for sight-seeing, to history for uncovering.
Do not be afraid to ask any Iranian anything. If they speak English, they will endeavor to help you to the best way they can. They will not stray you or make up stories. If asking for directions, as in any other country make sure to ask a few people as you go along until you reach your destination.
The dress code for men in Iran is generally resembling that of western countries. However, women have to wear “hejab”. It means that wearing trousers is mandatory. Women have to wear long coat-like shirt (Mantou) as well as headscarf. You can simply look around and find the common dress code. Just keep in mind that face and hands are Ok to be fully exposed.
Alcohol consumption in Iran is illegal. The advice is “don’t drink or seek alcohol in Iran”.
However there are many types of non-alcoholic drinks with variety of tastes and brands.
Most of the letters and numbers used as part of the signs of shops are in Persian (Hindu-Arabic numeral system) but the street and traffic signs as well as restaurant menus are bilingual).
Fortunately, the friendly hospitable Iranian would undergo any trouble to make you feel welcomed and help you in any possible way so that you will not face any problem during your stay in this country.
Things to bring with yourself when you travel to Iran