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  • Overview

    Iran is brimming with over 5,000 years of history,with old ruins, museums, and magnificent mosques. It is an idealdestination for culture seekers and offers visits to some of theworld's most incredible ancient wonders. As a former part of thePersian Empire, it's a centre of early civilisation.

    Originally called Persia, Iran was one of the firstcountries to be occupied by the early Islamic armies that emergedfrom Arabia in the seventh century and thus, it is also a centrefor early Islamic history and culture.

    Although tourism is on the rise, some areas are stillnot considered to be safe. These include the country's borders withAfghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, as well as the province ofSistan-Baluchistan. Additional unsafe areas are the cities of Bamand Jask, as well as the areas east of them.

    However, the Iranian tourism industry is growingoutside of these regions, especially since the British ForeignOffice has lifted its warning against tourist travel and hasre-established an embassy in Iran.

    This culturally-rich nation has something to offereveryone, with plenty of sightseeing choices, wonderful shopping,and exciting cuisine. For the more adventurous, Iran offers deserttrekking, rock climbing, and a few ski resorts all at affordableprices.

    The mountains bordering the Caspian Sea are coveredin deciduous forest, and the brown forest soils found along thecoasts of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf are used extensivelyfor farming, making for a richly diverse landscape. In addition,business travel is increasingly common and the country is extremelyrich in mineral resources, especially petroleum and naturalgas.

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    English Pronounciation

    Tehran has a semi-arid, continental climate and the cityseparates the mountains to the north and desert to the south.Summers in Tehran, from June to August, are hot and dry withaverage high temperatures of 93°F (34°C) and occasional extremes of104°F (40°C). During the summer months, Tehran experiences verylittle rain, with average precipitation levels of 0.1 inches (3mm)per month. However, relative humidity is low and evenings arecool.

    Most of Tehran's rainfall occurs during the spring and autumn.Winters, from December to February, are very cold with temperaturesfalling below freezing and rarely peaking above 37°F (3°C), withlight snow showers a common occurrence. It is important to notethat due to the city's large size and the difference in elevationbetween districts, visitors will find that the weather is oftencooler in the northern hills than in the southern lowlandareas.

    Spring and autumn are the best times to travel to Iran as theweather is not as hot as in June and July when the country scorcheswith occasional heavy rains. July is the hottest month withtemperatures soaring to between 95ºF - 104ºF (35ºC - 40ºC). Autumnstarts in September and is usually sunny, turning cold and damp byNovember.

    Winter lasts from December through March and can includesubstantial snowfall depending on the region. January and Februarycan be bitterly cold with temperatures plummeting to 32ºF to 23ºF(0ºC to -5ºC) though days can be mild in the southern parts of thecountry.

    Tehran Mehrabad International Airport
    Location: The airport is located five miles (8km) from Tehranscentre.
    Time: GMT +3.5 (GMT +4.5 between March andSeptember)
    Getting to the city: The airport is connected to the city by the metro and buses.Taxis are also available.
    Car Rental: Rental car facilities are available.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available.
    Fascilities: Lost luggage facilities are available as well as shops and arestaurant.
    Parking Long and short-term parking is available.
    Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport
    Location: 31 miles (50km) south of Tehran city centre.
    Time: GMT +3.5 (GMT +4.5 between March andSeptember)
    Getting to the city: There are buses between the airport and the nearest subwaystation, from where passengers can connect to the city.
    Car Rental: It is possible to rent a car at the airport.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available but tend to be costly.
    Fascilities: There are banks and ATM facilities, a tourist information centrein the arrivals hall of the airport, as well as restaurants, prayerrooms, shopping facilities, VIP lounges, postal services and a lostand found service.
    Parking Parking is available at the airport.
    Website: ikia.airport.ir
    Money:

    The unit of currency is the Iranian Rial (IRR) which is dividedinto 100 dinar, but the Toman is used by Iranians today as theequivalent of ten Rial. Most Iranians state the value of things inToman instead of Rial. Prices are most often marked in Toman, with1,000 or 1,000,000 Toman equivalent to 10,000 or 10,000,000 Rialrespectively. It is best to travel with US Dollars, which can beexchanged upon arrival in the airport or banks in big cities or atstreet rate at street outlets. An increasing number of mid-rangehotels and all top-end establishments accept Visa and MasterCard.Some of the more expensive Iranian hotels charge in US Dollars.

    Language:

    The official language of Iran is Persian, also known asFarsi. English is mostly spoken and understood bybusinessmen.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pinplugs are standard (Plug types C and F).

    Entry Requirements:

    United States nationals must have a passport that is valid sixmonths beyond their intended stay. Visa required. All foreignersentering the country must report to the police within eightdays.

    British nationals must have a passport that is valid six monthsbeyond their intended stay. Visa required. All foreigners enteringIran must report to the police within 8 days after arrival.

    Canadian nationals require a passport that is valid six monthsbeyond their intended stay. Visa required. All foreigners enteringIran must report to the police within 8 days after arrival.

    Australian nationals require a passport that is valid six monthsbeyond their intended stay. Visa required. Passengers with a normalpassport traveling on business can obtain a visa on arrival for amaximum stay of 14 days if holding an invitation letter issued by agovernment agency. The invitation letter must be issued at least 2days before the arrival date. All foreigners entering Iran mustreport to the police within 8 days after arrival.

    South African nationals require a passport that is valid sixmonths beyond their intended stay. Visa required. Passengers with anormal passport traveling on business can obtain a visa on arrivalfor a maximum stay of 14 days if holding an invitation letterissued by a government agency. The invitation letter must be issuedat least 2 days before the arrival date. South African nationalshave visa exemptions for 14 days if arriving at Kesh or Qeshmislands. All foreigners entering Iran must report to the policewithin 8 days after arrival.

    Irish nationals require a passport that is valid six monthsbeyond their intended stay. Visa required. Passengers with a normalpassport traveling on business can obtain a visa on arrival for amaximum stay of 14 days if holding an invitation letter issued by agovernment agency. The invitation letter must be issued at least 2days before the arrival date. All foreigners entering Iran mustreport to the police within 8 days after arrival.

    United States nationals must have a passport that is valid sixmonths beyond their intended stay. Visa required. All foreignersentering the country must report to the police within eightdays.

    New Zealand nationals require a passport that is valid sixmonths beyond their intended stay. Visa required. Passengers with anormal passport traveling on business can obtain a visa on arrivalfor a maximum stay of 14 days if holding an invitation letterissued by a government agency. The invitation letter must be issuedat least 2 days before the arrival date. New Zealanders are visaexempt for 14 days if travelling to Kish and Qeshm islands. Allforeigners entering Iran must report to the police within 8 daysafter arrival.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Visitors require a passport (must be valid at least six monthsafter period of intended stay). Visitors must hold return or onwardticket, all documents required for next destination and sufficientfunds. Some nationalities requiring a visa can obtain it on arrivalprovided the visit is for tourist purposes, is for a maximum of 30days, and that the passanger meets the specific requirementsdictated by the Iranian government (the fee is between 50 - 150EUR, subject to passenger nationality). 14 day visas for businesstravel (fee of 30 USD) are also available for purchase uponarrival, granted the passanger holds an invitation letter issued bya government agency that has been issued no more than two daysprior to arrival.

    All visitors must report to the police within eight days ofarrival. Visitors should be aware that if their passport containsan Israeli stamp, or any evidence of an intended or past visit toIsrael, entry into Iran may be refused even if in possession of avalid visa. All non-Iranian reporters, journalists, photographersand cameramen require a visa. Admission will be refused to womennot wearing Islamic head cover, scarf, long sleeves or stockings.It is highly recommended that passports have at least six monthsvalidity remaining after your intended date of departure from yourtravel destination. Immigration officials often apply differentrules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    There are a few health risks to consider when travelling toIran. Those intending to engage with animals or those going torural areas should consider a rabies vaccine. Malaria is a risk insome parts of the country, and cholera outbreaks occur.

    Yellow fever certificates are required for those arriving froman infected country in Africa or the Americas. Do not drink tapwater, including ice in drinks, and food precautions should betaken. Healthcare in the cities of Iran is good, but insufficientin rural areas. Travellers are advised to have full travelinsurance and to consult with their medical practitioner prior totravel.

    Tipping:

    Although there are many circumstances where small tips will do,waiters don't expect them. It's worth remembering that helpfulIranians probably deserve some extra appreciation to supplementtheir meagre wages. In most cases, tipping is an optional rewardfor good service. Fares in private taxis are always negotiable.

    Safety Information:

    Travellers should exercise safety precautions throughout Iranand pay attention to media warnings and cautions, especially whilein the country. In the south-eastern region, Westerners have beenvictims of criminal gangs often involved in the smuggling of drugsand other contraband. Crime is relatively low in the cities, butthere have been an increasing number of robberies by young men onmotorbikes who snatch items from pedestrians.

    Anti-Western sentiment among certain elements of the populationhas resulted in violent demonstrations outside foreignrepresentations based in the country, such as those against theBritish Embassy in 2011. However, in 2015 the British ForeignOffice rescinded its warning against tourist travel in Iran and hassince made efforts to reestablish a British Embassy in Iran.Travellers are advised to avoid demonstrations and large publicgatherings. Travel within 60 miles (100km) of the Afghanistanborder, six miles (10km) of the Iraq border, and 30 miles (50km) ofthe border of Pakistan is considered unsafe.

    Dual Citizens should carefully consider their journey to Iranbecause the government has been known to detain American-Iranianand British-Iranian citizens in particular, refusing to acknowledgedual citizenship. It is best to avoid all political activity andsome travellers could be profiled because of their politicalaffiliations in their home country.

    Local Customs:

    Because Iran is predominately Islamic, dress isextremely conservative. Travellers should take care not to offendcodes of dress and behaviour, particularly during the holy month ofRamadan. During this time, foreigners aren't expected to fast, butshould refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and chewing gum inpublic.

    Behaviour that would be regarded as innocuouselsewhere can lead to serious trouble in Iran so it's always bestto err on the side of caution. The possession and consumption ofalcohol and drugs is strictly forbidden.

    Contact between non-familial members of the oppositesex is forbidden and punishable by law. It's best to follow thelead of locals and it's easy to remain respectful of thesetraditions with this in mind.

    Female visitors from the age of nine years old shouldwear headscarves in public, as well as dress modestly, cover armsand legs, and wear loose fitting clothing. They should also avoidlooking into men's eyes too much, as this could easily beinterpreted as an attempt to seduce.

    Iranians are incredibly hospitable and guests shouldexpect to be offered plenty of food and drink when visiting.Although it is not necessary to keep eating food, it is importantto accept some. It is customary for a guest to bring a small giftto their host; sweets, pastries, tea, or other such gifts arealways appreciated.

    Travellers should be aware that homosexuality andadultery are crimes in Iran and are punishable by flogging and evendeath. Unmarried couples of the opposite sex travelling togethershould be discreet in public.

    Photography near military and other governmentinstallations is strictly prohibited; if caught taking photos orwith photos, travellers may be detained and face serious criminalcharges, including espionage, which carries the death penalty.

    Business:

    Many Iranian businesspersons speak English buttranslators can be hired if required. Business is based on theability to effectively create personal relationships, as well asclear plans and presentation. Iranians are polite and conservativein their manner and the same respect is expected in return.

    Exchanging business cards is normally restricted tosenior business figures and it is advisable to have a Farsitranslation of details on the alternate side. Appointments shouldbe made and punctuality is expected for business meetings, butvisitors may be kept waiting by local businesspersons or governmentofficials. Dress is formal and conservative and though Iranians donot wear ties, it is not negative for foreigners to do so. Womenshould dress modestly and cover their hair.

    Business gifts are quite acceptable and the samehospitality found in Iranian homes extends into the businessenvironment. The concept of separating work and family is not rigidin Iran and in fact, many businesses are family run. Hence,familial value systems may enter the work place.

    In other words, it is important to consult your legaldepartment as to the boundaries of your relationships withpotential partners, including the giving and receiving of gifts andbureaucratic favours, a common currency in Iran.

    Friday is the Muslim holy day when everything isclosed, and most businesses also close on Thursday; prayer timesare also observed throughout the workday. During Ramadan, businesshours may be shortened.

    Communications:

    The international dialling code for Iran is +98. Althoughroaming is compatible with some international mobile serviceproviders, it is far cheaper to buy a SIM card in Iran for theperiod of your stay.

    Duty Free:

    Duty free allowances for visitors to Iran include 200 cigarettes(or the equivalent in tobacco products) and a reasonable amount ofperfume/cologne for personal use. Alcohol is prohibited. Allcameras and currency should be declared upon arrival. Medicationshould be in its original packaging with a signed letter from yourdoctor explaning your condition and the need for saidmedication.

    Useful Contacts:

    Iran Embassies:

    Embassy of Pakistan, Washington DC, United States of America(Interest section for Iran): +1 202 965 4990.

    Embassy of Iran, London, United Kingdom: + 44 207 225 4208 or +44 207 225 4209.

    Embassy of Iran, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 87 945 1307 or +2787 945 0851.

    Embassy of Iran, Canberra, Australia: +61 6290 7000.

    Embassy of Iran, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 288 5881.

    Embassy of Iran, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 386 2976.

    Foreign Embassies in Iran :

    Embassy of Switzerland, Tehran (also accredited for UScitizens): +98 21 2254 2178.

    British Embassy, Tehran, Iran: +98 21 6405 2000.

    South African Embassy, Tehran, Iran: +98 21 2270 2866.

    Australian Embassy, Tehran, Iran: +98 21 8386 3666.

    Embassy of Ireland, Ankara, Turkey (assistance for Iran): +90312 459 1000.

    New Zealand Embassy, Tehran, Iran: +98 21 2612 2175.

    Iran Emergency Numbers : 125 (Ambulance); 115 (Fire); 110 (Police)
    Iran

    There are plenty of transport options to get aroundTehran. The city has a modern metro system connecting various partsof the city, serving as the best way to get around for newcomers asit avoids major traffic congestion. From Tehran's central railwaystation one can catch a train to other major destinations inIran.

    The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) serves the buses inTehran, with inexpensive travel possible to almost anywhere in thecity. Saying this, it's difficult where and when to disembarkwithout knowledge of Farsi or asking for help from locals. There isalso gender segregated seating on trains, buses, and taxis.

    Travelling by taxi is a comfortable way to get aroundthe city but visitors should ask their hotel to book them one witha reputable company. It is also possible for female passengerstravelling alone to request a vehicle with a female driver. It isbest to negotiate fares upfront and they are also usually moreflexible with gender-segregated seating.

    Driving in Tehran will be a challenge for newarrivals as local driving is sometimes erratic and dangerous.However, visitors who decide to hire a car will have the option tohave a local driver accompany them, which is advisable. There'salso a bike-share scheme for cycling in Tehran, consisting ofdocking stations where commuters can pick up or return borrowedbikes throughout the city.