Iran

I recently invited to Yazd in Iran as a representative of Disaster Aid Australia, the charity I volunteer for . . . . so here are some of the things I have learned.

Arriving

I applied for my visa in advance to be picked up at the airport.

What I wasn’t told was that the fee varies depending on your nationality.

As an Australian my visa cost 145 Euros to be paid in cash while someone from Mynmar told me she paid less than 40 Euros.

If you haven’t brought evidence of your travel insurance you will also have to pay an additional $14 compulsory travel insurance.

One good thing was once you have paid the visa permission was electronically recorded and my passport wasn’t stamped. (I believe you can have big problems travelling to the USA if you have an Iranian stamp in your Passport)

Banking and Money

Because of the American Embargo a western credit card or debit card is not going to work.

I would recommend that you take hard currency, either Euros or USA dollars.

Most banks wouldn’t change your currency to Iranian Rials but some shops, hotels, and tourist guides will change money.

Because of the huge inflation in Iran, which means people like to get foreign currency, I actually got a much better rate on the exchange than the official rate.

In January 2019 the official rate was 47,000 Rials to One Euro.

Because the Rial is worth so little most people quote prices in units of ten Rials called a Toman.

People

Overall I found the people very friendly.

There aren’t many westerners around so I am a little bit obvious.

Several times a day I would be asked where I was from.

Frequently the next remark was “Welcome to Iran.”

Tower of Silence, Yazd

Culture

Iran has a very strong Islamic culture.

This means all women are expected to wear a headscarf, long sleeves, trousers and a mid length Jacket at all times.

For men its long trousers and long sleeves.

Don’t expect to be able to buy alcohol!

Travelling Around

When I arrived in Tehran the organisers of the event I was attending had organised my transport to Yazd, over 700km away.

I was surprised to find the transport was by Airport Taxi.

On the 8 hour journey, including stops, I didn’t see many coaches so I can only assume taxis are reasonably cheap and a convenient way to get around.

I did talk to someone from the Austrian Embassy about flying which he said he did, but only on certain airlines.