Different kinds of dialects are spoken in Iran; however, the primary language is Persian (Farsi). As the second language, most Iranians can speak English more or less. In some cities especially in southern cities people can speak Arabic too.
Location and Weather
Iran is located in the Middle East. It is surrounded by the Caspian Sea from the north and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman from the south. The capital city of Iran is Tehran. Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz, Ahvaz, Kerman, Yazd and Qom are of the main cities.
Iran is amongst the few countries that have 4 seasons. It has nearly moderate weather in most months. In summer the weather is hot in southern cities, yet you can enjoy of the Pleasant weather of North West and northern cities at the same time. December to early April is the popular time in Iran for people interested in skiing.
Social Conventions, Local laws and Customs
Although various religions exist in Iran, nearly more than 90% of Iranian are Muslim, Shia. If the destination of your travel is this religious country, it is better to respect local traditions and act in line with religious rules, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or when you want to visit holy shrines and religious areas. Eating, drinking or smoking in public during the day within the month of Ramadan is forbidden. However you can feel ease, because the rules are not too strict for foreign tourists.
-The manner of behavior and wearing dress is based on Islamic rules. In public places women must cover their hair with scarf, wear trousers (or a long skirt), along with a long-sleeved tunic or coat.
In holy places women are asked to put on “Chador” before entering (an additional hijab that covers the whole body except the face). Also you should take off your shoes before entering mosques or holy places.
-Men should not wear shorts in public areas. Wearing ties or bows is ok.
-Handshake is an appropriate way of greeting in Iran. However, handshaking, hugging and kissing are not common between people of different sex in Iran especially between religious people.
– Although toilets at nearly all hotels are in western style, ‘squatting toilets’ are norm in public places. Tissue is not usually available at toilets in public area, however water pipe is available everywhere
-Import, sale, manufacture and consumption of alcohol especially at public places in Iran is regarded as a crime because of religious matters.
Iran Medical Equipment
Iranis highly advancedin almost every medical fields. Many patients from all over the world come to Iran for the process of their treatment. Iran is also famous for its plastic and cosmetic surgeries. There are several fully occupied governmental and private health centers, hospitals and clinics in all cities; however, small towns and rural areas are usually lacking advanced medical facilities. So, it is recommended to foreign tourists to have medical first aid kit with themselves when they are going to visit these areas.
Iranian Rial and Toman are two money units used in Iran. Rial is often used in formal documents. However, Toman is more common in oral speech. Each Toman is equivalent to 10 Rials. Price etiquettes may come either in Rial or Toman. Because people usually don’t mention the unit of currency they are talking about, you should ask about it before agreeing on the price.
You can exchange your money at the bank placed at the airport or at authorized Exchange Stores. These shops are called “Sarrafi” in Farsi.
Exchanging money on the street and by street sellers is illegal and it is not recommended.
Foreign credit cards do not work in Iran. So it is recommended to have enough cash money with yourself at all times.
Banks are open from Saturday to Wednesday, from 08:00 to 16:00; Thursdays, 08:00 to 12:00. They are closed on Fridays.
There are different ways of communication in Iran:
Iran country code is +98.
International call is available from hotels but it will cost more.
Prepaid cards are another option to make International phone calls.
Three main mobile phone operators in Iran which offer pre-paid services for phone and GPRS internet are:
– Iran Telecom (MCI)
– MTN Irancell
– Righ Tel
Internet is a good way of communication in Iran. Most hotels offer free Wi-Fi to their guests. Internet cafes are also found everywhere.
(Access to some websites are not allowed in Iran because of their disagreement with Islamic ethics)
Food and beverage
Do not miss to taste Persian foods, because it would bean enjoyablepartofyourtrip.Different kinds of kebabs and stews are of famous Iranian traditional foods. Beside traditional foods, you can have International dishes at most restaurants. Fast foods are also available everywhere.
Water: Tap water is drinkable in most cities, but it is recommended to use mineral water which is available in all restaurants, super-markets and groceries.
Yogurt drink which is called “Doogh” is available in plain and carbonated forms.
Different kinds of “Sharbat” which are composed of herbal extracts and water are really refreshing in hot summers.
Flying is the most appropriate way to pass long distances in Iran. Domestic flights are amazingly affordable. As Iran is a vast country, travelling by air enable you to visit more cities and places.
The railway network in Iran is cheap and it nearly covers the whole country.
Tehran has an easy-to-use subway system that can take you from one part of the city to another part in a relatively short time with a reasonable fee. The main advantage of this system over others is that you will get rid of Tehran heavy traffic.
Travelling by bus is a good way to go through long distances in Iran. You can travel in this way and enjoy pleasant scenery of roads. Traveling by bus is too common in Iran and long-distance buses are so comfortable. Butmore timeis neededto reach the destination. Bus ticket is also too cheap.
Urban buses are usually separated, with women sitting at the rear and men at the front.
Taxis are available everywhere in Iran and are usually in the form of a private car.