Iran Trip Report - Oct to Nov 2011
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Dec 12, 2011 6:48 AM Last Post By: pietrified84
Nov 10, 2011 1:12 AM
Iran Trip Report - Oct to Nov 2011Just came back from a trip to Iran -- been itching to come to this country for the longest time, and finally made it happen 2 weeks ago!
As mentioned by most in this forum, the people are incredible and the friendliest I met anywhere! Didn't have any problems aside from a guy who tried to extort money from me (disguising it as a donation for the shrine) in Shiraz and another guy who tried to kiss me in Esfahan (I was to learn later that kissing between men is actually common as a form of greeting in Iran). But the overwhelming majority were very friendly. During my trip, I have had people giving me food, money and inviting me to all sorts of places. Unfortunately, I had to decline the invitations as I only had 9 days to spend in Iran.
Visa: Had applied for my visa via Pars. Got my reference number which I showed to the visa section upon arrival at Shiraz Airport. No problems here.
Money: Best exchange rate can be had from the money changers (not the banks) or the guys hanging around outside. Exchange rate was around IRR 13,000 per 1 USD during my visit vs. the official rate of IRR 10,800 to 1 USD.
Transport: Buses for intercity travel are very conveniently scheduled with frequent departures for cities like Shiraz, Yazd, Kashan, Esfahan and Tehran. The buses are comfortable and some are very new! You can easily ask your hotel to book/reserve tickets for you and it's also possible to get seats by just showing up. Most expensive one I paid was IRR 75,000 (equivalent to around $6) for a Shiraz to Yazd VIP bus trip which took around 6 hours.
These are the places I went:
Shiraz: Very sunny city and pleasant place to go to during autumn. Lots of traditional Persian gardens but the highlight of course, is Persepolis which is about an hour's ride from the city. Temperature is just about right. Stayed in Sasan Hotel for IRR 460,000 per night for a twin including breakfast.
Yazd: My favorite out of the 5 cities I visited in Iran. Not so much in terms of sights but very atmospheric and has the most charming hotels in my opinion. Loved the maze-like streets of the old city. Much of the accommodation options are set in traditional houses with nice courtyards. I stayed in Kohan Hotel at the recommendation of a French traveler we met in Shiraz. Good value at about IRR 380,000 per night for a twin which includes breakfast and free wifi. They serve great food for lunch and dinner as well, departing from the usual kebabs.
Esfahan: I liked the Imam Square -- the atmosphere there was quite relaxing. This is also the most touristy city that I encountered in Iran, where I met the most foreign travelers. Lots of locals wanting to practice English with me especially in the square. Imam Mosque was closed to tourists and under construction at the time of my visit. Ali Qapu and Chehel Sotun were also undergoing partial re-construction but were open to tourists. Stayed at Sasan Hotel. It's not mentioned in LP and is located north of Amir Kabir Hostel just beyond the junction. At IRR 450,000 for a twin, it is very clean and modern. It's also quite a new hotel with simple buffet breakfast and free wifi.
Kashan: Stayed here for a night on our way to Tehran from Esfahan. The city's not particularly atmospheric but has some wonderful historic houses. Visited 4 -- Ameriha, Abbasian, Tabatabaie and Boroujerdi. Fin Garden (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is also located a few kilometers away. Abyaneh is about an hour's drive from Kashan and good for a daytrip. Stayed at Ehsan House which is the most expensive hotel in our trip. IRR 650,000 for a twin with free breakfast and wifi.
Tehran: Read a lot of bad reviews about this city concerning the pollution and traffic. I guess we were lucky as we visited on a clear day after the rain washed away the pollution the previous night. It was also a holiday (Eid) so not that much cars on the streets. The subway is a quick, clean and cheap way to go around at IRR 3,000 per trip (anywhere). For some reason, passengers were given free rides up until 11AM.. not sure if this was due to the holiday or if it's like this everyday. Also tried their public buses which were clean and new. We went up to Tajrish and Saadabad Palace. Nice place -- there was fresh snow on the ground and did not feel like the Middle East at all. Stayed at Firouzeh Hotel for IRR 400,000 a night for a twin inclusive of bath and breakfast but shared toilet. This hotel is all about the famous Mr Mousavi, and just as I've been hearing from the other travelers I met who started their trip in Iran, he is a source of a wealth of info not just on Tehran but on Iran in general.
I've posted pictures of my trip, and you can see them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/achua/sets/72157627965262707/
I'll be happy to answer more detailed questions, so feel free to contact me if you have any!
Edited by: pietrified84
Nov 10, 2011 1:34 AM
Nov 10, 2011 1:34 AM
Nov 10, 2011 6:37 AM
I'm off to Iran on Saturday for two weeks. Just wondering how much money I need to budget. I was looking at similar hotels in $30-40 range and eating in decent restaurants. How much do you think is a reasonable amount for two weeks excluding souvenirs etc). This is obviously a subjective question, however, I'm following a similar route and as said, mid-range hotels and good food. Ball park??
Nov 10, 2011 7:05 AM
Nov 10, 2011 9:17 AM
5I did not take any domestic flights. I spent about US$400 for a 9 day visit.
This includes the following:
$30 - 40 for a hotel (double room)
$5 - 7 for intercity bus tickets
$5 - 10 per meal for 2 meals a day
Entrance fees for the attractions
Daytour to Persepolis
Within the cities, we walked for the most part except for distances that are more than a mile apart where we took taxi
Breakfast at hotel
Nov 11, 2011 7:45 AM
6The Imam Mosque in Esfahan was closed? What a shame. :-(
Did they indicate for how long? I'll be there in about two weeks- hope it is open.
Nov 11, 2011 8:15 AM
Nov 12, 2011 6:33 PM
8I visited on a Friday. I know most of the sights are closed in the mornings. But strange thing is, when I returned to the square, both Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and Ali Qapu Palace reopened at 3PM but the Imam Mosque remained closed.
Incidentally, I was there on 4th of November which coincided with the 32nd anniversary of the US Embassy Hostage crisis and a demonstration occurred in front of the mosque that morning. Not sure if that had anything to do with the mosque being closed to tourists for the entire day if it's indeed the case that the Imam Mosque is open as usual. I had asked some of the locals however and they told me it's really closed so I just assumed they were correct.
Nov 14, 2011 8:33 AM
Nov 14, 2011 9:06 AM
Nov 14, 2011 5:39 PM
Dec 12, 2011 6:48 AM
12For those looking for relatively recent info about traveling in Iran -- I've just managed to finish blogging about my trip (7 entries!!)
You can find it here -- it's much more comprehensive than my post above ... only so much one can put in a forum
(0 star Hotel)
From US$14.04 per night
Bandar AbbasBook now