American Visiting Iran
Replies: 5 - Last Post: May 4, 2013 3:22 AM Last Post By: amiriniran2
Apr 26, 2013 12:59 PM
American Visiting IranHi!
I'm trying to plan a trip to Iran at the end of this year, and had a few questions.
I'm an American who has been to Israel (six years ago). I'm getting a new passport soon. Will I have difficulty getting a visa, since the new passport will not have an Israeli stamp?
As an American, do I need to have a guide the whole trip? One of my main motives for this trip is to practice my Persian, but if I need to be on a tour, I worry that will be difficult. I have a few friends with family in the country, but I don't want to impose on them. Does anyone know of a tour that might accommodate that, or that is geared toward Persian learners?
Also, of the tour companies I've looked at, it seemed Iran Travel Service and Persian Voyages had the tours closest to what I was looking for (with the latter having the option to enter via train from Turkey, and both offering Susa as an option). I haven't been able to find many reviews of them. Does anyone have experience with them?
Edited by: notapoet47
Apr 27, 2013 7:42 AM
1I am European (from a country that has always respected Persian culture) but the one thing I can tell you: when I went to the Iranian embassy to apply for a visa, they did not have this question "Have you ever been to Israel/ the occupied Palestinian territories" on their application form, the way Lebanon and Syria did. Instead theirs was some open question, I do not remember exactly, maybe something like "Which countries in the Middle East have you visited?"
So, if your passport does not show the stamp, simply do not mention Israel. I am not even sure whether they have this clause about Israel.
I called the Iranian embassy and told him that I wish to travel through their country as a lone female, and told them that their website said something about not giving visas to lone women, and if that was the case, I would simply go to another embassy in a different country that did not mention this on their homepage, since I was too busy to waste 2 weeks waiting for a number and then be refused. The man was quite accommodating and "persuaded" me to come and have him do all the paper work for me, instead of me having to write to Teheran for a registration number.
I accidentally ran into him recently and asked him, if I could get another visa and reminded him, that he had done it for me last time (which surprised him, apparently he almost never does that for anyone) and he said, yes, I should come over a month before departure and he would do it for me again. :)
I can't tell you anything about tours and I traveled without a guide, alone, using night buses from one city to another. I did however run into one lady, also alone, in Dibai house (traditional Iranian house inside the bazaar, transformed into a hotel, with a Spanish manager) in Esfahan, and she was taking some Persian lessons and also had some local friends.
The only thing I can tell is that basically Iran is an extremely cheap country to travel, even though they suffer from inflation, and that the tours you can book from the West tend to be hugely overpriced. If you can travel for 2 weeks on your own for 600$ or so incl. everything, why spend 250$ just for someone offering to take you from one city to another in his car?
The embassy did not ask me for any itinerary, as far as I remember they just wanted an address of a hotel in Iran, so I gave them one in the city nearest to the border where I was going to cross. (when I arrived, that hotel was full, so I never stayed there, and got a room somewhere else)
Edited by: seftali
Edited by: seftali
Apr 27, 2013 9:17 AM
2No one knows that you have been to the occupied Palestine (the way that Syrian and Lebanon call that Israel), as long as the neither the Israeli stamp, nor the stamps of Jordan or Egypt at the border with Israel, are shown on your passport. This should not be a problem.
The problem is, however, travelling with an USA passport means that you MUST be on a guided tour with fixed itinerary before you are granted a visa. This, however, IMHO, should not be a problem for you. How much you interact with local people depends on your practice. With or without a guide should not be too much an issue. You can even have more chance to practice your persian if you insist on speaking persian with your guide!
Remember, Iran is not DPRK. Having a guide does not mean that you have no way to interact with other people. Don't worry too much.
Apr 27, 2013 11:34 AM
At the end of the year? That is far off in future.
Yes, u must be on a tour, but that coud be either a solo or a group tour.
I can recommend u one or two good travel agencies which tend to get visa for Americans faster and easier than others I have heard of.
Take time to follow my threads here on the lonelynplanet and on tripadvisor.com. I'm the most active iranian member on both, by far. Good luck. Amir in tehran.
Apr 27, 2013 1:09 PM
4Thank you so much for the input!
seftali - Thanks so much! I just wasn't sure how much research they do with the visa application. Thanks for sharing your experiences about traveling alone as a woman.
vincenthychow - Thank you! Yeah, I figured it wouldn't be DPRK levels of escorting, but living in NYC has made me biased against guided tours. I just worry about being on a tour with all English speakers, making it easier for me to get out of speaking Persian. But it seems like solo tours may be a good option!
amiriniran - Thanks! I'm planning the trip as a graduation gift to myself, so I'm trying to get an approximate idea of budgeting and the stuff I'm going to have to do to go on the trip. The tour company names would be wonderful. I will definitely look at your posts, thank you for your insights!
May 4, 2013 3:22 AM
it seems i never got back to you. sorry.
i recommend Touranzamin travel agency in tehran. they are very fast in getting visa for americans as long as there is nothing major wrong with your application. they are the fastest i know. their email is email@example.com. i do NOT obviously work for them! good luck. amir.
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