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Hitching is never entirely safe in any country, and we don’t recommend it. Travellers who decide to hitch should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk and in Iran, women should not even consider it.

For men, however, it’s doable. Hitching, as understood in the West, is a novel concept in Iran. Although you will often see people standing by the roadside, they are actually waiting for space in a bus, minibus or shared taxi, for which they expect to pay. Occasionally drivers will offer foreigners a free ride in return for practising their English or out of simple hospitality. Like anywhere, you’re most likely to find rides in more remote areas. Host drivers will be typically generous, possibly sharing food and cigarettes, all while refusing attempts to pay for them. You should be prepared to pay something, however, and make the offer, although it will usually be turned down. In such a case it’s nice to have something small to thank them with.

When flagging down a ride, rather than using the thumb out sign (which could be construed as offensive), wave your hand down with palm down, as if patting the air down.