Iranian rial (IR)
Budget: less than US$50
- One-way bus Tehran–Esfahan: US$9
- Entrance fees to most sights: US$4
- Dorm bed or basic room with bathroom: US$10–40
- Meal in local restaurant: US$5–10
- One-way flight Shiraz–Tehran: US$70
- Half-day trip from Shiraz to Persepolis by taxi/driver-cum-guide: US$40/50
- Double room with bathroom: US$40–149
- Meal in midrange restaurant: US$8–15
Top end: More than US$200
- Four-star hotel in Tehran or Esfahan: US$150 plus
- Main meal in top Tehran restaurant: US$25–50
- Guide and/or driver for day: US$70–100
As a general rule the prices of groceries, food, sights, transport (except private taxis) and most things with a price tag attached are fixed. But virtually all prices in the bazaar are negotiable, particularly for souvenir-type products and always for carpets. In touristed areas, such as Imam Sq in Esfahan or the Bazar-e Vakil in Shiraz, bargaining is essential.
Bargaining can be tough if you’re not used to it, so here are a couple of pointers. First, when you find something you like be sure not to show too much interest. Vendors can smell desperation a mile away. Second, don’t buy the first one you see; subtly check out a few alternatives to get an idea of price and quality. With this knowledge, casually enquire as to the price and then make a counter-offer, thus beginning the bargaining process. The vendor will often beseech you to make a better offer: ‘But I have nine children to feed’. However, having looked at the competition you know what is a fair price so only edge up slowly. If you can’t agree on a price you could try walking out of the store, but if the shopkeeper calls your bluff you’ll struggle to knock the price down any further than you already have.
Remember that bargaining is not a life and death battle. A good bargain is when both parties are happy and doesn’t necessarily require you to screw every last toman out of the vendor. If you paid more than your travelling companion, don’t worry. As long as you’re happy, it was a good deal.
If you can get past the dude out the front with the machine gun, the Exchange Company is the place to change money.