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Iran Travel Guide

Iran Travel Guide

iran travel guide

History

Iran, an old country with a long history, is one of the world’s ancient parts. Some experts say Iran is more than 10000 years old and it was one of the residences of ancient people.Even before Indo-europeans entered this country ancient civilizations like burnt city in Sistan, Ilamic in north of Khuzestan, Jiroft in Kerman, Sialk in kashan and a few others have existed there.

Throughout history Iran has generally been a fortunate empire controlling what now we call the Middle East. It was conqured three times one by Alexander of Macedonia, Arabs and Mongols,although damages and destructions were made Iran has remained to be one of the greats cultural civilizations. As an strategic area it was a bridge between East and West and an important part of the Silk road crossed through it.

More recent dynasties ruled in Iran are Safavid, Qajars and Pahlavies which a great deal of historical and cultural sites and relics left of them.In 1979 the last Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown and Islamic revolution under leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini took its place which continues till now.

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People 

The ancient Persians arrived about 1500 BC,one branch of the great Indo-Europeans movement.They named themselves Aryan and their country became Iran.Persian language or Farsi although affected by Arabic is an Indo-European language.Persians are ethnically and linguistically unrelated to their neighbors on the west, the Arabs and Turks,but it has many other ethnics other than Persian Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Lurs, Baluchis, Armenians and Zoroaster.

Despite their differences all of them are living in coordination and tolerance with each other. Iranians are amazingly hospitable and friendly people. No matter in which part of Iran they all welcome guests even to their own homes.

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Cities & Destinations

More notable cities of Iran are as follows:

Tehran: Iran’s beautiful and modern capital with exceeding 7 million population.

Mashhad: Religious capital of Iran for having Imam Reza Shrine which has many Shiaa visitors during the year.

Isfahan: The former capital in Safavid period with stunning architectural masterpieces and tree-lined boulevards. A Persian saying claims it as half of the world.

Tabriz: Some say that this western provincial capital is the Biblical Garden of Eden.

Shiraz: Royal capital of Persian past empires has the Persepolis to show of together with its many joyful gardens and famous Saadi and Hafez tombs.

Yazd: The home of Zoroaster the prophet is built in desert area with an architecture innovated for this climate using wind catchers and underground waterways.

Hamedan: One of the old cities in the world dating back to Median era.

Kermanshah: A western city with rich history and two world known sites: Taghe Bostan and Bistun.

Kerman: A great place for desert lovers with amazing desert hot spots.

Other touristic destinations in Iran are:

Dizin: An adventurous destinations for ski fans and one of the world’s highest ski resorts, Dizin, is only two hours far from north of Tehran.

Abyaneh: This historical village near Kashan is a UNESCO world heritage site characterized by a reddish hue and the untouched rural culture and traditional architecture.

Persepolis and Pasargadea: You can visit these remnant sites of the Acheamenid and the Sassanid period in an excursion from Shiraz.

Kish and Qeshm Islands: Kish island is a free trade zone in Persian Gulf with numerous malls and shopping centers and resort hotels a place for a break,also home of Darius Grand Hotel, a magnificent hotel in Iran and one of the top ten best hotels in the Middle East.

Qeshm island is Persian Gulf’s largest island with several ecotourism attractions like Hara marine forests.

Susa: It’s Iran’s most ancient city 110 Km north of Ahvaz. The ziggurat of Choqazanbil is the famous monument of this area.

Sarein: Sarein is a city in northwest of Iran near Ardebil which is known as Iran’s spa city. It has 12 mineral hot springs.

Candovan village: This 800 years old village is located 52 Km from Tabriz and has a unique architecture with houses that are built in the heart of mountain.

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Things to Do

There are lots of activities that can be done in desert such as  desert tracking, camel riding, bicycle riding and 4×4 driving excursions.In some parts you can stay in desert camps.Visit the oasis village of Garmeh surrounded by date palms;a place where you get the chance to experience the profound quiet of desert.

There are five ski piste near Tehran also one near Shiraz.The longest one is at Dizin north of Tehran but the more professional one which is used for national and international tournaments is Shemshak also near Tehran.

You can enjoy Iran coastal areas too. Kish island is a known place for its beaches where you can enjoy the pleasant sunshine (There are covered places designed for women). Diving is also available for those who like to see the colorful marine life of Persian Gulf both in Kish and Qeshm island.

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Getting There

By plane: All international flights to Tehran land at the new Imam Khomeini International Airport, There are 70 smaller regional airports, which  some like ShirazMashhad, and Isfahan, Tabriz, Kermanshah have daily flights to many international destinations. Dubai has scheduled flights to many Iranian cities, including Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kerman, Mashhad, Tabriz, Kish island, Kermanshah and some other therefore worth considering travelling to Iran from.

Iran Air and Mahan Air connect Tehran with some of the major European cities as well as destinations in Asia and Middle East. European companies landing in Tehran include BMI, Lufthansa, KLM, Alitalia, Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot and Middle-Eastern airlines: Saudi Arabian Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad. AirAsia also has flights to/from Kuala Lumpur beginning on August 2010 ,so finding a flight to Iran should not be hard.

Due to sanctions there are no direct flights at present from Canada or the USA, but you could travel via either Europe or Persian Gulf States. Non-stop flights from Dubai via JFK, IAD, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston or Toronto are good bets. Visitors from Australia or New Zealand can consider travelling via Dubai or Abu Dhabi, or can use a combination of Iran Air and Malaysian Airlines to get from any major city in Australia to Tehran, via Kuala Lumpur.

By train: You can use  Trans-Asia Express service runnig  weekly from Ankara, includes a ferry over Lake Van, crosses the Iranian border then stops at Tabriz before arriving in Tehran. The journey takes 59 hr (2 nights travelling).

Other train services connect Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan to Iran.

By bus or car: If you choose to drive to Iran you should have an international driver’s license and a Carnet De Passage that can be acquired from your local drivers association (such as the RAC in the UK) and the route is via Turkey.

There are also modern bus services from Turkey and Armenia to Iran.

By boat: Starting in late 2007 and 2008; high quality semi-luxurious ferry service started between Kish Island and Abu Dhabi and Dubai.It is not currently known what the Customs and Entry Visa process is like using this service however as the boats do not enter via the airport. While the entry/exit process at the airport is fairly well established, it is unknown if the process is as well managed when entering via the docks. It is likely to be more chaotic and it is not know whether visas are issued on the spot as is the case at the airport.

There are also ferries from Bandar Abbas to Dubai and Sharjah in UAE, and also ferries from Bushehr to QatarKuwait and Bahrain.

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Getting Around

It might not be as fast as Europe or North America but Iranian transportation is of high quality and affordable.

There are frequent and reliable air services by  The major national carrier Iran Air, and its semi-private competitors such as Iran Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and Kish Air link Tehran with most regional capitals and offer inter-regional flights.

Tickets can be bought at airports or agencies existing in most cities. You can also find domestic tickets in some Iran Air offices abroad, such as in Dubai. Expect to pay a little more due to the exchange rate applied.

If you choose to travel on surface  you can opt for train,bus or car. Although train services are limited but its comfortable and provided with sleeping berths.

Road traveling services are extensively used and almost every city and even small towns are provided with reliable and modern buses and contrary to what has shown it is safe and with very few accidents.

If you decide to travel between cities by car we can assure you that roads are safe and regularly maintenance d and in this case you also have the chance to visit many en route attractions.

Communication

Different communication facilities are largly expanded in Iran.you can use telephone,mobile,internet,email and fax in almost everywhere during your trip.

All operators offer relatively cheap,rechargeable SIM card to travelers. GPRS and MMS is also available at very low prices, specially at nights, for surfing the web or checking your email. WiFi with your mobile phone or tablet is a good option in Iran and you can readily access WiFi internet services (depending upon network availability) in many areas, and in all provinces.

Iranian Post Company provides many of the international postal services even in some rural centers.

There are newspapers published everyday in Farsi,English, Arabic and French etc, like Tehran times and Iran Daily which are more known.

There are also many different local,national and international radio stations broadcasting programs in Farsi, English, Arabic etc, everyday

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 Religion,Social Custom and Conducts

Iran is a country with diverse ethnicities and therefor different religions and beliefs like Christian and Jewish communities and Zoroastrians. Although formal religion is Islam but on contrary to popular belief other religions are tolerated and respected as long as don’t get insulting.

Maybe the most visible part of Islamic Iran is the special way of clothing although many women wear Chador which is a long black scarf but you can wear normal clothes as long as it covers all your body excluding hands, feet also wearing a loose scarf on your hair covering most of it. All colors and designs are acceptable and there is more tolerance shown towards foreign women over the details.

Men are also required to have some points in mind; short sleeved shirts and T-shirts are acceptable but shorts are only worn on the beach. Neckties are also acceptable except in government bodies.

There are some rules according to opposite sex relations;introduce yourself normally without handshaking but it is OK to handshake with the same sex.Western music and dancing is banned in public but certainly you will hear music in all public places like malls, shops, restaurants etc.

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 Food and Drinks

Although you can’t have alcoholic drinks but there are plenty of exquisite and delicious food and drinks to experience.

The most common food consumed daily by Iranians is boiled and steamed rice (berenj) which at homes often eat with a thick stew (khoresht) containing a modest amount of meat. Iranian stews has many varieties that may differ locally. Some of more popular ones are sweet and sour Fesenjan with Pomegranate syrup, Ghorme Sabzi prepared with fresh herbs and Gheimeh made with split-peas. There are also some flavored rices as an accompaniment to main courses like Baghali polo with broad-bean and Sabzi polo laced with parsley, dill and mint.

Another favorite food of Iranians is different kinds of kebabs a grilled skewed meat and rice garnished with butter, grilled tomatoes, a sour spice called Somaq, raw onions and basils.

Maybe the most traditional Iranian meal  is Ash (a kind of soup) variations which the more popular one is Reshteh Ash a combination of herbs,peas and thick noodles.

Black tea is the national drink of Iran which is served with cubed sugar. If you prefer coffee it is also available both in coffee shops and instant packaged ones.

Soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available in every supermarket in cities. Dough is also a popular drink among Iranians which is a combination of yogurt,salt and water and sometimes flavored with mint .Tap water is safe in safe almost in every part of country if you are extra sensitive about this issue you can always use mineral bottled water which is widely available.

Don’t worry if you are less adventurous in food area or have special diets like vegetarians because many restaurants in major cities can serve you international cuisines and vegetarian food and snacks.

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