If your travel takes more just a couple of days, it will be absolutely useful to learn how to write and spell the Persian numbers from 0 to 9 and some two dozen words, about numbers and quantities. While visiting any shop of Bazaar stall, 99% of prices will be indicated exclusively in Persian numbers (and keep remembering- written in Tomans, so you’ll need to multiply them by 10 while using Rial banknotes). Learning essential sets of numbers from 1 to 1000 will make your life much easier. We discussed accommodation and telecom service expenses in Iran travel budget, part 2, and also flight expenses traveling to Iran in Part 1. Now sick with us with ran travel budget, part 3.
Hard budget traveler, admiring day by day wonders of Iran, cannot escape the food expense, whatever massive breakfast you consume, at some time in the afternoon or evening your stomach will ask his share of Iran’s delights.
While saving on hotel and transport expenses seems absolutely natural, it’s not so obvious when it comes to food. Well, you do not pass some weeks in Iran eating every evening just pasta or rice or whatever cheapest food you can cook yourself in a hostel kitchenette.
Actually there are lots of street sellers in every Iranian city, offering hot meals at very good prices. Bowl of tasty dense soup, that usually comes in 2 or 3 varieties will cost 100 000 rials, a small dish of spiced beans of red beets is 50 000 rials, these are among the cheapest ones. Powerful Kale Pache soup (essence form long-boiled sheep heads and legs) is 250 000 rials, at this price come start also street kebabs and other dishes.
So, if it is possible in some hostels to get a massive breakfast, your daily Persian food should cost about 3 euro, with this you can try a local “working class” eateries, avoiding obviously any kind of elegant restaurant or pricey products.
To drink, a good choice is try Doogh (big bottles 1,5 lt selling in every shop) – local yogurt-based bit salty drink, which can be in different flavors and sometimes sparkling (carbonized). There is a variety of “malt beverages” which means non-alcoholic beer and fruit beverages – all these usually cost around 50-70 Eurocents a big bottle at actual exchange rate. More expensive but containing vitamin and delicious will be freshly pressed pomegranate juice from street sellers, but can cost you even 2 euro for 1 lt bottle.
If you are however a dedicated carnivore and can use your hostel kitchen – then why not to cook sometime; in street foot meat will be very tasty but let’s say the truth – not in a big quantity.
In Iran you will not find cheap pig meat, of course; and bovine one is very expensive – the best choice for hard budget folk will buy a package of chicken bits and prepare it your way.
There are some shops called “discount”, one known network with best price meat is Refah (so google Refah supermarket to find nearest) – a package of near 1 kg chicken meat was around 230 000 rials, less 2 euro. As for common vegetables or fruits in bazaars of supermarkets, at least now in December 2019 – prices are similar to prices in Europe.
Last but not least aspect of your travel – the tourist attractions. To visit most of them, especially those most important – there is an entrance fee. Bad news, indeed there a 2 ticket prices – for locals and for foreigners. Differences can be terrific, for example, National Museum Iranian price is 100 000 rials, foreigner pay 1 000 000. Not much can be done if you have a Nordic look; if you are lucky to pass visually for an Iranian, it can be an idea to go with an Iranian friend perhaps found on Couch surfing (many want just to hang out and practice language) – who buys 2 Iranian-priced tickets for both of you, and if you are lucky, you will save a lot on this occasion.
Unfortunately for those who cannot pass for Iranians (or are too formal to try this escamotage) visiting important monuments, museums and landmarks just in most popular cities can easily cost up to 150 -200 euros. Each beautiful garden, poet tomb, the small local museum will have this double price system, so it is important to take this into consideration when planning a hard budget trip to Iran.
Recent example – small, municipal Babol City Museum, Iranians 30 000, foreigners 200 000 rials.
You will normally need a local sim card to use for call and internet – it is easy but will take some time registering at least 15 minutes. There are 3 telecoms in Iran, you can get a package with lots of calls and internet for some 5 euro, then recharge it as in every country.
Attention – to combat smuggling of goods, Iranian Customs allow nor registered phones to be used in Iran for around 1 month. When you enter Iran on roaming (or if spent – in the day you activate your Iranian sim) arrives SMS telling you to register the phone with them (to pay an import fee) – or it will not work inside Iran (they identify it via IMEI number). So, if you plan to stay more than 1 month and have no wish for bureaucratic complications – take a spare smartphone with you (and keep it spent until the main one goes out of service).
Concluding, in my opinion, it is absolutely possible to travel comfortably with a 10 Euro /day budget, this includes hostels, food, telecom, and transport. But this will not be enough to visit many important monuments – in such case you should plan 15 euro/day expenses, to cover entrance fees and hopefully, few souvenirs from your hard budget, adventurous Iranian Journey.