Iran Doostan Tours Co. has the honor of being a pioneer in operating cultural tours in Iran. We were one of the first few travel agencies that started operating incoming tours to Iran. Through 30 years of experience, we managed to expand our service to cover more diverse package tours to Iran. Today, we offer nearly all sorts of Incoming tours to Iran, any type of tour our dear clients request ranging from cultural to adventure, MICE, medical and tailor-made tours.
No matter you are looking for tours to Iran from India, tours to Iran from USA, Cheap Iran tour or luxury tour,
Iran 7-day tour or 14-day tour, we are ready to offer you the best travel experience you could ever have in the ancient land of Persia. Iran’s land tour and escort tour are also among our experiences you can count on.
All sorts of tours at any price and quality range, from any country, would be managed by our professional experts at Iran Doostan. Having handled a variety of situations and operating a diversity of tours to Iran, our staff are quite reliable for consultation and operating incoming tours to Iran.
Covering all travel services tourists might need including itineraries, visas, tour guides, transportation, accommodation would be provided by Iran Doostan tours Co.
If you have any concerns regarding Iran visa, it should be noted that the procedure is quite fast and convenient and the tourists can apply for a visa online. Iran e-visa has been launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make it easier to apply for an Iran tourist visa online. However, If you still happen to have any problem with the process, our professional colleagues are ready to help you.
Have you made up your mind for a holiday in Iran? Get in touch with us via info@idt.com. We will be at your service.

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Mohamadali ashraf vaghefi

Coronavirus and the threats to the future of tourism in Iran

Mohammad Ali Vaghefi, the vice president of the Iranian Tour Operators Association had an online interview with Marketing and Advertising Manager at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts discussing the state of domestic and international tourism in Iran.

He admitted that 90% of the 2020 incoming tours to Iran have been canceled So far, and there is a high possibility of canceling the remaining 10%. However, many foreign agencies are already asking Iranian agencies for their travel package price in 2021. Many Iranian hotels, transportation companies, and travel agencies including Iran Doostan have predicted the requirements for traveling to Iran in this situation, and we are prepared to welcome our dear tourists, individually or in a group, considering all health protocols.

Mr. Vaghefi’s analysis of the situation, as a manager with more than 30 years of experience, is that domestic travel in Iran will be established first, and then demands in the travel sector will be raised by tourists with private vehicles. Many tourists prefer to go camping in nature and stay in tents or even rent a villa and disinfect it instead of booking a hotel room.

Regarding international travel, he believes that by resuming travels, there will be long lines for health control. Sanitary products and alcohol-based stuff will be added to the accessories that the tourist must hold. Passengers are required to receive travel insurance. The number of visitors and the number of visits to historical places and museums will decline, and by observing the slightest sign of illness, the person is excluded from the tour.

He continued: “We expect that demand for nature tourism will grow, and traveling in a group will be less frequent. Our tourism partners in other countries are already asking for a price of groups of one to eight people.” As a result, with regard to the health protocol, the cost of travel services, including plane tickets will increase and travel will become a luxury service.

At the end of the discussion Mr. Vaghefi asked for the government’s help to this sector, and

expressed his concerns this way: “In this situation, the government should contribute to the tourism industry.” It is important to keep the industry alive, the most important thing that should be considered is to keep the employees of the sector. It may take about four years for us to find a replacement for the specialized workforces that have left the profession.

Top 4 off the beaten path places to visit in Iran

There are hundreds of wonderful places, some of which are well known to all visiting tourists, but there are a few rather less-known places to visit in Iran. I will introduce four of these off the beaten path places I have loved visiting in Iran.

Qeshm Island

The largest Persian Gulf island does not make part of the standard Iran tour most tourists follow – but nevertheless is among the most interesting places for those who can stay for more than one week in the country. Located in the Hormuz Strait, close to Bandar Abbas port, the island offers several unique amazing spots as well as the possibility of practicing sports, snorkeling and diving, watching turtles and dolphins – or simply relaxing on its warm beaches.
Its main wonders include the unique geological natural wonder Stars Valley, Mangrove Forest to visit by small boat, and a huge colorful salt cave. You can stay in traditional Hormuzi guesthouses, try local fish-based food and you definitely will meet many lovely camels, a frequent sight on this island, and in some parts of the Deep South of Iran. In the main city, also called Qeshm, is located an old Portuguese fort – in fact, Portugal controlled the Strait of Hormuz for more than 100 years and a couple of their castles survived until our days.
Curiously Qeshm, as well as smaller and more luxury-oriented Island of Kish, enjoys a kind of tax-free regime, hence it is a destination of shopping trips for many Iranians.
Definitely not a place to go during very hot summers, Qeshm will charm you from early fall to late spring. You can arrive by fast ferries or by place. Once there, you can visit nearby Hormuz and Hendan islands, too.

places to visit in Iran

Qeshm: The largest island in the Persian Gulf.

Khararanagh adobe ghost town

Situated not far away from Yazd, this incredible place consists of hundreds of small adobe houses, usually connected between them, slowly degrading with each year passing…Hundreds of years old dwellings, still bustling with life some 30 years ago, were left by its inhabitants for modern homes with gas and water. Others left for big cities… It is a strange sensation, walking around and inside these domes, so small for our standards, aware of generations that passed their lives just there.
Kharanagh has situated some 80 km from Yazd, usually, you can visit it on “3 in 1 tour”, together with Chak Chak Zoroastrian holy place and the ancient city of Meybod. Iran, Yazd province, the edge of the Dasht-e Kavir desert, Kharanaq old village with its mud bricks (adobe) houses overlooking the Andjir valley.

places to visit in Iran

Situated not far away from Yazd, Khararanagh adobe ghost town consists of hundreds of small adobe houses.

Makhunik “Liliput village”

For some factors, during a couple of centuries, like lack of green land to feed animals, that forced people to a rather poor vegetable diet for all their life, and near-total isolation of the small population – when “discovered” about 100 years ago, the Makhunik villagers became quite famous for their small stature – having in average about 130 cm. For that reason, you can imagine their adobe houses were also very low, often round and have usually only one small window –  to keep warm and save heating during harsh winters. Actually, with a road finally open, changed diet and mixed marriages, more and more inhabitants are average tall, but while visiting Makhunik you will surely meet older people proud of their unique look and living in those picturesque little houses.
The village is located in South Khorasan province, best to visit in spring or fall time.

 

Ray, the ancient city in Tehran metropolitan area

While for most tourists Tehran is the point of entry to Iran and the place they stay first few days visiting its museums and landmarks – it is very easy to miss a much older city, that actually makes part of the huge and growing Tehran metropolis. Fortunately, Shahr e Ray (City of Ray) is now easily connected thanks to the metro network, and it takes less than half an hour to reach it from the center of the capital. While Tehran itself was a small town until becoming Persia’s capital in 1795, Ray located south of it was a thriving big city for over 2000 years. Although destroyed heavily during Mongol invasions, Rey offers several interesting landmarks, as wonderful Emamzadeh Abdol-Azim shrine (place of prayer and pilgrimage, but open to anyone), Rashkan Castle on the hill, Chesmeh Ali rock reliefs and famous Seljuk period Tughrul Tower.
The simplest way to reach this ancient city is by metro Red Line direction south, station Shahr e Rey. To stations further south there is a really huge, beautiful, recently build shrine (some decoration works inside and outside are still ongoing) of Emam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran (also open for everyone).

travel to Iran

Iran Budget Travel – Part 1: Flights and Money

In this article, I would like to present some information and tips, hopefully, useful for “hard budget” travelers, with limited means but nevertheless dreaming of exploring the ancient land of Persia. As it was exactly my case, I am glad to share my experience in Iran travel costs!

Iran visa

While most Europeans (with the notable exception of UK) can obtain VOA in Iran’s several main airports, this obviously closes the possibility to arrive in other ways – by land or sea.
If you arrange an electronic visa before coming to Iran and are not in rush – you will be able to spice up your trip by making your journey a bit more adventurous and at least having a glance of some South Caucasus countries – while using well known European low-cost airlines.

Economic flight to Iran

Wizzair already connects Kutaisi in Georgia with lots of European cities; recently also Ryanair opened some connections with Kutaisi and Tbilisi. From amazing Tbilisi, it is possible to take a bus to Tehran, transiting Armenia and admiring towns and mountain roads. The bus price recently was around 60 euro, but take note that its some 30 h trip. Georgia and Armenia are visa-free for most Western nationals.
Otherwise, there is also the Wizzair connection Budapest-Baku, often around 50 euro, but in such a case you probably need also Azerbaijan e-visa that costs some 20 euro. There are bus and train connections to Tabriz or Tehran, or you can cross the Astara border and continue by exploring wonderful Green Paradise of Caspian areas of North Iran.
In case you come from Russia, Azerbaijani Buta Airways offers good prices Moscow to Tehran, via Baku.
Otherwise, as I did myself – the cheapest flight from many European countries is with Pegasus Airlines, a Turkish near-low cost company, obviously via Istanbul Sabiha Airport. In some periods of last year, there were prices (hand luggage only) of around 80 euro, one-way ticket – even from so faraway places as Madrid.
OK, so assuming you came to Iran you will need to stay somewhere, travel inside the country try local food – the good news is that it is very low actually, as long as you stay within “Iranian Price Space” by what I mean avoiding being corralled into specific services for foreign tourists, at much higher prices.
So, let’s talk about money – and here the fun starts! There are 2 money units in practice and 2 parallel foreign exchanges! Isn’t it wonderful?
Important – because of long time USA sanctions, no foreign bank card of any kind works in Iran. You must take CASH (euro or dollars) with you.
Any online source indicates that the official money of IRI is RIAL, nevertheless, Iranians with strange determination keep using the old unit, TOMAN – that worth 10 Rials, and nearly all prices are indicated in this unit: in shops, bazaars, taxis, etc. So, it is very confusing at the beginning, especially as we use hundreds of thousands and millions (of Rials – as these are the notes) on a daily basis.
Another initial tourist trap is the exchange rate. As said, there are two, government one and the real one. The real one does not mean the black market, as you change legally in exchange shops – that pay you 3-4 times more than banks on the same street, (as the banks by law must follow the Central Bank rates)! Doesn’t look a bit strange?

Everything about Iran money (Rial)

Because of recent sanctions and a de facto economic blockade, Iran’s Rial has lost its value compared to euro and dollar. If 3 years ago 1 euro was about 40 000 Rials, in October 2019 it was around 120 000 and in mid–December 2019 it is around 150 000 Rials – or as Iranians would say 15 000 Tomans.
Depending on many domestic or international factors Rial’s exchange can jump up or down (usually up) and it is absolutely crucial to check the latest rates on https://www.bonbast.com/.
What about other, Central Bank of Iran rate – it is for local importers and for other legitimate cases. The government keeps this rate, so they can buy dollars or euros at an easier price. However, it has nothing to do with tourists; as today, this rate for 1 euro is around 46 000 Rials – so, simply do not use banks to exchange your money, go only to private exchange points.
Be careful, the trap can wait for you in first minutes of your stay in Iran – while in need to change some money in Tehran Emam Khomeini airport, and wandering around – I was approached by a nice smart looking guy offering me to exchange my euros, giving me “very good rate” some 5000 Rials over the “official bank exchange” – of course showing me on his smartphone the exchange table of Central Bank in English!
Fortunately, I knew the real rate. Take note, on the second floor of the Emam Khomeini airport there is a money exchange shop, giving you quite good rates, so go there to change for the first needs.
Very important – with this fast depreciation, nobody knows how will be Rial exchange rate in 1 or 2 weeks – so do not exchange all money at once, but little by little, following your needs.
In Tehran, most of the exchange points are located in Ferdowsi Square (also metro station) and around, mainly on Ferdowsi street. Avoid black market dealers, that hang around and will approach you – they pay LESS than exchange shops and the same can even cheat you with fake or outdated notes.
Actually, most used note it is 100 000 Rials; the next bigger (and the biggest until now) note is 500 000 Rial; 3 years ago it had a somehow serious value of quite 15 euro – and as today is worth a bit over 3 euro in free exchange… for these reasons the smallest notes of 1000 and 2000 Rial notes and especially the coins, are nowadays rarely used.

5 Iranian local foods I love and I miss while abroad

In every region, every country you go to – you will find some unique foods – that you love so much. Unfortunately, in most cases, it is hard, if not impossible, to find them abroad. Here are five Iranian local foods I love and I am sure I will miss it when I leave this country.

Dough

Dough is a cherished traditional yogurt-based Iranian drink, to accompany meals and also used as an ingredient of many dishes such as soup or a variety of sauces. While in some European countries it is possible to find sour milk beverages – typically just acid in taste as kefir or buttermilk – Iranian dough offer a full symphony of taste and aroma. They are lightly salted, then come as plain dough, with mint, with thyme, or with several green herbs flavor. In every small shop or big supermarket, you will find an area with 1.5-liter bottles with this white drink; usually, there are several brands and varieties of taste. First of all, there is classic dough (no gas – some 80% brands) and carbonated one. Isn’t it a bit weird? a big plastic bottle of fully carbonated, salty, yogurt, and herbs-based beverage? I love it and I could find it only in Iran! Just be careful when opening the carbonated one, you will have several seconds of a champagne-like fountain, so do it carefully-otherwise your (and your neighbors’) clothes will suffer!

Iranian Dough

Iranian dough offers a full symphony of taste and aroma.

Kale-Pache

It is a soup – but a very special one! You will usually know about approaching a kale-pache shop from far away, because of the unmistakable smell it has. Considered as a kind of Persian Red Bull and winter panacea, it is also a love it/hates it food, somehow like British Marmite. Kale Pache means exactly Heads and Legs (of sheep, and sometimes goats) and it is, in fact, the essence of these ingredients, that boil for several hours on a small fire in a huge pot (hence the smell you can notice from a distance). It is believed that such powerful, caloric and tasty Persian food will make you healthy and strong in many aspects. I personally love it – but many Iranians, and seemingly the majority of local girls does not like it, be it for the smell, the taste of its ingredients. Absolutely to try!

Iranian local foods - kaleh-pacheh

Considered as a kind of Persian Red Bull and winter panacea, it Kale-Pache is a love it/hate it food!

Fermented Black Garlic

As a kind of pickle, a local specialty of Northern Iran, I never saw it outside the Caspian Sea areas. These regions were often under Russian influence, so I think this might be the reason why the locals love to pickle near everything – as it is a custom in Russia, too. So, when I first walked across food bazaar in Babolsar (a seaside city in Mazandaran province) I was astonished to see big quantities of black garlic, other vegetables pickled in barrels (as well as lots of smoked fish, not to find elsewhere in Iran). The local variety of garlic is supposed to have anti-inflammatory effects and to be beneficial against a number of illnesses. This is among the Iranian local foods offering an incredible taste and I really love it, altogether with local fish-based food.

Iranian local foods

This is among the Iranian local foods that offering an incredible taste and I really love it, altogether with local fish-based food.

Fresh pomegranate juice

Well, it is not limited in Iran, it is ubiquitous in all Iranian cities – street sellers with chromed metal pressers offering you a glass of the deliciously fresh (and very cheap by the way) pomegranate juice; also, if you want you can buy a small or bigger bottle of this juice right from street vendors and shops, it has wonderful taste and is full of vitamins.

Iranian local foods

Fresh pomegranate juice: A drink you can find everywhere in Iran.

Saffron sugar sticks (rock candy)

Saffron, is a rare and wonderful spice loved by Iranians. the product has been used for millennia in the Persian kitchen. Unfortunately, Saffron is not a cheap luxury, even more, precious than gold in some periods! In local bazaars, you will find different kinds of it in proudly exposed glass vases. But what I discovered soon is that there is a more popular and wallet-friendly use of this noble material – the saffron rock sugar sticks. Looking like miniature zurkhaneh sticks (if you have no idea of this ancient local sport – think about very fat baseball bats) – the rock sugar is mixed with a bit of saffron, giving it a beautiful dark yellow color, with a sweet taste and supposedly, health qualities. They are specially served with tea; a great gift or your own souvenir from Iran. I love to use them when offering tea to most precious friends, astonished by such a nice, sophisticated way of sweetening a hot drink.

Saffron sugar sticks, known also as rock candy, is a delicate Iranian sweet served with tea.

Ramadan in Iran

Everything about Ramadan in Iran

Traveling to Iran in Ramadan offers an opportunity to see a different side of Iranians’ lifestyle such as serving Iftar, religious gathering in public places, and Iranian nightlife.

What is the philosophy behind Ramadan?

You might have heard that ” Ramadan is all about losing Sins not weight“! well, during this month the Muslims are supposed to fast from dawn to dusk, by avoiding food, drink, false words, evil intentions, bad thoughts, and behavior. It is considered a discipline to practice morality, introspection, and self-transformation; it is also meant to evoke a feeling of deeper sympathy with the deprived people. Muslims believe by reading Quran, praying, and practice fasting, God will forgive their past sins and by the end of this month, they are prepared to start a new life with a purified nature. Everyone except the children, the people with medical conditions, the pregnant women, and the travelers are supposed to follow this Islamic rule which would result in a new lifestyle during this month in Islamic countries including Iran. During this month each Islamic country offers its own traditions, foods, and lifestyle. But, how is Ramadan in Iran?

Ramadan in Iran - Mashhad

A view of Iftar during Ramadan in Iran.

How do Iranians’ lifestyle change During Ramadan?

Practicing all the obligatory Islamic rituals during Ramadan would certainly affect people’s lives in various ways. Even if you are not fast, you are not allowed to eat and drink in public during sunrise to sunset. So, if you travel to Iran during Ramadan, you should be aware of this rule, otherwise, you will be caught by the police.

Instead, the nightlife during the Holy Month is quite fascinating. All coffee shops, restaurants, and even cinemas would start working from the evening. So, it is the right time when people start going out, and the whole city witnesses a lively atmosphere all through the night and does not sleep!

The exact opening hour of Café and restaurants depends on the season during Ramadan, however, it is sometime around the sunset!

Working hours for other businesses and companies including public places such as the banks, also change. It starts an hour later than the usual time, which is often 8:30 instead of 7:30 in the morning.

Ramadan Events

There are some holy events and rituals, aiming either to celebrate or commemorate special days of this month.

Beginning of the Month

Ramadan month begins and ends with the appearance of the new moon. By the beginning of the month, people prepare themselves to stay awake at night for praying and eating a small portion of food just before the dawn.

Qadr Nights

It is believed among the Muslims that God revealed the Quran to Prophete Mohammad in order to guide his followers. Ramadan Month is meant to commemorate the first revelation which was sent down on Laylat al-Qadr. So, the night is of a particular spiritual significance to the Muslims.

Muslims try to stay awake overnight for praying and there are special rituals in all mosques around Iran.

It is also believed that the whole faith of people for the next year is determined this night. So, people especially pray for their family and themselves to be healthy and happy in the coming year.

Qadr night - Ramadan in Iran

Qadr nights in Ramadan are of a particular spiritual significance to the Muslims.

Eid-al Fitr

By the end of the Holy Ramadan, Muslims celebrate their spiritual rebirth and thanking God for a whole month of precious praying. Although Eid-al Fitr is only one special day, it involves different duration in various Islamic countries. Officially, Eid-al Fitr involves a two-day holiday in Iran, that people celebrate with a special praying in the morning of Eid and continue with having an elaborate breakfast with their family and also paying some visits to their friends and relatives.

Traditional Iranian Meals of Ramadan: We eat less but a more diverse diet!

Having the sunset prayer, Muslims break their fast with a meal called Iftar. It often begins with dates and milk, and some other traditional Iranian foods in Ramadan. Although traveling to Iran during Ramadan imposes some restrictions on eating and drinking during day hours, it would be a good opportunity to test varieties of delicious Iranian foods particularly prepared for Iftar. And the great point about Iranian food is its portion size which happens to amaze many tourists!

Iranian Iftar

This is a typical Iranian Iftar during Ramadan.

Iranian traditions During Ramadan

There used to be some traditions practiced by Iranians during Ramadan which has been disappeared now due to the spread of technology and media; the most interesting one is making a sound with drums in the predawn hours to wake the neighbors up for Sahari, the meal Muslims have before the dawn to start their fast.

Another lovely tradition is inviting friends and relatives for Iftar during this month which is still practiced by many Iranians. They usually enjoy having Iftar together in the evening.

Coronavirus effects and this year’s Ramadan in Iran

It is no doubt that this year’s Ramadan could be different in some ways due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Practicing “social isolation” would not let people get together for Iftar at home and there would be some restrictions during “Qadr” nights for public gathering in mosques or religious places.

However, we all hope for the disappearance of the coronavirus and getting back to normal life very soon.

Tips for traveling to Iran in Ramadan

You may not be capable of traveling to Iran this year, but here are further tips for tourists having a call for traveling to Iran during Ramadan:

The tourists are not expected to fast or follow Islamic practices, but they are expected to respect the Iranian Muslims’ rituals by refraining from eating, drinking, and smoking in public during the day. However, some restaurants and fast-food outlets, especially the restaurants and cafes in the hotels, highways, airports, railways, and bus stations are open; so, they can have meals there. Some fast-food chains offer takeaway food as well. So, do not afraid of traveling to Iran in Ramadan!

Moreover, many tourist sites are open during the day except on special events such as the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Ali on the 21st of Ramadan. There is no need to worry about changing your travel itinerary in Ramadan.

Ramadan

The traditional Persian cuisine of Ramadan

Only a few days are left to the start of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and everything in Iran likewise the world is overshadowed by the outbreak of a Coronavirus that has infected nearly two million people and claimed many lives in Iran and around the world. In recent days, some of Shia Maraji have announced that fasting will be ok for people with a strong immune system who are home quarantined and follow a healthy nutritious diet. The mentioned group can fast and perform their duties as in previous years. But people with weakened immune systems that doctors diagnose fasting makes them more prone to illness should avoid fasting.

This year Muslims are breaking their fast on smaller Iftar tables, but more solidarity to save lives. Stick with us to see what are the traditional Iranian Ramadan meals and diets and how will Coronavirus affects them.

Sahari or The pre-dawn meal

Eating the predawn meal is one of the indicators of the health of fasting. In this meal, which is served before sunrise, enough protein and water should reach the body. the regular Iranian foods, which are served in lunch meals during the year are usually served as the pre-dawn during Ramadan.

predawn or sahari

Sahari or Predawn meal, taking place before sunrise.

Iftar meal

Since fasting people do not receive the nutrients, sugars, and water they need during the day, they should make up for this deficiency by eating nutrients at predawn and iftar so that they do not have the ability to fast and their health is not endangered. Iftar meal should include a variety of foods that are good for the body and maintain the strength of the fasting person, so it is better to get acquainted with the foods and beverages that have these characteristics. Iftar meal includes 3 parts itself :

  • Aperitifs:

In the first half of the year, the fasting hours may long up to 18. Fasting people do not break their fast at once, but first, they drink a hot soft drink as an aperitif. The most popular aperitif of Iranians is hot tea with rock candy. But warm milk and dates, herbal teas, rose and saffron syrup, are also served before the appetizer.

Iranian tea

Tea drinking is an inseparable part of Iranian culture.

  • Appetizers:

Ash Reshteh

Ash Reshteh is the traditional Iranian version of nuddle soup, cooked with beans, pea, and vegetables. Whit a strong taste of the dried mint powder. The Ash is garnished with a salty diary sauce named “Kashk”. That’s why it also is called Ash_e Kashk.

Ash reshteh

Ash Reshteh, or Persian noddle soup.

Halim

Halim is a nutritious and stodgy food that is served as breakfast on normal days and a small amount of it is served as an appetizer during Ramadan. There are various versions of Halim in different countries, but honestly Iranian one The main ingredients of Halim are wheat and mutton. The word Halim means patience and endurance because cooking Halim requires patience. This dish is cooked slowly for seven to eight hours, which results in a paste-like consistency ― blending the flavors of spices, meat, barley, and wheat. Finally, you can add cinnamon with sugar or salt up to your choice and taste it.

Persian Haleem

Persian Halim of meat and wheat, is a strong appetizer.

  • Main course :

The main course food varies on different families with different tastes. Some people eat only bread, cheese, fresh herbs while others prefer rice and chicken for example. But the popular main course in most Nazri (Cooking and distributing free foods in holy days) ceremonies are Persian kebab and Gheymeh:

Gheymeh

Often cooked in enormous copper pots over wood-burning fires, is beef and split pea stew with the reddish tune of tomato sauce, in addition to some saffron and rose water. This luscious stew is served with white rice.

Gheymeh

Gheymeh, Iranians favorite Nazri.

  • Desserts:

Sholeh Zard

This Persian Saffron rice pudding is very delicate and light in texture, mild in sweetness and it gets its golden color from saffron. Sholeh Zard is served as a dessert in Iftar, garnished with designs made with ground cinnamon and slivered pistachios or almonds.

Sholeh Zard

Sholeh Zard, the Persian saffron rice pudding.

Zulbia and Bamiyeh

These sticky cookies are going to make your sweetest memory of Ramadan in Iran.  Bamieh is a small fried sweet, maybe a kind of donut, which is rolled in the rose water and Saffron syrup. The same way is cooked Zulbia, but it’s thinner and crunchier. Diabetics bear in mind that if you start eating one of these cookies, you can’t help the rest!

zoolbia bamiyeh

The crispy Zulbia and tasty fluffy Bamiyeh are among the most popular Ramdan sweets.

 

 

Irandoostan

Coronavirus and travel industry: Our story of dealing with the challenging situation

The travel industry is experiencing the hardest hit by the unexpected wave of COVID-19 outbreak. We are all facing a situation that was quite unimaginable some weeks ago, but rarely people ask how about the future? What will the travel industry look like after the coronavirus?

Iran Doostan Tours Co.: The best tour operator in Iran

About 30 years ago when we decided to start our business with cultural tours to Iran, we were totally aware of how sensitive the industry might be to different circumstances ranging from political tensions to social unrests, health issues, and etc. We have either experienced or witnessed many of these obstacles as a tourist company in Iran over these years. Yet, what made us continue to struggle was the passion for our work!
Today, Iran Doostan has been expanded in spite of all the restrictions. There are various departments handling a diversity of package tours and services including cultural tours, adventure and eco-tours, medical tours, and Mice tours. Besides these, there are supporting departments as well, such as accounting, operation, human resources, IT, and digital marketing.

 

How do we deal with the situation?

Until some weeks ago we were growing, but now we are witnessing changes in travel demand. Well, it is a tough situation but not happening for the first time! Fortunately, Iran Doostan Tours Co. was the first Iranian tour operator that adopted a fully fleshed out remote infrastructure for its employees to work from home in order to care for their health and prevent the transmission of the virus, by the time the first few cases were identified in Iran, we continued to work online. My colleagues are online at home to deal with any phone call or email and they are pleasantly ready to assist you with any requests.

Nearly all of our tours have been canceled until the end of July, which was quite unpredictable by the beginning of 2020. To deal with it, we kept negotiating with our service providers, mainly the hotels, not to receive cancellation fees.

Although many companies decide to shut down over the epidemic, we are optimistic toward the future of the travel and tourism industry and we do not mean to ruin what we have built over all these years. To make better use of this time, we came up with a creative solution that is taking the situation as an opportunity for our organization to train the personnel through online sessions. This is how we will make ourselves prepared for the productive tomorrow.

 

What do we think about the future of the travel industry?

We do believe despite what is happening, being optimistic in an integral part of our business. The travel industry has rebounded from past crises and it will bounce back again. After all, people would always dream about more traveling and new experiences and we would be there to offer the desirable service they wish for.

We would overcome the situation pretty soon; hope the remaining months of 2020 would be productive and successful for all tourism businesses around the world, and that we continue our fruitful cooperation more than before.

Hospitality Tomorrow: The virtual Conference on the future of Hospitality

As many as 5000 hospitality professionals participated in the virtual conference called “Hospitality Tomorrow” yesterday on 7 March to unite as “one” community encountering the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the global economy and society.

Although assessing the impacts of the pandemic on the hospitality industry is not certain right now, the tourism and hospitality professionals took part in the conference to discuss three main concerns regarding the world’s unprecedented situation:

  1. Changes in our world and people – operationally, financially, and psychologically
  2. Where, when and how signs of recovery can be anticipated
  3. The role of Travel & Tourism in accelerating momentum for recovery

Most of the specialists who gave a speech in this show expressed an optimistic view of the future of the hospitality industry.

Paul Stoltz, chief executive of Peak Learning and a leading resilience analyst argued that “companies should grab this opportunity to create a new experience, one that is safer, better, more relaxed and enjoyable than even a guests’ own home.”

Roger Bootle, chairman of Capital Economics, a leading independent macroeconomic research firm also stated his optimistic view on the crisis: “although some countries will see falls in GDP of 20 percent or more in a very short period, there is every chance we will get a ‘v’ shaped recovery – a very fast pick-up once the worst is past.”

Discussing changes in our world and people he believes that the situation may damage the personal finance of people even for a year or two, but after this time the memory will fade in the longer term.

Roger Dow, chief executive of the United States Travel Association said: “tourism would be a key part of the economic recovery.” Regarding the anticipation of a recovery, he stated: “we must be prepared in the right time for the recovery”. However, as he argues the recovery will also come in waves, first shows itself in domestic tourism and then internationally.

Richard Haddad, chief executive of Jannah Hotels & Resorts pointed out that the “hospitality industry is facing, joining hands and knowing that everyone is working globally towards the brighter ‘tomorrow’ is vital for the travel and tourism world.”

These are just some of the optimistic viewpoints expressed by the professionals of the industry in this virtual conference. We are all now united as “one” community gets prepared for a brighter future when tourism and hospitality will be flourished again. Hope we all benefit from sustainable tourism around the world once more.

Zeras khuzistan

A complete guide to travel to west of Iran

Unlike the classic route of central Iran which tends to cross deserts, western Iran, including the Zagros area and < Kurdistan hills and Khuzestan plain is so rich naturally and because of this excellence has been always populated during history. Which gives the second priority to the region: historically and culturally rich.

Khuzestan

The name of Khuzestan might remind of the Iran-Iraq war, but the history of civilization in Khuzestan dates back to more than 7000 years, to the Elamite period. The historical sights aside, the tropical nature of this region has a lot to offer to its visitors.

Choghazanbil, The Elamite Ziggurat

Choghazanbil ziggurat known as the Elamite religious center in Shush is the largest ziggurat outside of Mesopotamia and the best preserved of this type of stepped pyramidal monument from 1275-1240 BCE. The word “Chogha Zanbil” in the local language means “large basket-shaped hill.” This well-constructed monument is a dedicate from Untash Gal, the Elamite King to their gods Inshushinak and Naapirisha. The monument was built on five floors, with a height of around 50 meters at the time. The first glazed brick of the world in gold and turquoise was used in the decoration of the outside walls, on which the king personally left a message for you: “I Untash Gal, carved the golden bricks and set up home for the gods and I have dedicated this sacred place. May my work which is a gift to the Gods Gal and Inshushinak be accepted.”

Choghazanbil ziggurat

Choghazanbil ziggurat, the Elamite religious center in Shush and the largest ziggurat outside of Mesopotamia.

Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System

Intelligently constructed hydraulic systems of Shushtar including water mills, dams, tunnels were used for optimal use of water in ancient times. This aquatic structure which is considered one of the unique works of the Achaemenid period gives good information and statistics from ancient Iran. The first of the Shushtar aqueduct was built by Cyrus the Great in current Khuzestan. The Achaemenid era can be considered the culmination of Iranian civilization, art, and science. They built this industrial and aquatic structure with very precise engineering to overcome the power of nature. It was repeatedly rebuilt during the Sassanid, Seljuk, Qajar, and even Pahlavi periods. But a massive flood eventually destroyed the huge part of the structure in 1963. One of the most important architectural uses of Shushtar water structures was the diversion of Karun water to the other side. This was done in a fine manner and the floor of the creek was well sealed so that its bed would not be destroyed over time. The water would then have to collect behind a high barrier and eventually pass through the holes created on the rock and the Achaemenid plaster.

Shushtar hydraulic system

This aquatic structure which is considered one of the unique works of the Achaemenid period

The ritual ceremony of Mandaean in July

Not all Khuzestan citizens are Arab or Shiit. At the edge of Karoon river, lives the ethnoreligious group called “Sabin” and also “Mandaean” who are adherents of John the Baptist. The public beliefs of Mandaean consider the natural fluid water as the sacred element which is a symbol of purity and cleaning impurities and guilt, that’s why Mandaeans say their prayers in sunrise and sunset beside Karoon river. Every year on 19 July Mandaean celebrates their new year’s eve which is their sacred day since it is considered as the nativity of Adam. On the mentioned day Sabein wears The white ceremonial robes and performs their baptism rite by immersing themselves in the river. It worth always participating in ritual ceremonies.

Mandaeans

Mandaeans believe that fluid water is a symbol of purity and cleans impurities and guilt.

Apadana, the Palace of Darius in Susa

The palace was built by the order of Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king, in about 515-521 BC in Susa on the remained parts of Elamite artifacts. The walls of the palace are made of clay and its columns are made of stone. If we drive 40 km from Andimeshk on a lush and beautiful road, we will reach the city of Shush, which is one of the oldest cities in the world. Archaeological excavations show that the area was inhabited by farmers 9000 BC. In 5,000 BC, people lived in the castle, and since 4,000 years ago, it has been the first place on earth to create urban life. As a noticeable point in the excavations of Apadana Palace, we can mention the discovery of an inscription related to the reign of Darius, which is written an inscription from the words of Darius describes the process of construction of Apadana Palace.

Apadana, the Palace of Darius in Susa

Apadana, the Palace of Darius in Susa

Ritual Arabic coffee drinking in Mozif

The literal meaning of “Mozif” is “the place of celebration”. As the guests are highly respected and sacred in Arabic culture, our Arab compatriots in Khuzestan build up some arched shaped rooms made of straw to host people for coffee drinking ceremonies. There are no doors in the entrance of Mozifs which means everyone is welcome. The coffee making and serving have a particular formality. For instance, when coffee is poured, the guest should drink it instantly without putting it down to show his respect and shaking the cup means that the guest wants no more coffee. but that’s not all, there is a lot to learn before going to Mozif.

mozif

There are no doors in the entrance of Mozifs which means everyone is welcome.

Dehdez, The tropical paradise

If you felt like “Enough for history” in your Khuzestan trip, just take your backpack and go for a cool adventure in Dehdez riverside strict. Zeras is among the most amazing villages in Dehdez which is called “lost paradise”. Tucked between the green mountain ranges, the blue lake of Zeras offers a landscape like “get away from it all”. Surrounded by palm trees and green hills, just don’t sit on the sidelines watching people have fun. There a lot to do in Zeras: you can fish, hike, swim jet around the Lake, ride the boat, and use the water complex.  You’ve got 2 choices for setting your camp, on the green hills if the day wasn’t too hot and the humidity doesn’t bother or getting back to the village and pick your own picturesque view. Zeras would be the best to travel in the first half-year period, especially from April to June.

Zeras

Tucked between the green mountain ranges, the blue lake of Zeras offers a great landscape.

The cuisine of Khuzistan

The Arabic coffee of Khuzestan aside, the other must-taste of the region is “Ghaliyeh Mahi” which is a delicious spicy chopped fish baked in vegetables.

Lorestan

Falakolaflak castle

Atop an ancient hill in Khoramabad is located Falakolaflak castle, known as the engineering and architectural masterpiece and which is registered in the list of Iran’s National Heritage. Although the original date of construction of the castle is yet unknown it’s been speculated that Shapur Sassanid is the founder. This hexagonal building was used as military fortress, treasury, and prison for centuries after the Sassanid area up to the Qajar period. When Alexander invaded Iran, the rulers of the time decided to hide valuable gold and silver objects in them and thus protect them from Alexander. Two thousand years later, antiques were accidentally found by thieves and are now preserved in the Anthropological Museum of the castle. The visiting hour change in different seasons but it is almost possible every day from 9:00 to 17:00.

Falakolaflak castle

Falakolaflak castle, known as the engineering and architectural Sassanid masterpiece.

Azna snow tunnel

My highest recommendation for adventurers during spring and summer would definitely be the Azna snow tunnel. The Lorestan province has snowy winters, the accumulation of tons of snow in Oshtoran Kooh over many years, has formed this spectacular natural wonder in Azna area. Huge masses of snow accumulate in the winter and as the weather warms up in the spring and summer, the snow masse starts to melt slightly which makes a hole in it and forms the snow tunnel. Azna valley gives the chance to experience strolling through an 800 meters snow tunnel while the melting drops whisper and the froze strokes the face skin.

Khazineh valley

“Darreh Khazineh” or “Khazineh Valley” is located near the namesake village in Lorestan Province in the southwest of Iran. Although it gets a little chilly in fall and winter, summers are gloriously temperate affairs in Lorestan. So many people claim that Khazineh valley and Grand canyons could be twins in another world, well who knows! The spectacular stone forms, shaped by erosion in this valley enchants every visitor. Then check your camera twice before leaving for Lorestan!

Khazineh valley

Khazineh valley is called the Iranian twin of Grand Canyon.

Kurdistan 

The Kurdistan region in Iran embrasses three provinces: Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Ilam, the majority of people in these provinces are Kurdish and culturally so close, here are the most remarkable sights to visit in the great region of Kurdistan :

Tagh_E Bostan

“ Tagh_E Bostan” or “The Arch of the Garden” is a collection of inscriptions and rock paintings from the Sassanid period, which is located in five kilometers northwest of Kermanshah. These inscriptions picturing the coronations of several Sassanid kings such as Khosrow Parviz, Ardashir II, Shahpur II, and Shahpur III, remained almost 1800 years. Being located on the path of silk road and the and the agreeable climate and nature made Tagh_E Bostan region very populated and persuaded the kings to make carve their inscription there, why don’t we call it the royal billboard then?

a collection of inscriptions and rock paintings

Houramanat

Located in the green mountains of Kurdistan, this hilltop village, is famous for its stunning nature as well as ritualistic music, dance, and ceremonies. The greatest event which takes place in Howramanat is the wedding of “Pir Shalyar”. This musical festival is held twice a year in mid-spring and mid-winter, for 950 years, in honor of a wise old man, called “Pir Shalyar”.The legends say that the King of Bukhara had a deaf-mute daughter.  The more he sought the cure for her, the less he found it.  The king decided to send the princess “Shah Bahar Khatoon” to Kurdistan, to find the cure. When she arrived in Howraman, Pir Shalyar healed her with his special powers and married her. the midwinter festival is the anniversary of their marriage. Which takes place by a group of Dervishes, playing rhythmic music, singing religious chants, and doing ritualistic dances.

PirShaliyar festiva

PirShaliyar festival is held with playing rhythmic music, singing religious chants, and doing ritualistic dances.

WTTC updates on coronavirus

WTTC Coronavirus Brief External 25.03

We expect your world is really tough right now, so, we find proactive sharing of information quite beneficial in this situation. Through this post, we would like to publish a brief document shared by the World Travel and Tourism Council with governments across the globe advocating supporting all impacted businesses in the Travel and Tourism sector. What appears significant in the current tough situation, is to work side by side to minimize the impact and search for alternatives to support the most impacted and aim for a quick recovery.

WTTC has reported 424,048 Coronavirus cases around the world by 25 March, with 18,947 deaths and 109,145 recoveries. Although COVID-19 is less infectious than similar diseases such as influenza, it leads to more deaths. According to the latest research by WTTC, it is estimated that up to 75 million jobs are at immediate risk. A potential loss of up to $2.1 trillion in 2020 is taking place in Travel and Tourism GDP with a staggering one million job being lost every day in this sector due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Many countries seem to be affected by the epidemic.

COVID-19 is no longer the challenge of individual countries, but rather a global issue. All countries must take part in finding solutions for the survival of the T&T sector. WTTC proposes three vital measures to support the T&T sector.

To know more about these measures and also the latest update on the Coronavirus pandemic, please find the attached file in the link below:

WTTC Coronavirus Brief External 25.03