Travel to Iran would probably be like none of your previous trips, it is certainly a unique destination you never expect. There are loads of unique experiences waiting for you here, including cultural attractions, natural beauty, warm-hearted hospitable people, and tasty local foods.
Well, the next issue might be your safety. While you are searching is it safe to travel to Iran, it is never easy to distinguish between propaganda and genuine information. The two risk assessment institutions “International SOS” and “Risk control” evaluate Iran’s risk to travelers to be comparable to that of most European countries’.
Iran Doostan Tours Co. is a reliable Iran travel agency for incoming tours to Iran. No difference whether you are aiming to travel to Iran from Canada or travel to Iran from India, or any other country, we are honored to offer high-quality services in terms of diverse package tours. As a tour operator and travel agency in Iran, we provide all travel services including itineraries, visa, tour guides, transportation, accommodation, and whatever our tourists may need while traveling to Iran. If you are looking for some self-drive tours like travel to Iran by car, we are also ready to provide you with all you may need.
It is good to know that the Iran visa process is quite fast and convenient and the tourists can also apply for a visa online. However, if you intend to travel to Iran from the UK or US, your visa may take a bit longer to be issued.
If you have a call for an independent traveling to Iran, we wholeheartedly respect your decision; then all you may need to have except an Iran travel guide book and a map would be reading some tips for traveling to Iran in our Iran travel blog. For any travel to Iran experience, you are recommended to visit our guest blog and also our trip advisor page, it may be helpful. You may also like to spare some time watching interesting Iran tourism videos to whet your appetite for traveling to Iran.
Our professional colleagues are ready to help you if you have planned to travel to our country. Contact us via info@idt.com. We will be back to you soon.

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Kurdistan-attractions

Kurdistan, A Friendly Province

If you are looking for a peaceful trip with beautiful landmarks and astonishing customs among hospitable locals; Kurdistan is the one. Kurdistan, one of the most delightful provinces in Iran, owns Iran’s most breathtaking natures and culture for itself. Even though it might sound cliche but it doesn’t change the fact that Kurdistan is truly a paradise. You can taste delicious Kurdish cuisine in its magnificent villages, walk along the peaceful lakes or even wander around in different places and enjoy the weather. Travelling to Kurdistan will definitely give you the best memories possible in Iran.

Grand Bazaar of Sanandaj

Sanandaj city is the capital of Kurdistan which might be the first place you visit in Kurdistan Province. This city has multiple attractions waiting for you to visit them. Sanandaj Bazaar is one of these attractions which is an old and traditional place filled with colorful Kurdish customary clothes. The shiny and sparkly cloths settled by the walls, give the bazaar such an amazing atmosphere and you will gain so much happiness by just looking around yourself.

The Grand Bazaar of Sanandaj can be visited every day except Fridays from 8 am until 7 pm.

Kurdistan

Colorful cloth used in Kurdish women dress, Sanandaj Bazaar

Asif Vaziri Mansion

Kurdish House or Asif Vaziri Mansion is an ancient building from the Safavid dynasty in Sanandaj which is located near the bazaar so you can visit it before or after visiting the bazaar. This monument is considered as the most valuable cultural treasure in Iran. The special brick works and stucco on the walls dates back to Safavid era but more designs were added up to the building in Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties (about 200 years ago) that are really impressive to look at. Inside the mansion, there are various rooms and areas; but the only place that got a lot of attention from its visitors among them all, was the bathroom with a unique Iranian style. In each and every room there are wax statues to represent Kurdish people. Visiting this anthropology museum is an absolutely amazing opportunity to get familiar with Kurdish history, culture, handicrafts and clothes.

You can visit this exciting museum on weekdays from 8 am to 7:30 pm.

Asif House

Asif Vaziri Mansion, in Sanandaj. It is now a kind of anthropology museum introducing Kurdish culture and history

Zeribar Lake

A lot of rumors have been spreading around about this magnificent lake. Some people believe the lake is hiding an ancient city beneath itself and other people have their own stories to tell about it. Besides the lake’s mystery, there are a lot of fascinating features that attracts many visitors. A lot of visitors usually come to visit the seasonal migration of birds during spring and enjoy their time by the lake while capturing stunning pictures of the seasonal birds. Spring paints the meadows with delight and as the silver-white lake shines bright, birds keep chirping around creating a magical scenery. Climb up the mountains around, to get a better view of the Zeribar lake and take wonderful pictures, for your Facebook or Instagram account. Don’t forget to try the pedal boats in the gigantic lake. There are some local restaurants all around the lake as well which will serve you delicious meals. The barbequed fish that are caught fresh from the lake, is visitors all times favorite. Taste the famous local bread called Kalaneh as well to keep a sweet memory of your trip to Kurdistan. Without doubt, visiting the famous Zeribar lake of Kurdistan is something that nature lovers wouldn’t like to miss.

Zeribar lake

Zeribar Lake, Kurdistan: Some people believe the lake is hiding an ancient city beneath itself!

Uraman Takht

One of the places in Kurdistan that draws lots of attention to its beautiful nature, is Uraman Takht. High mountains, twisty valleys, sparkling river and soft clouds that fly over your head, makes you feel like flying. If you are visiting Kurdistan in 4th of May or 3rd of February, you will see a traditional custom held by the locals. This historic custom is called Pirshalyar that has been held for over thousands of years. In this custom, sheep or cows will be sacrificed and locals will cook pottages with their meat; meanwhile other locals in their traditional clothes, play the musical instrument called Daf. Daf is a popular and old Kurdish musical instrument that has been used in religious ceremonies all over Iran. Specific clothing of Uraman people along with their kindness and hospitality, provides an amazing opportunity to have a memorable and heavenly amazing experience in Kurdistan.

Uraman - Kurdistan

One of the places in Kurdistan that draws lots of attention to its beautiful nature, is Uraman Takht.

Palangan Village

Palangan village is another stepped village in Iran with extremely friendly locals. Getting familiar with the vast variety of foods, traditional customs and ceremonies only in one village is impressive.

Palangan - Kurdistan

Palangan village is a stepped village in Iran with extremely friendly locals.

Palangan Village has a traditional base, built with stones and bricks in form of stairs architecture. One interesting fact about these type of villages is the way that each houses’ roof, is the upper houses’ yard. The village is located on the slope of mountains and they are occurred on both sides of a river. Beautiful waterfalls and lakes among the green and full trees in Palangan Village, makes the weather so delightful during the day and very chilly at midnight. So if you found a place to stay over the night, make sure to have warm clothes with you.

Jiroft civilization - Iran

The ancient civilization of Jiroft

The 5000-year-old civilization of Jiroft is one of the most unknown and mysterious human civilizations, which represents the civilization of several thousand years of Iran. Many think that the missing link of humanity has been found by discovering the secrets of this great civilization. However, the nature of Jiroft and its souvenirs cannot be ignored. Stay with us to know the story of this ancient civilization of Iran.

The city of Jiroft in the south of Kerman province is famous for its fertile lands, abundant water and diverse climate. Agricultural production is booming in this city. But in the last decade, there has been a drought in the city and it has become difficult for the villagers to make a living.
The story of discovering Jiroft started when a farmer found a part of a bowl while he was plowing the land and thought he had encountered a treasure. From then on, the villagers dug up land and found historical objects and sold them to cultural heritage smugglers for a small price.

It was not until after a year and a half when Cultural and Heritage Organization of Iran found about this and invited Dr. Majidzadeh from France to excavate the historical area. In addition to excavating the area, he was able to recover many items that were still in the villagers’ homes.

Dr. Majidzadeh published photographs of Jiroft civilization and information about it for the first time in 2003. According to the archaeological findings on this site, the oldest antiquities in this area date back to more than 5000 years ago.

Jiroft Archaeological Museum

If you are fond of history and ancient civilizations, you should not miss the archaeological museum of Jiroft. There are 5,000-year-old works, each of which has something to say about this civilization. In Jiroft Archaeological Museum, works of bronze, soapstone, marble, azure and simple and painted pottery from the third millennium BC are preserved. In this museum, you can see the amazing art of Jiroft civilization in variety of designs and shapes of dishes, sardines, statues and sculptures.

Jiroft-Museum

There are 5,000-year-old works in the archaeological museum, each of which has something to say about this civilization.

Nature of Jiroft

The nature of Jiroft is completely different from the northern cities of Kerman province due to its location in the southern foothills of the Zagros Mountains and the closeness to the Halilrud River. Jiroft has hot and relatively humid summers and mild and short winters. The nature of Jiroft is beautiful, lush and diverse. Among the scenic natural monuments of this city, is the Delfard Valley, the hot springs and the village of Dosari, and the summer region of Saruieh. To see the Delfard Valley, you can go 25 km to the ancient city and enjoy its citrus orchards, palm groves, almond and pomegranate forests, rivers, unique waterfalls and colorful flower gardens.

Souvenirs

Jiroft offers a diverse variety of souvenirs. One of the most famous souvenirs of this lovely city is its red carpet, which is also a part of the country’s exports.

Kilim - Souvenirs from Jiroft

Souvenirs from Jiroft, Iran: Kilim

In addition to citrus, which are well-known agricultural products of this city, pottery, mat weaving, plus weaving, pouches and kilims, mirror embroidery and table weaving are made and sold as souvenirs in this city.

Tehran- Golestan Palace

Tehran attractions district 12: at a glance

You don’t have enough time to visit the whole big city of Tehran? Then replacing that with visiting the Golden District would be a clever idea. District 12 is the main and historical core of the city, where the Treasury of National Jewels _in which is kept the Naderi golden throne and the most valuable crowns remained from Qajar and Pahlavi kings_ and Golestan Royal palace is located, the Grand Bazar of Tehran and many other museums exist. To be clear, you can walk through the history, from thousands of years ago in Iran national museum, cross the Qajar wealth, and drink your evening modern Coffee in Masoudieh garden.

Tehran district 12

To see and download the high-quality infographic, click here: Tehran attractions district 12

Iran travel budget - food expenses

Iran travel budget – Part 3: Food & Others

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.

Iran travel budget - food

A bowl of tasty dense soup, called Aash, that usually comes in 2 or 3 varieties will cost 100 000 rials is only one of your options among the hundred kinds of cheap delicious Persian food.

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.

Iranian Souvenirs

Top Souvenirs to Buy in Iran

From now on you don’t need to worry about what you actually could buy as a souvenir in Iran. From carpets and rugs, to spices and nuts or specially designed decorations in Persian styles. Here are 7 most popular Persian souvenirs that could be bought to bring back the sweet memories of your trip in Iran.

1. Persian Carpet

As you might know, some of the best rugs in the world are made in Iran. Persian Carpets have always been popular among all people around the world. Almost every part of Iran that you travel to, has amazing carpets lying around the shops, spreading colorful and dreamy vibes around. Some carpets might take over years to be done, and considering the number of knots and time that has been put into carpets, their prices differ from one another. If you’re looking to buy a Persian carpet or a rug as a souvenir, silk or wool hand-knotted ones are the best options if you truly want to feel heaven under your feet.

Persian carpet - souvenirs to buy in Iran

Most of the best carpets in the world are made in Iran.

2. Saffron

Iran is one of the main producers of saffron, a popular and precious spice. Saffron is almost served with every Persian meal that has rice beside it. The luxurious popular plate of Persian rice, topped with some saffron rice, is absolutely everyone’s favorite. Saffron is not only used for meals but it is also used for drinks as well. Making a drink with saffron and rosewater, or just adding a little bit of it to your tea could make your day all better.

Iranian saffron

Iran is one of the main producers of saffron, a popular and precious spice.

3. Caviar

What could possibly be more luxurious than Caspian Caviar as a souvenir? Iran owns the most expensive caviar in the world which is known as Almas Beluga Caviar. Beluga fish can be found in southern part of Caspian Sea and their soft and large golden or black eggs are what they’re famous for. This particular type of caviar, also known as black gold, has lots of fans for itself. Caviar has always been a fancy meal among Iranians and it still is being served at special events and dinner parties.

Iranian top Souvenirs: caviar

Iran owns the most expensive caviar in the world which is known as Almas Beluga Caviar.

4. Pistachio

If you didn’t know already, pistachios require cool winters and hot summers to grow. Iran as one of the rare countries that has all of the four seasons, is one of the best regions to produce pistachios. You can only find the best quality pistachios in the world in Iran. Rafsanjan City, in Kerman Province, is the main source of production of Iran’s pistachios. The lemon roasted and lightly salted pistachios are always served in Nowruz among other kinds of nuts. Take some tasty Persian pistachios with you as a souvenir, so you can celebrate with Iranians, by enjoying some pistachios during Nowruz.

Iranian Pistachio: Souvenirs to buy in Iran

Top souvenirs buy in Iran: High-quality Pistachio

5. Gaz

This sweet and delicious Persian nougat called Gaz is extremely popular among Iranians that you can almost find them in every house or shop in Iran. Isfahan is where Gaz was originated, and this Persian nougat is actually one of Isfahan’s famous souvenirs. So whenever Iranians travel to Isfahan from other cities, nearly all of their family and friends expect them to bring gaz for them as souvenirs. Gaz is also served in Persian ceremonies such as Nowruz. The tasty nougat is usually served with a hot cup of tea in order to sweeten the bitterness of the tea.

Persian souvenir: Gaz

This sweet and delicious Persian nougat called Gaz is extremely popular among Iranians.

6. Persian Turquoise

You might be wondering what is so special about Persian turquoise; the pure sky-blue color of Persian turquoise can only be found in Persian mines and that’s what makes them so rare. The turquoise gemstone is also considered to bring peace to the home and fortune to its owner. It is also believed that this particular stone could actually decrease the amount of negative energy. You can see a lot of Iranian women like wearing necklaces or bracelets made out of turquoise as well. Turquoise was also used in ancient Persian architecture; for instance, they used turquoise to cover the domes or design the palaces with its stunning and calming color.

Persian turquoise

The turquoise gemstone appear in variety of forms and in different objects ranging from ring to necklace and even decorative dishes.

7. Persian Handicrafts

These types of souvenirs are the only kind that have a vast range of variety. For instance, Persian clothing is a good choice. You can buy handmade masks that women wear along with their colorful and traditional clothes in southern region of Iran, or other regions’ traditional clothing with paisley or different Persian patterns on them.

Souvenirs to buy in Iran - Handicrafts

Patedoozi: a kind of popular handicraft made by Kermani women in Iran.

You also might be interested in handmade Persian espadrilles which are highly comfortable for a walk in summertime. If you’re not into clothing, then you can choose some home furnishing such as pillow covers for your couches, or enamel work plates, hand-painted vases and ceramics, tea sets or other decorative items that would remind you of Iran.

Best places to go Shopping in Iran

There is a fact that shopping is good for mental health. So, when you go shopping, don’t hesitate to buy something that you find interesting or beautiful as long as it’s not a waste of money. There are thousands of shops available that you can go shopping in Iran, but there are some shops like grand bazaars or luxurious malls that are waiting for you to visit them and hopefully change your mood to 100% happiness.

• Tehran
1. Grand Bazaar

Shopping in Grand Bazaar of Tehran feels so alive and old at the same time. The ancient structure along with kind and friendly locals, spread a good feeling through the environment. While taking a flashback through the history of old Tehran, look around the shops to almost find whatever you want. The shops are not the only things that are so popular among Iranians. The restaurants that serve the most delicious traditional meals are so loved by Iranians that they won’t leave the bazaar until they get a good taste of their favorite Persian meals. If you chose to go shopping at Grand Bazaar of Tehran, make sure to check out the famous restaurants like Moslem to have the most fun out of your shopping experience.

Opening hours: 9 am – 6 pm

The ancient structure along with kind and friendly locals, spread a good feeling through the environment of Tehran Grand Bazaar.

2. Bamland Shopping Mall

Even though Bamland is located in the far western part of the city, but that’s the last thing you need to worry about when it comes to shopping and having fun. What makes shopping much more fun in Bamland is the fact that you can walk along the lake whenever you felt tired or needed something refreshing. Or else if you wanted something more fun to do, you can go for a boat riding in the lake or play some VR games at the virtual reality center. The indoors and outdoors restaurants are the best part of the Bamland. Various types of food and restaurants make it almost too hard to make a choice, but any of them that you choose are amazing in their way and their foods are mouth-watering.

Opening hours: 11 am – 11 pm

Best places for shopping in Iran

Bamland Shopping Mall, Tehran, Iran

• Tabriz
1. Grand Bazaar

If you ever traveled to Tabriz and were looking for souvenirs to buy, Tabriz Grand Bazaar is a great place to start. It’s good to know that Tabriz Grand Bazaar origins back in the Qajar era and is the largest covered bazaar in the world. It is also one of the UNESCO World heritage sites. You can find almost all sorts of things in this particular bazaar. There are a lot of handmade products and delicacies. The carpet market and hand-knotted woolen rugs are the most attractive part of the bazaar. While visiting Tabriz Grand Bazaar, you kill two birds with one stone by wondering around the ancient bazaar and shopping at the same time.

Opening hours: 6:30 am – 9 pm

Tabriz Grand Bazaar

The carpet market and hand-knotted woolen rugs are the most attractive part of Tabriz Grand Bazaar.

2. Laleh Park Mall

Visiting a brand new huge shopping mall in Tabriz is a great way to spend time with family and friends. There are countless floors of all sorts of brands which you can buy clothes or shoes from with reasonable prices. If you needed a break from the shopping, drinking a hot cup of coffee at cozy cafes or eating at the food court are great choices. At the food court floor, you can find different kinds of food that you desire. There’s also a playground for children to play while you eat or keep on shopping.

Opening hours: 10:30 am – 10:30 pm

• Isfahan
1. Naqsh-e Jahan Bazaar

This bazaar is located all around the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, and it’s famous for its handicrafts and souvenirs. All sorts of goods, such as silverware and traditional ceramics, spices, jewelry, or Persian carpets, could be found in these little shops. You can purchase many luxury products much cheaper here than anywhere else. Try some traditional Persian nougat or other delicacies on your way to other stalls of shops. Stroll along the shops and cafes while you search for Persian handicrafts or souvenirs to take home with you as a memorial.

Opening hours: 10 am – 8 pm

2. City Center Mall

If you were looking for a more modern sight to explore or a place to go shopping as well, you could make sure that City Center Mall is the one. Isfahan City Center has so many different attractions to offer as one of the largest shopping malls in Iran. Besides the food court that has various kinds of restaurants to choose, there are cinemas, museums, a spa, and an indoor amusement park for kids. Enjoy your meal at the peaceful VIP restaurant with live piano playing in the background and make a memorable memory with the things you bought.

Opening hours: 10 am – 11 pm

Best places for shopping in Iran : Isfahan city center

Isfahan City Center has so many different attractions to offer as one of the largest shopping malls in Iran.

• Shiraz
1. Vakil Bazaar

When you travel to Shiraz, there’s no way that you miss visiting Vakil Bazaar, which is a great place to look for souvenirs. If you want to buy good quality and original Persian handicrafts, make sure to visit this place. This bazaar is located in the historical region of Shiraz, so while you learn more about Iran’s history and culture, you can shop as well. The shopkeepers and people are so kind and friendly and will help you with your shopping. It would take you a whole day to visit the entire bazaar, but you can take a break in some of the cafes or restaurants around.

Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm

If you want to buy good quality and original Persian handicrafts, make sure to visit Vakil Bazaar in Shiraz.

2. Persian Gulf Complex

If you’re looking for a place to shop and have fun meanwhile in Shiraz, then Persian Gulf Complex is the perfect choice. Being one of the largest shopping malls in Iran, the Persian Gulf Complex has provided so many entertainments for its visitors. A huge bowling center alongside with billiard ones to have fun with your family and friends, after wandering around the shops is one of them.

Shopping in Iran - Shiraz

Being one of the largest shopping malls in Iran, the Persian Gulf Complex has provided so many entertainments for its visitors.

You can also taste the delicious foods at the food court. The shopping mall is modern and luxurious, and it’s in contrast with other attractions you might want to see in Shiraz, but if you felt like shopping, you can count on this one.

Opening hours: 10 am – 11 pm

Susa: Glorious capital of ancient Iran

Located in the south-west of Iran, on the foothill of Zagros Mountain, 7000 years old Susa is still shining as one of the first places of ancient civilizations in the world. Urbanizations and also the development of early state took place here for the first time in the world’s history.

Having been the capital of Iran during Elamite, Susa embraces several architectural masterpieces which are quite eye-catching to every visitor. And the interesting point is that history has been documented in this city and they were the very first people who invented script, and more surprisingly, this was not their only amazing invention. Elamites earned many achievements in writing, architecture, sculpture, melting glass, and metalwork. And all these achievements along with natural attractions have made Susa a lovely destination worthy of visiting.

Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat, constructed 3200 years ago, is the greatest Ziggurat in the world which is a well-representative of Elamite’s art and architecture. It was a five-floor temple of Elamites with seven gates around and inscriptions with Elamite’s alphabets on its bricks. This great construction has been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List and attracts many tourists from around the world every year.

People in Susa and in Khuzestan province are known for being hospitable and the local food here is pretty delicious. Traveling to this city to visit all glorious monuments, and meet warm-hearted people will be one of your life-long experiences you will never forget about.

Susa attractions Infographic

To see and download the high-quality infographic, click here: Susa attractions

Iran travel budget

Iran travel budget – part 2: Accommodation, Food, and Telecom

Well, once we arrived and changed some precious money avoiding traps described in Iran budget travel – part one, several next challenges appear – mainly where to stay, how to move in the cities and inside the country, find good and inexpensive food, and telecom service.

In Iran, Couchsurfing is very popular and many will be happy to host a foreign traveler; if someone likes this kind of experience, it can be a good idea. Just remember, you will need a VPN app to use it in Iran. If however, it is not your preferred way – in Iran, there are hundreds of hostels and cheap hotels.

The main international resource in the case of hostels is www.hostelworld.com, full description and lots of travelers’ reviews will help in your choice, but you can check also the local smaller web www.hostelsiniran.com.

As of December 2019, there are lots of hostels, also in Tehran, offering stay with unlimited breakfast for 4 or 5 euros/night; in dorms of course. The hostel staff is usually very well informed about all your possible questions, speaks good English and can give you advice about local landmarks and how to get there.

As for the typical hostel breakfast, you can have a look here (based on Heritage Hostel, Tehran): My Persian breakfast experience in Iran.

Interestingly, while dorms are now incredibly cheap – these hostels have also some private rooms offered on rather prohibitive 20 to 30 euro prices. Just in case a desire for a small luxury becomes irresistible – there are cheap “1-star hotels” in many less touristic places – in Tehran for example in South Saadi street (close enough to metro Saadi and Great Bazaar). Just asking for curiosity (without trying to bargain), I was offered private rooms for 800 000 rials, some 7 euro – but no breakfast included. These hotels serve mainly locals and hardly you can find them on English language websites, so if interested – ask Iranians (in case you do not find them walking around).

Next comes the transport. About the Tehran public transport, taxi and Snapp you will find more here: Public transportation in Tehran

In other Iranian cities using public transport, consisting mainly of common buses will be a bit difficult without a local helpful to tell you which line of local bus is best for you. I stayed several days in Shiraz and found out how to use to my benefit 2 or 3 bus lines, avoiding kilometric marches. There is always one linking bus terminal in the city center, others to run along main streets, it is good to use them, tickets are very cheap, people pay for drivers.  If you need to go to a specific place far away and have no way to use the city bus – try in first place Snapp, the local Uber-like service. Try to avoid a regular taxi if possible!

By the way, in other big Iranian cities there is a limited metro service, (networks are under construction), actually consisting of 2 lines in Mashhad and just one operating in Tabriz, Esfahan, and Shiraz. On some occasions it can be also useful for tourists, so – why not try?

The most budget-friendly way to travel across Iran is without any doubt by using intercity buses. Even more, the night buses – saving you a hostel fee and also a full day for a new destination.

Tehran has 4 bus terminals, other cities just 1 or 2 – from each one you can pick a normal (Maamuli) or luxury (VIP) intercity bus. Maamuli is a typical tourist bus, usually not the newest one, with some 50 passenger capacity. Another story for VIP – luxury extra large seats, lots of space for legs, great comfort during the journey, some 25 seats altogether – obviously the best choice for a long journey. Unfortunately, there is the price tag – VIP costs around 80% more than a normal bus, to give a fresh example, my recent trip Babolsar – Tehran, some 200 km: Maamuli 240 000 rials vs. VIP 420 000 rials…Btw in any Iranian bus voyage, there is a bottle of water and a small snack included!

The best way is to ask an Iranian to book for you using local websites – or doing yourself a trip to terminal, there are at least several companies and their hawkers, initially insisting you should take a VIP bus. If you resist and insist on Maamuli, you will be able to buy the cheaper one, of course!

Avoid English language bus booking sites directed to tourists – it is easy, but you’ll pay double or triple. For example on one such “helpful” website, my Tehran – Babolsar tickets were for “only” 5 euro – in real exchange 700 000 rials at that moment –  for Maamuli bus – while I paid for the same ticket 240 000 rials, like normal Iranians, at the bus station.

There is quite a good railways network, but tickets are more expensive, and often no places available in immediate days. As for local airlines, it can be an idea in case you want to do a really long jump –  f. ex. Tehran – Bandar Abbas flight can cost around 30 euro (at this time). Always ask an Iranian to help you, using local booking sites; if you do it by an agency or English language website – you will pay more.

BlaBlaCar does not include Iran, unfortunately (neither AirBnB).

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.

solar eclipse

Iran sky witnessed the last Solar eclipse of the century

Today, on June 21, 2020, Iran observed an annual solar eclipse starting at 9:05 and finished at 11:37 in the morning.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth which fully or partially blocks sunlight.
In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.

Today’s eclipse was a kind of ring eclipse that make it partially invisible for most people around the world. Unlike, lunar eclipse, it is important where you are standing on Earth when a solar eclipse occurs.

solar eclipse

Solar eclipse in Iran- 21 June 2020. Photo by: Mehr News Agency

The eclipse starts from central Africa, passes through Yemen and southern Iran, and moves toward Pakistan, India, China, and the Pacific Ocean. In Iran, the eclipse was mostly visible in Chabahar, a city in the far southeast of the country.

This was the last solar eclipse of the century in Iran, happening on the first day of summer.

A solar eclipse is an astronomical phenomenon, which is considered a natural tourist attraction. Since it looks different in various parts of Earth, many astronomy lovers travel around the world, often to the spots where the eclipse is most observable, not to miss this phenomenon. However, the present lockdown situation barely let people travel to see this event.