Welcome to Iran, a land of mystifying contrasts, ancient archaeological sites, spectacular engineering feats that boggle the mind, and incredible hospitality. This historic country has a role in the birthplace of a civilization that cannot be denied. Spend 11 days journeying through beautiful mountains, arid deserts, and learn the culture and traditions of a country largely unknown to much of the world.
|Itinerary at a glance||Tour Highlights||Your tour includes|
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Please make sure to allow sufficient time for clearing customs and immigration if you are planning a connecting flight. We recommend at least 3 ½ hours. Please note that flight schedules are subject to change without prior notice.
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ADVANCE SEAT ASSIGNMENT
Qatar Airways does not assign seats in advance. Seat assignments can only be arranged at the airport upon check in. If you have a preferred seating choice, please make sure you check in for your flight as early as possible. These airlines do not offer any frequent flyer miles.
PASSPORT AND VISA INFORMATION
You must be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel. smarTours provides visa assistance for guests who travel with us to Iran. Obtaining the visa is a two-step process. First, you’ll require a visa authorization code from the authorities in Iran, which smarTours requests on your behalf. Once authorization is granted, smarTours alerts you to submit your visa application through a visa service provider or local Iranian embassy. For more information, please click the “Passport & Visa Info” tab or click here.
Please remember that it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary travel documents before the trip.
TICKETS AND FINAL DOCUMENTS
Your airline tickets along with final instruction and additional travel tips will be sent to you 7 – 10 days before the scheduled departure of your tour. Please make sure to advise us in case your address changes.
Immunizations are NOT currently required; however, you should consult your personal physician, local public health authorities or the Center of Disease Control (CDC) as to their suggestions.
You can expect average temperatures in the 80s from June through September. In October daytime highs are usually in the 70s with nighttime lows in the 50’s. In November, daytime highs are usually in the low 60’s with an average nighttime low in the 40’s.
CULTURE & DRESS
Iran is one of the safest and friendliest places you can travel to but it is VERY conservative. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a dress code (particularly for women).
Iran is a traditional Islamic nation and a dress code is enforced throughout the country.
Men must wear long trousers at all times but can wear short sleeved shirts in less strict destinations. Plan to be as conservative as possible when visiting mosques or holy sites. Open toed sandals are now acceptable for men.
Women must wear a scarf on their heads, apart from in their hotel bedrooms. A long shirt with a crew neck, or collar is fine, as long as it is not form fitting and should reach mid thigh. A tunic over slacks or jeans is perfect. A typical outfit for stylish Iranian women would be something called a ‘manteau’ that looks a bit like a trench coat over a pair of jeans and converse sneakers. There is no rule for the color of your outfit as long as it is modest and includes a head scarf. Women are allowed to wear open toed shoes and sandals. Typically, wearing a dress over a pair of pants works as well, if it follows all the other rules, too.
ALCOHOL & PROHIBITED ITEMS
Alcohol is forbidden in Iran and will be confiscated at customs by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travelers face lengthy jail terms if caught breaking the law. Additionally, pornographic or obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial CDs or literature will all be confiscated by customs officials if found. Upon leaving the customs hall, all passengers are required to put their bags through X-ray machines for scanning.
CREDIT CARDS AND LOCAL CURRENCY
US dollars are accepted at Iranian banks and money-changers. Banks and money-changers can be found in most of the places that you’ll visit throughout the country. Notes/bills printed after 1996 and in good condition are preferred when changing money in Iran. Usually 50 and 100 USD notes get better exchange rate. We recommend you bring smaller denominations as well as many vendors accept them if you don’t have local currency.
Iran is a strictly CASH country. Due to US banking restrictions, no foreign credit cards or travelers cheques can be used for withdrawing money at Iranian banks and ATMs. The only time you will be able to use your credit card in Iran is if you buy a carpet in a shop that has a bank account in Dubai or UAE.
The official printed currency of Iran is “Rial”. There is another money unit called “Toman” which is most used by locals. 1 Toman is equal to 10 Rials (when discussing Toman, the “0” is frequently dropped); it is best to clarify with the person or service provider to tell you the price in Rials so you pay the correct amount. The largest Iranian Rial note is the 100,000 IRR note. You can also get a 500,000 IRR cheque, that can be exchanged into small denominations in shops and hotels.
Note: You cannot change Iranian Rials into hard currency outside of Iran. Upon arrival at the Tehran airport there are a few places where you can change money and we recommend you change some money at the airport before departing. Remember if you run out of money while in Iran it is essentially impossible to get more sent to you.
While traveling with us you will experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Generally, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together so you may taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Remember there is absolutely no alcohol in Iran; non-alcoholic beer is available in a variety of flavors including lemon, apple, and strawberry, as well as coke, Fanta etc.
Local transportation is by air conditioned bus. American passport holders must be accompanied by a guide for all travel and touring, including airport transfers. Your guide will meet you at the airport upon arrival in Tehran, and will accompany you throughout your trip.
Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage (suitcase), max. 44 pounds and one carry-on piece. Carry on must not exceed 18”x10”x8”. We recommend that you do not over-pack and that you take a variety of casual separates with climate and comfort in mind.
Please note that suitcases are not recommended as travelers may need to carry their own bags.
For information regarding dress, currency, and other trip preparation, please click the Trip Prep tab or click here.
You must be in possession of a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel with blank pages. smarTours provides visa assistance for guests who travel with us to Iran. Obtaining the visa is a two-step process.
First, you’ll require a visa authorization code from the authorities in Iran, which smarTours requests on your behalf. Once authorization is granted, smarTours alerts you to submit your visa application through a visa service provider or local Iranian embassy.
As Iran visas are dated specifically for entry and exit, please ensure you enter the correct dates. Americans, Canadians and British citizens must be accompanied by a guide at all times while in Iran, so these dates are important for obtaining your visa. We can only provide an Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number for the length of the tour. Please enter your name the same way it appears on your passport. The information on the application form must match your passport.
If you have an umlaut or other character not recognized in the English alphabet in your name (ie. ü), please enter it in the longer form (ie. ue).
NOTE: If you have an Israeli stamp in passport, you will need to obtain a new passport. Journalists are currently not able to obtain a visa for Iran. Government employees may experience a longer wait time for their authorization code. The Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship: people with both U.S. and Iranian citizenship will be treated as Iranian nationals, and must enter and exit the country on their Iranian passports.
In December 2016, Nancy Stern (smarTours Product Manager) visited Iran to experience it for herself and put the finishing touches on the smarTours trip! Please find below some reflections from Nancy on her trip, as well as a video interview for more detail!
“The truth is, I found Iran to be an amazing country, its people incredibly hospitable, open, and eager to share their culture with me – a guest from the USA, who is both a woman, AND Jewish.
As a woman traveling alone with a smarTours guide, I felt extremely well looked after. Eager to share the history of Persepolis, the Tower of Silence, seeing the Armenian communities, the Zoroastrian communities and even Jewish communities showed me that there is tolerance where I did not think existed. I have traveled the world, and this country was by far, the most unexpected experience. “