Tehran: Useful Information
Modern and traditional, secular and religious, rich and poor
- There is still no credit card system in Iran - you cannot use any of your credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express etc.) here. The ONLY way to pay for things is by CASH.
- If you enter Tehran with Dollars and Euros, you can exchange at exchange shops called Sarrafi.
- Once you have exchanged your cash, you can go to a bank and turn it into Iranian traveller's checks.
- The formal currency is Rials, the number that you read on all bills. However, Iranians function with Tomans. Subtract one zero from the number of Rials and you will gain the equivalent in Tomans. Example: 1000 Rials = 100 Tomans.
- If you are a man and a woman travelling together and want to stay at a hotel or a hostel, you must say that you are husband and wife in order to be able to get a room together. In Iran, that is a rigid Islamic rule that must be observed by hotel and hostel owners. At every reception, you will be asked whether you are married or not before they give you a common room.
- The prices for hotel rooms are much more expensive for foreigners than for Iranians.
- You will notice that most Iranians are very hospitable and will offer you to stay at their homes. However, it is illegal by law for them to host foreign travellers at their homes unless they have informed the authorities about it, who will in turn have you, go through a procedure of inquisition to make sure that they are not spies of any sort. Ironically, most locals are not aware of this law and are unlikely to ever contact the authorities about your stay.
- If you are invited to someone's home, you will most likely be offered to have tea and food with them. It is considered impolite to refuse their offer for tea or food, as it is an act of love and friendship to the locals.
- When entering someone’s home, ask whether you should take off your shoes at the door or not.
- If you are a man, do not try to shake hands with a local woman unless she initiates it.
- Traditional meals include meat/chicken kebab with rice, meat stew (called Dizzi), and various other meat/vegetable stews.
- The most traditional drink in Iran is Doogh, which is a sour yogurt drink, which resembles the Indian Lassi.
- All women must observe the Islamic Hejaab, which consists of a headscarf and a vest or a shirt with long sleeves that covers the body all the way to the knees.
- The better women observe the Hejaab, the less they will get unwanted attention from local men.
- All men must wear long trousers, as shorts are not permitted.
Other rules and regulations
- Couples (boy friend/girl friend or married) CANNOT kiss in public.
- Hugging in public is also not suggested.
- Iranian women may be unlikely to shake hands with men and Iranian men will rarely shake hands with women either.
- It is advised that you carry your passport along with you as you walk in the streets in case the authorities stop you for questioning.
- The international code of Iran is 98.
- The code for Tehran is 021.
- Useful numbers: Police 110, Information 118, Ambulance 115
- Internet cafes are usually labelled as Coffee Net
- The most common connecting system in Iran is Dial up, so the system is fairly slow.
- If you are asked by any driver to pay in dollars or to get in their cars for a private ride, refuse by all means. Chances are, they are trying to take advantage of you because you are a foreigner and do not know the rules.