FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to visit Iran?

Usually the majority of tourists visit Iran during two periods of time:

  1. from the beginning of March to the end of May, and
  2. from the beginning of September to the end of November.

A couple of weeks before or after each New Year, there is another wonderful choice to visit Iran. Also, the very best time to visit the south of Iran (like Persian Gulf islands and shorelines) is during January and February. The story is different for the lovers of nature who like trekking or skiing. They find an extraordinary variety in Iran four seasons a year.

What is the minimum group size for a tour?

We operate small tours of all sizes – from one person to a maximum group of 5-6 people.

Beyond Persia is a tailor made specialist dedicated to arranging a unique itinerary to your exact specifications. Let us know what you want, when you want to go and your style of travel and we’ll design a holiday that caters to your special interests. We design guided tours for individuals, couples, families and a small group of friends.

Can I book accommodation and internal flights through you without booking an organised tour?

Yes, you can. You don’t need to be on one of our organised tours to book any accommodation or internal flights through us. We can organise accommodation, transportation (buses, trains, boats, transfer to and from all airports) and/ or flights for you anywhere in Myanmar at any time of the year and at a highly competitive price.

How do I book?

To book any tour/s currently shown on our website, or to request an individual tour to be designed for you, simply send an email saying how many people are travelling, the dates that you want to travel and the tour/s you have chosen.

A quote will be sent to your return email within 24 hours.

When you confirm, a 50% deposit is required to secure your booking.

For all bookings and enquiries please email info@beyondpersia.com.au or use our General Enqiry Form.

Do I have to pay in full after my reservation?

A 50% deposit is required to secure booking and it is not refundable. The remaining balance will be due not later than 45 days before your arrival date.

How are the variety and quality of foodstuff in Iran?

Those who have been to Iran have felt spoiled by the variety of high quality stews and kebabs among many other dishes. There are restaurants of various kinds. You will find a lot of herbs and spices, but Iranian dishes are not as hot and spicy as the Indian ones. A moderate amount of them is added to food just to give them different tastes. As there are not genetically manipulated vegetables and fruits in Iran, they taste the same old natural tastes everybody appreciates them.

The meat usually served in the restaurants is chicken, veal, fish and lamb. Of course, you may find turkey, quail and shrimp too, but no pork, snake, frog, dog or other kinds. They are prohibited to be taken in Islam and this is observed everywhere.

Vegetarians can order raw or cooked vegetables in the hotels as well as restaurants. It is also recommended to let your tour guide know about it beforehand so that he/she can arrange it for you, because in some restaurants people need to be already informed. That is because it is not so popular in Iran to be a vegetarian. Just feel free to tell your guides about it.

What is Iran Electrical Outlet Type?

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are of the round two-pin type. If you have 110 volts appliance to use on your trip, like shaving machine, hair drier, etc, it is recommended to take a 110-to-220 plug with you while traveling. Of course, you can find it in Iran too, but it can be a waste of time in some situations.

How do I apply for an entry visa to Iran?

Please see our Iran Visa Page for more details.

Are all meals included on the tour?

This depends on your chosen tour, but breakfasts are provided to all tours. Most international hotels provide a full buffet breakfast, while small hotels and guest houses serve a continental breakfast. We also provide some lunches and dinners on certain tours. Please check your specific tour for more details.

Where should I exchange my $US and Euros?

The official unit of currency is the Iranian rial (IRR), but locals almost always talk in terms of tomans, a unit equal to 10 rials.

Iran is very much a cash economy. This means travellers can rarely use debit or credit cards or travellers cheques while in Iran. There may be rare occasions in tourist-orientated shops that credit cards are accepted, otherwise cash is the main method of trade in Iran.

US dollars and euro notes are the only hard currencies accepted by Iranian banks and money changers (please don’t bring British pounds as it’s very difficult to find banks that will change them). Having those notes changed into Iranian rials is a fairly simple exercise. Please make sure that all the bills are unmarked and undamaged in any way and were printed since 1996. New and fresh notes are preferred in most banks. You’ll get a slightly higher rate for larger notes (50 and 100 notes) but also bring plenty of smaller denominations (5, 10, 20 etc).

Upon arrival at the Tehran airport there are a few places where you can change money. However we do not recommend that you change your money in the Airport because the rate you will get is dramatically different to what you will get at a money exchange downtown. If you need to, change just a small amount at the airport on arrival and the rest at a money changer in the city. There are quite a few located along the main street near the hotel. Ask your leader to take you to one.

Please note that if you run out of money while in Iran it can be difficult, expensive and time consuming to find banks that can transfer money over to you. Before leaving for Iran, calculate how much money you think you’ll need in either US dollars or euros and take that with you, plus a bit extra. This should cover all optional activities, meals, special clothing requirements, some souvenirs and other items. If you’re a big shopper (and there are so many great things to buy in Iran, especially carpets) we recommend you bring more. Please take into consideration the safety issues of carrying so much cash with you – bringing a money belt with you is absolutely essential. Thankfully Iran is one of the safest countries that you’ll probably ever visit and crime against foreigners is virtually unheard of.

Banks and money changers can be found in most of the places that we visit throughout the country. The largest Iranian rial note is the IRR20,000 note (approx US$1) but the IRR10,000 notes (approx US$0.50) are far more widely used. Thankfully new ‘Iranian travellers cheques’ make dealing with such large numbers of rials much easier. It’s a lot safer and easier than carrying around huge wads of notes. It’s especially useful for people who may need to spend up big on that special gift (carpets!). These cheques are available in 1 million and 500,000 rial denominations and can be organised easily in most Iranian banks. Changing them back into Iranian rial notes is trouble free.

Note: you can’t change Iranian rials into hard currency outside of Iran.

How do credit cards work in Iran?

MASTERCARD (including traveller’s cheques) are accepted for settling monetary transactions in big shops and in major cities in Iran. However, USD cash and Euros are accepted widely in all parts of country. We suggest that you bring a sufficient amount of USD or EURO notes in both small and big denominations.

ATMs: You will not be able to use ATMs as the banks in Iran are state-run and do not accept foreign cards. Please bring cash only, in US dollars or euros. If you have the option, the preferred currency is the Euro, however there are some currency exchange places that will accept AUD

Can I use my mobile or GSM phone in Iran?

It is GSM 900 network. In other words, if you have a mobile phone from any part of the world, it will not work in Iran unless your phone company has made a contract with Iranian Telecommunication Company (ITC). It is a service to be used inside Iran to make short as well as long distance calls. Many guesthouses and hotels have WiFi, should you wish to use the Internet. Wifi is very reliable in Iran.

Are there any internet facilities in Iran?

There are a growing number of Internet users in Iran. So, almost all the major hotels provide their guests with Internet facilities and the others are being equipped for the same purpose. Also, many Internet cafes are already opened to the public and many other ones are going to be opened due to the increasing need of the people.

Is it safe to have cash while traveling in Iran?

Of course, it is. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be careful with the cash you have on you.

How much should I tip?

Tipping – known as ‘baksheesh’ in the Middle East – is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry. If you are satisfied with the services provided, a tip – though not compulsory – is appropriate and always appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, it’s of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.

The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants – leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants, we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1-2 per person per day for local guides.

Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days.

Public toilet attendants: When using public toilets there will most likely be a attendant that will expect a tip. 20-50 cents is appropriate.

Desert Camp hosts: If you have a night camping included on your itinerary, US$2-3 is appropriate for the camp hosts.

Please don’t tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Do I need to bring drinking water from home?

Bringing your own water is not necessary. Standard bottled water is available everywhere. It is important to avoid drinking the local tap water.

How do I dress for Iran?

As a traditional Islamic nation, a strict dress code is enforced throughout the country, and must be adhered to at all times.

Men must wear long trousers and generally keep themselves neat and tidy. Short sleeve shirts that cover your shoulders and open-toed sandals are now acceptable for men – but ankles must be covered and full-length shirts must be worn at religious sites.

Women must wear the hejab at all times, a loose-fitting trench coat that comes down to just above your knees, plus a headscarf. Black is not a must. Chador is not a must either, but when it comes to visit a holy mausoleum and you have the opportunity to experience wearing a chador for a few minutes, do not skip the opportunity to feel the atmosphere.

Men put on non-transparent garments too. They may wear short-sleeve shirts or T-shirts (unlike women), but not shorts in the public.

How is the quality of roads in Iran?

The roads are asphalted and the maintenance is regularly done. There are highways in many routes and separate lanes to and from cities to safeguard transportations. As a matter of fact, contrary to many tourists’ expectations, roads are of very good quality.

How far are the distances between the destinations?

Usually there are not short distances between the major destinations compared to most of the distances between the European cities or towns. Instead, you can see a lot of landscape, meet the people in the intact rural areas and experience the real life situations in addition to many other opportunities you will not find inside cities. For instance, Iranian guides can take possible opportunities to arrange picnic meals for you. Iranians are picnic lovers and take every opportunity to arrange for it.

What is the population of Iran?

80 million

What are spending money requirements in Iran/ Middle East?

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers purchase more souvenirs than others. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

The Middle East is often misjudged as being an inexpensive destination. With tourism booming and the influx of cheap flights from Europe, prices for some items are becoming more equivalent to prices you would be used to at home. Eating in local restaurants, roadside stalls and from markets can be inexpensive, but for nights out at tourist-friendly restaurants you can expect to pay much more. Budgets are a personal choice but please bear in mind that you shouldn’t expect the Middle East to always be a budget destination.

Expect some culture shock. You’ll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.

Will I experience much culture shock?

The Middle East is a region which may be very different to anything you have experienced before. Heat, pollution, poverty and crowds can result in some initial culture shock but should be seen as an exciting new challenge. During our time here we have come to love this wonderfully different region but we know that we should always be prepared to encounter some difficulties along the way. You will come across very different attitudes to time keeping, public cleanliness, privacy and service. If you are able to travel with a lot of patience and a sense of humour, then we know that you – like all of us – will be captivated by the fabulous Middle East.

Iran is a safe and friendly place to travel but it is conservative. It is very important that before you sign up for this tour you are committed to following a strict dress code (particularly for women) in what may be quite warm weather.

Other useful notes:

RAMADAN & THE EID UL-FITR FESTIVAL (BAYRAM):
In 2015 the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from the 18th June through till the 17th July, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it is a period of National holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be impacted.

IRANIAN NEW YEAR:
Please note that the Iranian New Year will take place from 21 March to 25 March. Many Iranian banks and government offices will be closed for the week of this period.

IRANIAN NEW YEAR AND VISA APPLICATION:
The Iranian Foreign Ministry will be closed from 21 March to 2 April and will not be processing any visa applications over this time. Please have your visa application in well before this date.

WEEKEND & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN IRAN:
Thursday (afternoon) and Friday are the weekend in Iran. Please note that there may be changes to operating hours of sites, museums and stores. If you are arriving over the weekend we recommend you change some money beforehand as Currency Exchanges may be closed over these days.

Iran has a lot of public holidays. The dates of many of these holidays change annually as they are scheduled according to the lunar calendar. If you are arriving over a public holiday we recommend you change some money beforehand as Currency Exchanges will be closed over these days.

ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND CONTRABAND:
Alcohol is strictly forbidden in Iran and severe penalties will be incurred by anyone attempting to bring it into the country. Drug laws are also extremely strict and travellers face lengthy jail terms if caught. If found, pork products, obscene material (even glossy magazines showing people in immodest poses), and controversial literature will all be confiscated by custom officials. Upon arrival, you as a foreigner will likely be whisked through customs but note that random bag checks do commonly occur.

PASSPORT COPIES:
Please bring two (2) photocopies of your passport. These may be used to assist with hotel check-in, and sometimes at road security points.