Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Travel Guide: Tehran, Iran

Tehran, the capital of Iran, was my first and lat stop during a short trip around this beautiful country. The city itself has some interesting places to visit and things to do.


Here's a short guide for your planned visit.
Travel Guide


Iran was a pleasant surprise, people were friendly and unlike many news reports you would hear about it. My first stop during my visit to this country was the capital, Tehran. It's a modern city minus the usual Western fast food chains and big malls. The metropolis has its own subway network that makes it easy to get around. They had their own small eateries, diners and bazaars where locals hangout. I've met Iranians who were eager to help, since I was obviously a foreigner riding the metro. Those that can speak English often ask me where I wanted to go and told me how to get there.

Where to Go


Golestan Palace









The UNESCO Heritage-listed Golestan Palace is probably the main attraction in the city. It has several halls and rooms inside that showcase Iranian culture and provides you with a glimpse of the country's storied past. I spent a couple of hours in here just walking around and taking photos.

Imamzadeh Saleh Mosque



This beautiful mosque is bustling with locals coming and going. It is also connected to a bazaar where you'll find shops and knick-knacks. The mosque itself is beautiful; these religious structures have a distinct beautiful color with intricately designed mosaics. You can go inside even if you're not Muslim, just be respectful. Many locals go inside for prayers and selfies (haha!).

Azadi Tower



The Azadi Tower is the most striking building I've seen in the city (just my opinion). There's a park surrounding it where you can chill and take photos of the beautiful structure.

Bazaar Hopping






I went to two bazaars while I was in Tehran, the Grand Bazaar and the Tajrish Bazaar. Both were nice; here you'll see carpets, shops that sell everything from toys to underwear to pots to pans to anything locals might need. I liked the Tajrish Bazaar more because it was smaller and less busy.

Other places of interest you might want to include in your itinerary:

  • Milad Tower
  • Tabiat Bridge
  • National Jewelry Museum
  • Iranian Art Museum Garden
  • Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini

Getting Around

The best and cheapest way to explore the city is by taking the subway. The names of the stations have an English translation so it's easy to navigate and familiarize yourself with the stops. It helps to have a good map to know which stops to alight at for the places you intend to visit. Heritage Hostel has good English speaking staff and they offer tourist maps for free.

There's a metro line that connects the airport and the city. However, using this can be tricky for foreigners because there's a lot of changing involved. Taxis are an option, but I took the metro most of the time except for the day I arrived. I took a taxi to the hostel because it was my only option, I arrived very early in the morning.

Where to Stay

I would recommend Heritage Hostel, they have English speaking staff, comfy and soft beds, near places to eat and a metro station. They also provide a detailed map of the metro, this was a BIG help in navigating the city. You could find them online and make reservations before your trip..

Getting a Visa

I made a separate post here: https://www.thewanderingjuan.net/2018/06/how-to-get-visa-on-arrival-for-iran.html.

Expenses

*Everything's in Iranian Rial, the value of this currency fluctuates regularly so check the conversion rates. I brought US Dollars with me and changed it to local money.

630000 - 1 night Heritage Hostel
750000 - Taxi to Tehran hostel
540000 - Food and drinks
147000 - Transportation around the city
680000 - VIP bus to Shiraz
300000 - Entrance fee for Golestan and some halls inside          
3047000 - Total

I traveled alone and only had a short time to spare. Here are my other posts during my Iran trip:
Travel  Tips

  • Transactions are in cash unless you get a local debit card. 
  • When a local says 10,000 Toman it means 100,000 Iranian Rial, this can get confusing at first because of the large value of the bills. You'll eventually get used to it.
  • Dress appropriately. Women need to wear headscarves, men wear pants all the time, toddlers were the only ones I saw wearing shorts.
  • You can pay using USD or Euros but better change these into local currency.
  • Get a VPN to use Facebook, Gmail, etc.
  • Because of the current sanctions on the country, you can't use any international debit or credit cards.
  • Download an offline Farsi translator to make talking with locals easier and smoother. Although some people can speak a bit of English.


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