Solo Travel Destination: Iran – Solo Traveler

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We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Solo Travel Society member Laura, to complement an earlier one from Jessica. Laura is from Canada and Jessica is from the United States. They each submitted reports from their solo trips to Iran, each from their own unique perspectives. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!

Languages spoken: Farsi

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Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on the Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan

Reasons to Visit Iran

Laura’s Story

Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)

Costs at DestinationReasonable (local transportation, dining, tours, events and attractions)

I travelled to Iran this fall as part of a tour. The tour was based out of New Zealand and the other 11 members of the group were all kiwis and great companions.

Driving a car is not recommended unless you are very courageous – the road traffic is not for the timid! As a Canadian, I was required to go with a tour guide (the same rules apply to British and American tourists), so tours are the best way to see this amazing country.

Our group traveled north from Tehran to the Caspian Sea, then back south through Kashan, Yazd, Isfahan, and Shiraz, then flew to the Persian Gulf. Iran is a large country so there are considerable distances to cover. We stayed in 4-5 star hotels, most of which were wonderful. Several were converted caravansaries with lovely gardens and courtyards. The food was delicious. Breakfast was buffet style, lunch and dinners were usually salad, followed by rice, plus chicken or lamb cooked in the local way. Iran still has local specialties in food and sweets so there were lots of new tastes and the food was plentiful as Iranians love to show their hospitality.

Iran is an intriguing mix of modern and ancient with many beautiful mosques and gardens going back thousands of years. Driving through the mountains and desert was fascinating. The geology of the country is incredibly varied. The people are warm and welcoming. We were often asked to take photos with Iranians and they loved trying out their English on us.

If you are looking for history, culture, wonderful people, and a different experience, I highly recommend Iran. Three photos cannot do this country justice.

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Bagh-e Erman (Erman Garden), Shiraz

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Courtyard of the Dad Hotel in Yazd, formerly an inn – lovely!

Solo Travel Destination Rating System

Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)

Language – 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)

Navigation – 2 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)

Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)

Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)


 

photo, image, pink mosque, shiraz, iran

The Pink Mosque in Shiraz.

Jessica’s Story

Solo travel rating: 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)

Iran has a wealth of history and culture. Despite its tenuous relationship with the West and regardless of what the media says, in my experience it is a very safe country with much to offer the intrepid traveler.

My personal interest in Iran began 13 years ago while I was studying ancient history and religion. To visit Persepolis was my ultimate dream, to walk in the footsteps of Darius and Xerxes.

The tour I took (Americans and many other Westerners are required to have guides) began in Tehran and quickly moved to Shiraz, Kerman, Yazd, and Esfahan with a couple of stops in the desert along the way. I had the chance to sleep in a 400 year old Caravanserai, get to know a family in a rural oasis village in the desert, and roam the rooftops of a town that is 1500+ years old but only recently vacated.

My personal favorite stop was not even on my original tour schedule. The Pink Mosque in Shiraz is absolutely a must-see–be sure to go early in the day to catch the light coming in! I also enjoyed visiting Zoroastrian sites that are still important to members of that ancient religion today. Persepolis is as grand and spectacular as it appears in pictures–bring an umbrella to protect yourself from the sun! Isfahan, oh Isfahan, I could have spent a week lazing in its courtyard garden restaurants and tea houses.

The people of Iran are some of the most gracious and welcoming I have ever met. Not once did I ever feel unsafe or unwelcome. Iranians love Americans, they want so much to meet us and to get to know us, they want us to see them as they really are!

Top Experiences/Places to Stay:

  1. Zein-o-Din Caravanserai  Experience a night or two on the Silk Road. Be sure to catch the sunset over the mountains.
  2. Eco Lodge Shafi’abad  Get to know what life in a village is like. Play soccer with village boys in the streets, buy handmade goods from local women, and get henna from a local school girl.

Pro tip: even if you aren’t required to have a tour guide, I recommend it. In Iran, tour guides are required to have a certain level of education and knowledge about the country. It was not only fabulous to have somebody teach me about the country but it was especially valuable to have transportation already planned from city to city. Most taxi drivers do not speak any English and will often charge tourists more than locals.

Iran is probably not the first place that will come to mind when you are considering your next trip. More than one person told me I was crazy or begged me not to go. But fortunately, I listened to others who had traveled there before me, along with my gut, and I was rewarded with the experiences of a lifetime: friendship, culture, and history.

photo, image, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan, iran

Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan

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Crazies and Kaluts in the Iranian Desert

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Sunset from the Caravanserai

Solo Travel Destination Rating System

Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)

Language – 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)

Navigation – 2 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)

Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)

Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)

Last updated: 1st December, 2017

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