Traveling to Iran as an American (Part II)
Group Tour or Private Guide for traveling to Iran?
Whether you choose to travel to Iran on a group tour or with a private guide each comes with its own benefits and potential drawbacks.
In both circumstances it’s better to express your wishes and find creative ways to help facilitate your guide in meeting those wishes.
Don’t forget that the Iranian tour company who sponsors your visa is technically responsible for you during your entire stay in Iran. As a result, you can’t really mix and match tour companies in assembling your itinerary. But you can use the same tour company for both a group and a private tour.
Is there a dress code for tourist women in Iran?
Women visiting Iran are required to wear a headscarf that covers one's head when they are in public. In addition, women should wear a long shirt, sweater or jacket over their trousers or long skirt. There is no problem to wear jeans. As a foreign woman you will get less scrutiny than local women, but it's still best to dress modestly and respectfully.
“My standard dress in Iran: headscarf, jeans, long cardigan sweater and winter jacket.
What I did during my visit to Iran was wear a long, black cardigan sweater over whatever shirt I wanted to wear. The sweater covered my butt and thighs, and I could wear it easily over jeans and under my winter jacket. And, of course, I had my headscarf on all times” explain a woman traveled to Iran.
But keep in mind that the dress code for women is not a restriction that Iranian not to be fashionable. it's the complete opposite. Headscarves and outfits are perfectly matched, and many women are pushing the boundaries of what is considered acceptable by the authorities.
Can I buy Iranian souvenirsdespite theAmerican sanctions?
Americans are technically only allowed to bring $100 of Iranian goods per person into the U.S.
But it does not restrict your shopping. It depends on you. Many businesses offer special receipts with “adjusted” amounts that are a bit lower than what was actually paid.
Iranian carpets are also subject to U.S. sanctions. So if you like to buy a Persian carpet, you have to find a shop that has a branch or partner in Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East, so that they can ship the carpet to you from their partner location.
Can I get money out of ATM machines in Iran? Can I use credit cards in Iran?
Iranian banks are subject to international sanctions. So although Iran is full of banks and ATM machines, as a tourist, you won’t be able to get money out at any of them with your ATM card. So there is no choice other than cash. Come armed with U.S. dollars (or Euros) and exchange them in major cities at currency exchange outlets where exchange rates are 20% higher than in Iranian banks.
For buying souvenirs don’t count on your credit card. Only some of the more sophisticated Iranian souvenir and carpet shops will accept credit cards and do transactions through a partner business in Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East.