Iran Travel Iran(Travel Report)Putnik 3 Week in Iran

Written by Super User. Posted in Traveler Info


wonderful 3-week trip around Iran.

Hi, if you are interested, here is a brief report on our wonderful 3-week trip around Iran.

I tried to be very brief and specific. I also separated categories, so that people can find what interests them and avoid what they do not want to read about.

Although we travel exclusively in our own organization and mostly backpack, this time we treated ourselves to the most convenient trip ever, with some public transport (1st class night sleeper trains or overnight buses), while most of the time we had private drivers or guides, or sometimes both. Things went incredibly smoothly, nothing happened to disturb the flow of day to day trips, visits or sometimes long drives. I do not remember that a guide or a driver was ever late to pick up at a hotel and take us where we needed to go. A great change from our usual relatively rough-ish style of travel, and more relaxed than digging our noses into the travel book and following the tips.

All our guides were well chosen, knowledgeable, helpful, spoke good or excellent English, and we remained friends with some of them. Thanks to the fact that we had guides at many locations, we were also able to see things we would not have seen normally, and we met people we could not have otherwise.

Naturally, the customized tour was more expensive than backpacking, but it was still within our budget (roughly around $ 120-130 a day for both of us together), included everything we wanted to see and more, it spared us a lot of waiting and changing transportation in uncomfortable heat, and still allowed for plenty of time on our own, for meeting people and spending time with new friends.

The tour included so much sightseeing that we occasionally had to ask the guide to skip certain things on the itinerary, because we were either too tired, or were more interested in doing something else.

22 days, Sept. 4-27

• Arranged the visa and the entire trip through Trip to Persia, from Shiraz. Very efficient and well organized, especially Abbas Safaie, who was our main contact and who took care of our day-to-day well being by regularly checking on us.

• On arrival we were given a SIM card (which had some credit included) and had uninterrupted communication with the agency, as well as all the drivers and guides whom we met during the trip.
• All the public transportation was pre-booked for us by TTP, as were all the hotels. The public transport we took was excellent and very cheap. The VIP buses served a warm meal, a soft drink, tea, and even some cookies.
• Tipping: we are used to tipping in the US and inquired about the custom in Iran. We were told that it was generally not expected, at some points even rejected, etc. Yet, our experience is that it has become very much part of the service industry culture, as we left ample tips, and at no time were they rejected nor become a point of embarrassment for either side. It was our feeling that a tip was expected most of the times and was definitely always gratefully accepted, even for the smallest of services.

Safety, as most who have visited would testify, was a non issue, because we found Iran easily the safest place we have ever visited. The only problem we had to deal with was learning how to cross the street and survive, as Iranian drivers hardly respect the barest minimum of traffic regulations.

Health and food: not even the slightest stomach problem in all three weeks, although we ate everywhere, from hotel restaurants to food stalls in the street, to fresh juice stalls. We always drank tap water, and even while in the desert washed utensils in the ancient qannat.

Itinerary (unless noted, transport was with a private driver: Tehran-Shiraz (night sleeper train)- Kerman (VIP night bus)- Rayen, Mahan, the Kaluts -Yazd, Fahraj, Kharanaq, Garmeh, Nain, Esfahan-Abyaneh-Kashan, Tehran-Tabriz (night sleeper train)- Ardabil - Sarein hot springs-Rasht-Masuleh-Tehran (VIP day bus)

We were on our own in all cities, save for Yazd and Esfahan, where a local guide took us around town as well as some surrounding sites (Fahraj, Kharanaq, Nain, for example). We went to Rayen and Mahan on a day trip from Kerman, and the Kaluts desert camp was also done from Kerman.


• people, people, people, very kind, hospitable, and helpful - in three weeks we do not remember encountering an unkind face,
• sleeping in the open in the Kaluts (the guide and driver cooked amazing dinner, and they even took some friends of theirs and a girl played the sitar - listening to the sitar under the Milky Way? unforgettable!)
• staying at Maziar’s house in Garmeh. (Walk to the nearby cold springs and treat yourselves to a free fish spa. Stuff yourself with pomegranates and dates).
• staying at Zein-o-din (we were the only guests that night)
• Sheikh Safi Complex in Ardabil (afterwards just cross the street and taste some black halva in a specialized store).
• Masjid-e-Jameh in Isfahan (not too easy to find, a bit of a walk from the main square in the city, but the most beautiful and architecturally interesting mosque, IMHO).
• Armenian quarter in Jolfa, Isfahan (beautiful frescoes inside, esp. the Apocalypse; by all means visit the museum behind the church, which contains a lot of interesting documents, esp. various legislation on Armenian population in Persian Empire).
• Naqshe Rostam
• Persepolis (despite the fact that half of the site is closed due to lack of funds for maintenance)
• Dowlat Abad Garden, Yazd
• Masuleh
• Darband, Tehran (it was an unusually smog-free night and very few people around)
• Artists’ Park, Tehran (galleries, films, events in the park)
• freshly squeezed juices everywhere – leave supplements at home

Most of the attractions mentioned above charged an entry fee of 150 000 rial, which at the time of visit was approx. $ 5 US. This is a standard fee for foreigners for attractions, museums, gardens, etc. deemed of 1st class significance. Others were cheaper.

{Major annoyance: trash culture. It is wonderful that Iranians can camp literally everywhere they choose, even on city pavements. However, exercising this democratic right could be done without leaving heaps of trash literally everywhere. Sometimes we did not want to take photos of places because there was so much garbage around that I did not know where to turn the camera to avoid it. Especially bad impression in Shazdeh Garden, where vultures and stray dogs tear at a scandalous amount of garbage thrown into the water cascades; and on the road from Ardabil to Rasht. The area is very wet and green but severely littered from mushrooming little businesses along the road.

Hotels and other accommodation (I will not repeat how wonderful and helpful all the staff was in the hotels where we stayed, because it will be boring.)
• Tehran: Khayyam (old but clean)
Atlas (rooms big and clean, good food in the restaurant, very close to museums and attractions, we walked everywhere, although subway is near)
• Shiraz: Niayesh (old traditional house, has a quaint feeling, everything within walking distance. Most of hotel under renovation during our stay.).
• Kerman: Akhavan (very good hotel, also very good food in the hotel restaurant).
• Zein-o-din: beautiful place, rooms quite romantic and comfy duvets. The dinner price is a bit steep, but then again, it is in the middle of nowhere and everything needs to be brought from the city.
• Yazd: Laleh (beautiful old house with three huge courtyards. We were lucky to stay in, probably, the best room in the house, number 211).
• Garmeh: House of Maziar (great place to meet other travelers; the house is very pretty, amazing home cooked food).
• Esfahan: Setareh (conveniently located, clean, although rooms can be a bit stuffy. Excellent breakfast buffet).
Abbasi: no need to say much about this one. Happy we stayed, even for a night
• Abyaneh: Viuna (the place looks a bit surreal, but is quite OK and clean). Their specialty is the heartiest dizi we ever tasted.
• Tabriz: Hotel Park (our absolute favorite among small hotels. Family owned and renovated just two years ago, the place is a genuine city hotel. Rooms very small but everything inside is new, the linen is crisp and comfy).
• Sarein springs: Hotel Laleh (beautiful hotel, a very romantic room, excellent breakfast).
• Rasht: Ordibehesht (hotel is old and the bathroom needs an urgent renovation, but it is clean. This was the only place that did not offer complementary breakfast, but that had the best bread of all the places we stayed at ☺).
• Masuleh: Navid (these are apartments, rather than a hotel, very functional, with two bathrooms – Oriental and Western, very spacious, fully equipped kitchen; however, the place needs a thorough scrubbing; does not provide towels).

Things we could have skipped:
• Sarein hot springs : Hotel Laleh in Sarein was a nice experience, but Sarein itself is a touristy Vegas-wannabe, with plenty of new construction around, crowded baths, screaming lights, and loud pop/folk concerts at night. Pros: The air was fresh and cool, and the local honeycombs and kaymag very tasty.
• Abyaneh: somehow this village just did not work for us. Little to see in its dusty streets and even less to do, save for a few touristy shops renting folk costumes for photos. Curio: the entire village smelled of home made moonshine the night we arrived.
• Shazdeh Garden in Mahan: it has potential and very nice new accommodation, but was overall a disappointment. We found Fin garden much more beautiful, while Dowlat Abad in Yazd had a special atmosphere.




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