MYSTERY OF IRAN

MYSTERY OF IRAN



Mystery Of Iran

By amirgh@qq.com 05 Jul, 2016

What is the Iran visa rule for US citizens?

By amirgh@qq.com 30 Jun, 2016
Editor’s Note:   Retired Eau Claire County Judge Thomas Barland recently spent nearly two weeks in Iran. Barlandestimates he has taken 75 foreign trips, visiting about 70 countries. He wrote this account for the Leader-Telegram.
By amirgh@qq.com 27 May, 2016

While not many people may have Iran on their travel agenda, times are changing and travel bookings to this misunderstood region in the world have increased by 400% last year alone! As a destination with a plethora of things to see and explore, not to mention exotic cuisine and still pristine environments to impress even the most traveled outdoors lover, it’s definitely worth a second look. Whether you know much about visiting Tehran or not, we wanted to shed some light on this destination and put it on your radar for an unforgettable adventure in the near future.

By amirgh@qq.com 11 May, 2016

Mount Damavand

66 kilometres northeast of Tehran, at a height of 5,610m, Mount Damavand is the highest mountain in the Middle East, and a worthy challenge for any accomplished mountaineer. Visible from Tehran on a clear day, the mountain is snow-capped all year round, and features prominently in Persian folklore and literature. Located in the Alborz Mountain range, reaching Damavand’s peak will take the best part of two days – and earn you the eternal respect of any Iranians in your life. The climbing season is June-September.

By amirgh@qq.com 10 Jun, 2015
Yes, this gorgeous, altitudinous part of the Middle East is the skiing world’s best-kept secret.
By amirgh@qq.com 19 Mar, 2015
Should I or should I not visit Iran?
By amirgh@qq.com 03 Mar, 2015

Do you wish to travel to Iran to experience the delights of the ancient Persian Empire? Do you know new rules and regulations about traveling to Iran? And most important of all; what do previous Iran travelers experience in Iran? There are some things to review before traveling to Iran. To know all these and more; join us on Mystery Of Iran blog and update your traveling information, Iran is a can’t-miss spot on your Middle East list! Now let’s review things to know before traveling to Iran:

US Citizen’s Traveling to Iran Rules

  • By amirgh@qq.com
  • 05 Jul, 2016

Here is detailed information about US citizen’s traveling to Iran rules (also UK and Canadian citizens) whose traveling law is different from other nations

What is the Iran visa rule for US citizens?

The Iranian government requires that all US, UK and Canadian citizen’s travel with a private guide or group tour to Iran. Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) must approve your complete guided travel itinerary before issuing you a visa; guided travel itinerary means a travel guide must accompany you while you are in the country. It can be traveling either as part of a group tour, or on a tailor-made individual one specially planed based on your interests. You must submit your itinerary in advance and adhere to it exactly. No matter you join a group tour or travel as an independent traveler; you will have many time to explore around, walk the streets, browse the bazaars, making connection with ordinary people, eat street food and…
Traveling to Iran as an American citizen may sound complicated and dangerous. It’s not!
We’re here to dispel the myths and answer the questions piling up in our inbox based on
two American's visit to Iran  .

Are American citizens legally allowed to visit Iran?

It’s a common belief that Iran holds the same status as Cuba for American citizens (i.e., that it’s illegal to visit without special permission from the U.S. government). Although the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran,   there are currently no restrictions on American citizens visiting Iran as tourists.   Currently, about 1,000-1,500 Americans visit Iran each year.

Can Americans travel independently in Iran?

The Iranian government requires that all American tourists travel with a private guide or group tour.   Your Iranian guide will be specially authorized to guide American citizens and should be aware of any relevant Iranian government regulations.

If you happen to be independent travelers like us, don’t be deterred by this requirement. We experienced both a group tour and a private guide in Iran. In both circumstances, we still had ample time to explore, walk the streets and browse the bazaars (markets) on our own. We made connections with ordinary people, we ate street food and we were even fortunate enough to accept a couple invitations to people’s homes.

Update:   As of February 2014 it is also required for UK and Canadian citizens to either be part of a group tour or have a private guide to receive a visa to Iran.

How does an American citizen obtain an Iranian tourist visa?

Obtaining an Iranian visa is roughly a two-step process: 1) a travel authorization number from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign affairs, and 2) the actual tourist visa issued by an Iranian consulate.

The tour company you work with will help you with the paperwork you need for your visa. All you need to do is fill out an application form, inform them of the Iranian consulate where you’ll pick up the visa, then summon some patience.

The difficult part of the process is the authorization number; this usually takes 30-40 business days for American citizens. Once you have that number, getting your visa from the Iranian consulate is almost a sure thing (2-3 days).

We’ve been informed that some Iranian agencies have been able to get the authorization numbers for US citizens in about two weeks right now. However, for your planning purposes we still suggest you assume 30 days so you’re not down to the last minute.

Our advice is to get the visa process started as early as you can so that you don’t have a heart attack waiting for your visa to arrive on the same morning as your flight (true story from a member of our tour group). 

But there is no Iranian Embassy in the United States. How will I get my visa?

Although Iran doesn’t have an official embassy in Washington, DC, there is an  Iranian “interest section”  at the Pakistan Embassy that handles Iranian visa requests. If you don’t live in the DC area, you’ll need to send your passport, application form and passport photos by mail (e.g., DHL, FedEx, etc.) with a prepaid return envelope.

Or, if you’re traveling like us, you can pick up your visa at an Iranian consulate abroad. You just need to specify which consulate location when you apply for the authorization number. We collected our Iranian tourist visa in Istanbul, Turkey. The process was relatively easy and painless. We highly recommend it. Just leave a few days cushion if you can and make sure you show up promptly at the time stamped on your visa application receipt. The cost was €70 for a 20-day Iranian tourist visa.

As an American, how will Iranians treat me?

Iranian people were often shocked to discover that we were American and that we were able to get a visa to their country. Once this fact set in, they often went over the top in welcoming us — everything from cordial greetings, to smiles, hugs, gifts and invitations to homes — especially when our guide was out of sight. We joke that it’s the closest we’ve felt to being rock stars.

Iran: Group Tour or Private Guide?

Whether you choose to travel Iran on a group tour or with a private guide will likely boil down to cost and travel style.

We traveled on a  group tour for two weeks , then concluded with a private guide for a third week. We enjoyed both experiences, but each comes with its own benefits and potential drawbacks.

One of the things we loved about our trip was our group. There were seven of us – four from the United States, two from Australia and one from Denmark –and we all hit it off immediately.

During our private tour, we had a bit more freedom to determine the itinerary and schedule. However, having a private guide (possibly with you at all times, depending on the guide’s style and adherence to the rules) can be intense, and at times almost stifling.

Regardless, in both circumstances it’s best to continually express your wishes and find creative ways to help facilitate your guide in meeting those wishes.

Keep in mind:   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.

Did you ever have problems with Iranian authorities? Were you ever tracked or followed during your trip?

We encountered only one incident in three weeks where a uniformed guy with a gun followed us for a bit through a market and asked to see our passports. Our Iranian guide yelled at him and told him that he had no right to ask for our papers. The guard backed down and left us alone, but our guide insisted on calling him an “uneducated donkey” as we walked away. As unsettling as the episode was at first, it eventually made us laugh and left us with a good story.

It’s impossible for us to know whether or not we were being tracked, but it certainly didn’t feel like it. We walked the streets and engaged with local people. It all felt very safe and normal; we were never concerned for our personal safety.

Is there a dress code for women traveling in Iran?

Women visiting Iran are required to wear a headscarf that covers one’s head when in public. In addition, women should plan wearing a long shirt, sweater or jacket over your trousers (jeans are OK) or long skirt. As a foreign woman you will get less scrutiny than local women, but it’s still best to dress modestly and respectfully
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 a all times.

Just because Iran has a dress code for women, don’t expect Iranians to be unfashionable. In fact, 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. This sophisticated sense of fashion crossed with a bit of rebelliousness is fascinating. For more information click here .

What should I expect in terms of immigration and security entering and exiting Iran?

For us and everyone else in our tour group, entry into Iran was a non-event. We were fingerprinted on our way into the country at the Tehran airport, but we did not experience exceptional scrutiny of our camera and travel equipment.

Upon exiting Iran into Turkey (via the train from Tabriz to Istanbul), Iranian passport control was similarly uneventful. Iranian border officials aboard our train were jovial and interested in what we saw, where we went and how our experience was.

What should I expect in terms of immigrations and customs upon re-entry into the U.S. after a visit to Iran?

Stories circulating from other American visitors to Iran indicate that experiences vary. Again, ours was a non-event. We listed Iran on our inbound immigrations and customs form and the Homeland Security agent said, “ Iran. I have to ask .”

We explained that we are travel bloggers and photographers. He asked where we went, mentioned that he’d seen a show about Iran on the Travel Channel and we were on our way.

Going through U.S. customs was similarly uneventful. Agents waved us on without asking us to open our bags.

Can I get money out of ATM machines in Iran? Can I use credit cards in Iran?

Iranian banks are also subject to international sanctions. So although Iran is full of banks and ATM machines, you won’t be able to get money out at any of them with your ATM card. So cash is the name of the game. 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.

Don’t count on using your credit card. Only some of the more sophisticated Iranian souvenir and carpet shops will accept credit cards and route transactions through a partner business in Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East.

Mystery Of Iran

By amirgh@qq.com 05 Jul, 2016

What is the Iran visa rule for US citizens?

By amirgh@qq.com 30 Jun, 2016
Editor’s Note:   Retired Eau Claire County Judge Thomas Barland recently spent nearly two weeks in Iran. Barlandestimates he has taken 75 foreign trips, visiting about 70 countries. He wrote this account for the Leader-Telegram.
By amirgh@qq.com 27 May, 2016

While not many people may have Iran on their travel agenda, times are changing and travel bookings to this misunderstood region in the world have increased by 400% last year alone! As a destination with a plethora of things to see and explore, not to mention exotic cuisine and still pristine environments to impress even the most traveled outdoors lover, it’s definitely worth a second look. Whether you know much about visiting Tehran or not, we wanted to shed some light on this destination and put it on your radar for an unforgettable adventure in the near future.

By amirgh@qq.com 11 May, 2016

Mount Damavand

66 kilometres northeast of Tehran, at a height of 5,610m, Mount Damavand is the highest mountain in the Middle East, and a worthy challenge for any accomplished mountaineer. Visible from Tehran on a clear day, the mountain is snow-capped all year round, and features prominently in Persian folklore and literature. Located in the Alborz Mountain range, reaching Damavand’s peak will take the best part of two days – and earn you the eternal respect of any Iranians in your life. The climbing season is June-September.

By amirgh@qq.com 10 Jun, 2015
Yes, this gorgeous, altitudinous part of the Middle East is the skiing world’s best-kept secret.
By amirgh@qq.com 19 Mar, 2015
Should I or should I not visit Iran?
By amirgh@qq.com 03 Mar, 2015

Do you wish to travel to Iran to experience the delights of the ancient Persian Empire? Do you know new rules and regulations about traveling to Iran? And most important of all; what do previous Iran travelers experience in Iran? There are some things to review before traveling to Iran. To know all these and more; join us on Mystery Of Iran blog and update your traveling information, Iran is a can’t-miss spot on your Middle East list! Now let’s review things to know before traveling to Iran:

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