Just How Safe is Iran to Travel?

When it comes to planning a trip to Iran for many the first and most important issue is regarding safety. Things get more complicated when huge contradictions make it hard to know which side to believe. The always-negative anti-Iran media side or the overly happy and satisfied visitors who were obviously expecting a lot less than they thought? The line doesn’t even get thin.

IMG_4480

 

Most of you who are reading this are probably quite aware that what is shown in the media can change overnight depending on new politics. Like the government of Britain suddenly changing their advice on travel to Iran after the nuclear deal, as if the country was filled with suicide bombers and they all decided to leave just as the deal was sealed! Ironic much?
But getting advice from other travelers is not that easy unless you have some Iran fans in your circle of friends or family and perhaps just hearing that Iran is pretty safe doesn’t really resolve your doubts.

So I thought I’d break it down for you. Explain things a bit more clearly and put what’s really out there, even if it happens very rarely.

Yes! Iran is safe. I would even dare to say that it’s one of the safest countries to travel and definitely the safest in the region and I doubt any traveler would tell you otherwise. But let’s dig in a little deeper:

Pick Pocketing

If anything is going to harm your safety in Iran it’s this. Considering using a credit card is not an option in Iran, this means you’re all bringing a ton of cash with you and everyone knows that! Which makes you a guaranteed target. Sorry!
I’m not saying this happens often, it doesn’t. But I’ve heard it happen and who knows if you’re going to be next lucky Luke?

What can you do?
If you’re staying at a decent hotel, leaving your money in your room or in the safe box is not a problem. Nothing will happen. I personally do that all the time. But if you’re staying with locals or in cheap hostels then you’d probably want to carry it around with you. If you’re using a backpack, make sure you wear it in front of you so you’ll have full control. This is highly recommended if you’re going through busy areas such as the bazaar. But above all be conscious at all times.

IMG_4645

It’s quite easy to get distracted with all the handicrafts in the bazaar.

IMG_5394

Harassment

I’ll be honest with you here; harassment of women in Iran is a thing! Unfortunately. It has gotten a lot less than before but it’s definitely an issue that needs to be resolved. It’s usually in the form of whispers and cars stopping at your feet while some overconfident driver tests his luck.
In the case of foreign female travelers this hardly ever happens. But what I’ve seen happen is this:
You will meet a ton of Iranians along your journey; they are a rather easy nation to make friends with. They’ll come up to you and say hello, take pictures and before you know it, it can get to numbers being exchanged. Here’s the thing: if you meet someone in a few minutes or even hours and he or she asks for your number, you don’t have to say yes. Many of them will not have any bad intentions but there’s really no need to keep in touch with every single stranger you meet. Save your number for those you get to spend more time with and want a lasting a friendship. If you do give your number to anyone, then have in mind that there’s a chance your next conversation can go a bit further than you thought.

An Iranian woman we had just met in a museum asked my friend’s number (she was a foreigner). She asked me whether she should give her number and I told her to do as she likes. Next morning she comes showing me messages from that women’s brother!! Whether he was trying to hit on her or just chat, we don’t know. But it was definitely not something normal! She stopped answering and blocked the number and it was done! If anything similar happens to you, just do the same.

IMG_3357

Starring

This one you will witness nice and clear. Especially if you’re heading to lesser touristy parts of the country. To your surprise there will be more women and children staring than men! There’s nothing to worry about. All of this is out of curiosity and shows the fact that this country has been abandoned by tourists for way too long. Now that everyone’s suddenly changed route this way, it’s understandable that you’re a new thing that people are not used to see. Many of these children might even come up and say hello and put the few English words they know into good use or proudly pose for your photos.
I can understand that this can be uncomfortable for some but I’d say take it as a good sign and use it as an excuse to make a conversation with a local and make as many friends.

IMG_3771

I took my chance to snap quite a few pictures of these girls with their grandmother in Kerman.

Kidnapping

There’s really zero chance this could ever happen. But I mentioned it because I know it crosses some people’s mind.

Sexual Assaults

There have been no reports on this ever happening concerning foreign travelers. If you’re couch surfing then you are fully aware of the risks and of ways you could avoid them. Anything that might happen elsewhere can happen here too. But I’ve seen many couch surfers and I haven’t heard of anything serious ever happening.

How can I read from other people’s experiences?

Fortunately there’s been a lot of travel bloggers lately who’ve made it to Iran and wrote all about it. If you’re looking for individual experiences that are honest and practical, then consider reading blogs. To make things even easier for you, I suggest joining a group on Facebook called See You In Iran. This group is dedicated to travelers sharing their photos and talking about their experiences in Iran. With its huge number of Iranian and foreign members, it’s a great place to ask your questions and even make some Iranian friends to meet once you arrive. It’s super active and questions are answered promptly.

If you’ve ever been to Iran I’d be happy to hear about your safety experience in the comment section. And if you have any questions, you can always shoot them down here. 😉

iran-safety-pin

Pin for later!

Share
  • I hope to make it to Iran and see Kerman – the city where my wife of 35 years grew up. As to starring – I experienced this in Thailand when stationed there by the US Army in 1968. Shortly before coming home, a male Thai friend took me to his home village. I was the first foreigner to visit that village and the first foreigner any of them had seen in person. At 1.96 M in height, I really stood out!
    Around the Army post one had to be on the lookout for those trying to take advantage of you, in the little village I was treated as a true guest.

    • I’m pretty sure that’s how you will be treated in Iran. 🙂

  • crystal Johnson

    Thank you for your very helpful and insightful blog! The more I read, the more I want to visit Iran. Sometimes I’m still a little worried about politics though. I was born in America, but my father had been part of the shawls navy. We don’t know what happened after he went back after the revolution; my mom’s American and has no contacts in Iran, and communication from my dad just stopped so suddenly. I have always wanted to find my family in Iran but no luck so far, and worry if I go there and ask about my dad it might anger the government in case he was involved in anything political or too pro-shah. Do you have any advice or thoughts?

    • I’m pretty sure nothing will happen regarding your dad. First of all it has nothing to do with you and second you’re not going to be chanting your story in the streets wherever you go. Considering you’e an American you’d have join a group so it’ll be a little difficult to go searching for your family. Unless you request a tailor-made tour. If apply for a visa and get it, then I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about here. If there were any issues they wouldn’t let you in. I’d say: Go for it! 😉

      • Thank you, it is very reassuring to hear that from someone living in Iran! Many Iranians in California who left as refugees during the war or revolution are afraid to go back. I feel my life would be incomplete without a trip to Iran someday, and I want more than anything to find out what happened to my father and contact any family there that is living. So challenging so far, not knowing anyone there and not speaking farsi. But I’m really learning a lot from your blog and getting more excited to plan a trip!

        By the way, I’ve created a Facebook page with what little information I know of my family, and I also post links to articles about Iran. I will link your blog there if that’s OK ?
        https://m.facebook.com/Golris/

        • Yes I’m quite aware of those kind of Iranians who fled the country just before the war, many of them were supporters of the monarchy who left just as things got ugly and left their fellow Iranians to fight 8 years of war for them! They sit in California and nag about politics in Iran while they have contributed nothing to this society for decades and they don’t even give a damn to come and see what has changed. I believe their fear is just an excuse!
          I once wrote a guest post which you can find its link on my ‘work with me’ section and I’ve specifically mentioned that getting tips from such Iranians will just confuse you. Iran has changed a lot over the years. I really do hope you make it to here and find your family. Btw, thanks for sharing the blog. I hope I continue to encourage you to make this trip happen. 😉

  • Victoria

    Thank you for writing this blog! I’ve learned a lot about travelling in Iran from reading it. I would love to visit Iran one day. I recently had the privilege of representing Iran in an international forum role-play for my college class. I found your blog while doing my research on Iran, because I wanted to represent it as accurately as possible, and since I’m a woman, I wanted to know how to dress appropriately. I enjoyed the experience and now I hope to go to Iran someday and see in person what it’s like.

    • Hello Victoria. I’m so glad your found the blog helpful. Now let’s see if we can get you to Iran. 😉

  • Robert Claudiu (Destinationali

    Hello there,
    First of all, thank you for your article. I found it very interesting and helpful.
    Many reviews on Iran have positive feedback.
    I am reading a lot of them because next year I am going with my travel buddy there and our plan is to stay two weeks, traveling in the mountains from The top of Damavand summit all the way to Alamut fortress.
    It’s a long way, but we aim to do that.
    Our main question and hesitation comes when we think about the more rural areas. Do you have a general idea on how the small towns are around Tehran, especially those within the Alborz mountain range?

    Thank you in advance,
    Robert

    • Hello Robert,
      How amazing! I’m actually really glad that you’re planning to visit the road less traveled in Iran! I’m sure you’ll have a blast.
      What is it that you’re looking for in towns? They are smaller and bigger ones but since Damavand is extremely popular you won’t be having a problem.

      • Robert Claudiu (Destinationali

        Ah, not looking for something in particular. Was just wondering how safe would I feel passing through one. Or if I should avoid them.

        • Oh don’t worry about that. You’ll feel perfectly safe. In fact in smaller villages Iranian hospitality is taken a lot more seriously. Enjoy it while you can. 😉

          • Robert Claudiu (Destinationali

            Thank you Matin 🙂
            I wish you also safe travels ahead.

  • Travel Magnolia

    Returned just a few weeks ago after a great two weeks. Felt very safe in my travels around the country. The Iranians I encountered were friendly, helpful and gracious. I hope to return soon…! Photo of art students in front of the National Museum in Tehran.

    • That’s pretty much what I hear from every traveler who makes it to Iran. If only the media could change its stand for once! I’m glad you’ve have a delightful trip. Make sure you put the word out there. 😉

Skip to toolbar