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Persian Delights

Tours
Persian Delights
DATES

06 APR 2020 - 20 APR 2020


RATES
from NZD$7950 per person
Single rate from NZD$9180

Hover over rates for other currencies.

*Rates are per person based on Twin Share or Single Room.
*Prices are subject to change until paid in full.
*A 'Willing to Share' is possible on this tour.
*International Airfares are not included. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE.
*This tour requires a minmium of 6 Guests, and a maximum of 10 Guests to depart. 


Persian Delights Persian Delights Persian Delights Persian Delights Persian Delights
Persian Delights

PERSIAN DELIGHTS; IRAN FOR WOMEN

 

On this fabulous journey we travel the lost land of Ancient Persia and learn about its' rich cultural history and its' modern heart. Iran is also all about magnificent tea houses, ancient bazaars, unique food and incredibly hospitable people. 

We start in Tehran and travel through the countries' pre-Islamic civilizations. We venture into the old city of Yazd; see the splendors of Esfahan and wander enchanting Persepolis. We climb to the top of the dramatic Towers of Silence and see the eternal flame burning at the Fire Temple.

We enter a poetic maze of stunning palace gardens, uncover tradition in the 1000 year old mud-brick town of Meybod, tour markets filled with incredible produce, and be mesmerised by the beauty of ancient Bazaars & breathtaking Mosques.

And we will meet Iran's women; Artists, Jewellers, Guides, Cooks, Students, Mothers.. We spend an incredible evening having an Iranian picnic in one of the very few 'Women's Parks' in Tehran where we are free to chat about their experiences and listen to stories about their lives, and we meet female Artists along the way.

And anywhere we visit, we can look forward to greetings from warm-hearted locals. You will truly find the warmth and hospitality of the Iranian people endearing and the profound beauty of the land mesmerising. 

Tour Overview
Duration
15 DAYS - APRIL 2020
Start Point
Tehran
Finish Point
Tehran
Tour Style
Escorted Tour
Accommodation
4* Hotels and Boutique Properties
Meals
As per itinerary
Transport
Private air-conditioned vehicle
Max Group Size
10 guests
Tour Inclusions
  • Accommodation in *4 & *5 star hotels & a Caravanserai
  • Breakfast x14, Lunch x11 and Dinner x12 
  • Arrival and departure transfers in Tehran *if on suggested group flights 
  • City Tours & sightseeing as mentioned
  • Portage at hotels 
  • Meal hosted by a local Iranian family 
  • Entrance fees at all mentioned Monuments 
  • English Speaking Iranian Female Guide
  • Mai Journeys Tour Host 
  • Private air-conditioned transport
  • Local Driver throughout tour
  • Visa invitation letter
Tour Highlights
  • Discover some of Tehran’s most fascinating museums – the National Archaeological Museum, the Carpet Museum and the Jewels Museum
  • Visit one of Tehran’s oldest monuments, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Golestan Palace
  • Shiraz; the City of Roses, Poets and Nightingales
  • Explore the legendary ruins of Persepolis, the former capital of the Achaemenid Empire.
  • At Abarkuh, meet the oldest living Iranian – a 4,000 year old cypress tree.
  • Discover the glorious city of Isfahan – the pride of Persia.
  • Visit Naghsh e Jahan, the world’s second largest city square after Tiananmen Square and other significant landmarks.
  • Sleep in a true Caravansarei
  • Evening Picnic in a 'Women's Park' in Tehran
  • Meet Female Artist's and visit their Galleries
  • Shop for incredible Iranian Art; Silk Rugs, Nomad Rugs, Pottery & Miniatures etc 
  • Enjoy a meal in a local home and meet the family
  • Wander ancient Bazaars & drink tea in divine Tea Houses
  • Picnicn in Iman Square, and feel its majesty as we dine on Persian delights..

Tour Itinerary

Open all
Day 1 - Arrive Tehran
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Khosh Amadid - Welcome to Iran.

We are met at the airport, and transferred to our hotel. After a rest and wash, those that wish can spend the afternoon at the Tajrish Bazaar with our Guide. Alternatively, you are free to stay at the hotel and relax this afternoon after your long flight.

The Bazaar has been bustling for nearly a thousand years. The stalls are a labyrinth that runs over 10km. The Bazaar has several entrances, its own church, guesthouses and banks. Right in the heart of the Bazaar is the Imam Khomeini Mosque. This mosque was built during the Safavid period and is considered one of the best feats of Persian architecture.

This evening we will meet in the Hotel Restaurant and enjoy our first group meal together.

Overnight Espinas Hotel; or similar. (D). 

Day 2 - Tehran
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Full day of sightseeing of Tehran.

This sprawling city became Iran’s capital in the 18th century under Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Qajar Dynasty. Tehran (meaning warm slope) is located south of the impressive snow-capped Alborz Mountains and the city is known for its large museums, art centers and palaces.

Today we will visit the following: the Jewel Museum, the Carpet Museum and Golestan Palace. *Time permitting, also the the National Museum.

We have lunch at a traditional restaurant and taste several Iranian traditional foods.

This evening we will have an exclusive visit to one of the very few 'Women's Parks' in Tehran. Women Only parks first opened in Tehran in 2008, where males older than five are forbidden and the guards and gardeners are women. These are parks where women can safely shed their cloaks and headscarves, can scattered about the lawns, sunbathe or exercise. With no men allowed inside the parks, women are able to indulge in such activities as archery, art classes or aerobics without being conscious of their veil slipping or how they talk, laugh or behave. Cameras or mobile phones to take video are forbidden to prevent any invasion of privacy of the women. We will be able to engage in conversation with many of the women in the park and learn more about them and their lives. We will have a Picnic dinner and enjoy home made traditional Iranian dishes.

Overnight Espinas Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D) 

Day 3 - Kashan
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This morning we drive to Kashan, a city in the desert of the Esfahan province.

The city is world famous for its carpets and also has a name for silk, ceramics, copperware and rosewater. 

Kashan, often overlooked by tourists, is the first of the large oases along the Qom-Kerman road which runs along the edge of the Great Desert. Its charm is mainly due to the contrast between the parched immensities of the Kavir region and the greenery of the well-tended oasis.

This afternoon we visit the Fin Garden (Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin). This is one of the most famous gardens of Iran. This beautiful garden with its pool and orchards was designed for Shah Abbas I as a classical Persian vision of paradise. The original Safavid buildings have been substantially replaced and rebuilt by Qajar dynasty although the layout of trees and marble basins is close to the original. This gorgeous garden with remains of its two story palace is a pleasant spot to relax in the shade.  

Agha Bozorg Mosque - this mosque and theological school (Madreseh Agha Bozorg) is located in the center of Kashan. The mosque consisted of two large "eivan", one in front of the "mehrab" and the other by the entrance. The courtyard has a second court in the middle which comprised of a garden with trees and a fountain. Surrounding the courtyard are arcades. The eivan in front of mehrab has two minarets with a brick dome. The colors of arcades and eivan are restricted to blue, red, or yellow against a brick ground. 

Borujerdi Residence - Borujerdi house was built in the early 19th century and consisted of a beautiful courtyard, delightful wall paintings and very unusual wind towers which helps cool the house.

We also visit Tabatabaei House, which was built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family, who were Carpet Merchants. 

Overnight Ameri House or similar. (B/L). 
Evening free. 

Day 4 - Kashan
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This morning after breakfast we will depart for Abyaneh. Abyaneh is an historical village settled in a valley in the Karkas Mountains. The ancient village is a muddle of narrow and sloped lanes, and crumbling mud-brick houses with lattice windows and fragile wooden balconies that cling to the slope. The terrain around Abyaneh contains iron oxides which give it a reddish colour, and because the houses are built with mud bricks they have the same colour as the rock above the village. The village’s remote location and isolation have helped preserve its culture and tradition. Many elderly residents speak Middle Persian, an earlier incarnation of Farsi that largely disappeared some centuries ago & the women's traditional costume typically consists of a white long scarf with colourful floral design, which completely covers their hair and shoulders. 

Returning to Kashan, we visit the the bazaar. The bazaar of Kashan is one of the most beautiful in Iran. It has many interesting buildings inside; mosques, caravanserais, arcades, baths, and water reservoirs - each were constructed in a different period.

We will have an opportunity to visit a 300 year old bath-house within the Bazaar that has been passed down from generation to generation, and is now converted into an incredible Tea House. Feast on dates and biscuits, while you drink tea inside a 300 year old bath house, located in the depths of a 1000 year old Iranian bazaar. 

Overnight Ameri House or similar. (B/ Picnic Lunch /D).

Day 5 - Yazd
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We leave Kashan and make our way to Yazd - the “Queen of the Iranian Desert.
 
Yazd is one of the oldest cities in Iran and one the best examples of a desert city. Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also known in Iran for the high quality of its handicrafts, especially silk weaving, and its sweet shops.
 
En-route we will stop at Naein. The quiet town of Na'in is a place well known for its Persian rugs. We visit the 10th century Jameh Mosque, which is one of the oldest in Iran, as well as the old part of town.
 
We will have lunch in Naein and drive to Meybod. Meybod is a is an ancient city that goes back to pre-Islamic arena and is the home to many ancient points of interests. The Historical City of Meybod is qualifying for inclusion in the World Heritage List. It was the capital of Iran during the Mozaffarid period. One of the oldest castles in Iran is in in Meybod and many important major poets, Sufis, clergymen and politicians came from Meybod. We will visit the Pigeon Tower and Ice House.
 
Overnight Moshir Garden Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D).
This evening we eat dinner at the hotel.
Day 6 - Yazd
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After breakfast we visit the impressive Jameh Mosque.

The Jame Mosque (Friday Mosque) crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Persia, the portal's facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in colour. Within there is a long arcaded court where, behind a deep-set south-east Ivan, is a sanctuary chamber. This chamber, under a squat tiled dome, is exquisitely decorated with faience mosaic: its tall faience Mihrab, dated 1365, is one of the finest of its kind in existence. The Mosque was largely rebuilt between 1324 and 1365, and is one of the outstanding 14th century buildings in Persia. The tile work has recently been skilfully restored and a modern library built to house the mosque's valuable collection of books and manuscripts.

We take a look at the Zoroastrian Fire Temple. The Zoroastrian religion, which dates back over 4000 years, was at one time the state religion of Iran before the arrival of Islam.

We also visit the Tower of Silence (Goor Dakhmeh). The Towers of Silence are two Zoroastrian towers set on two barren mountains which provided a ritual site for dealing with death according to Zoroastrian beliefs. Dead bodies would be carried up to, and placed, in the towers so that the vultures could pick the bones clean, maintaining purity of the earth. The Towers were surrounded by walls built to prevent others from seeing the frightening sight of the big birds using their powerful beaks and picking on the body of the deceased. As a result generally in less than an hour nothing of the body would remain other than bones. This practice lasted until the 1960's.

One of the most distinctive features of Yazd are the wind towers ('badgirs') that capture even the softest of breezes and send them through the buildings below to cool them. We will see many as we wander the Old Town of Yazd.

Yazd is also famous for its cakes and sweets; especially baghlava, Qottab, Pashmak and Hadji Badam which are delicacies relished all over Iran. We will visit a famous sweets shop.

Overnight Moshir Garden Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)

Day 7 - Galleries - Zein O Din
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We have the morning to explore the incredible Galleries of Yazd. We will start at the Oasis Gallery, move to the Yazd Art House and then onto the Silk Road Gallery. We will see (and shop for!) a plethora of sivine Silk rugs, hand painted pottery and ceramics and incredible local art work..

We will have lunch just near the Oasis Gallery before departing Yazd.

After lunch we depart for Caravanserai Zeinoddin. The Caravanserai Zeinoddin features a rooftop terrace, home-cooked Persian cuisine, and was used as an overnight stop for traders travelling along the Silk Route. From the outside this is a strange outcrop of bricks squeezed between the Dasht-e Lut and the Zagros Mountains. On the inside, however, is a marvellous Persian caravanserai that has been spruced up and softened into an atmospheric place to stay. **'Rooms' are separated by thick curtains (in the style of an old caravanserai) and the spotless bathrooms are shared, but they have western toilets and hot showers. 

Views over the desert are especially beautiful at sunset and at sunrise and if you are lucky, the staff may perform a traditional dance for us after dinner. 

Overnight the Caravanserai Zeinoddin.  (B/D)

Day 8 - Shiraz
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This morning, our journey first takes us across the stunning Zagros Mountains to the historical town of Abarkuh, located in the desert valley beneath the Zagros Mountains.

We visit the famous 4,000-year-old cypress tree en-route to Pasargadae.

We stop at Pasargadae, an ancient city that precedes Persepolis, and visit the Tomb of Cyrus the Great. The city was founded by Cyrus and served as the capital of the Achaemenid Empire until his successor, Cambyses II, moved it to Susa. The Tomb of Cyrus has been hailed as an exceptional example of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture. 

Pasargadae gradually lost its importance after the passing of Cyrus and it never regained its former glory. Nonetheless, Pasargadae and the Tomb of Cyrus are mentioned in ancient sources thanks to another empire builder, Alexander the Great.

Onto Shiraz, the ‘Pearl of Persia’ - its very name brings forth visions of tranquil gardens, lavish palaces, philosophers, artists and poets. It is Iran’s cultural capital. It is also considered by many Iranians to be the 'City of Gardens', due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city.

Overnight Royal Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D)

Day 9 - Shiraz - Persepolis
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Today we we have an excursion to Persepolis to visit the glorious ruins of Achamenians.

Persepolis, which in Greek literally means the capital of Persia, lies 36 miles north of Shiraz. Persepolis was the one-time center of the Persian Empire and one of the great cities of the ancient world. Construction began by Darius the Great (521 - 468 BC) as the focus of the mighty Achaemenian Empire nearly 2,500 years ago. The grandeur of these monuments is certainly impressive.

You can also visit Naqsh-e-Rostam, a cave-tomb containing the bodies of several Achaemenid Kings. There are seven reliefs dating back to Sassanid era, each of which depicts a battle that glorifies a Sassanid King. At one time a Zoroastrian religious center, perhaps once the most important in the world, was located here.

Afternoon stop at a traditional Tea House for tea and/or a stop for Saffron ice-cream. 

Overnight Royal Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D)

Day 10 - Shiraz
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This morning we embark on a city tour that covers the highlights of this historical city.

We visit the lovely Eram Garden or Garden of Paradise (Bagh-e Eram), which has an impressive collection of cypress trees as well as a pond and a small 19th century palace.

Following this we visit the tombs of Hafez and Sa'di. Hafez was a Persian poet who was born in Shiraz around 1310. After several years of traveling round the world, he returned to Shiraz and remained there until he passed away. His works were very surreal and mystical and he is still regarded these days as a bit of a folk hero in Iran. His tomb in the beautiful Musalla Gardens, which has been restored many times (present structure was constructed in 1942), is a place of pilgrimage. Sa'di, another great poet and writer from Shiraz, was more of a scholar. His tomb is also set in a garden, beside a fish pond.

We walk around the Bazar-e Vakil, regarded as one of the finest and most evocative bazaars in the country and visit the Haan Art Shop.

Overnight Royal Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)

Day 11 - Isfahan
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This morning after breakfast we depart for Isfahan - a jewel in the crown of Persia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was once one of the largest cities in the world and is famous for its’ Islamic architecture; beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, mosques, palaces and minarets.

The Naghsh-e-Jahan Square is one of the biggest city squares in the world. Early evening, we can stroll to the Zayandeh River and have a look at the historic bridges where local people gather to talk, drink tea and sing beautiful folk songs. This is truly a magical place to wile away some time in one of the most atmospheric places in all Iran.

We will have a picnic lunch en-route. Tonight we will eat dinner and overnight at the fabulous Abassi Hotel.

Overnight Abassi Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)  

Day 12 - Isfahan
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The city of Esfahan reached its peak during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great in 1587 when it became the capital. After an Afghan invasion in 1722, the city declined and the capital was subsequently moved to Shiraz and then Tehran.

We start our discovery at the immense Iman Square (formerly Naqsh-e Jahan Square) which covers an area of 82,500 square metres and is surrounded by many grand buildings such as Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque.

Located in the west of Imam Square, the Ali Qapu Palace covers six floors and was originally built as the main palace of Shah Abbas, who used it to receive guests and foreign ambassadors. Its plaster works and paintings are considered as masterpieces of the Safavid era. Chehel Sotun Palace, located in a pleasant garden, is famous for its beautiful collection of frescoes.

We also visit Vank Cathedral. This church is located in Jolfa, the Armenian quarter of the city, and is most striking with its gilded ceiling and painting. The Armenian Christians were originally brought there by Shah Abbas I, who valued their skills as artists and merchants.

We will have tea at the Antique Teahouse in Imam Square.

Overnight Abassi Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)
Dinner this evening will be a very special picnic in Imam Square.

Day 13 - Isfahan
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Today is a free day to discover more of the delights of this gorgeous city.

Hower, our Guide is on hand to take us to some of the best Artisans/Galleries in Esfahan; Pottery, Tiles, Rugs, Miniatures; Art....We can spend the morning shopping and then in the afternoon you can wander the huge Isfahan Bazaar.

Esfahan also has a wonderful bazaar where you can browse for fabrics, spices, jewellery, sweets and other treasures.

We can meet this evening in the gorgeous garden of the Abassi Hotel for a Virgin Mojito and dinner.

Overnight Abassi Hotel. (B)

Day 14 - Tehran
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This morning we continue our journey back to Tehran via the ancient city of Qom. 

Qom is one of the holiest cities in Iran - and the Middle East - and is entrenched in centuries of history. Qom is considered holy by the Shi'a of Iran as it is the site of the shrine of Fatema Mæ'sume who was the sister of Imam Reza, who lived from 789–816 AD. The city itself is the largest center for Shi'a study in the world and it is a significant destination of pilgrimage. It is counted as one of the focal centers of the Shi'a both in Iran and around the globe. Since the revolution the clerical population has risen from around 25,000 to more than 45,000. Non-Muslims are allowed entry to the city, but they are not allowed entry in the holy shrine unless with a Muslim companion or guide. 

On arrival into Tehran in the afternoon, we will have time to visit a female (Iranian) artist/jeweller and Gallery.

Overnight IBIS or Novotel Hotel at the airport. (TBC) (B/L/D). 

Day 15 - Depart
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Our journey in Iran ends after an early wake up call and transfer to the airport!
We will be transferred across to the airport for our International flight. (B)

About this tour

Travel in Iran: Iran now receives more and more tourists every year. However, the tourist infrastructure, particularly in hotels, has more often not been well-maintained nor updated, so often do not meet Western standards of star rankings. Food - though good and plentiful - is not always as diverse as you may wish it to be. There will be times we will be walking over uneven terrain and or, up and down many steps. Several days will include quite long drives in the Tour vehicle; so a good book, a flexible attitude and a good sense of humor will be helpful.

Accommodation: Stepping into Tehran’s top hotels (incarnations of the big Western hotel chains), is like stepping back to 1979, when all modern development stood still. Iran is still not geared for ‘luxury’ travel just yet, and does not have much in the way of a complete tourist infrastructure. (But the wealth of its history and culture will make up for the lack of luxury tourism options..). Iran is a country where a stay in the best available hotel is akin to entering a time warp. There has been little or no investment in hotels since 1979, and even the best hotels often look tired and dated. In the major cities the standards of the best hotels generally approximate to a 4 to 3 star standard in International terms. In secondary and more out of the way places the standard ranges from 3 to 1 star. Sometimes the style of hotel means different room styles, sizes and outlooks. Where swimming pools exist they are have different hours for the sexes or are restricted exclusively for the use of men. As hotel ratings can vary widely across the globe, the star ratings given on this tour are Iranian.

Women's Dress Code - Dress modestly. Hejab, the ‘traditional’ Iranian dress code for women, require them to be covered modestly in public. Wear a scarf and loose fitting clothing. A Manteau or roo-poosh (a long/short cost/shirt dress) is what most Iranian women wear. Take light loose clothing with head covers. It is not necessary to wear black, coloured garments are acceptable. Ladies are required to conform to the Islamic dress laws at all times when outside a hotel room. This does not mean wearing the all enveloping black chador. Modern women in Iran wear a headscarf (hijab) combined with a garment known as a manteaux. This is a long thin coat which goes down to the knees, and covers the arms. The garment should not be figure hugging. The hijab can be tied under the chin, but many Iranian women wrap shawls around their head which may seem more stylish. A manteaux can easily be purchased on arrival in Iran and is relatively inexpensive. A acceptable alternative to an manteaux, and an item which is relatively easy to find, is to wear a Shalwar Kahmeez combined with a headscarf, or a long sleeved tunic over loose trousers. Watch the local women and follow their lead.

Practicalities

Language: Iranians are Persian. Persians are not Arabs, and they do not speak Arabic. They speak Farsi and the Persian / Arab difference is a very important distinction to the people of Iran. Persian is one of the world’s oldest languages, a well-recognized tongue as early as the 6th century B.C.

Religion: Most Iranians are Muslims; most belong to the Shi’a branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 8 to the Sunni branch of Islam. The remaining 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities including Bahais, Mandeans, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians.

Food: Iranian (Persian) food is an ancient, unique and cosmopolitan. Iranians often choose what foods will be served by following a set of food rules that originated from ancient Greek medicine. Foods are classified as either “hot” or “cold”, depending on the food’s heating or cooling effect on the individual (rather than the food’s actual temperature). Hot foods include meats, sweets, and eggplant. Yogurt, cucumbers and fish for instance classify as cold. Iranians try to serve a balance of hot and cold foods at every meal. Iranian cuisine in general uses only small amounts of red meats (mainly beef or lamb) emphasizing larger amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables. The cuisine is largely based on berenj (rice) and breads i.e. nan, lavash and sangak. Meat - chicken and lamb - is most commonly eaten as kebabs and koftas and yogurt (an Iranian mainstay) are often added to soups and stews (khoresh). Fruits such as quince, pears, grapes, dates, apricots and Iranian melons flavored with rosewater are typically eaten for dessert. Halva and baklava are common and Chay tea is Iran’s most treasured beverage with ghahve (coffee) coming a close second. Women have had a great influence in the history of cooking in Iran. The best chefs were and still are women. From the palaces of the Persian Kings to the average housewife, women have had fabulous skills preparing exquisite cuisine. Most men do no cook but expect the best food from their wives or mothers. Iranians regard most foods at restaurants as second-class and homemade food is precious and more appreciated.

Alcohol: According to Islam, it is forbidden to drink alcohol at all. Approx. 90% of Iranians are Muslims who adhere to Shia Islam. It is forbidden to bring alcohol into Iran and even though moral codes have relaxed, you are a guest and should follow as those around you.

Health: No vaccinations are required for entry into Iran however immunisation should be up to date for Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Other vaccinations to consider are Cholera, Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Typhoid. There is no risk of malaria in the areas covered by this tour. A yellow fever certificate is required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Please check recommended practice with your GP or travel health clinic.

Weather: In terms of weather, the best time to visit Iran is between March - May and September - November. Iran is a huge country whose vast central plains are surrounded by mountains. The Iranian plains experience extreme conditions in both summer and winter. The summer is characterised by hot and dry desert-like conditions, while the winter months bring changeable weather which can vary from mild to snow and ice.

Tipping & Bargaining: Bargain ruthlessly when buying handcrafts, rugs or big ticket items and modestly when hailing private taxis. In most other aspects of life prices are fixed. Tipping is generally not expected, but locals will generally round up the bill in taxis and add around 10% in classy restaurants. A discreet gift of a few thousand tomans may help grease the wheels of Iranian society and serve to thank an extraordinarily helpful local, but bakhsheeh and bribing are not a major part of Iranian life.

Photography: Ask permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. Minority groups in particular are often unhappy to have their photo taken. In small villages, at home-stays or trekking, the use of videos may not be permitted as requested by the local people, and we ask for courtesy and discretion with still cameras. Ask permission before taking pictures either of people or inside mosques or other sacred places. Never use flash inside mosques; it can damage them. You are not allowed to use flash in some buildings, but where there is no ban, please behave responsibly. Never take a photo of an elder without asking permission. Never take photos of airports, roadblocks or anything to do with the military.

The facts

Visas: A full and current passport, together with an Iranian Visa, are required to enter Iran. Tourist visas must be obtained prior to departure from your nearest Iranian Consulate. To obtain a visa it is necessary to first have your application pre-approved with a Visa Invitation letter which Mai Journeys will provide. The process is not difficult. However, we cannot accept bookings within two months of departure date as things can be time consuming. Passports must have a minimum of 6 months validity from your return date and have at least two free pages.

Currency: The rial is the official currency of Iran, however, prices are sometimes quoted in tomans. One toman is equal to ten rials. As a general guide, written prices are given in rials and prices quoted in conversation are in tomans. Most travellers spend the first few days of their trip coming to grips with this mind-boggling system; if in doubt, always ask a shopkeeper or moneychanger if they are quoting a price in rials or tomans.

Carrying Money & Credit Cards: Iran is still a cash economy, so bring enough hard currency for the duration of your stay. US dollars and euros are the most useful, and new and large (USD 100 or EUR 100 or higher) bills in good condition are preferred - and usually get a better rate. The most widely-accepted currency is the US dollar, but euros and UK pound sterling are also widely used. Other currencies are harder to change. $100 notes attract the highest prices, and you will be quoted lower rates for any old or ripped notes. Trade embargoes mean that banks will not forward cash advances on your foreign credit cards and they are only accepted by some stores for large purchases, such as Persian rugs.

ATM's: ATMs exist in most cities, and there are point-of-sale devices in some larger stores, but only local bank-cards are accepted. Please do not arrive expecting to use either your Credit Card or ATM machines. 

Voltage + Plugs: The electricity supply is 220v. Plugs are European style with two circular pins so adapters are required for British and US appliances.

Not Included:

  • Airfares
  • Transfers unless stated in the itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Passport and visas
  • Laundry unless stated
  • Tips at meals 
  • Excess baggage
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Beverages unless specifically described. 
  • Optional excursions or activities that may be offered
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns. You should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.

DATES

06 APR 2020 - 20 APR 2020


RATES
from NZD$7950 per person
Single rate from NZD$9180

Hover over rates for other currencies.

*Rates are per person based on Twin Share or Single Room.
*Prices are subject to change until paid in full.
*A 'Willing to Share' is possible on this tour.
*International Airfares are not included. PLEASE ASK US FOR A QUOTE.
*This tour requires a minmium of 6 Guests, and a maximum of 10 Guests to depart. 


Tour Itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive Tehran

Khosh Amadid - Welcome to Iran.

We are met at the airport, and transferred to our hotel. After a rest and wash, those that wish can spend the afternoon at the Tajrish Bazaar with our Guide. Alternatively, you are free to stay at the hotel and relax this afternoon after your long flight.

The Bazaar has been bustling for nearly a thousand years. The stalls are a labyrinth that runs over 10km. The Bazaar has several entrances, its own church, guesthouses and banks. Right in the heart of the Bazaar is the Imam Khomeini Mosque. This mosque was built during the Safavid period and is considered one of the best feats of Persian architecture.

This evening we will meet in the Hotel Restaurant and enjoy our first group meal together.

Overnight Espinas Hotel; or similar. (D). 

Day 2 - Tehran

Full day of sightseeing of Tehran.

This sprawling city became Iran’s capital in the 18th century under Agha Mohammad Khan, the founder of the Qajar Dynasty. Tehran (meaning warm slope) is located south of the impressive snow-capped Alborz Mountains and the city is known for its large museums, art centers and palaces.

Today we will visit the following: the Jewel Museum, the Carpet Museum and Golestan Palace. *Time permitting, also the the National Museum.

We have lunch at a traditional restaurant and taste several Iranian traditional foods.

This evening we will have an exclusive visit to one of the very few 'Women's Parks' in Tehran. Women Only parks first opened in Tehran in 2008, where males older than five are forbidden and the guards and gardeners are women. These are parks where women can safely shed their cloaks and headscarves, can scattered about the lawns, sunbathe or exercise. With no men allowed inside the parks, women are able to indulge in such activities as archery, art classes or aerobics without being conscious of their veil slipping or how they talk, laugh or behave. Cameras or mobile phones to take video are forbidden to prevent any invasion of privacy of the women. We will be able to engage in conversation with many of the women in the park and learn more about them and their lives. We will have a Picnic dinner and enjoy home made traditional Iranian dishes.

Overnight Espinas Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D) 

Day 3 - Kashan

This morning we drive to Kashan, a city in the desert of the Esfahan province.

The city is world famous for its carpets and also has a name for silk, ceramics, copperware and rosewater. 

Kashan, often overlooked by tourists, is the first of the large oases along the Qom-Kerman road which runs along the edge of the Great Desert. Its charm is mainly due to the contrast between the parched immensities of the Kavir region and the greenery of the well-tended oasis.

This afternoon we visit the Fin Garden (Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin). This is one of the most famous gardens of Iran. This beautiful garden with its pool and orchards was designed for Shah Abbas I as a classical Persian vision of paradise. The original Safavid buildings have been substantially replaced and rebuilt by Qajar dynasty although the layout of trees and marble basins is close to the original. This gorgeous garden with remains of its two story palace is a pleasant spot to relax in the shade.  

Agha Bozorg Mosque - this mosque and theological school (Madreseh Agha Bozorg) is located in the center of Kashan. The mosque consisted of two large "eivan", one in front of the "mehrab" and the other by the entrance. The courtyard has a second court in the middle which comprised of a garden with trees and a fountain. Surrounding the courtyard are arcades. The eivan in front of mehrab has two minarets with a brick dome. The colors of arcades and eivan are restricted to blue, red, or yellow against a brick ground. 

Borujerdi Residence - Borujerdi house was built in the early 19th century and consisted of a beautiful courtyard, delightful wall paintings and very unusual wind towers which helps cool the house.

We also visit Tabatabaei House, which was built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family, who were Carpet Merchants. 

Overnight Ameri House or similar. (B/L). 
Evening free. 

Day 4 - Kashan

This morning after breakfast we will depart for Abyaneh. Abyaneh is an historical village settled in a valley in the Karkas Mountains. The ancient village is a muddle of narrow and sloped lanes, and crumbling mud-brick houses with lattice windows and fragile wooden balconies that cling to the slope. The terrain around Abyaneh contains iron oxides which give it a reddish colour, and because the houses are built with mud bricks they have the same colour as the rock above the village. The village’s remote location and isolation have helped preserve its culture and tradition. Many elderly residents speak Middle Persian, an earlier incarnation of Farsi that largely disappeared some centuries ago & the women's traditional costume typically consists of a white long scarf with colourful floral design, which completely covers their hair and shoulders. 

Returning to Kashan, we visit the the bazaar. The bazaar of Kashan is one of the most beautiful in Iran. It has many interesting buildings inside; mosques, caravanserais, arcades, baths, and water reservoirs - each were constructed in a different period.

We will have an opportunity to visit a 300 year old bath-house within the Bazaar that has been passed down from generation to generation, and is now converted into an incredible Tea House. Feast on dates and biscuits, while you drink tea inside a 300 year old bath house, located in the depths of a 1000 year old Iranian bazaar. 

Overnight Ameri House or similar. (B/ Picnic Lunch /D).

Day 5 - Yazd
We leave Kashan and make our way to Yazd - the “Queen of the Iranian Desert.
 
Yazd is one of the oldest cities in Iran and one the best examples of a desert city. Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also known in Iran for the high quality of its handicrafts, especially silk weaving, and its sweet shops.
 
En-route we will stop at Naein. The quiet town of Na'in is a place well known for its Persian rugs. We visit the 10th century Jameh Mosque, which is one of the oldest in Iran, as well as the old part of town.
 
We will have lunch in Naein and drive to Meybod. Meybod is a is an ancient city that goes back to pre-Islamic arena and is the home to many ancient points of interests. The Historical City of Meybod is qualifying for inclusion in the World Heritage List. It was the capital of Iran during the Mozaffarid period. One of the oldest castles in Iran is in in Meybod and many important major poets, Sufis, clergymen and politicians came from Meybod. We will visit the Pigeon Tower and Ice House.
 
Overnight Moshir Garden Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D).
This evening we eat dinner at the hotel.
Day 6 - Yazd

After breakfast we visit the impressive Jameh Mosque.

The Jame Mosque (Friday Mosque) crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Persia, the portal's facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in colour. Within there is a long arcaded court where, behind a deep-set south-east Ivan, is a sanctuary chamber. This chamber, under a squat tiled dome, is exquisitely decorated with faience mosaic: its tall faience Mihrab, dated 1365, is one of the finest of its kind in existence. The Mosque was largely rebuilt between 1324 and 1365, and is one of the outstanding 14th century buildings in Persia. The tile work has recently been skilfully restored and a modern library built to house the mosque's valuable collection of books and manuscripts.

We take a look at the Zoroastrian Fire Temple. The Zoroastrian religion, which dates back over 4000 years, was at one time the state religion of Iran before the arrival of Islam.

We also visit the Tower of Silence (Goor Dakhmeh). The Towers of Silence are two Zoroastrian towers set on two barren mountains which provided a ritual site for dealing with death according to Zoroastrian beliefs. Dead bodies would be carried up to, and placed, in the towers so that the vultures could pick the bones clean, maintaining purity of the earth. The Towers were surrounded by walls built to prevent others from seeing the frightening sight of the big birds using their powerful beaks and picking on the body of the deceased. As a result generally in less than an hour nothing of the body would remain other than bones. This practice lasted until the 1960's.

One of the most distinctive features of Yazd are the wind towers ('badgirs') that capture even the softest of breezes and send them through the buildings below to cool them. We will see many as we wander the Old Town of Yazd.

Yazd is also famous for its cakes and sweets; especially baghlava, Qottab, Pashmak and Hadji Badam which are delicacies relished all over Iran. We will visit a famous sweets shop.

Overnight Moshir Garden Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)

Day 7 - Galleries - Zein O Din

We have the morning to explore the incredible Galleries of Yazd. We will start at the Oasis Gallery, move to the Yazd Art House and then onto the Silk Road Gallery. We will see (and shop for!) a plethora of sivine Silk rugs, hand painted pottery and ceramics and incredible local art work..

We will have lunch just near the Oasis Gallery before departing Yazd.

After lunch we depart for Caravanserai Zeinoddin. The Caravanserai Zeinoddin features a rooftop terrace, home-cooked Persian cuisine, and was used as an overnight stop for traders travelling along the Silk Route. From the outside this is a strange outcrop of bricks squeezed between the Dasht-e Lut and the Zagros Mountains. On the inside, however, is a marvellous Persian caravanserai that has been spruced up and softened into an atmospheric place to stay. **'Rooms' are separated by thick curtains (in the style of an old caravanserai) and the spotless bathrooms are shared, but they have western toilets and hot showers. 

Views over the desert are especially beautiful at sunset and at sunrise and if you are lucky, the staff may perform a traditional dance for us after dinner. 

Overnight the Caravanserai Zeinoddin.  (B/D)

Day 8 - Shiraz

This morning, our journey first takes us across the stunning Zagros Mountains to the historical town of Abarkuh, located in the desert valley beneath the Zagros Mountains.

We visit the famous 4,000-year-old cypress tree en-route to Pasargadae.

We stop at Pasargadae, an ancient city that precedes Persepolis, and visit the Tomb of Cyrus the Great. The city was founded by Cyrus and served as the capital of the Achaemenid Empire until his successor, Cambyses II, moved it to Susa. The Tomb of Cyrus has been hailed as an exceptional example of the first phase of royal Achaemenid art and architecture. 

Pasargadae gradually lost its importance after the passing of Cyrus and it never regained its former glory. Nonetheless, Pasargadae and the Tomb of Cyrus are mentioned in ancient sources thanks to another empire builder, Alexander the Great.

Onto Shiraz, the ‘Pearl of Persia’ - its very name brings forth visions of tranquil gardens, lavish palaces, philosophers, artists and poets. It is Iran’s cultural capital. It is also considered by many Iranians to be the 'City of Gardens', due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city.

Overnight Royal Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D)

Day 9 - Shiraz - Persepolis

Today we we have an excursion to Persepolis to visit the glorious ruins of Achamenians.

Persepolis, which in Greek literally means the capital of Persia, lies 36 miles north of Shiraz. Persepolis was the one-time center of the Persian Empire and one of the great cities of the ancient world. Construction began by Darius the Great (521 - 468 BC) as the focus of the mighty Achaemenian Empire nearly 2,500 years ago. The grandeur of these monuments is certainly impressive.

You can also visit Naqsh-e-Rostam, a cave-tomb containing the bodies of several Achaemenid Kings. There are seven reliefs dating back to Sassanid era, each of which depicts a battle that glorifies a Sassanid King. At one time a Zoroastrian religious center, perhaps once the most important in the world, was located here.

Afternoon stop at a traditional Tea House for tea and/or a stop for Saffron ice-cream. 

Overnight Royal Hotel; or similar. (B/L/D)

Day 10 - Shiraz

This morning we embark on a city tour that covers the highlights of this historical city.

We visit the lovely Eram Garden or Garden of Paradise (Bagh-e Eram), which has an impressive collection of cypress trees as well as a pond and a small 19th century palace.

Following this we visit the tombs of Hafez and Sa'di. Hafez was a Persian poet who was born in Shiraz around 1310. After several years of traveling round the world, he returned to Shiraz and remained there until he passed away. His works were very surreal and mystical and he is still regarded these days as a bit of a folk hero in Iran. His tomb in the beautiful Musalla Gardens, which has been restored many times (present structure was constructed in 1942), is a place of pilgrimage. Sa'di, another great poet and writer from Shiraz, was more of a scholar. His tomb is also set in a garden, beside a fish pond.

We walk around the Bazar-e Vakil, regarded as one of the finest and most evocative bazaars in the country and visit the Haan Art Shop.

Overnight Royal Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)

Day 11 - Isfahan

This morning after breakfast we depart for Isfahan - a jewel in the crown of Persia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was once one of the largest cities in the world and is famous for its’ Islamic architecture; beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, mosques, palaces and minarets.

The Naghsh-e-Jahan Square is one of the biggest city squares in the world. Early evening, we can stroll to the Zayandeh River and have a look at the historic bridges where local people gather to talk, drink tea and sing beautiful folk songs. This is truly a magical place to wile away some time in one of the most atmospheric places in all Iran.

We will have a picnic lunch en-route. Tonight we will eat dinner and overnight at the fabulous Abassi Hotel.

Overnight Abassi Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)  

Day 12 - Isfahan

The city of Esfahan reached its peak during the reign of Shah Abbas the Great in 1587 when it became the capital. After an Afghan invasion in 1722, the city declined and the capital was subsequently moved to Shiraz and then Tehran.

We start our discovery at the immense Iman Square (formerly Naqsh-e Jahan Square) which covers an area of 82,500 square metres and is surrounded by many grand buildings such as Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque.

Located in the west of Imam Square, the Ali Qapu Palace covers six floors and was originally built as the main palace of Shah Abbas, who used it to receive guests and foreign ambassadors. Its plaster works and paintings are considered as masterpieces of the Safavid era. Chehel Sotun Palace, located in a pleasant garden, is famous for its beautiful collection of frescoes.

We also visit Vank Cathedral. This church is located in Jolfa, the Armenian quarter of the city, and is most striking with its gilded ceiling and painting. The Armenian Christians were originally brought there by Shah Abbas I, who valued their skills as artists and merchants.

We will have tea at the Antique Teahouse in Imam Square.

Overnight Abassi Hotel; or similar.  (B/L/D)
Dinner this evening will be a very special picnic in Imam Square.

Day 13 - Isfahan

Today is a free day to discover more of the delights of this gorgeous city.

Hower, our Guide is on hand to take us to some of the best Artisans/Galleries in Esfahan; Pottery, Tiles, Rugs, Miniatures; Art....We can spend the morning shopping and then in the afternoon you can wander the huge Isfahan Bazaar.

Esfahan also has a wonderful bazaar where you can browse for fabrics, spices, jewellery, sweets and other treasures.

We can meet this evening in the gorgeous garden of the Abassi Hotel for a Virgin Mojito and dinner.

Overnight Abassi Hotel. (B)

Day 14 - Tehran

This morning we continue our journey back to Tehran via the ancient city of Qom. 

Qom is one of the holiest cities in Iran - and the Middle East - and is entrenched in centuries of history. Qom is considered holy by the Shi'a of Iran as it is the site of the shrine of Fatema Mæ'sume who was the sister of Imam Reza, who lived from 789–816 AD. The city itself is the largest center for Shi'a study in the world and it is a significant destination of pilgrimage. It is counted as one of the focal centers of the Shi'a both in Iran and around the globe. Since the revolution the clerical population has risen from around 25,000 to more than 45,000. Non-Muslims are allowed entry to the city, but they are not allowed entry in the holy shrine unless with a Muslim companion or guide. 

On arrival into Tehran in the afternoon, we will have time to visit a female (Iranian) artist/jeweller and Gallery.

Overnight IBIS or Novotel Hotel at the airport. (TBC) (B/L/D). 

Day 15 - Depart

Our journey in Iran ends after an early wake up call and transfer to the airport!
We will be transferred across to the airport for our International flight. (B)

About this tour

Travel in Iran: Iran now receives more and more tourists every year. However, the tourist infrastructure, particularly in hotels, has more often not been well-maintained nor updated, so often do not meet Western standards of star rankings. Food - though good and plentiful - is not always as diverse as you may wish it to be. There will be times we will be walking over uneven terrain and or, up and down many steps. Several days will include quite long drives in the Tour vehicle; so a good book, a flexible attitude and a good sense of humor will be helpful.

Accommodation: Stepping into Tehran’s top hotels (incarnations of the big Western hotel chains), is like stepping back to 1979, when all modern development stood still. Iran is still not geared for ‘luxury’ travel just yet, and does not have much in the way of a complete tourist infrastructure. (But the wealth of its history and culture will make up for the lack of luxury tourism options..). Iran is a country where a stay in the best available hotel is akin to entering a time warp. There has been little or no investment in hotels since 1979, and even the best hotels often look tired and dated. In the major cities the standards of the best hotels generally approximate to a 4 to 3 star standard in International terms. In secondary and more out of the way places the standard ranges from 3 to 1 star. Sometimes the style of hotel means different room styles, sizes and outlooks. Where swimming pools exist they are have different hours for the sexes or are restricted exclusively for the use of men. As hotel ratings can vary widely across the globe, the star ratings given on this tour are Iranian.

Women's Dress Code - Dress modestly. Hejab, the ‘traditional’ Iranian dress code for women, require them to be covered modestly in public. Wear a scarf and loose fitting clothing. A Manteau or roo-poosh (a long/short cost/shirt dress) is what most Iranian women wear. Take light loose clothing with head covers. It is not necessary to wear black, coloured garments are acceptable. Ladies are required to conform to the Islamic dress laws at all times when outside a hotel room. This does not mean wearing the all enveloping black chador. Modern women in Iran wear a headscarf (hijab) combined with a garment known as a manteaux. This is a long thin coat which goes down to the knees, and covers the arms. The garment should not be figure hugging. The hijab can be tied under the chin, but many Iranian women wrap shawls around their head which may seem more stylish. A manteaux can easily be purchased on arrival in Iran and is relatively inexpensive. A acceptable alternative to an manteaux, and an item which is relatively easy to find, is to wear a Shalwar Kahmeez combined with a headscarf, or a long sleeved tunic over loose trousers. Watch the local women and follow their lead.

Practicalities

Language: Iranians are Persian. Persians are not Arabs, and they do not speak Arabic. They speak Farsi and the Persian / Arab difference is a very important distinction to the people of Iran. Persian is one of the world’s oldest languages, a well-recognized tongue as early as the 6th century B.C.

Religion: Most Iranians are Muslims; most belong to the Shi’a branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 8 to the Sunni branch of Islam. The remaining 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities including Bahais, Mandeans, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians.

Food: Iranian (Persian) food is an ancient, unique and cosmopolitan. Iranians often choose what foods will be served by following a set of food rules that originated from ancient Greek medicine. Foods are classified as either “hot” or “cold”, depending on the food’s heating or cooling effect on the individual (rather than the food’s actual temperature). Hot foods include meats, sweets, and eggplant. Yogurt, cucumbers and fish for instance classify as cold. Iranians try to serve a balance of hot and cold foods at every meal. Iranian cuisine in general uses only small amounts of red meats (mainly beef or lamb) emphasizing larger amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables. The cuisine is largely based on berenj (rice) and breads i.e. nan, lavash and sangak. Meat - chicken and lamb - is most commonly eaten as kebabs and koftas and yogurt (an Iranian mainstay) are often added to soups and stews (khoresh). Fruits such as quince, pears, grapes, dates, apricots and Iranian melons flavored with rosewater are typically eaten for dessert. Halva and baklava are common and Chay tea is Iran’s most treasured beverage with ghahve (coffee) coming a close second. Women have had a great influence in the history of cooking in Iran. The best chefs were and still are women. From the palaces of the Persian Kings to the average housewife, women have had fabulous skills preparing exquisite cuisine. Most men do no cook but expect the best food from their wives or mothers. Iranians regard most foods at restaurants as second-class and homemade food is precious and more appreciated.

Alcohol: According to Islam, it is forbidden to drink alcohol at all. Approx. 90% of Iranians are Muslims who adhere to Shia Islam. It is forbidden to bring alcohol into Iran and even though moral codes have relaxed, you are a guest and should follow as those around you.

Health: No vaccinations are required for entry into Iran however immunisation should be up to date for Hepatitis A and Tetanus. Other vaccinations to consider are Cholera, Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Typhoid. There is no risk of malaria in the areas covered by this tour. A yellow fever certificate is required for travellers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. Please check recommended practice with your GP or travel health clinic.

Weather: In terms of weather, the best time to visit Iran is between March - May and September - November. Iran is a huge country whose vast central plains are surrounded by mountains. The Iranian plains experience extreme conditions in both summer and winter. The summer is characterised by hot and dry desert-like conditions, while the winter months bring changeable weather which can vary from mild to snow and ice.

Tipping & Bargaining: Bargain ruthlessly when buying handcrafts, rugs or big ticket items and modestly when hailing private taxis. In most other aspects of life prices are fixed. Tipping is generally not expected, but locals will generally round up the bill in taxis and add around 10% in classy restaurants. A discreet gift of a few thousand tomans may help grease the wheels of Iranian society and serve to thank an extraordinarily helpful local, but bakhsheeh and bribing are not a major part of Iranian life.

Photography: Ask permission before taking photographs of people and respect their wishes if they refuse. Minority groups in particular are often unhappy to have their photo taken. In small villages, at home-stays or trekking, the use of videos may not be permitted as requested by the local people, and we ask for courtesy and discretion with still cameras. Ask permission before taking pictures either of people or inside mosques or other sacred places. Never use flash inside mosques; it can damage them. You are not allowed to use flash in some buildings, but where there is no ban, please behave responsibly. Never take a photo of an elder without asking permission. Never take photos of airports, roadblocks or anything to do with the military.

The facts

Visas: A full and current passport, together with an Iranian Visa, are required to enter Iran. Tourist visas must be obtained prior to departure from your nearest Iranian Consulate. To obtain a visa it is necessary to first have your application pre-approved with a Visa Invitation letter which Mai Journeys will provide. The process is not difficult. However, we cannot accept bookings within two months of departure date as things can be time consuming. Passports must have a minimum of 6 months validity from your return date and have at least two free pages.

Currency: The rial is the official currency of Iran, however, prices are sometimes quoted in tomans. One toman is equal to ten rials. As a general guide, written prices are given in rials and prices quoted in conversation are in tomans. Most travellers spend the first few days of their trip coming to grips with this mind-boggling system; if in doubt, always ask a shopkeeper or moneychanger if they are quoting a price in rials or tomans.

Carrying Money & Credit Cards: Iran is still a cash economy, so bring enough hard currency for the duration of your stay. US dollars and euros are the most useful, and new and large (USD 100 or EUR 100 or higher) bills in good condition are preferred - and usually get a better rate. The most widely-accepted currency is the US dollar, but euros and UK pound sterling are also widely used. Other currencies are harder to change. $100 notes attract the highest prices, and you will be quoted lower rates for any old or ripped notes. Trade embargoes mean that banks will not forward cash advances on your foreign credit cards and they are only accepted by some stores for large purchases, such as Persian rugs.

ATM's: ATMs exist in most cities, and there are point-of-sale devices in some larger stores, but only local bank-cards are accepted. Please do not arrive expecting to use either your Credit Card or ATM machines. 

Voltage + Plugs: The electricity supply is 220v. Plugs are European style with two circular pins so adapters are required for British and US appliances.

Not Included:

  • Airfares
  • Transfers unless stated in the itinerary
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Passport and visas
  • Laundry unless stated
  • Tips at meals 
  • Excess baggage
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Beverages unless specifically described. 
  • Optional excursions or activities that may be offered
Travel advice / FCO

We constantly monitor the advice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any of the places visited on this tour. Please feel free to contact us should you have any specific concerns. You should be aware that any travel warnings or advisories may affect the validity of your travel insurance. Therefore, at the time of booking your tour it is essential you check any restrictions on cover with your insurance provider.