Some useful tips for solo female travel in Iran
Here are the reasons why you can definitely travel alone as a woman in Iran and why it will be the best time of your life.
Females planning a trip to Iran should consider six questions: What should I wear? What should I take? How should I behave? Will I be safe? How can I prepare a tour? What is the reality of Iran? We try to give you practical advice, dispel preconceptions and reassure.
Note: You cannot travel without a guided tour if you’re an American, Canadian or British passport holder.
1- Transportation is easy, safe and affordable to get around.
Be sure, traveling around Iran is safe and easy, of course, before traveling, you need to get some information about them. You can always take a bus or taxi without a problem. Buses provide a seat reservation and the driver will rearrange the passengers so that no woman sits next to an unknown man. Most taxi drivers have a registration number on their window.
Most of the big cities such as Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and Yazd have ‘Women Taxis’, with female drivers and for female customers only, it’s interesting. At the Bus and Train platform, it is clearly marked where the women-only zone starts and those specific carriages are located at the front and back of the train. The stations are full of posters showing why men shouldn’t enter these parts of the metro, how uncomfortable the women would feel.
Note: The quality and quantity of transportation system is not as good as Euro, But is acceptable.
2- Accommodation in Iran is easy to find.
You can always book a hotel or hostel before arriving at each destination. But nowadays Coach Surfing is becoming very popular and it can be a way to find accommodation with local hosts and discover nearby events. Of course, you should follow the rules like anywhere else: looked only for women or couples, preferably with some references.
Note: The government of Iran limits the using of Coach Surfing because of reasons that explanation is complicated. So, we suggest you, using of hostels or local houses that are cheap and interesting.
3- Wear appropriate clothing based on Iranian women's dress codes.
Dress code is the most controversial part of solo female travel in Iran. You need to have your hair and body covered every time you are outside to the public even in the common areas of the hotel. You have to cover your hair, arms, and legs, but your feet can be bare. Try not to use tight clothes.
It’s also a stereotype that you need to wear a dark color. Although it’s not an obligation, You can choose your favorite dress color, but people prefer to dress in darker colors. The headscarf kept you cool from the sun and it fell down only a few times. You need to follow these rules from the moment you step out of the plane until the moment you board the plane again.
Note: In reality, the dress code is more relaxed and open to interpretation. It’s not unusual to see young women in the larger cities wearing figure-hugging manteaus (often tightly belted trench-coats), skinny jeans, high heels and colorful scarfs that have been arranged to offer plentiful glimpses of hair and neck.
But in the smaller cities, towns, and villages this rarely happens – the chador is common and those who don’t wear it are clad in an ensemble of the shapeless coat, black pants, sensible shoes and a Maqna’e (nun-like headscarf, or wimple). Colour schemes are uniformly dull. We suggest before traveling looking for Iranian women daily life pictures in social media.
The biggest challenge that you’ll encounter is keeping your scarf on. Silk scarves aren’t much use, as they tend to slip off; the only way to make them work is to tie them under the chin babushka-style. Wool can work, but not if it’s too fine and slippery. Your best bet is textured cotton, which tends to adhere to hair more effectively and slips less. Make sure that your scarf is wide enough to cover all of your hair and long enough to be able to throw over your shoulders as an anchoring device. Practice before you leave home.
Some travelers wear a thick elasticised headband and fasten their scarves to it with safety or bobby pins, ensuring that their scarf doesn’t slip – this can work well with silk and fine cotton, so is worth considering if you are traveling here over summer and want to wear something light. Bring the band with you.
Loose-fitting cardigans going down to the mid-thigh are a comfortable, alternative form of outerwear. These can be worn over T-shirts or jumpers (sweaters) but bring them from home – they’re hard to source in Iran. In summer, you’ll need to wear something light – long peasant blouses and tunics made with natural fibers work well, as do shalwar kameez, a long shirt or tunic worn over baggy pants.
All manteaus are worn over trousers; jeans are perfectly acceptable.
Visiting important shrines, is the only times when foreign women must wear a chador are when. In these instances, the chadors can almost always be borrowed on-site.
4- People Want to Chat With You.
Although English isn’t spoken fluently in Iran, many people, especially the younger ones, know some English and want to improve it. To do that, they talk to native English speakers. Aside from that, many of the people wanted to know where are you from? , and also to give you tips and advice on what are must-sees in the area.
The people in Iran are extremely proud of their country, and more than happy to share it with you. We suggest, If you are by yourself or even with another female, don’t accept an invitation into a man’s house unless at least one of his female relatives will also be present.
5- Credit Cart.
Unfortunately, you can’t use the international bank cards in Iran. Of course, some banks like the Mellat Bank give you currency exchange cards. You can give euro or dollar to the bank and receive an internal credit card with the official exchange rate.
6- How should you behave?
Half-truths and stereotypes about women exist on both sides of the cultural divide: some Westerners assume that all Iranian women are black-cloaked, repressed victims, while some Iranians, influenced by foreign movies and media, see Western women as ‘easy’ and immoral. When in Iran, be aware that sex before marriage is uncommon (well, that’s the official line) and that there may be some males who- influenced by the aforementioned stereotype – will try it on with you, particularly if you are traveling solo.
The best way to prevent this happening is to be polite but not overly friendly in your dealings with local males:
- In restaurants and teahouses, head to the separate areas set aside for women and families where these exist.
- On city buses, use the women’s entrance in the middle of the bus and sit at the back with the other women.
- On intercity buses, you can sit in any part of the bus, but you should always try to sit next to a woman (it’s OK to sit next to a Western male you are traveling with).
- Keep yourself far from any political issues.
- As for the VOA, there’s totally no difference if you are a man or a woman to get a visa. It also doesn’t matter if you are a young woman, or unmarried, or traveling solo.
- Usually, the question where are you from and how did you find Iran were the only ones you will be asked.
- As for Couchsurfing – officially it is illegal in Iran but it is not blocked (unlike Facebook) and it is working really well in the country, every city has a lot of hosts to choose from.
- It’s also handy to take some toilet paper and plastic bags for carrying out your toilet paper, tampons, and pads from toilets that don’t have rubbish bins.
- If you’re a vegetarian, the moment you step out of the tourist route you’ll encounter some difficulties. I didn’t find ANY vegetarian food (aside from just bread, rice, and cucumber salad) anywhere.
- While organized tours are still dominating Iran’s tourism, it’s not uncommon to find another person traveling solo. Backpackers and hostels can be found anywhere on a tourist route from Tehran to Shiraz and Yazd.
- Fortunately, in Iran, there is no case of invasion of tourists, especially female tourists.
Thus, if you skim read at various blogs of women who actually traveled alone in Iran you’ll become aware that Iran is definitely a good and safe country for a woman to travel alone.
7- Use of licensed travel company.
Be sure to get your travel services from authorized travel companies authorized by the Iranian Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. Many travel guides without a legal permission will launch a website and do as a travel agency, which can challenge you, especially when traveling as an alone woman.
Authorized companies will usually place their license on their website which shows the license number, validation, official address and phone number.