I'm new to WS - hopefully this is the right forum to get some good info.
My boyfriend and I are embarking on a London to Australia cycle starting in August this year. One part of the trip I'd like to plan carefully is cycling through Iran. Can anyone give me some advice about whether we need to have a guide permanently with us (conflicting reports on different immigration websites) and any tips generally?
Thanks so much for any help
what nationality are you guys? i'm not sure what the storey is with brits/americans/Canadians, but for most nationalities you don't need a tour guide.
Thanks so so much for replying - I'm Australian but Ollie is British so I think we may need to find a guide. Great advice on sorting visa from Turkey - what is your nationality?
Best best of luck on the next step in your adventure!
also, getting the visa in turkey's pretty easy. we got ours in ankara, took about a week or so to be processed. though you'll need a letter of invitation. we where given one month. then we extended it for another month in iran for a lovely price of 10 pounds. we extended it in Rasht, but i think you can do it in most cities.
bare in mind that it's getting very hard to get a china visa in central asia. we've herd tehran's the easiest place to get it, which doing tomorrow.
also Turkmenistan's a massive ball ace. high chance of getting rejected a visa, unless you have loads of ongoing visa already like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, china..
all the best!
Turkmenistan visa will be 100 % rejected. As far I know the consulat in Teheran seems to be closed.
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are easy to get there. First need about 1 week to process, second need about 10 days.
BTW: As Tajikistan change the system to E-visa heard they don`t process in Teheran for the next 4 weeks.
If is not required by the consulate for visa you don`t need any guide.
Don`t forget to buy a scarf before entering Iran.
i think we're still ok with the Turkmenistan embassy. a buddy just got issued a visa from them today.
peter, are you around iran or central asia now? if so there's a watts app group called 'cycling to china', very handy with loads of info
hi guys. i'm Iranian and i have been host to many warmshowers cycles. if there is any question, maybe i can guide you or at least i can host you.
I have cycled from France until NZ, through Australia during 11 months and came back "recently" end of May 2016.
I cycled through Iran. From Azerbaijan and then Turkmenistan, Uzb., Kaz., China...
So I might have some useful tips for you.
The conditions depend on your nationality for sure.
Australians enter Iran more easily than Brits. Your BF has no second passport? This would make it easier.
You have no info about it in on your home office website?
The French website gives every useful detail for us, pretty well updated.
For all your questions about visas, I would highly recommend the bible of travellers:
Also, don't hesitate to join the WarmShowers Iran Facebook Group.
Farid the keen moderator will be happy to answer and help you and meet you in Iran.
Beside bringing a scarf (hijab) you should also not forget to bring CA$H as the bank system of Iran isn't connected to the rest of the world, well at least your VISA or MASTERCARD will be totally useless over there.
Iran is one of the most appreciated countries for touring cyclists. The locals are incredibly welcoming and will invite you to stay with them overnight, offer you food and drink. The roads are good (especially compared to the next countries!) and the sceneries is beautiful. Just be really careful when taking pictures. Don't do it in/near military zones. If you are not sure, don't take a picture. Otherwise you are likely to be arrested and they will annoy you for long long hours...
Don't worry, Iran is very safe. Nothing to do with what stupid people will think because they think it is Ira[K] or Syria.
* Regarding Turkmenistan, I got my 5 days transit visa without much problem. You just need the visa of the next country (Uzbekistan) before applying, hence proving you are on transit. You can apply for this Uzb. visa from the consulate of Baku for example and pick it up later in another consulate (Tehran). Takes about a week. Turlmenistan takes about 1 week processing it after you apply.
* I also got my Chinese visa without problem. Make sure you have a health insurance and your hotels and flights booked. (pre-book 3 hotels in different cities and give them a travel schedule of 10 days in each of these 3 cities and cancel these bookings once you have the visa!)
"The locals are incredibly welcoming and will invite you to stay with them overnight, offer you food and drink."
Iranians are a friendly people. However, any foreigner traveling there should be aware of ta’arof. Most offers of hospitality, food or drink are not sincere, and by accepting such offers immediately (or after only the first round of offer and refusal), foreigners can cause a lot of discomfort for local people.
never heard of that!
Thanks for telling about it.
Have you been there? What did you do yourself Christopher?
I have cycled 5 weeks in Iran, and even if I may not be the ultimate expert in ta’arof but I would strongly disagree it means "Most offers of hospitality, food or drink are not sincere"
Replace most by some. Common sense usually worka well. The tricky part certainly is that common sense tends to be culturally biased:)
Sometimes it is obvious like a shopkeeper that says you don't have to pay. I remember few invitations to hospitality that weren't real quite obviously. We received a number of invitations that we accepted, and given how the contact went I am pretty sure none of them were blank offers.
I cycled in Iran for about 6 weeks and I have to say this is the most welcoming people I have ever met.
Regarding Taarof, I'd say it´s not that difficult to identify honest invitations like someone else mentioned earlier. I would ask if there is any safe place to camp and most of the time, if they honestly wanted to offer me to sleep at their place they would be pretty enthusiastical about it. Otherwise they would point me towards the nearest mosque for shelter. I think once we were refused in a mosque but otherwise people found it pretty natural to tell us this is a safe place to sleep, even if we were traveling as a couple. Just make sure you have some kind of ring :D
I asked about this to a highly educated guy in Isfahan and his friends and basically they told me "Ta´roof is not for foreigners. It would be stupid to talk Taarof to you guys". That probably means most of the time someone offers you something they are not expecting you to refuse. Of course you should trust your gut and if you feel like you are not sure it is an honest invitation you might want to refuse and see if they drop it or insist. We refused some invitations and sometimes indeed we got the feeling it wasn´t a real one, but most of the time it was.
Even when it´s not an honest one because maybe they don´t have the space or whatever other reason, they will surely find someone else to take on their invitation, and I am sure you will ALWAYS find someone who is happy to invite you.
To be honest, we had more trouble refusing invitations than the perceived trouble we created by accepting them. Like they would totally refuse to let us go and find a wild campsite and pretty much forced us to join for dinner and sleep :D
To the point, if we really wanted to sleep outside we would avoid stopping and asking because we knew what was coming.
Another tip we were given by Iranians is "When people offer you something, make sure they are looking at your eyes. If they are not, they are using Taarof. If they are, it's an honest offer".
This seemed to work like a charm.
Hope this helps :)