0420 GMT August 04, 2021
Heartwarming people and culture
When you travel to a country like Iran you expect a culture shock and that’s exactly what you get. Not in a bad way, however. The country is more modern than I anticipated it to be and the locals treat you in such a heartwarming way. I was taken aback by the friendliness of the people.
Respect for travelers is a big thing in Iran. Many people will help you whenever they can and you’ll feel extra safe because of them. During our two-week trip to Iran, we met over 30 people who wanted to chat with us about our travels. Iranian people are just so genuinely interested.
Already on the first day, people came up to us and called their family to give us a free tour around the city. This was the best welcome to a country ever. We are still in contact with some of the people we met in Iran today.
The Persian cuisine is really worth it. You’ll taste many things you never knew existed. It’s nice that you’ll never have just one kind of meal. There is always a big combination of flavors complementing each other. My three favorite dishes were: Khoresh-e [stew] fesenjan, khoresht-e mast and dizi.
But the thing I liked the most about Persian food was the way they eat. Multiple dishes are served for one group and everyone eats from the dishes, and this while sitting on the ground or a carpet.
Delicious Iranian cuisine in a restaurant in Isfahan
While traveling from Isfahan to Yazd, we decided to hire a driver for two days to take us to the desert and the salt lake located in between both destinations. When the driver Mahdi arrived, it became clear he didn’t speak a word of English. This meant we couldn’t speak to each other at all.
Still, we had a great time together and grew a strong bond. He really cared for us like he was our dad. Being stuck in the sand with the small taxi car made us laugh so hard that we did not need any language anymore.
I embraced these two days because it’s so important to realize that you don’t always need to talk to each other or know everything about each other to feel connected and to care for each other. A language barrier is just a poor excuse not to go on an adventure and meet new people.
Driver taking us to the salt flats of Iran
Tips for your visit
First of all, say “Yes”! It may seem strange to accept every invite from a stranger but in Iran this is the way it is. If people want to give you a tour you should go with the flow. You’ll learn and see more of the real Iran by doing this, and your average tourist day will change into real traveling.
Don’t plan too much for your trip. Iran is a place of surprises and you’ll discover many things when you’re there. If your travel schedule is too strict, you’ll miss out on opportunities from locals for the upcoming days.
We could have (for example) stayed in someone’s house high in the mountains for two nights, but sadly we had already booked a driver and hostel in another part of Iran for the upcoming days.
Instead of planning, search for Iranians on Facebook and Instagram. Some groups are perfect to connect with locals beforehand. By doing this you’ll know people before you go and this will smoothen things up.
Keep in mind that you cannot pay by card or make money transfers in or to Iran. You’ll have to bring all your money in cash to change it at the airport. Make sure you ask a local to help you get the best exchange rate. However, nothing to worry about, because Iran is a cheap place.
Last tip: Don’t be afraid! Don’t let people scare you from traveling to Iran. The media will show you the bad side of the country and many tourists will blindly follow this. So don’t be a tourist, be a traveler! Thanks for reading my Iran travel guide. I hope you enjoy this country as much as I did.
* Yngwie Scheerlinck is a freelance photographer based in the Belgian city of Geraardsbergen. His life consists of traveling the world and capturing memories.