No matter you are a professional traveler or you are just an enthusiast with a long bucket list, you might already have Iran on your list and have innumerable reasons to choose Iran as your next spot. Iran has been claimed as one of the safest countries to travel to by tourists. You might be a solo female traveler who is looking to wander all around the world by herself. Or you may just have started to consider traveling all by yourself. You might be even concerned about a loved one traveling solely. So it is time to stop worrying and take some action. In this article, we provided all you need to know as a female traveler and more importantly as a solo female traveler in Iran to make the most out of your stay. We hope you enjoy this article.
Traveling Solely as a Female; Ups & Downs
Despite all the media orientations to depict Iran as an unsafe spot for travelers, Iran is a pretty safe country to travel to. It is recognized as “one of the safest countries to travel to” according to the tourists traveled to Iran. The rate of violence, aggression, rape, and racism toward tourists are so low in Iran.
If you are still uncertain about the safety of Iran, we highly recommend you consulting with a tourist who has already visited Iran in order to broaden your horizons on this issue and gain a better understanding of it. Traveling solely can be quite challenging yet rewarding. When you are alone, you have to make too many decisions by yourself which can cause fatigue while you’d be able to learn so many things out of such a huge responsibility.
Besides, when one is alone on a trip, they will have more time and a greater chance to communicate with the locals while on group tours, people tend to communicate with locals so much less. When traveling solely, one should be more cautious about where and when to go to some places and might even choose the chance of visiting some places; on the other hand, traveling alone brings out the chance of being more mindful of the place you are visiting. Long story short, traveling solely, has its own advantages and disadvantages.
General Tips for Female Solo Travelers
As a solo traveler, there are undoubtedly some universal facts and things you need to know as a woman. From researching your destination before you go and keeping your valuables with you to taking only the essential stuff and having printed documents with you. We will not delve into these general tips and will be discussing the specific things you need to know as a woman traveling lonely to Iran.
Female Solo Travel in Iran; How Common is that? +video
Sure, Iranians have a collective culture and may prefer traveling with a partner or in groups, but it is not that you will see no one traveling alone in Iran by themselves. You might want to know if it is common among women in Iran to travel solely in the country or abroad. Well, it was not so common in past; fortunately, you can see a great number of women traveling solely these days in Iran. Traveling solely and hitchhiking are these days so common among females. It is not that the portion is equal to male solo travelers but you will see a significant number of women traveling by themselves in Iran.
Besides, the number of female tourists to Iran has increased massively due to Iran’s safety for tourists. So, trust me, you will not feel so bold.
Things You MUST Know as a Solo Female Traveler before Visiting Iran:
You might be looking for a straightforward answer to know whether Iran is a safe spot for solo female travelers or not; long story short, Iran is definitely a safe place for women but it is worth knowing a few tips to make it an even much safer journey. So no worries, in this article, we are not just going to create a dreamy picture of Iran and we will cover all the positive and negative points you need to know before starting your journey to this four-seasoned country. The following tips are all you must know before traveling to Iran as an independent traveler.
Dress Codes in Iran
You might already know that the official religion of the country is Islam and Hijab is mandatory for both men and women; of course, the dress codes are different for men and women. So, in order to respect both the culture and religion of the country and to fit better into society, we highly recommend adhering to the dress codes. Not to mention that different regions, cities, and families might have various ethical standards and view Hijab from different perspectives. So, do not get shocked if you see women having t-shirts in north Tehran. Bear in mind that what we suggest to you here is based on the law by which you will not face any problem. Besides, adhering to the common laws will help you to blend better with people and prevent probable issues.
It is good to know that there are sometimes morality police wandering around the city to arrest or warn women not wearing proper Hijab; so, be careful about what you wear. In general, Hijab for women entails covering hair, arms, and legs. Here are the features of Iran’s dress codes for women:
- Manteau/ Tunic which is somehow a long jacket. It is actually to cover your bottom.
- Shawl/ Rousari (scarf): It is to cover your hair, not all of it, but preferable most of your hair.
- Long Pants: Do not forget to wear long jeans or pants.
Bear in mind that the moment you arrive at the airport in Iran, you should be wearing them; so we suggest to have a scarf in your bag and a jacket to put on when you land in. Of course, it will not be too hard to find a scarf or long jacket in your country; in case you faced difficulties, ask for a local’s help in Iran to take you shopping.
What Color Can you Wear in Iran?
Well, you might have heard that Iranians typically wear dark colors, especially black. But that is not true. People tend to wear more colorful clothes these days. And it is not unusual if you wear so. But keep in mind that, in some certain religious ceremonies and during specific months, people –especially those who live in small towns- wear black clothes but of course you will not be questioned on why you have not worn so.
Holy Shrines and Religious Sites
Well, in some shrines and mosques women have to wear Chador. You might be wondering what Chador is and how to wear it! Well, Chador is a black fabric that covers the full body except for the face. Actually, more religious people who are concerned about their Hijab wear Chador in Iran and it is not mandatory.
The good news is that even in case of visiting such places, you will not need to buy a Chador since these places provide the Chador for the visitors at the gates.
Codes of Behavior
Since you are going to visit an Islamic country, be careful about your behavior. Some certain things are not accepted and somehow more complicated in Iran. We will not go into the details about such behavior in this article and we just mention some of them. For example, shaking hands with the opposite sex is totally banned among religious people, while others are quite okay with it. Public displays of affection are also not so common, especially in smaller cities. You can of course hold hands, but kissing is not so common in public. So as a female solo traveler, bear in mind to observe these few codes not to look different from others.
Persian Legendary Hospitality
You might have already heard a lot about Iranian hospitality and friendliness. Actually, you will see more of what you are expecting since hospitality is one of the key elements of rich Persian culture. So, do not get shocked when you are offered to free meals several times a day. You might be even offered free accommodation, tickets, snacks, and such sort of things. Wondering what you should do in response to this hospitality? Well, be yourself and do what you like. If you enjoy their company, gladly accept their offer; if not, politely reject it.
These days, women smoking in Iran are more accepted among the community; although in small towns and some religious cities, it is still considered taboo for women smoking. So, be careful where and when to smoke. Besides, bear in mind that you may not have access to buy original cigarettes in Iran, or at least there are not available at each and every corner of the city. The good news is that buying and selling cigarettes is not legally banned in Iran, so, you will not face any problem in buying them.
A very important thing to know about Iran is that alcohol is legally prohibited in Iran. It is not that no Iranian drink alcohol but it can only be found in the black market. Meaning that, if you get caught drinking, buying, holding, and selling alcohol, you will be sentenced to jail. So many of the products are hand-made and might be even dangerous to your health; as a result, we suggest not drinking alcohol unless you are assured of the quality. To get a better understanding of alcohol consumption for tourists in Iran, we recommend reading Alcohol in Iran; All You Need to Know about Drinking.
Trekking Off the Beaten Paths as a Solo Female Traveler
Before taking any actions, we highly recommend you consult a local guide to see if it is safe for you to travel the path by yourself or if it is better to go in a group or with a guide. Some places are totally safe even for solo female travelers, while other places can be risky even for groups. So depending on the place you want to visit, choose how to go here.
Sexual Harassment in Iran
Like any other place around the world, as a solo female traveler, you might confront sexual harassment in Iran as well. There are for sure some universal guidelines to prevent or handle sexual harassment. Below are some general rules and you can surely be flexible depending on the place you are.
o Observe the dress codes: It is an obvious fact that the better you fit in a culture, the fewer people behave you differently. Say, you do not wear Hijab in various places in Iran; for sure, there are so many Iranian women who do not adhere to dress codes, but they know when, how, and where to disobey the law. Besides, they know with whom they can be comfortable. These days, a huge proportion of men are respectful to women not wearing Hijab, but it is not true in all places with all people. A few men just consider the way you dress as permission for getting sexually close. That is undoubtedly ridiculous, but still true! So in order to be safer, it is better to observe the dress codes; you can also see how the surrounding women act or ask for a female’s help.
o Do not walk alone at night: Unless you are assured of the security of the neighborhood or are with friends, it is better not to walk alone at night. In case you are visiting a place and your visit lasts until night or midnight, we suggest taking an internet taxi like Snapp or Tap30.
o Trust your instincts: This is a general rule for all kinds of your actions. No matter you are hitchhiking, couch surfing, or going to a friendly meeting with a single man, you should trust your instincts. That is the most important thing. Be aware of your feelings and the moment you got negative vibes just firmly reject the request or leave the car.
o Do not say yes to all the invitations: Iranian’s hospitality is undoubtedly a key feature of Persian culture; you will be invited to people’s gatherings, meetings, and parties as a result of their kindness. But it is not that you need to accept all invitations for being just nice. So, no matter how polite a person is or how uncomfortable you are in saying no to invitations, just be confident and reject it whenever you are not feeling okay.
o Be a bit more cautious toward men: It is not that you should not trust men in Iran; it is more like all around the world. We all should put humanity before gender and not segregate people based on their gender. You can go out with men or even stay the night at their house. Same as for women. But in some rare cases, when you act too friendly or comfortable, your behavior might be misinterpreted. So, trust your feelings and be careful about the body language, then choose how to behave with him.
o Don’t be afraid to ask for others’ help: In case you just felt any discomfort by one person, either being sexually harassed or being threatened, just ask for people’s help loudly. Although people may not understand your language, they will come to help you. So, it will scare the other person away.
How about Hitchhiking & Couchsurfing for Independent Female Travelers in Iran?
During the last decade, hitchhiking and couch surfing have become more common among youngsters especially for solo female travelers. Although couch surfing is illegal in Iran, still so many tourists find free accommodation via this website in Iran. What we suggest is to preferably find a host who is a girl or a couple; you can also check the reviews for the male host. For Hitchhiking, it is also more common these days. It may not be recognized as the term hitchhiking among locals in some provinces, still, they give free rides to people on the way. Just to be more clear, tell them from the very beginning that you are seeking for a free ride.
Gender Segregation in Iran
Shockingly, you will be faced with gender segregation in Iran but it is really not so much. Here is a list of places where you will be confronting segregation:
– Metro: There are two parts in each metro; –one at the end and the other in front- known as “Women-Only” sections. The middle part is for both men and women; but if you are alone or with a group of female friends, we recommend going to the women-only carriages especially during the crowded hours. By the way, the women-only section is clearly marked, so you won’t be confused about where to go.
– Local Buses: In these buses, women should go to the back part; while men stay in front of the bus.
– BRTs (Bus Rapid Transits): These are larger buses and are in red. Unlike the local buses, women are supposed to sit in front, while the back is dedicated to men in BRTs.
– Ghahvekhane: Ghahvekhane or Ghahvekhune is a type of tea house that also serves hookah; men are only allowed to these places.
– Entrance Doors: It is good to know that in some specific places including some universities, museums, mosques, and halls, there are separate entrance doors for men and women.
Traveling to a country all by yourself, knowing people’s characteristics and culture can be of great help to make better communication and bonds with local people. The very first and remarkable characteristic of Iranians is hospitality; meaning that you receive offers for so many free drinks, snacks, meals, parties, and gatherings. So, unlike so many countries that you may not even be noticed by locals, Iranians are welcoming people especially when it comes to tourists.
The question that arises here is whether you as a solo female traveler should accept their offer or not! As mentioned above, trust your instincts and of course check your schedule to see whether you are able to accept their offer or not. Do not worry about rejecting their offer.
Before any rejection, let’s get familiar with a Persian cultural element called “Taarof”. Taarof is sort of a complicated and confusing concept. It is actually repeating the offer once it is rejected; meaning that even if you say no to a meal, the host insists on staying for the meal. It is actually a matter of being respectful; the host assumes that you are being shy and that is why they insist on their invitation even after being rejected. This process may repeat two to three times. No worries, just smile and politely reject the offer. No hard feelings!
Do not Freak about all the Staring
As a solo female traveler, you might shock why a huge number of people stare at you regardless of their gender. You may even consider it rude. Depending on what region of Iran you are visiting, you might see people staring at you. It is often not an indicator of sexual harassment but is representative of people’s curiosity.
You may even be swamped by their innumerable question about your home country, why you are traveling alone in Iran, and how do you see Iran. If you are fond of a local company, learning a few Persian words will pave the way to communicate with them. If you are busy with your itinerary, then politely answer one or two questions and leave the conversation afterward.
Last but not Least; Driving & Crossing Roads in Iran
No matter if you are a man or a woman, you should be really careful when crossing a street or driving in Iran. Unfortunately, Iran has one of the highest rates for road accidents in the world. So, be careful, since they really drive unexpectedly in Iran and disobey a lot of laws when it comes to driving. Besides, do not forget that for your commute between cities, VIP buses or trains are safer choices.
We hope you enjoyed this article and learned how to safely find your way as a solo female traveler. If you are still uncertain about traveling to Iran solely, take a look at some blog posts or YouTube videos by tourists who have traveled to Iran as a solo woman.
Additionally, if you are more of a pre-planned person and prefer to have everything arranged before your trip, the good news is that these days you can book all the services online before your journey starts. From hotels and hostels to buses, trains, and flights. We at TAPPersia are also ready to help you out with all the process. Don’t hesitate to contact us.
Iran is save for women. I was there.
Is it Safe to Travel Alone as a Woman? –
It’s going to be ending of mine day, but before finish I
am reading this great piece of writing to improve my know-how.-
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bonjour, pourriez-vous m’envoyer vos articles en iranien ou francais. merci boucoup