- Days: 23 days
- Period: Mai - beginning of June.
- Weather: In Tabriz we had some rain but mainly it was hot (except for some placer on a higher altitude. Around Yazd and in de desert it was already 40 degrees. In the desert around Khor June/July is the tornado season. There can be as many as 1000 very small tornado's crossing the desert which will blow up a lot of dust and sand.
- Roads: All roads tarmac and most of them good quality. Road to waterfall around Tabas is an offroad gravel of 22 km (can by driven by normal car).
- Days: 11 days
- Period: May 2008
- Weather: Warm and sunny. From Pakistan to Yazd it was very warm (around 35 degrees). Shiraz to Tehran was nice summer weather (around 25-30 degrees). Close to the Caspian Sea it was rainy with heavy floods. From Tehran to Turkey it was between 20 and 25 degrees. The closer to Turkey the cooler it got. Close to the border it was quite cold (15 - max. 20 degrees).
Internet: Available but Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogspot and many sites are blocked.
ATM's: There are no ATM's for foreign bankcards or creditcards. Only ATM for Iranian cards. Only option is cash (Euro's or Dollars). Fortunately Iran is very cheap. We spend an average of 16 Euro's a day (including food, fuel and hotels).
Creditcards: No foreign creditcards accepted
Safety: In general Iran is a safe country. Even camping in public places is no problem. However eastern Iran, the part bordering Pakistan is not 100% safe. In this area, between Kerman and the border with Pakistan, there are many problems with Afghan refugees and opium smugglers. In the last years there have been reports of tourists kidnapped by the smugglers. To guarantee the safety of the foreigners there is an obligatory police and military escort at the moment. Starting about 60 km before Bam all the way to the Pakistani border.
Prices (per May 2014)
Value Money: €1 = 43000 Rials / 1$ = 32500 Rials
Fuel: Diesel costs around 5000 Rials per liter (13 eurocent). To get fuel you need a special pass. On entry nobody asked us if we would need/buy it. During our stay we never had a card and also did not needed it. Mostly the staff of a gas station has one and they will use theirs. If not there will be a willing truck driver to lend you his. On a fuel card every Iranier can get a certain amount of fuel for half price. However if they lend you theirs, they must pay more themselves as you use up their cheap fuel budget. We never did this as even the normal price is still cheap and the people can really use the benefit themselve. Even if we used a personal can from a driver we paid him the normal price.
Camping: In Iran there are almost no camping facilities, however bush camping is quite safe and you can do like the locals do, camp in the public parks. This is safe and a great way to meet the locals. No privacy however.
Visa 2014 - applied in The Hague, Netherlands
- Visa = tourist visa, single entry valid for 1 month from date of entry. You must enter within 3 month after visa issueance.
- Visa is needed for most citizens and must be obtained in advance. The standard procedure will take up about 2 weeks. Some embassies want a reference number. In the Netherlands they do not need this but when you do have it the visa is issued faster. To speed up things we did apply for a reference number. We used www.iranianvisa.com again. When your application is accepted by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs a letter will be send to the embassy you choose to pick up your visa (note: you must go to the same embassy as in you application). The reference number that is issued corresponds with the confirmation letter send to the embassy. Make sure you apply for the number early. Getting the number may take up to 1 month. When you have the number it is valid for 3 months. (within 3 months you must pick up your visa). The price for the reference number is €35 per person.
- The embassy in the Hague is quite easy. Toursit visa are also issued without this number. The embassy is also quite fast. We got our visa in 3 days including mail service (with reference number). You must apply for your visa in person but they can return in by mail. Extra documents needed for visa applicaton: a copy and the original of you health insurance card.
- Price for the visa €50,- per person, extra costs for mail service €10,- per address.
Visa 2008 - applied in New Delhi, India
Visa is needed for most citizens and must be obtained in advance. There is however a nice system that helps you to speed up the application. On www.iranianvisa.com you can apply for your visa. After your payment an authorisation code is granted which allows you to pick up you visa in any place you like, just tell them where. After the number is granted you have three months to pick up your visa. With this code we got our visa within 24 hours. The price for this service is 30 Euro per person. The person organising this is Hamid who is very helpfull. Payment of this fee must be done by www.moneybookers.com . In case you do not have an account with them it might be handy to organise this in advance which saves you a lot of internet time on the road. The regular visa fee must be paid when you pick up your visa at the embassy. In Delhi this was 3720 Indian Roepies per person for the Dutch. The visa granted was a tourist visa, single entry for 30 days.
For entering with a car a Carnet de Passage is neccesary. No further costs.
- ENTRY 2014: We entered at Nurduz on the border with Armenia. Things here went quite slot (probably due to their lunch break), but without any hassle. Only costs we had to pay was for desinfection of the car (USD 3). You can only pay in US Dollar. Money exchange available at the border.
- EXIT 2014: We left Iran at Bajgiran on the border with Turkmenistan. As we only had a 5 days transit visa for Turkmenistan we slept in front of the border gate the night before to be able to be there as early as possible. The police did not mind we stayed there. The first gate opens at 7 am. The next one at 7:30. Within half an hour we to through and without costs.
ENTRY 2008: We entered at Taftan on the border with Pakistan. With the right documents entering is quick and easy. No costs.
EXIT 2008: We left Iran at Bazargan on the border with Turkey. Not much hassle and no costs. Note that the border is closed around lunch time.
Highlights or not
- Asiab waterfall: Costs 2014 = free of charge. Just after the border with Armenia and a great stop. You can also camp here on the parking. Can be busy with locals.
- Ardabil Mausoleum: Costs 2014 = 150000 Rial per person. Nice place and very beautiful inside.
- Masuleh: Costs 2014 = 20.000 Rial toll to get in with your car. A nice mountain village and definitely worth a visit. On Fridays it is very crowded with locals.
- Qom Mausoleum Fatima: This place is the "vatican" for shiite Muslims. For visiting we got a guide and both the guide and entry were free of charge. Women however have to wear a chador and as non-muslims you cannot enter the shrine itself. The place is definitely worth a visit and the inside is stunning. Taking is pictures is officially forbidden but our guide allowed us to take pictures.
- Kashan Boroojerdi Historical house: Costs 2014 = 100.000 Rial per person. This is many of the old historical houses and it was beautiful. Visiting them all however is very expensive as you have to pay for each one of them.
- Kashan bazaar: Entry = free. We really liked the bazaar of Kashan especially the old caravanserai which is runs a tea house. Famous in Kashan are the macroons.
- Kashan Sialk Hills: Costs 2014 = 100.000 Rial per person. Although many are excited about it we thought it was a waste of money. The building is nothing special.
- Abyaneh: Costs 2015 = 50.000 for entry with a vehicle. Beautiful mountain village. Mudbrick houses and locals in traditional clothing. We had a great time here and liked the place very much. Walk to the other side of the hill and have a nice view over the village.
- Na'in: We stayed here only one evening but the old town in nice to walk around in. The place is not to big and that makes it a great stop for one evening and a good bushcamp.
- Karanaq: Old almost abandoned mudbrick village. We really like the place. Hardly any renovations have been done here. This is just how it was. Visit is free of charge.
- Chak Chak Fire temple: Costs:
30.000 Rial per person. A
Zoroaster fire temple. We went here because we wanted tot see one.
Place was nice and the views from the mountain beautiful, but it is
definitely not the best place in Iran. Coming from Yazd we took an
offroad track to get here. This was a nice offroad piste of about 20
km. The first 10 km were OK. The last 10 km were bumpy as it lead
through dried up riverbeds (might not be passable when rainy or wet)
- Garmeh: Beautiful oasis village on the road from Yazd to Khor. This place is definitely worth a visit. Homestay Ateshooni is a great place to stay if you are there. The homestay however is not cheap. A visit to the oasis is without costs. When you was to bushcamp this would be no problem. You will find a spot here.
- Salt canals near Khor:
Take the road for Khor to Tabas.
After 40 km there is a police checkpoint and about 5km after this
checkpoint on the left side of the road you will find the canals. They
are just about 200 meter from the road but you have to walk over as
they cannot be seen from the road. In the list with waypoints you will
find the spot where we parked. From there just walk into the desert.
- Waterfall near Tabas: On the road from Tabas to Mashad you will find a sign (looking like a painting) of a gorge with a waterfall. When you turn left here en follow the offroad track (22 km) you will end up at a deserted dam. Form here you can take a walkway into the canyon on the other side to the waterfall. This is a great place. We bush camped before the dam and as the place was deserted we swam here. (bikini and no scarf for women possible)
- Mashad Mausoleum:
Immense complex overcrowded with people. Entry free of charge. Women
must wear a chador and preferably no flipflops. Camera's are not
allowed in side. You will be searched and must leave it at a desk.
Smart phones are allowed in once inside they do not mind if you take
pictures with it. Most of the time when they see foreigner a guide is
called to acompany you. They will show you places but most important
the will led you through to make sure you do not enter the place that
are forbidden for non-muslim. (many squares and the shrine itself).
However if you manage to get in without you might be lucky and can
visit the place on you own. Just look as local as possible and take you
chance. Many tourists succeeded.
Bam: This once spectacular old mud brick town has been destroyed by a massive earth quake in 2003. As there is not much left we did not go here. Besides, after a tourist was kidnapped by opium smugglers on his way to the old town at the end of 2007, going here is only allowed with a security escort.
Yazd: The old town is a great place to visit. Wander through the narrow streets between the mud brick houses, visit the mosque or the water museum (free entry). When you want to stay close to the old town try the Silk Road Hotel or the Orient Hotel. These traditional hotels are beautiful, not too expensive and the food is great.
Persepolis: It is said that this was once one of the most beautiful Persian towns. Now it is a ruin with nice sculptures.
Shiraz: Shiraz has a nice bazar and a beautiful mosque. Still, for us, this was one of the less nicest town, big and crowded. For good chicken shoarma check out "101 Hamburgers".
Esfahan: Big but nice town with many great places. Do not miss the big mosque. Stroll around Imam square and go shoppig in the great bazars. Visit the old bridges and parks along the river and have a cup of the in one of the great tea houses underneath the bridges. We returned in 2014 and by then many of the tea houses under the bridges were closed.
Tehran: Tehran is big and the traffic crowded. We only stayed one night and did not visit anything. However the center close to the hotel mentioned in the list with waypoints had some nice buildings.
Tabriz: Tabriz is a city like many others in Iran, but the bazar is great. Although the Lonely Planet was not very enthousiastic about it, we liked it a lot. It is maze with many shops and not very touristic.
Kandovan: The smaller version of Cappadocia, its famous big brother in Turkey. In the mountains about one hour from Tabriz. Kandovan is a mountain village with beautiful eroded rocks. Inside these rocks house are made and unlike Cappodocia the houses in Kandovan are still in use. Kandovan is one of the few places in Iran where we saw donkeys on the street and people in traditional clothing.
In Iran the diesel is so cheap, that it is almost for free. Availability however can be a problem. As privat cars only run on petrol there are no diesel stations in the town centres. Diesel stations are available outside the towns on the main transit roads. Look out for stations with trucks.
Note that the quantity diesel sold close to the borders of Turkey and Pakistan is restricted. Coming from Turkey diesel is available about 40 km after the border (max. 20 liters). The first station where you can buy an ulimited quantity of diesel is in Tabriz. On your way to Pakistan the last station is about 60 km before Zeheden (max. 50 litre). The fist place where we could buy an unlimited quantity in this area was about 60 km after Bam (coming from Pakistan)
When you are driving from Iran to Pakistan note that the first modern petrol station is in Quetta. Between the border and Quetta fuel is only available in drums.
Do not fill up your jerrycans when travelling from Iran to Turkey. Because of the big difference in price this is interesting but not allowed. On the border they do check, and if they think you have too much you have to through it away.
As more and more embassies stop issueing the needed recommendation letter obtaining your Iranian visa might be difficult. However when you use the service of www.iranianvisa.com (see chapter Visa), this letter is not required anymore. With the granted authorisation code you can pick up your visa without such a letter.
Having a some copies of your passport might be handy. Most banks require one when you want to exchange money.
Not all banks exchange money. One of the banks that exchanges money is the Melli Bank. You can also go to small money exchangers.
Many banks are closed in the afternoon.
For the moslim people Friday is there resting day. Therefore, on Friday, all banks, most offices, most shops and even some bazars are closed.
Roads (March 2014)
The roads in Iran are smooth as in Germany
Grid: Lat/Lon hddd°mm.mmm"When the term bushcamp is used it is free of charge
|IR-CAMP01 - N38°51.522
Bushcamp near Asiab waterfall, great spot
IR-CAMP02 - N38°01.535 E46°22.089
Bushcamp in El Goli public park in Tabiz, toilets available
IR-CAMP03 - N38°22.461 E48°50.765
Bushcamp at a lake near Astana, not for swimming because of snakes in the water
IR-CAMP04 - N37°10.851 E49°09.298
Bushcamp on picknick area with tree huts, toilets available
IR-CAMP05 - N35°48.232 E51°27.111
Bushcamp on the street in Tehran near Turkemenistan embassy
IR-CAMP06 - N34°35.195 E50°48.946
Bushcamp in Alavia park in Qom, public park with toilets
IR-CAMP07 - N34°00.293 E51°24.763
Bushcamp in Madani park in Kashan, public park with toilets
IR-CAMP08 - N33°35.223 E51°35.360
Bushcamp on parking of museum in Abyaneh, toilets available
IR-CAMP09 - N32°44.039 E51°42.026
Bushcamp in Fanak Garden, public park with toilets
IR-CAMP10 - N32°51.706 E53°04.927
Bushcamp on parking of Na'in Inn. A local organised this and camping, toilet and shower were free
IR-ELGOLI - N38°01.223 E46°21.907
Entrance to El Goli public park
IR-ESFAHAN - N32°39.274 E51°40.296
Parking close to Imam Square
IR-FUEL01 - N38°52.011 E46°00.354
Diesel in Nurduz not far after crossing the border coming from Armenia
IR-KASHAN - N33°58.525 E51°26.415
Parking near the Historical houses
IR-KYRGYZ - N35°47.845 E51°28.689
Kyrgyzstan embassy in Tehran
IR-MASULEH - N37°09.221 E48°59.414
Parking in Masuleh
IR-MAUSOLE - N38°14.977 E48°17.412
Parking near Mausoleum in Ardabil, despite the sign parking was ok
IR-NAIN - N32°52.097 E53°05.278
Parking near old city in Na'in. Bushcamping is also allowed here
IR-PIKNIK - N37°10.073 E49°06.110
Nice picknick or even bushcamp spot on the way to Masuleh
IR-SKILIFT - N35°49.629 E51°25.525
Tehran, Skilift station
IR-TURKMEN - N35°48.269 E51°27.148
Tehran, Turkmenistan embassy
IR-UZBEKIS - N35°48.283 E51°28.533
Tehran, Uzbekistan embassy
IR-CAMP11 - N31°54.053 E54°22.202
Camping on the parking of Silk Road Hotel in the old center of Yazd. Nice spot and you can use the facilities of the hotel. Good place to hang out with wifi, toilet shower and good food. Price for camping was 200.000 Rial per night for 2 people incl. shower, toilet and breakfast.
IR-CAMP12 - N33°31.597 E55°02.317
Camping in the oasis near Ateshooni Guesthouse. Camping was for free. We had diner at the guesthouse and use toilet and shower for free. Very nice oasis. Great place
IR-CAMP13 - N33°26.988 E57°13.109
Bushcamp near a waterfall 22 km from the mainroad. We showered under the waterfall. We were totally alone. Only place where we could undress and shower in nature.
IR-CAMP14 - N36°14.476 E59°37.101
Camping in Ghadir camp. A campsite in a huge public park in Mashad.
IR-CAMP15 - N37°05.721 E58°30.306
Bushcamped near a publik park in Quchan, toilets available.
IR-CAMP16 - N37°37.427 E58°25.025
Bushcamped on the border with Turkmenistan at Bajgiran. Public toilet nearby
IR-CHAKCHA - N32°20.805 E54°24.545
Chak Chak, fire temple. There is a nice offroad track to this temple.
IR-ENTRY - N36°14.692 E59°37.039
Entrance to Ghadir park in Mashad
IR-JUNCT02 - N33°26.348 E56°58.632
Junction to great remote waterfall. From it is 22 kilometers off road towards the mountains.
IR-SALT - N33°44.405 E55°30.075
Salt Canals in the middle of the desert 45 KM from Khom. Coming from Khom it is on the left side. You cannot see them from the road. Just park your car and walk a few hunderd meters into the desert.
IR-SUPER - N37°06.150 E58°30.405
Supermarket in Quchan
IR-TURKME1 - N36°17.023 E59°35.936
Embassy Turkmenistan in Mashad
IR-VALI - N36°16.935 E59°35.646
Vali's Guesthouse in Mashad. Vali can help with your Turkmen visa if you have problems. Camping in front of his guesthouse is for free if you order diner at his place. There is also toilet and shower
Grid: Lat/Lon hddd°mm.mmm"
|Bam||N29.05.425||E058.21.764||Camping||Akbars Guesthouse||Still building after the questhouse was destroyed by the earth quake. We camped on the parking next to the street in front of the hotel. We paid for using the toilet and shower. The rooms they offered were expensive and dirty. Place has hot shower and internet facilities.|
|Yazd||N31.54.042||E054.22.206||Accomodation||Silk Road Hotel||Beautiful hotel with delicious food. Nicest hotel of the whole trip. Go here for the real authentic feel. Breakfast included.|
|Persepolis||N29.57.739||E052.53.112||Camping||Lanah Tawus||Camped on the parking behind this restaurant. Toilet, restaurant and hot shower available. This parking is off the road with a lot of privacy. For women: here you can take off your scarf.|
|Shiraz||N29.37.782||E052.32.559||Camping||Azadi park||camped on the parking of a public park. Only toilet available.|
|Esfahan||N32.38.435||E051.42.870||Camping||Ghadir park||2014 = only parking, camping not allowed anymore. On the other side of the park is a public hamam.|
|Tehran||N35.41.231||E051.25.731||Accomodation||Khayyam hotel||smelly hotel, with lousy beds. The only hotel we could find in Tehran with a parking big an high enough for our car. Hot shower, internet, tv and breakfast included.|
|Tabriz||N38.04.499||E046.16.918||Accomodation||Sina Hotel||OK hotel with parking. Hot shower, tv and parking.|
|Between Zehedan - Bam||N29.51.322||E059.58.990||Fuel||First station with diesel after Pakistani border. Quantity is restricted to 50 litre.|
|Near Bam||N29.19.923||E057.57.218||Fuel||Diesel, no restrictions|
|Maku||N39.16.387||E044.37.645||Fuel||Last diesel before border with Turkey. Quantity restricted to max. 20 ltr.|
|Esfahan||N32.39.557||E051.40.626||Place of interest||Imam Square|
|Osku||N37.57.437||E046.03.215||Junction||Junction to Kandovan|
|Tabriz||N37.58.532||E046.03,599||Junction||Junction to Kandovan|
|Tabriz||N38.04.350||E046.13.994||Junction||Rahahan Square, junction to Kandovan and Bazargan|
|Kandovan||N37.47.673||E046.14.909||Place of interest||Kandovan||Beautiful village with rock houses|
|Persepolis||N29.56.106||E052.53.027||Place of interest||Persepoli||Old Persian city|
|Taftan||N28.58.958||E061.32.678||Border||Taftan, border between Iran and Pakistan|
|Bazargan||N39.24.708||E044.22.675||Border||Bazargan, border between Iran and Turkey|