|Iran prosecutes drug offenses harshly. The death sentence is obligatory for anyone convicted of drug trafficking or manufacture, as well as those convicted of drug possession for the third time.|
Homosexuality is also regarded harshly if homosexuals exhibit public activities such as kissing and holding hands; confirmed same-sex intercourse for men may result in the death penalty.
Stay Safe in Iran
Although Iran is still a reasonably safe nation, thefts and muggings have increased in recent years. Keep your wits about you and avoid crowded bazaars and buses. Due to US sanctions, foreign credit and debit cards cannot be used in Iran, however prepaid no-name Gift Cards may be used to withdraw cash from over 11,000 ATMs nationwide. Buying gift cards has no surcharges or service fees, and you may withdraw or spend the whole amount. Before buying a gift card from a bank, check sure it includes an ATM withdrawal function. Most Iranian bank cards have a daily withdrawal restriction of 2,000,000 rials, thus buying several cards allows you withdraw more money each day. Gift certificates are seldom reloadable. Some are pre-loaded, however some banks allow you load them when you buy. Because they are anonymous, reporting a lost or stolen card is difficult. Keep passwords and cards secure. An old empty card with passwords on it may assist you if you’re robbed! In an emergency, without access to ATMs, you may ask a business owner with a POS for cash-back. Their bank service fee may apply (1 percent – 5 percent ). Withdraw your remaining card money a few days before leaving Iran to prevent any SHETAB Interbank Network problems (very rare). An hour of downtime between 12:00am and 1:00am is typical due to database updates. Use caution with ATMs. Use it in noisy places.
The tourism hub of Isfahan has seen muggings of foreigners in unlicensed taxis and fake police checking visitors’ passports. Use only official cabs, and never let ‘officials’ check your stuff.
Iran’s traffic is a mess. Guidance is ad hoc and seldom Iranian drivers prefer to overtake via sidewalks and any stretch of road where there is room. In general, novice foreign drivers should avoid Iran. Watch out for joobs (open storm drains), which are easy to notice while strolling in the dark.
Travellers should avoid Iran’s southeast, especially Sistan and Baluchistan. The drug trade survives on smuggling Afghan heroin. There’s a lot of robbery, abduction, and murder. Some cities, including Zahedan, Zabol, and Mirjaveh, are especially hazardous, although not all. Chahbahar, near the Pakistani border, is a peaceful and pleasant town.
Iranian perceptions of outsiders
Travellers may imagine a crowd shouting “Death to America,” but the odds of seeing anti-Western attitudes are low. Even conservative Iranians distinguish between Western governments and individual visitors. Americans may get the occasional snide remark about their government’s policies, but nothing more.
However, it is better to avoid political discussions, especially in taxis. Three American hikers who wandered into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan in 2009 were also arrested and charged of spying.
Although uncommon, the wider ramifications are worth examining.
Iran has several sensitive military and other installations. It is illegal to photograph military and government sites. Detention and severe criminal accusations, including espionage, may end in the death sentence. Do not photograph military objects, prisons, ports, communications equipment, airports, or other military-related items or facilities. Iran takes this regulation extremely seriously.
Female visitors to Iran should have no significant difficulties, but they will certainly attract some unwanted attention, therefore they should follow local regulations. Contrary to common perception, Iranian women are quite similar to those in the West, but differences may be more pronounced in devout households. Western dress and formality are acceptable in Tehran and many larger cities, although wearing a headscarf may be compulsory in most rural regions. Women are required by law to wear a headscarf in public.
Gay and lesbian travel
Iran is not advised for homosexual or lesbian couples. A number of harsh anti-homosexuality laws exist in Iran.
Male homosexuality is punished by death in Iran, whereas female homosexuality is penalized by flogging. In principle, these two penalties are only imposed if 4 or more witnesses an act of homosexual or lesbian intercourse (although the definition of a witness can be surprisingly broad).
Armed security personnel may harass male or female couples who hold hands or kiss on the cheek in public.
Iran has excellent emergency response times compared to other local areas.
- The local police control center’s phone number is 110. It is probably simplest to call 110 since the local police have direct communication with other emergency agencies and will most likely be the only number with English speaking operators.
- 115, for Ambulances
- 125 for the Fire and Rescue Department (these numbers are frequently answered by the Ambulance or Fire crew operating from them, there is little guarantee these men will speak English).
- 141, Road Status Information
- 112, the international number 112, is accessible through mobile phones and will generally link you to the Iranian Red Crescent Society’s Rescue and Relief Hotline.
Stay Healthy in Iran
Iran’s main cities all have cutting-edge medical facilities.
Apart from being up to date on your standard travel vaccines (tetanus, polio, etc.), no additional preparation is required for travel to Iran. For mild illnesses, your hotel may make contact with an English-speaking doctor. In the event of a severe sickness or accident, you may request to be transported to a hospital with English-speaking personnel (such as Milad Hospital, Atiyeh Hospital, Mehrad Hospital, Day Hospital or Khatam ol-Anbia Hospital in Tehran). Because free medical care is not accessible in Iran, be sure your health insurance covers sickness or accidents while on vacation.
Tap water is safe to drink in much of the nation (particularly cities), but the chalkiness and flavor may be unpleasant in certain places (mainly Qom, Yazd, Hormozgan and Boushehr provinces). Bottled mineral water (b ma’dani) is readily accessible. Additionally, public water fridges are placed on numerous streets and locations to supply drinking water.