5. Get An Iranian SIM Card (And A VPN!)
Searching for good wifi in Iran is like finding a needle in a haystack. Instead of wasting money in cafes trying to connect to their frustratingly slow internet, you should consider getting yourself an Iranian SIM card with data. We bought an Irancell card for €8 and we didn’t even use all the data in two weeks.
Now that you’ve got your SIM card covered, here’s another little fun detail about using the internet in Iran, there’s a massive firewall in the way. See, if you plan on showing how awesome your Iran trip is on Facebook (primarily to make your friends at home jealous, obviously), you’ll have to get yourself a VPN to get around it.
Further Reading: How to access the internet in Iran using a VPN
6. Don’t Use VIP Buses
In Iran, you can travel between cities on big and comfy VIP buses or normal, less fancy-shmancy buses. Price-wise, the normal buses are – surprise – about half the price of the VIP buses but that doesn’t mean they’re a rolling death trap. Although the seats can be a little squishy for a 6-foot person like myself, they still have AC and are just everyday touring buses.
VIP buses only have three seats per row, resulting in some glorious extra legroom, but that’s really it.
7. Alright, I Lied
I was a bit naughty there. VIP buses are worth the extra money in one particular situation and that’s when you travel overnight. Even backpackers need to sleep at least a few hours on an overnight bus, and the extra legroom means you can lie almost flat. Only having three seats per row also means you can kind of lie comfortably on your side without staring straight into your neighbor’s beautiful eyes. It’s obviously no king-size bed, but when it comes to night buses, Iran’s VIP buses do a pretty good job.
8. You Get Food On The Buses
That’s right, the bus guys give you a cozy little snack pack when you travel on long distance buses, complete with a juice box and everything. It normally also consists of some sort of biscuit and/or a piece of cake which is just what you need when you need to kill a couple of hours. Kick back in your seat and pretend you’re just an Iranian school kid on his way to school rather than an adult with probably no idea of what you’re doing with your life.
9. Use Public Transport
The public transport system in Iran is quite good, especially in Tehran where they have modern buses and a brand-spanking new metro system. The best part is that not only is it easy to get around, it’s also dirt-cheap. We averaged a ridiculous €0.3 per ride which is sweet music to any budget backpacker’s ears. Oh, and if you use the public transport, you also get to see what it’s like to be on a gender-divided bus. Interesting experience to say the least.
10. Better Yet, Walk
Apart from the capital itself, all the major cities between Tehran and Shiraz – Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd – are easily walkable. All the touristy must-sees are never more than an hour’s walk from each other, making walking your best bet for saving money on transport.
11. Try Hitchhiking
We didn’t personally hitchhike in Iran, but bumming a ride in a place that’s known all over the world for its hospitable people sounds like a recipe for fun adventures. We met several people that had done it and it seems to be pretty straightforward. Go for it!
Further reading: How to get an Iranian visa on arrival