Would you travel to Iran?

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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Hallu » Sat 31 Jan, 2015 1:37 am

Chris's comment wasn't racist, you obviously misinterpreted it.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby geoskid » Sat 31 Jan, 2015 8:28 pm

geoskid wrote:
icefest wrote:My point was that even if you dislike some people in a country, it doesn't preclude travel there.

Nice save, I'm not buying though.


To be fair Icefest, whether they express themselves clearly or not, to go on holiday in a country to merely admire the scenery, knowing full well the human rights abuses that occur in that country, is not an option.
You don't have to respect that view, but it exists.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby stry » Sun 01 Feb, 2015 5:39 pm

Chill pills needed people :D

Any comment that acknowledges or points out that people in different places and different cultures have differing characteristics is inevitably labelled as racist.

Give me a break from this please. Some of these places do seem have a bigger incidence of a range of unpleasant behaviours that some other places. These behaviours don't stem from the climate or the water. That's not racist - that's fact.

To wander back onto the topic, I would love to go to Iran, but don't have sufficient desire. If you do your research, have good local connections, follow the "when in Rome etc" axiom, and keep your radar running, any risks become more than acceptable - to me.

I agree with the point alluded to in an earlier post about being careful about what visas/entry stamps appear on your passport, and what other destinations are on your ticket- all part of the research and it may not be a problem; but when you are there is not the time to find out that such things are a problem

Again, to me, the scenario outlined by the OP would be a great opportunity if I had sufficient desire, and I wish any who jump at the opportunity well.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby corvus » Sun 01 Feb, 2015 6:43 pm

Still not enticed,a holiday in a possible conflict area ? sheesh no way Plenty of spectacular destinations other than Iran BTW why do you ask ??
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby stry » Sun 01 Feb, 2015 7:23 pm

Corvus, for me it's the appeal of wild, out of the way places. That may not be sufficient reason for others. I'm not sure, but I think one's chances of being caught up in conflict in Iran post Shah, are pretty slim. Again "pretty slim'' may not be sufficient margin for others, and that's fine - we are all different :D
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby corvus » Sun 01 Feb, 2015 7:27 pm

Your choice EH!
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby GPSGuided » Sun 01 Feb, 2015 8:10 pm

I gather that Iran has some amazing outdoor locations and would love to visit there. Whilst it's an enemy of the US and is aggressively portrayed so by the Western media, the truth would be far from those propaganda, or Iran would have disintegrated long ago. So yes, I would not hesitant to visit the country unless I am carrying a US or Israeli passport.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Hallu » Mon 02 Feb, 2015 3:11 am

It comes and goes anyway. A while ago, Yougoslavia was in no way a tourist destination. Now, Croatia and Montenegro are both popular destinations, with good food, wine, coastline and mountains. It's the new Italy. Colombia is making good progress too, most drug dealers having moved to central america (Honduras etc...), and Bogota is now relatively safe. For Egypt, it went the other way around. Once pretty stable (although dictatorial) it's now a mess people will avoid. It's also probably fair to say that muslim countries scare us, because it's never a secular state. Turkey was the exception, and now it's not anymore, and recently a friend looking into travelling there told me "no it's too unstable". I know it's probably more dangerous to travel to Chicago or Miami, but that's how people feel. At one point it was called the Orient and it fascinated Westerners, there was a sense of romanticism. Now it just scares them, whereas I'm sure this romanticism is still there.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby stry » Mon 02 Feb, 2015 7:29 pm

This is starting to yank my chain a bit David. What is the recommended time of year for the trips ?
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Wed 18 Feb, 2015 10:26 pm

I am sorry for my absence for a while. I have not been well. Will respond to comments over the next few days.



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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby icefest » Wed 18 Feb, 2015 10:37 pm

davidmorr wrote:I am sorry for my absence for a while. I have not been well.

All the best wishes and a speedy recovery.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 8:08 pm

Hallu wrote:davidmorr you need to counterattack with some trip reports on some hikes in Iran. We haven't seen any photos yet =)

My Iranian friend is in Iran at present as his mother is ill. I will try to get some details when he returns in a couple of weeks and post them here. Lots of great photos too, although I found that interacting with the people was the big attraction.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 8:47 pm

icefest wrote:How will the collapsing oil price and associated accounts deficit (plus sanctions) affect tourist travel to Iran?

The sanctions have been in place for 40 years, although in recent times they have been made worse a bit then dropped again.

The most significant impact you will notice is that there is no way to transfer money into or out of Iran except in cash - yes, US dollars. This does not mean Iran is backward. There are ATMs at every bank, and most shops have EFTPOS. When you arrive, your $US have to be converted to rials on the black market. My friend organises bank accounts for the people on his trips, with a plastic card to access the ATMs and EFTPOS. You can give him some cash and he will get it converted and deposit it in your account. At the end of the trip, if there is any left in your account, he gives you $US back.

At the time I first decided to go to Iran, mid 2012, it was about 12000 rials to the dollar. The day we left (May 2013) it was 35000. This decline took place because the sanctions were made worse in that interval, and imports and exports were severely restricted. In particular, Peugeot has a car factory there, and the cars were exported all over Europe. The raised sanctions prevented Peugeot sending parts to Iran for the factory. It also prevented payments by Iran back to Peugeot, and the export of the cars. Thousands of people were put out of work as the factory had to close.

The sad thing is that western politicians say sanctions only hurt the government and rich people. This is rubbish! The rich and powerful can always get anything they want through the black market, or by hopping on a plane to Dubai. The only people hurt are the ordinary people whose wages go down or they become unemployed.

The sanctions do not affect international phone calls - you can ring Australia any time from a mobile for 10 minutes for about $1. (My friend also organises local SIMs for your mobile.) You also have Internet access from your phone, although it is slow, and some sites like Facebook and BBC are blocked. You can get around this by setting up a VPN while you are there. And phone access is available almost everywhere, even in the middle of the desert. (Are you listening Telstra and Optus?)

Another effect of the sanctions is that the latest medicines are not available. All that is available is drugs manufactured in Iran, which are those which are out of patent protection. For example, the only antihistamines are the ones that make you drowsy. Again, the rich can get the modern medicines; everyone else has to use the old ones.

Once you are in Iran, apart from what I mentioned above, there is no real impact from sanctions. Most of the stuff you can buy in Iran is actually made or grown in Iran, so independent of what happens with sanctions.

As for the dropping oil price, I do not really know what impact that will have. I suspect that the rial will drop further, which would make travelling in Iran even cheaper.

Travel to Iran is actually booming at present. If you look at the travel sections of the newspapers, there are always reports and letters from people who have been to Iran recently. Tripadvisor is full of glowing reports too. It seems to be the flavour of the month, probably because many of the restrictions on travel in Iran were lifted few years ago, and all the other "new" destinations are no longer new.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 8:48 pm

corvus wrote:NO! as a resident Tasmanian I have so many many walks I want to do in our "Paradise" before I run out of life :lol:

How long have you lived there? You must not have been trying! :-)
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 8:51 pm

roysta wrote:I have a couple of friends that have hiked/climbed in Iran, plus one other who has extensively toured the country and another Iranian-born friend.
All of them rave about the place and say the people are wonderful and engaging.
There will be some issues if you're planning to visit Israel on the same trip.

I think ever having visited Israel can be a problem in many countries. Back in 1983 I went to China. One of the things checked was that there were no stamps from Israel.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 8:51 pm

walkerchris77 wrote:Some of the scenery in the middle east is beautiful. Just a pity about some of the people that inhabit it.

I think you could say that about almost any country......
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby icefest » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 8:54 pm

Thanks for the insightful answer, davidmorr.

I think Iran is definitely on my to travel list now.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 9:15 pm

corvus wrote:Still not enticed,a holiday in a possible conflict area ? sheesh no way Plenty of spectacular destinations other than Iran BTW why do you ask ??

Actually, there are not many places that are not possible conflict areas. Our own government is constantly warning us of terrorist attacks within Australia, but we stay here.

Before I went, I had a good read of DFAT's Iran information. I was quite concerned at statements like this "We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Iran due to ongoing regional tensions." It is worded as if it is a new warning.

I rang up my travel insurance company to ask whether this warning would affect my cover, ie, going against government advice. They said no it wouldn't, and that particular wording had probably been there for at least the last 10 years. The implication was that the situation now is likely no different to what it was 10 years ago, and in the intervening time, there has been very little happen in Iran that would make that warning significant.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 9:28 pm

stry wrote:Corvus, for me it's the appeal of wild, out of the way places. That may not be sufficient reason for others. I'm not sure, but I think one's chances of being caught up in conflict in Iran post Shah, are pretty slim. Again "pretty slim'' may not be sufficient margin for others, and that's fine - we are all different :D

Yes, it certainly comes down to your own assessment of the risk. Most of the people who have been have had the same concerns based on media reports and government web sites. But once you start to do the research and talk to people, you realise that reality is quite different. Tripadvisor reports are a wonderful source of independent and up-to-date information.

There have been some developments in recent years that I feel make Iran a safer place. Firstly, there is a new government. This is more moderate, and is prepared to negotiate over some of the concerns that western countries have. Even the religious hierarchy recognises that the previous approach was not helping the country and support the new government.

Secondly, the rhetoric from Israel particularly, but also the US, has been toned down quite a bit over the last few years. It is a long time since Netanyahu threatened to bomb or send missiles to Iran. Iran even offered to allow the US to operate aircraft off its airfields in the fight against ISIS, although the US did not take up that offer.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 9:34 pm

GPSGuided wrote:I gather that Iran has some amazing outdoor locations and would love to visit there. Whilst it's an enemy of the US and is aggressively portrayed so by the Western media, the truth would be far from those propaganda, or Iran would have disintegrated long ago. So yes, I would not hesitant to visit the country unless I am carrying a US or Israeli passport.

I think the US (and the media) portrays Iran as its enemy, but I do not believe Iran regards the US as an enemy. Certainly, Iranian people do not regard the US as an enemy. Many of them told us they would like to go to the US.

As for passports, maybe Israel might be a problem, but US passports have no issues.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Sun 22 Feb, 2015 10:23 pm

stry wrote:This is starting to yank my chain a bit David. What is the recommended time of year for the trips ?

Well it depends on where you are going. The weather can be quite severe in Iran, and you need to pick times suitable for where you are going.

The last trip was a mostly walking trip in the Alborz Mountains which run across the top of Iran. This took place in June/July 2014, summer, because the mountains are very cold. Amongst other things, they walked to the top of Mount Damavand, 5610m, the highest mountain in the middle east. After the walking, I believe they visited Tehran, Esfahan and Shiraz which were quite hot. They also visited a number of towns well off the beaten track while they were walking.

There is a great pic at the bottom of the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Damavand

The trip I went on was February/March 2013. This was more a cultural trip, starting from Shiraz then doing a big spiral to end up at Tehran.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tn14ct5u69ph68a/Plan%20trip%20.pdf

We went east to Ahvaz, a big oil area where we went out into the huge swamps at the head of the Persian Gulf, and also went walking in barren gorge country nearby. Some side trips here before heading east to Esfahan for a few days - good place to buy Persian carpets. Further east to Yazd which is pretty much desert country, although on a day walk here we got snowed on. Overnight train to Bandar Abbas and an early boat to Qeshm, a World Geopark recognised for its unusual geology. We stayed in a traditional hostel here. Then across to Kish, the Shah's attempt to duplicate Dubai. It is quite different to the rest of Iran, with modern buildings, big hotels, shopping centres, etc. Many Iranians go there for holidays.

We flew from there to Tehran then Gorgan in the north east. We did a few day trips from there, including a walk to a famous waterfall, before driving back along the Caspian coast visiting a Ramsar wetland, then turning south to Tehran across the Alborz.

This, ofc, is only the briefest summary. We were there for about a month. Many of the places we went were way off the normal tourist route, so we got to see tiny villages and remote towns, wild scenery, and to experience everything from two star to five star hotels.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby stry » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 6:58 am

A wealth of info, thank you David.

Welcome back - I trust that all is well :)
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby davidmorr » Mon 23 Feb, 2015 2:18 pm

Thanks for the good wishes everyone.

I have had some gut issues for many years, but too many antibiotics over the last 5 years have completely stuffed it. (Not that I wanted them, but they were essential - tooth abscesses, infected wounds, anti-malaria medications, oral surgery.)

I started a program last year to try to restore it to normality, or at least something better than it was. Unfortunately the healing process involves major changes within the body which often have negative side-effects. One of them is that the brain gets affected, and it is difficult to think or concentrate. I had a bit of a crisis in January with some other stressful events combining to make me really miserable. That was why I resigned as President of Bushwalking NSW. Needed to cut my commitments and stress levels.

But things have improved a bit, and I can see some tangible benefits from the program already. I hope I continue to improve.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 26 Mar, 2015 11:01 pm

I have been to Iran(2008) and Uzbekistan(2012). They are safe, cheap, welcoming, fascinating , ancient places and the people are hospitable to a fault. The Persian people and cultures as found in Persian speaking cities such as Shiraz, Yadz, Esfahan ,Kashan ( Iran) and Bukhara and Samarkand ( Uzb.) are part of living 5000 year old civilizations. The people in these cities are often educated, urbane and polite. One would imagine that the same could be said for Herat in Afghanistan and Dushanbe in Tajikistan which are also Persian speaking cities in Central Asia.
The mountains in Iran and Uzb. offer amazing trekking possibilities and the architecture such as the Friday Mosque /Jama Masjid at the Naqsh i jahan square in Esfahan and The Registan ensemble at Samarkand are wonders of the world.

Fooey on those who poo poo travel in this region. While the Persians were inventing the wheel , rose water, and poetry many ancestors of the convict stain in this country were sitting in caves waiting for the Romans to show up and improve their lot. The people in both of these countries , Iran and Uzbekistan put up with a lot having despots in charge of their countries. At least In Uzb. the arseh*le in charge is secular so the Vodka comes out at lunch time in many public places.
I have learnt to speak some Farsi, which is great language !
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Whits » Mon 13 Apr, 2015 10:28 pm

I spent 6 weeks travelling around Iran in 2008. Its was a great trip. The diversity of landscape really surprised me. I loved the friendly, very hospitable people. It remains in top 5 favourite countries that I have traveled in.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Tue 14 Apr, 2015 11:08 pm

I didn't mean to belittle anyone but the wheel is a handy invention. It is true that the learning and advancements of the Persians eclipsed that of Northern Europe for many moons indeed.. I am a fan of Persian culture language and history. I mean the Shah Nameh epic story is mainly set in what is now Afghanistan. The Zoroastrian religion also had its origins in what is now Afghanistan( Khorasan ) . Much of Modern Iraq was part of the Persian empire at its zenith.
I am interested in going to Tajikistan. It is a Persian speaking state with amazing trekking options incl. the hike to the giants of the Pamirs (7000 M +) esp. to the base camps
( 3500-5200 M ).
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby icefest » Wed 15 Apr, 2015 7:26 pm

Iirc the wheel was discovered by the incans too, it just was only used for toys.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby Suz » Thu 16 Apr, 2015 7:18 pm

I would totally love to visit Iran and pretty much all the countries in the Middle East. I have always had a fascination with this area, and Central Asia. Still haven't been to either. Like Drew, I'm not much of a 'guided tour' kind of person - but I would potentially make an exception for a first trip to a part of the world that experiences so much civil unrest, has a rather unfavourable reputation with treatment of women and of which I do not speak any of the languages :( Not speaking the language is by far the most challenging I think. I wouldn't mind dressing according to customary norms but like to maintain my independence without fear of reprisal and don't know how I'd be received there. Why in theory my answer if definitely 'yes', I think these sorts of trips are probably outside my budget mostly…that's what you get for working part-time in a charity. A teeny weeny packet of peanuts at the end of the week.
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby paidal_chalne_vala » Thu 16 Apr, 2015 7:57 pm

Iraan and Uzbekistan are dirt cheap countries to travel solo in.
Their respective currencies are worth less than 'monopoly money' .
India is much more expensive in comparison . Both countries are safe, friendly , fascinating ,with good intercity transport options and they both have good places to stay. In particular Bukhara in Uzb. has some amazing budget places to stay in the old city. You don't need to go on some lame package trip with cashed up blue rinse types from Europe and the USA. Plenty of the tourists I met in both countries(Iraan and Uzb.) were from the EU and the USA. For women in Iraan, As long as you cover up and scarf up , in the head dept you should be fine. The dictator of Uzb. has banned most things that are Islamic incl. the call to the prayer, so things are not so oppressively restricted there, mind you it is n't a million laughs either for those who live in Uzb. .
People get jailed without trial , put in front of firing squads or made indentured labourers in Uzb. because the dictator says so , religion does not come into it the way it does in Iraan..
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Re: Would you travel to Iran?

Postby geoskid » Thu 16 Apr, 2015 8:40 pm

Sounds awesome paidal- I'd be in jail within a week!
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