Solo + Woman + Iran = Insane? Our Writer Did It
The United States government and the leaders of Iran might not get along, but that’s no reason not to visit the ancient land of Persia. The lure of dusty incense-infused bazaars, mosques emblazoned in a myriad of mosaics, and thousands of years of architectural history was overwhelming and earlier this year, I decided Iran was too intoxicating a prospect to let safety concerns deter me.
Iran is a deeply polarized nation due to its political governance. But the hospitality of Iranians is legendary. Even though their government may not see eye to eye with ours, the Iranian people couldn’t be more delighted to welcome tourists to their country. Only recently, Iran’s government has begun urging tourists to return, particularly tourists from the United States, and small groups are trickling in.
Iran is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that’ll remain with any traveler forever. Traveling alone, even as a woman, might even be to your advantage since hospitality to lonely travelers is ingrained in the Iranian culture.
A Quick and Dirty Iranian Travel Cheat Sheet
Your Visa: It must be pre-approved by the Iranian embassy; I applied for mine through intrepid tour operator, Travel The Unknown, whose exciting itineraries such as Classical Iran would satisfy the heartiest of adventurers.
Get a Guide: It isn’t the norm for a young woman to travel alone to Iran most tourists have to be accompanied by a guide at all times. Mine turned out to be a 25-year-old woman, and we instantly hit it off. Traveling with a guide is a huge bonus since it puts an invaluable fount of knowledge at your fingertips and allows you to learn first-hand about life in Iran and its rich tapestry of history.
Safety: Contrary to the western stigma, I found Iran the friendliest and safest country in the Middle East. (And I’ve traveled extensively from Oman to Lebanon, so I speak with authority.) On occasion, I explored alone, stumbling into Persian teahouses and navigating busy bazaars. People looked at me and asked questions out of curiosity, since a foreign woman alone is a rare sight. But this just spurred great conversations—a highlight of the trip.