Iran is a huge country that spans with a total land area of 1,648,195 km2, traveling by train is the easiest and most convenient way to hop from one city to another. So, instead of just spending hours traveling by car or spending all of your savings on plane rides, let’s have fun with taking the train and taking in as much of the beautiful views in Iran.
To help you, I have the best tips when traveling by train in Iran whether you’re a first-time adventurer or an expectant mom.
Helpful Tips When Traveling by Train
Tip 1: Book your Train Tickets In Advance
Trains traveling through Iran can get jam-packed. Just like you, everyone else finds the affordability and the convenience of traveling around Iran by train. To save yourself from the unexpected hassle and inconvenience, I highly encourage you to book tickets in advance before traveling by train in Iran.
Booking is now made easy thanks to technology, now you have the option to book online and pay with your Visa or Mastercard card! Also, aside from online booking with your credit/debit card, you can still book offline through booking stations.
When booking online, all you have to do is go to booking websites like Iranrail online at : https://www.iranrail.net/
This website will let you choose your travel dates and will allow you to book up to one day from the date of your travel. It will also show you whether your travel date is already full and the prices for the tickets.
Technically, this isn’t like when booking plane tickets that you are the one directly doing the booking, as a travel agent will still get in touch with you and then book the train ticket on your behalf. Once they’ve done so, they will send a scanned copy to you via email. This booking comes with an additional fee.
If you’re not in a hurry, you can book tickets with them as early as about 10 days before your travel then the delivery will take place 7 to 10 days and can cost 6 euro or about $ 7.00. You can speed up the delivery of your ticket and if the travel is urgent, the express delivery service within 24 hours can cost 16 euro or $ 17.00.
As this is technically not an official booking site, there are still other travel agencies that can book your tickets for you.
Offline booking takes almost the same process as booking online. However, you’ll be approaching a travel agency instead of just doing it on your own. When you’re in Iran, you’ll find many travel agencies who can do the booking on your behalf.
Like we said, traveling by train is certainly the cheapest and most convenient way of traveling. By just spending about $ 30, you will have traveled hundreds of kilometers across Iran already!
If you’re traveling from Tehran, Iran’s capital here are examples of how much you’ll have to set aside for a train ride to several places where you can take the train:
- Tehran – Shiraz: $ 25.00 to $45.00 (15 hr travel)
- Tehran – Esfahan: $ 8.00 (8 hr travel)
- Tehran – Yazd: $ 12.00 for 6 hr travel or $ 9.00 to $ 15.00 for an 8 hr travel
- Tehran – Tabriz: $ 10.00 to $ 16.00 (12 hr travel)
- Tehran – Mashad: $ 17.00 to $ 60.00 (8-14 hr travel)
Tip 2: Download Navigation Apps – Tehran Metro and Snapp
Thank you to technology, it’s now so much easier to get around places and not get lost! This second tip talks about downloading navigation apps such as Tehran Metro and Google Maps.
Iran’s train lines has a total of 70 stations spread across the four lines. You can get help using Tehran Metro to navigate the train lines. While the Iranian train lines aren’t as complicated in terms of the number of lines as the other country’s train lines, downloading this app will save you from the unnecessary headache from traveling. Tehran Metro also has information on bus lines and taxi stands with routes to the train station that you have to go to.
When you’re in Iran, you should forget about Uber and download Snapp, the local counterpart of the car-hailing app. Snapp isn’t exactly a navigation app, but, if you’re running to a train station and there’s no taxi around, your next best bet will be Snapp.
Tip 3: First-time Traveler? Dress Appropriately.
If you’re still not aware, Iran is a muslim country. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you should dress appropriately if not, police will call you out.
For women and first-time traveling to Iran, bring a scarf to cover your head. Also make sure you have some bobby pins to secure your scarf to your hair. It’s very windy in Iran and you can’t risk your hijab flying off with the wind. You also have to dress modestly, covering the shape of your body by wearing loose clothing and making sure that your arms and legs are all covered as well.
There’s a little loose dress code for men. Men are discouraged from wearing shorts and vests (sando). T-shirts are okay but for your bottoms, please stick to pants and trousers.
Tip 4: Always Bring Cash
When traveling to Iran by train, it is imperative to bring cash instead of relying on just cards. While there are some merchants that have the card machine, you’re safer to have immediate cash on hand. Also, you don’t want to be stuck without cash because it’s not always that you’ll be able to find a nearby ATM machine.
Another thing you have to remember when traveling to Iran, or when traveling anywhere for that matter, is that exchange rates can be a drag! It’s so much better to bring cash that’s already been converted in order to prevent losing to multiple times of converting your money.
Speaking of cash, there’s two “currencies” that you have to become aware when you’re traveling to Iran for the first time and that’s toman and their official currency called rial. Toman is more like the local language speak when it comes to money. Keep in mind that when local speak about Toman, it just means 10 rials. 100 Toman is equivalent to 1,000 rials. It will take a while of getting used to, but if it’s difficult, just clarify with the seller how much you need to pay for your goody.
Tip 5: Bring Food on the Go
Unless it’s Ramadan, it feels so nice to be eating and snacking while touring a wonderful city. When traveling by train, one surely can’t help but feel hungry. With about 8 hours between your point of origin and your destination, you can’t help but feel hungry!
Honestly, no matter what country, food at train stations can be pretty expensive. In order for you to save your vacation money, we suggest that you bring your own food while traveling on the train. Sure there’s a canteen inside a train, but not everyone will be fond of the food that’s available with your ticket.
If you don’t like the meal in the train, there’s always the Doogh which you can enjoy anytime, anywhere!
Safety Tips When Traveling by Train
It’s generally safe to travel by train when in Iran, even for an expecting mother! You will be surrounded by people who believe in taroof, the special hospitality that you can only find in Iran. However, despite this, there are still safety measures that you can take to essentially feel safe.
Safety Tip 1: Always bring your Identification Documents With You
It is imperative to always have your national identification cards with you. No matter what country you go to, it’s always best to have your identification documents. Number one, it will be easier to claim insurance benefits should you need to.
Safety Tip 2: Save Important Contact Numbers in your Phone
Iran is a safe place to travel to, but again, just for safety, keep important contact numbers in your phone. If you’re a first-time traveler to Iran or anywhere in Asia, make sure that you have the contact number of your country’s embassy as well as the police.
You just don’t know when an unfortunate situation could arise, keeping these contact numbers will help you get in touch with the important people of whom you can speak to when such a time comes.
Safety Tip 3: Keep all Valuables Close
When traveling, I highly suggest that heirloom jewelry be left at home. With the many places you’ll be visiting to and the many places that you’ll go to, it’s not difficult to lose some of your most valuables.
Once you’re in the country, have a small purse where you can safely put your phone, stash your cash, and put your identification documents safely as you trot around Iran. It’s not super fashionable to wear a fanny pack, but it serves its purpose in keeping all of these valuables close. If you’re up for it, have a fanny pack that ties around your body for ease of access of these valuables as well. It may look funny, but the safety and convenience it brings cannot be denied.
Safety Tip 4: Take Caution when Traveling to Several Areas
I keep on reiterating how it’s generally safe to travel around Iran, however, there are some areas that should be exempted from your itinerary. It’s a fact that there’s some turmoil in some parts of the country, so, just for your reference, here are some of the areas that I am speaking about.
- within 100km of the Iran–Afghanistan border
- within 10km of the Iran–Iraq border
- the province of Sistan va Baluchestan
- the area east of the line running from Bam to Jask, including Bam and Zahedan
Someday, when the world will know peace, anyone can go to these places freely and get to know these areas and see them just how beautiful Iran truly is.
Traveling by train across Iran is the most convenient and cheapest way to do so. Not only that, another reason why it’s nice to travel by train across the country is that you’ll get to see the whole country, passing through mountains, crossing bridges, and of course just getting to know Iran… one train station at a time!
I hope that the tips I shared will be helpful for you whether you’re a veteran in traveling or just a simple novice doing a little adventurous exploration of this side of the world. If you want to share tips to your fellow readers, feel free to do so in the comment section and if you found this helpful, do share it with your friends and family. Safe travels and I’ll see you in my next article!