Iran is filled with dynamic people and with a culture that combines ancient tradition and modern flair, it has become one of the most interesting places to visit.
However, it is also important for visitors in the country to be prepared for the surprises that Iran holds. And to prevent you from being caught unprepared, this article discusses the things that you need to know about Iran, particularly the dos and don’ts that you should not forget.
Dos and Don'ts in Iran
- Do throw away any preconceptions you might have of Iran and enter the country with an open mind.
- Do say “salaam” (hello) when you enter shops.
- Do say “merci” (thank you) when you receive help.
- Do tip! Tipping is a big part of Iranian culture. When you receive any sort of assistance from someone – from the luggage cart handler at the airport, to a cab driver in the city -- you should tip them.
- Do try seasonal snacks sold along the streets.
- Do try and learn a few Persian expressions, and use them when you interact with people.
- Do make friends! It will lead to a deeper and more meaningful experience of the Persian culture.
- Do refuse food when you no longer want to eat more. This is considered polite.
- Do check if the host is wearing shoes, if not you also have to take your shoes off.
- Do bring presents like food or flowers to your host.
- Do greet only members of the same sex, either by shaking hands or with a kiss. Iranian men and women are conservative and don’t socialize together.
- Do arrive on time. Tardiness could be considered rude in Iranian culture.
- Do ask if you can enter a room at a holy site as some places forbid entry to non-Muslims.
- Do remove your shoes when entering mosques.
- Do understand the dress code of Iranians as travelers are expected to abide by their rules.
- Don’t be afraid to ask Iranians for help. They will always help you in the best way they can.
- Don’t use the expressions "the Gulf" or "the Arabian Gulf". It is the Persian Gulf.
- Don’t give the thumbs up it is considered offensive in Iran. Although if someone gives you the thumbs up with a smile, it means they acknowledge your culture.
- Don’t try to shake hands with Iranian women if you are a man.
- Don’t try to shake hands with Iranian men if you are a woman.
- Don’t be uncomfortable when you are treated to a meal by Iranians. Hospitality is part of the Persian culture and it is NOT an imposition.
- Don’t engage in public displays of affection.
- Don’t use your left hand while eating a meal.
- Don’t ask for “Sheesha” when ordering a water pipe, as this means “crystal meth”. Ask for a “Qalyoun” instead.
- Don’t drive unless you have an international driver’s license.
- Don’t snap photos of sites where you see a ‘No Photography Allowed’ sign.
- Don’t blow your nose while you are with a company as it is considered impolite.
- Don’t bring alcohol or drugs with you into the country.
- Don't bring satellite phones with you into the country.
- Don’t take off your suit jacket without permission during a business meeting.
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