In July 2023, American traveler Emily Crider embarked on a journey to Iran, keen to explore the country’s rich history, culture, and heritage. Documenting her experiences and tips, she sought to enlighten potential travelers about navigating the complexities of visiting Iran as a US passport holder.
Tour Company and Visa Application Process
Crider used the services of Arian Tour, a locally based company that she praised for its efficient, comprehensive, and fast communication. Maryam, the senior tour manager, was instrumental in helping her acquire a visa within a couple of weeks – a significantly reduced timeline compared to the estimated 4-6+ weeks typically quoted for US travelers. The tour itself was reportedly well organized, and Crider’s guide, Farid, came in for special praise for his wealth of knowledge.
However, in the comments user named Soko Lov expressed doubt about the possibility of US tourists getting their visas approved within such a short time frame, considering the current geopolitical relations. She also highlighted that Crider and her companions might have received preferential treatment as “influencers,” a claim Arian Tour had recently admitted to in an attempt to promote Iran’s tourism potential.
Internet Access in Iran
During her trip, Crider did not purchase a SIM card but found the Wi-Fi access satisfactory in Tehran and decent in Kashan and Isfahan. However, she encountered restrictions on accessing the Play Store and certain social media platforms, for which a VPN was required. Her tour guide provided her with his login information for the VPN “Outline” after five other VPNs failed to work.
Sights and Accommodation
Crider’s journey led her through Tehran, Kashan, and Isfahan, cities bursting with historic landmarks and lesser-known gems. In Tehran, she loved the vibrant atmosphere of the Darband area at night. In Kashan, the Agha Bozorg Mosque was a highlight, as was the melodious environment under the Khaju Bridge in Isfahan. She also appreciated the contrasting views of Naqsh-e Jahan Square during the day and at night.
She stayed at the Razzaz Boutique Hotel in Tehran and the Suite Hotel in Isfahan, both of which she recommended for their comfort, location, and delicious Iranian breakfast buffets. However, it’s worth noting that Razzaz Boutique Hotel is owned by Arian Tour, the same company that managed her tour.
Experiencing the Local Culture
Beyond the landmarks and architecture, the people of Iran left a significant impression on Crider. The kindness and hospitality of the locals made the trip even more memorable for her, despite it being a low season for tourism. Lov, however, questioned this assertion, doubting that July could be considered a low season for tourism in Iran.
Despite the contrasting viewpoints, Crider’s account provides valuable insights for US passport holders intending to visit Iran. Nonetheless, potential travelers must conduct comprehensive research and approach such accounts critically, taking into account their unique circumstances and travel requirements.
This article is based on a post in Everyday Passport Stamp facebook group. Photo credit: Emily Crider