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Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

by Prettyhighflyer Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 1:12 AM

Hi I am considering travelling by train from my home, Istanbul to Iran next Spring. Living in an Islamic country, albeit secular, I am aware of the need to cover my head, which I do here most of the time so no problems. Does anybody have any advice, tips, on where to stay and what to see and do. I am single mature lady travelling, frequent visitor and traveller to the Middle East.

Thanks

Georgia

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27 Answers
  • nada1712's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by nada1712 Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 1:26 AM

    Frankly I would be very wary of travelling alone as a single woman in Iran. What passport do you have? I would dearly love to go to Iran but the political situation there is far too fragile for me at the moment. Have you been following the news about the American hikers who strayed across the border? They have been in prison for a year.

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  • Prettyhighflyer's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Prettyhighflyer Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    I am British, with a British passport, but with many Arabic stamps....I am taking your advice for the moment and will hold off visiting until the environment is quieter....thanks for the advice.

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  • Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by a_kaffash Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    Hello
    is it just a tour around Iran? which cities of Iran you want to visit?

    Actually no problem with being woman and aloan!
    I have visited some ladies who were traveling on their own with no problem

    if you want to be more experienced I can send you their mail address to contact them and ask them if they had any problem!

    and about that Hikers, also It's so unfair, but they had entered illegally to Iran,

    wishes

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  • hawkhead's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by hawkhead Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 4:57 AM

    I would have no hesitation at all about travelling solo in Iran. However, the distances are great and some of the sites (such as Persepolis) are a ways from the nearest town/city. But, do not let that deter you. The train service, albeit limited, is very good and there are lots of long distance buses, plus flights between cities are good. We flew from Yazd to Tehran in a band-new plane and the crew were wonderful.

    I would imagine that the best way to start off is by flying to Tehran. I don't know for certain but I would think that flights outside of Iran all go to Tehran. flights from London, for example, arrive in the wee small hours, as do all flights from 'the west' but flights from other Middle Eastern countries arrive at more civilised hours.

    Dress should cover your arms and shoulders but needn't be long. However, should be knee-length with trousers underneath. You will find that the more conventionally dressed you are, the easier it is to meet people. Myself and a friend were dressed thus and we were the ones that the people approached, especially the women. Head scarf is required but you will be amazed at the variety of ways it is worn, from barely on the back of the head to totally wrapped around the face with not an inch of hair showing!!

    I found the Iranians to be extremely friendly, courteous and interested and open. At no time at all did I feel threatened, intimidated or unsafe. It is not at all like it is portrayed in the west and you will find that a great many preconceived ideas and conceptions are pleasantly shattered.

    Go and enjoy and be enriched!!

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  • rkearns's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by rkearns Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    one of my friends went to tehran alone, (woman) and wore the hijab and had no problems. there were places that only women go to congregate, but as a traveler, she had no problems.

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  • nada1712's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by nada1712 Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    Amir .. Salaam alayakom! ...Its not 'unfair' about the hikers ....its true. People enter Britain illegaly all the time but they are not put in jail without charge and issues about entering the UK are sorted out or they are deported back to their home country...thats the difference. I would dearly love to visit your beautiful and extraordinary country and I have met many Iranians outside Iran and they are fascinating and interesting people. I have no issue with the people and its absolutely nothing to do with Islam. I visit many Islamic countries. However, I do have issue with the Iranian political system for travellers.

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  • Doctor38's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Doctor38 Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    nada1712
    We TOO have issues with the American or British political system but that should NOT have any bearing when we discuses an issue like is tourism safe or not. You have never set a foot in Iran.

    Iran is a safe country to visit, probably safer than Europe or North America

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  • hawkhead's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by hawkhead Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Absolutely!

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  • davesut's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by davesut Online Now Sep 13, 2010 at 11:56 AM

    Get in touch with VT member suvanki, she told me of a fab holiday she had there.

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  • Maykoopman's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Maykoopman Online Now Sep 14, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Absolutely no problem travelling alone. There are busses all over the country and I imagine you wont do funny tours in the mountains like those Americans. In Shiraz go to a tour agency recomended in lonely planet and they take you, easier than going alone and more entertaining. I travelled all over but I speak the language, although most young people speak some English. Use your common sense that is all which is needed and take along some gifts.
    In Iran is everything available, dont load yourself with lugguage to drag along. If you stay with people in a private house and you dont know them through friends from home, dont leave your money unattended, use a money belt and dont change too much money at once as this leads to confusion. Well, this precaution is valid for all over the world.
    Have a nice trip.

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  • Prettyhighflyer's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Prettyhighflyer Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 4:27 AM

    As a resident of Istanbul for 4 years I am used to dressing the Islamic style for women....my legs are never open to the elements even in the extreme heat of summer like this year!! I am adopted Muslim customs and integrated thoroughly into Turkish life and culture, although not converted to Islam, my head is covered when I am outside and always when I travel in the Middle East. However, I do know that the political situation in Iran is difficult and, like other Middle Eastern countries, i.e.Lebanon, (Beirut), the environment is a problem, and although I Have received encouragement from 99% of the replies here I am a little uncomfortable for the moment. I am British, with a British passport, which has seen and stamps of many Arabic countries!! I will continue to give my travel there some thought and consideration, it is on MY WISH list to visit for the Islamic cultural heritage more than anything, and of course the country itself which I know to be breathtaking. Thanks guys for your help and advice.

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  • Prettyhighflyer's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Prettyhighflyer Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 4:30 AM

    thank you!!! yes, the email addresses of the ladies travelling would be great!! I am a frequent and experienced traveller in the Middle East and MORE than comfortable travelling alone anywhere with no problems, Elhamdullah!! but it's Iran's political situation, whereby they have THEIR OWN RULES that concerns me....living here in Turkiye and intergrated fully into Turkish lifestyle and culture, we hear more in this country about the environmental issues, ie. the political stability, then maybe you guys in the West hear......but your advice is great and I look forward to receiving the email addresses, here is mine if it helps you, georgie_dicker@yahoo.co.uk.

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  • Prettyhighflyer's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Prettyhighflyer Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 4:32 AM

    exactly!!! your reply about the political instability there is my fear, and as I have said in a reply to another member, they seem to have THEIR OWN RULES about travellers etc.,....regardless of the passport the traveller has!!

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  • nada1712's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by nada1712 Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 8:06 AM

    You are right to feel uncomfortable. I have just spoken to a friend of mine who has travelled/lived extensively in the Middle East and Iran. She has re-iterated my words which appear not to be popular on this forum. The question was 'a single woman travelling alone in Iran' She said definitely 'no'. But by all means join a guided group (of all women). One of the points she brought up was that Iranian women do not travel alone (and here I mean solo not a group of women travelling without men. She said 'the unusual position you would be in, in itself could bring about unwanted interest. Let alone, not speaking fluent Arabic' (she speaks Arabic) if you get into difficulties. For what its worth.......

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  • rkearns's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by rkearns Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 9:12 AM

    @maykoopman
    hahaha funny tours in the mountains like the americans? what do you mean by that?

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  • Maykoopman's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Maykoopman Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Just for information:in Iran FARSI is spoken and not Arabic!

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  • Doctor38's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Doctor38 Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 10:25 PM

    nada1712, Iranian speak Farsi NOT Arabic. Speaking Arabic will NOT help you a bit in Iran. maybe you need to lean few basic things about Iran.

    So far we have established that nada1712 have never visited Iran, and seem to known very little about Iran but these minor details will not stop her from rendering an expert opinion about that country.

    For the record, NO body is claiming that every single solo female traveler will have a pleasant experience and trouble free in Iran. Some people will have difficulty and might feel uncomfortable. So I don't doubt that some won't like it. Welcome to the real world of travel.

    Prettyhighflyer, If you are still uncomfortable going to Iran, don't go.

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  • hawkhead's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by hawkhead Online Now Sep 15, 2010 at 11:47 PM

    I'm with you, Doctor 38, but it's impossible to preach to the converted!!

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  • nada1712's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by nada1712 Online Now Sep 16, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    Sorry, ....I mean't Farsi not Arabic!

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  • 37SingleMaleInDubai1's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by 37SingleMaleInDubai1 Online Now Sep 17, 2010 at 3:34 AM

    HI all,
    Georgia for the first time traveling to Iran I suggest you take a tour package. For the first few days get to know the place, people and norm of things. If you decide to stay for longer you can shift to a new place. I believe Iran us as safe as many european countries, but your situation of not being able to speak Farsi makes it somehow difficult to take care of your daily communication!! Also first you need to apply for a Visa which may be a difficult thing!!
    Whatever your plans I wish you well.

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  • Prettyhighflyer's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Prettyhighflyer Online Now Sep 17, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    Thank you for your advice. As a British Citizin with a British passport what could be the problem for gaining a visa??? from what I have read during my research the British are welcome in the country, unlike the Americans....so if you know something that I do not know please advise!! My home is Istanbul as I have stated but the Iranian Embassy is here as are all the other Middle Eastern/Islamic Embassies, applying for Suriyan visas here has never been a problem for me. Yes, agree, Farsi is not on my language list...however, I do have a little Arabic and I was also informed that, in Tehran especially, a lot of people speak English, not perfect, but well enough, and, if I travel with a tour as you suggest, which is advisable, but for me not my style...then I would have thought the language barrier would not be a problem. Again thanks for you advice and keep it coming!!!-::)))

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  • Prettyhighflyer's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by Prettyhighflyer Online Now Sep 17, 2010 at 11:00 PM

    you are right...all my travels throughout the Middle East I have felt safe and comfortable, travelling alone, most times on transport that is for the locals!! me being the only European woman on the bus.....but feeling totally relaxed, well looked after by the locals. It seems there are a lot of different opinions about travelling in Iran, maybe the media should look to their own and stop fear mongering, living in Istanbul I often hear people talking, or saying to me, is it safe to live there!! offffffffffffffff is it safe to live anywhere..........................-::))) thank guys

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  • hawkhead's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by hawkhead Online Now Sep 17, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    When we were in Iran, lots of people, especially the young, were only too keen to practice their English with us. One thing we found was that people wanted to have their photo taken with us.

    Quite some time ago, in the Iran Forum, there was a girl who was asking about travelling alone, which she did ultimately do, with a guide. I am sorry that I cannot remember her name but the thing I do remember is that although she felt perfectly safe and unhassled, she did feel rather isolated. Perhaps if you look through the forum you will come across her, it was about a year ago.

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  • 37SingleMaleInDubai1's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by 37SingleMaleInDubai1 Online Now Sep 18, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    Hi Georgia,
    Well when I said receiving visa is difficult I didn't mean it is impossible!! :-) Living in Istanbul it should be easy to receive a visa but always you would be asked the purpose of your travel (which is obvious as a tourist). Travelling by a tour operator may make it easier as they may apply on your behalf!!
    Good luck in your plans!!

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  • nada1712's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by nada1712 Online Now Sep 18, 2010 at 3:36 AM

    I have obviously not have made it clear to some about what I meant by 'travelling alone' To me 'travelling alone' means you are by yourself from the time you get off the aircraft, finding your own taxi/bus, finding a hotel, walking around cities, villages etc all without a guide or driver. If you have a guide or driver to my mind that does not constitute 'travelling alone' ..it is travelling accompanied, and that is totally different. There are two criteria where I would not 'travel alone' as set out above. 1. is a considerable lack of the local language skills (I do not expect people to speak English) and 2. the political situation. I rest my case.....

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  • DAO's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by DAO Online Now Sep 18, 2010 at 4:21 AM

    You have recieved a lot of great advice. Travel by train overnight is cheap, efficient and a great cultural experience. Cars of 8 people are by sex. I was adopted by 2 guys who then took me home a few days later. Also air travel is cheap, but not as safe due to lack of airplane parts on some models of planes.

    Have a great time.

    All the best,

    DAO

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  • ayeganeh's Profile Photo

    Re: Iran safe for single woman travelling alone??

    by ayeganeh Online Now Nov 30, 2013 at 8:54 PM

    I hope to visit you in IRAN . you be sure that IRAN is safe for single women. women in IRAN wear scarf traditionally.

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