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Iran

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'''Iran''' is a very friendly country. Some hitchhikers on their way to [[India]] even decide to stay in Iran instead.
== Cities ==* [[File:Iranflag.jpg|200px|thumb|left|Hitching under the flag of the Islamic Republic of IranBandar-e-Abbas]]* [[Esfahan]]* [[Khuzestan]]* [[Mashhad]]* [[Shiraz]]* [[Qazvin]]* [[Tabriz]]* [[Tehran]] (capital)* [[Yazd]]* [[Zahedan]]
== Hitchability ==
[[File:Shiraz.jpg|thumb|250px|Hitchhiker [[User:Fran|Fran]] waiting for a ride in Iran.]]
Hitchhiking is done in Iran by waving one's arm at an oncoming car, or by dribbling one of your hands. Do not gesture with your thumb up as in the West, because this is an obscene gesture in Persian culture.<br/>
<b>NOTE:</b>''In 2017 I hitched with the thumb, because several iranian hitchers told me to do so, they were doing the same. Also I noticed many times that locals gave me the thumb as a positive gesture, for example when taking selfies.''
Waiting for a ride can be a frustrating experience sometimes, but it is generally relatively easy to hitchhike here. Frustration comes when there is a driver stopping for you every few minutes and suggesting taking you to a bus terminal, and sometimes you may find it hard to explain that you travel at low budget and that you actually '''want''' to hitchhike.
When hitchhiking in the north of the country, it might occur that people stop just to ask if you need assistance unrelated to transportation. In fact, you don't stand longer than 10 minutes without some car stopping for you. It can be even a police/army vehicle (they are in every corner of Iran): they will pick you up and even stop a car for you and convince a driver to take you further.
=== Language ===
__TOC__
In Farsi language (official language in Iran spoken as a first or second language by most citizens) the word "hitchhiking" doesn't exist. The translation of this word found in English-Farsi dictionaries seem to have a confusing effect on locals of Iran since they hear it for the first time in their lives. Though some people (especially couchsurfers or young Tehranians) know about it, call it "autostop" or English "hitchhiking". The Farsi ''majani savar shodan'' seems to be the closest (means driving for free) and it is the literal translation of the dictionary though doesn't seem very widely understood also because "savar shodan" means take a lift and most often refer to shared taxis (savari) so that it may sound as "taking a shared taxi for free" (fact that can actually happen kind of often though is not very fair and respectful for the other passengers who however most probably will smile and welcome you).
 
A very easy way to hitch a lift and make cheater run away is clarify since the beginning that you are not going to pay anything asking before entering the car "bee doona pool?" (without money?) asking for confirm several times in case the driver doesn't seem nice "mutmaeen? sad dar sad?" (are you sure? 100%?) otherwise you can also use the magic word ''salavaati'' which works quite good. (this word has originally a religious background from the war time between Iran and Iraq. some people would do some favours for soldiers and asking them for ''salavaat'' which is kind of good pray instead of money.) as soon as you say this word, everyone understand what exactly you mean. (and nobody expect you to really pray.)
== Getting in ==
{{nomadwiki}}
There are three main border crossings with Turkey, including [[File:Iranian_panels_fede.JPG|thumb|left|300pxYuksekova-Esendere border crossing| Esendere]] and [[User: FedeciccoBazargan-Doğubeyazıt border crossing| FedeBazargan]] . The crossing with one of his driver holding the panel "No taxis, no shared taxis, no buses"Armenia is at [[Meghri-Nordooz border crossing|Nordooz]]. At least one with [[File:Iranianroadsignboard.jpg|thumb|250px|Azerbaijan]] and one with [[User:Halt, Stop! Reudnitz kommt.|CraigPakistan]] & Dario at the Taftan/ Mirjaveh, [[Persian_Gulf-HighwayBandar Abbas]] near and [[QomBandar Lengeh]].are sea ports if coming by [[ferry]]from [[File:ShirazUnited Arab Emirates]].jpg|thumb|250px|Hitchhiker [[User:Fran|FranChabahar]] waiting for a ride in Iran.is port if taking the boat from [[Muscat]].
Some entered Iran at the ''Yuksekova-Esendere'' border. People coming from Turkey don't get frustrated! It's amazing if you know that a hundred meters back on the Turkish side most people would understand 'autostop'. Other than the young and modern Iranian generally won't know what is hitching. Tell them you have no money. You can explain everything later in the car. '''Iran is the best country I have ever hitched.''' Even in the hottest desert on earth (you feel dying after 10 minutes) the first car stopped. Roads are in good condition. Some days I my average hitch-hiking speed topped 100 km/h!''
== Stay safe ==
[[File:Iran.JPG|thumb|250px|Hitchhiker [[User:Alex|Alex]] in Iran]]
Iran has almost the worst death toll due to traffic in the world. Be prepared to have a week or more adjustment time, even if you come from neighbouring countries. This applies mostly to crossing the road in cities, but be vigilant at all times. When on the back of a motorcycle, make sure to keep your knees tucked in next to the vehicle, as they pass very close to cars, and you might get hurt.
'''NOTE: The Trabzon fun Opium is over! The MFA codecommonly consumed, so if you are not interested, make sure to not accept dodgy looking waterpipes (hooka/invitation letter is needed there as well nownargile/"hubble bubble") at people home's, especially in the countryside, unless you ask for the contents before.'''
At least europeans get '''visa on arrival''' if coming from [[Armenia]]. Border towns are [[Meghri-Nordooz border crossing|Meghri and Nordooz]]. Border's open 24/7=== Police === Taking photographs is prohibited in many circumstances, but visa office closed on weekend (friday and thursday) especially of buildings related to policing and at night timemilitary use, maybe they let you wait/ sleep as well as people in the customs buildinguniform. Surprisingly, it is also forbidden to take pictures of license plates, there's and is considered a toilet and little shop. [http://caravanistan.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1247&p=9478#p9478 It may be closed at other times tooquite serious offence.] Works '''without invitation letter'''/ Playing dumb tourist agency code! As of late 2016 prices are 75€ for single entry and 90€ for double entry, which leaves you with two times is still the full 30 days! In between take one best way to get out of the this situation.
Unmarked police vehicles prowl the streets of Tehran at night-time. While they don'''NOTE: It seems that it is not possible to get VOA t check for Iran on Meghri border anymorehashish/opium, they do have breath analysers. We tried that today (2017 07 15) and were refused. Soldiers at the Iranian side said After a party, it is impossible and we should get back might be wise to Yerevan and apply for it consider staying thererather than going home." Stadas
[[ferries across Not all military installations and no go zones are marked on maps, so make sure you get advice from a local before you head out or stay on the Persian Gulf]] ;-)<br/>road. An example would be the Maranjab desert.
Coming overland from anywhere else you'll need to get These rules might seem conservative, especially as locals violate them all the visa beforehand in one of time. On the iranian consulates (Ankaraother hand, Erzurumas a foreigner, Istanbul, Tbilisiyou run the risk of being made an example of, ...). Without MFA code/ invitation letter so you'll be rejected however. Agencies like caravanistan.com or key2persia.com do this for you, costs about 30-40$ and takes a week or two. Or go need to [[Batumi]]. You don't need any authorisation codes, and make your own judgement calls rather than follow what people around you get your passport back, with visa, in one hour. cost was 75 € for 30 daysdo.
'''Visas In any case, foreigners are rarely troubled, and are easily forgiven transgression of "islamic" laws on arrival''' are possible if arriving ground of ignorance. Violating the dress code, talking to woman in the street is no problem at some or all international airports. Premarital sex is probably not ok, if you get caught. Stay away from demonstrations, ask your favorite search engine and don't forget to leave your experience ''here''you might be considered a journalist travelling on a tourist visa. ;-)
== Personal experiences ===== Hitchhiking as a girl as experienced by [[User talk:Mariegab‎|Mariegab‎]] ==='''MarcelProblem 1: not being able to hitchhike'''In Iran, late 2016: I got an invitation code within everybody stops to take passengers on the road, especially if you're a week from key2persia, since I dongirl. You should not forget to say you't use Paypal re traveling with no money as most of the cars become taxis when they just offered me stop for you. (but people might offer you to pay afterwardyour ride by bus). If this is too difficult, once in Iran(!) In you can also say you're traveling by truck and that's easy to understand, even if hitchhiking is not a common thing at all and most of the application I left fields people don't understand it. When somebody stops for airport you and flight number blank and my understand that you travel schedule was only by hitchhiking, as soon as he/her takes you, you become her/his host. As a girl, it often means that they feel responsible for you. Responsible also means they won't let you in a situation they judge dangerous. So leaving me on the first weekroad was something that a lot of people couldn't do and they just drove me in city centers, bus stations, without naming any hotels and still it worked, homes, etc even if I disagreed.''
There are three (?) main border crossings with Turkey'''Problem 2: physical harassment'''In the Iranian society, including [[Yuksekova-Esendere border crossing|Esendere]] boys and [[Bazargangirls are -Doğubeyazıt border crossing|Bazargan]]. The crossing with Armenia is at [[Meghriin most of the families-Nordooz border crossing|Nordooz]]separated: they go to different schools and can't have much contact, especially physical contact until they marry. At least one So it often happened that they felt more free with [[Azerbaijan]] me because I was a foreigner and one just started touching me everywhere they could until I left the car. It often started with [[Pakistan]] at Taftan/ Mirjavehmy hands that in a lot of cases where considered as a very sensual part of the body. However, if the situation was really uncomfortable, [[Bandar Abbas]] I never felt in danger in such a situation as it was really clear and [[Bandar Lengeh]] are sea ports if coming by [[ferry]] from [[United Arab Emirates]]they didn't want to have something else than just touch my arms, legs, hands or any part that they could reach. [[Chabahar]] is port if taking After getting out of the boat from [[Muscat]]car, it was over.
'''Problem 3: cultural differences'''
I put myself in difficult situations not understanding custom. For example, many couples or groups of young people like to drive around to just spend time together. So it happened that people who picked me up actually didn't want to drive me anywhere but just drive me around to spend time with me. Another problematic situation was when I accepted to go to my drivers's house to use internet. They didn't let me leave the house when I wanted to because they said the neighbors would call the police if they saw a girl going out of a boys's house and that would be a bad situation as they could think I'm a prostitute- which is one of the worse punished crime in Iran.
About shaking hands: with some people, it was pretty normal, with some other considered as a very sensual thing. In the second case, it happened that religious people refused to shake my hands or that guys trying to hit on me refused to give me back my hand. I shocked a girl saying that I had no problem checking the hand of her friend.
:Hitchhiker [[User:Halt, Stop! Reudnitz kommt.|Craig]] ''entered Iran at the 'Advantage:'Yuksekova-Esendere'' border. People coming from Turkey don't get frustrated! It's amazing if In addition to advantages you know that can have as a hundred meters back on the Turkish side most hitchhiking girl (people would understand 'autostop'. Other than trust you more, you can be faster, etc), traveling as a girl in Iran, where genders are often separated, has the young advantage that you can have a better access to intimacy and modern Iranian generally wonto women't know what s world. It is hitching. Tell them you have no money. You can explain everything later very easy to meet a lot of men in the street but being invited in a house, sleep there or having an access to the car. women'''Iran s world is probably easier for a girl, especially outside Tehran. I had the best country opportunity, for example, to spend 2 days in a girls' dormitory where I have ever hitched.''' Even could speak with a lot of different women about their lives and got invited in many houses to spend the hottest desert on earth (you feel dying after 10 minutes) night with the first car stopped. Roads are in good conditionfamily. Some days I my average hitch-hiking speed topped 100 km/h!!!''
:Hitchhiker [[User:Alex|alex]]: ''"Sadly, ==> I had met some Iranian girls who use to fly into Iran. I did not manage to get a visa in [[Yemen]] or in the [[United Arab Emirates]] beforehand (I stayed 7 days in [[Muscat]] until the embassies opened again; hitchhike and they told me at the Embassy of Iran that they can only issue for residents in contrast to what I have been told before). Flying into Iran is an option for people from some privileged countries. Larger airports in Iran can issue said it was a 14 days transit visa on the spotgreat experience. However, I guess this is not an issue had also really good experiences as most people here will travel the other direction and will only start their journey when they have this visa (since this is the only visa Germans can not get at the border)."'' == Sleeping ==Finding a place to sleep girl alone hitchhiking in Iran is generally as easy as knocking the first door you come across. If you get tired of the unrelenting hospitality however, the city parks offer an excellent alternative. Many parks, even in big cities, are designated as camping zones, with toilets open all night, sometimes also shower and wifi. Camp fires are tolerated, but it's best to ask before. These parks are called '''park muzaafer (پرك مسافر)''', which translates to traveller's park.Though in some cities (e.g. [[Hamedan]]) there are clear panels showing "forbidden camping" and policedo come to unset tents (often used as nest by couples young or not); arriving late at night and setting off the tent early in the morning you will avoid any annoyance for sure.Sleeping in mosques is also possible, even though you You should ask for permission beforehand. In this case, make sure you respect the segregation of sexes when travelling as a couple. [[User:Harveypekar|Harveypekar]] slept in a mosque close to Mesr, only to overhear the Imam the next morning, explaining other travellers be aware that it's impossible to sleep in the mosque. The imam was friendly enough though to show the other group the other side, as to leave him sleep his fill. It custom is possible to camp in the deserts as well, but be sure you cannot be seen from the road to prevent attention really different from Europe and even Turkey and that the authorities. They can send you to jail for being on some site you're not allowed to be onlaw protects men better than women. Note that while the desert might be dazzling hot during the day, it can get '''extremely cold''' at night, so be sure to take some extra clothes with you for the night! == Personal experiences ==
===Hitchhiker [[User_talk:Ivan Đogić|Ivan Đogić]]===
Despite these quirks Iran remains in its deserved place on every hitchhikers bucket-list. Astonishingly beautiful, superlatively kind and generous people, great food, and fascinating culture. Just keep these things and the other issues already written about in mind and you will have an amazing time.
One more thing - try to hitch where there aren't too many passerbys or people sitting around, as they will invariably come up to you and not leave, crowding you out and making it hard for you to hitchhike. It can be very hard to make them understand hitchhiking, and that it is a *choice*.
 
== Cities ==
[[File:Iran.JPG|thumb|250px|Hitchhiker [[User:Alex|Alex]] in Iran]]
* [[Bandar-e-Abbas]]
* [[Esfahan]]
* [[Khuzestan]]
* [[Mashhad]]
* [[Shiraz]]
* [[Qazvin]]
* [[Tabriz]]
* [[Tehran]] (capital)
* [[Yazd]]
* [[Zahedan]]
 
== Stay safe ==
 
Iran has almost the worst death toll due to traffic in the world. Be prepared to have a week or more adjustment time, even if you come from neighbouring countries. This applies mostly to crossing the road in cities, but be vigilant at all times. When on the back of a motorcycle, make sure to keep your knees tucked in next to the vehicle, as they pass very close to cars, and you might get hurt.
 
Opium is commonly consumed, so if you are not interested, make sure to not accept dodgy looking waterpipes (hooka/nargile/"hubble bubble") at people home's, especially in the countryside, unless you ask for the contents before.
 
=== Police ===
Taking photographs is prohibited in many circumstances, especially of buildings related to policing and military use, as well as people in uniform. Surprisingly, it is also forbidden to take pictures of license plates, and is considered a quite serious offence. Playing dumb tourist is still the best way to get out of this situation.
 
Unmarked police vehicles prowl the streets of Tehran at night-time. While they don't check for hashish/opium, they do have breath analysers. After a party, it might be wise to consider staying there rather than going home.
 
Not all military installations and no go zones are marked on maps, so make sure you get advice from a local before you head out or stay on the road. An example would be the Maranjab desert.
 
These rules might seem conservative, especially as locals violate them all the time. On the other hand, as a foreigner, you run the risk of being made an example of, so you need to make your own judgement calls rather than follow what people around you do.
 
In any case, foreigners are rarely troubled, and are easily forgiven transgression of "islamic" laws on ground of ignorance. Violating the dress code, talking to woman in the street is no problem at all. Premarital sex is probably not ok, if you get caught. Stay away from demonstrations, you might be considered a journalist travelling on a tourist visa.
 
== Hitchhiking as a girl as experienced by [[User talk:Mariegab‎|Mariegab‎]] ==
[[File:PC070561.JPG|thumb|left|300px| [[User: Fedecicco| Fede]] hitchhiking together with four girls (fourth taking picture)]]
 
'''Problem 1: not being able to hitchhike'''
In Iran, everybody stops to take passengers on the road, especially if you're a girl. You should not forget to say you're traveling with no money as most of the cars become taxis when they stop for you. (but people might offer you to pay your ride by bus). If this is too difficult, you can also say you're traveling by truck and that's easy to understand, even if hitchhiking is not a common thing at all and most of the people don't understand it.
When somebody stops for you and understand that you travel by hitchhiking, as soon as he/her takes you, you become her/his host. As a girl, it often means that they feel responsible for you. Responsible also means they won't let you in a situation they judge dangerous. So leaving me on the road was something that a lot of people couldn't do and they just drove me in city centers, bus stations, hotels, homes, etc even if I disagreed.
 
'''Problem 2: physical harassment'''
In the Iranian society, boys and girls are -in most of the families- separated: they go to different schools and can't have much contact, especially physical contact until they marry. So it often happened that they felt more free with me because I was a foreigner and just started touching me everywhere they could until I left the car. It often started with my hands that in a lot of cases where considered as a very sensual part of the body. However, if the situation was really uncomfortable, I never felt in danger in such a situation as it was really clear and they didn't want to have something else than just touch my arms, legs, hands or any part that they could reach. After getting out of the car, it was over.
 
'''Problem 3: cultural differences'''
I put myself in difficult situations not understanding custom. For example, many couples or groups of young people like to drive around to just spend time together. So it happened that people who picked me up actually didn't want to drive me anywhere but just drive me around to spend time with me. Another problematic situation was when I accepted to go to my drivers's house to use internet. They didn't let me leave the house when I wanted to because they said the neighbors would call the police if they saw a girl going out of a boys's house and that would be a bad situation as they could think I'm a prostitute- which is one of the worse punished crime in Iran.
About shaking hands: with some people, it was pretty normal, with some other considered as a very sensual thing. In the second case, it happened that religious people refused to shake my hands or that guys trying to hit on me refused to give me back my hand. I shocked a girl saying that I had no problem checking the hand of her friend.
 
'''Advantage:'''
In addition to advantages you can have as a hitchhiking girl (people trust you more, you can be faster, etc), traveling as a girl in Iran, where genders are often separated, has the advantage that you can have a better access to intimacy and to women's world. It is very easy to meet a lot of men in the street but being invited in a house, sleep there or having an access to the women's world is probably easier for a girl, especially outside Tehran. I had the opportunity, for example, to spend 2 days in a girls' dormitory where I could speak with a lot of different women about their lives and got invited in many houses to spend the night with the family.
 
==> I met some Iranian girls who use to hitchhike and they said it was a great experience. I had also really good experiences as a girl alone hitchhiking in Iran. You should be aware that the custom is really different from Europe and even Turkey and that the law protects men better than women.
 
== Links ==
 
* [http://abgefahren.hitchbase.com/DE/blogs/alex/20090213/just-hitching-rides-journey-eid-christmas Just hitching rides: A journey from Eid to Christmas], Abgefahren Blogs
* The female blogger of [http://youarealltourists.blogspot.com The Tourist] has been to Iran several times and hitchhiked on small and big roads, [http://youarealltourists.blogspot.de/search/label/Iran from city to city, and through tiny mountain villages]. She also has [http://youarealltourists.blogspot.de/2008/08/hitching-in-middle-east.html hitchhiking tips for the Middle East].

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