Yes! It happened! After a long journey, you’re finally landing in Iran. As people get ready to disembark male travelers notice that all ladies are covering their hair, while female travelers follow this example. You’re now only a few steps away from passing immigration and setting your first footsteps on Iranian ground. You feel excited to start your Iran adventure; to see amazing architecture, learn about ancient history, see some spectacular nature and to meet some of the most hospitable people on the planet. And you might just feel a little nervous about finding your way in this huge, unfamiliar land.
Luckily there’s nothing to worry about as you’ll soon discover the friendly nature of the Iranians. But before you’ll meet them, here’s some hands-on information with four things to do after arrival at Imam Khomeini airport; everything you need to know for a smooth start of your journey.
The first thing every traveler comes across is immigration. Tourists visiting in Iran can either apply for a visa on arrival or obtain a visa from any Iranian Embassy before they fly. If you already have your visa the process is super simple; just follow the signs to immigration, have your passport stamped by the officer and walk your way into the arrival hall.
Those planning to visit with a visa on arrival should also follow the signs to immigration but first, go to the counter left of it. You will there hand over;
– Your passport; needs to be valid for a minimum of six months.
– Your E-visa application form, submitted at least two days prior to your travel. (If applied for, it’s not necessary for a visa on arrival, but it will speed things up)
– An English copy of your travel insurance, specifically stating that Iran is covered. If you don’t have a travel insurance you can easily get at the counter for about 15 Euros.
* Official reports require you to bring your travel itinerary if you’ve already made travel arrangements and a resume or curriculum vitae. Both might be asked for.
The officer might ask you some simple questions but will soon give you a receipt to pay for the visa in Euros at the bank next door. Remember that foreign cards don’t work in Iran so be sure to bring enough cash! After payment, return the receipt to the officer and wait a couple of minutes for your visa to be issued. You can then continue to the immigration point and enter the country.
Read everything about getting a visa for Iran in this complete Iran visa guide.
Now that you have entered Iran it’s important to exchange a small amount of money to make your way into the city. Upon arrival, you will find lots of people offering you to exchange money. The Melli, Melat, Saman and Sepah bank also offer exchange services in the arrival hall. The best place to change your money at the airport is, however, the Sarafi (exchange shop) in de departure hall on the second floor. They offer much better rates compared to the banks and are an official place to exchange your money.
Once you’ve reached the city go to Ferdowsi Square for the best rates or use the convenient service of MahCard instead.
For more information about money in Iran, be sure to read this post with ‘Everything you need to know about exchanging money and finding the right exchange rate’ in Iran.
Although more and more restaurants, hotels and cafe’s in Iran provide customers with free WIFI it might be desirable to have access to your own mobile network at any time. Luckily for travelers, it’s not at all difficult to obtain a sim card. With Hamrahe Aval and Irancell, the countries’ two largest phone providers conveniently located at the arrival hall, it’s super easy to purchase a sim card just after arrival.
Read all about different sim cards, validity and re-charging options in this blog post.
Now that you had a good start at the airport it’s time to make your way to the city. There are generally three ways to do so;
Taxis are the easiest and most straightforward way to get to your destination. And it won’t be hard to find one. In fact, you’ve probably been offered a couple of rides by now. Drivers and prepaid taxi companies are everywhere and prices should be fixed around 85.000 Toman (equals 850.000 Rial) for a trip to any destination in the city. Prepaid taxis generally accept dollars or euro’s to save you the hassle of the exchange.
Get the most out of your newly bought sim card and start exploring taxi app ‘Snap’ the Iranian equivalent of Uber. Download the app and sign up with your phone number. Set your origin-and-end destination, accept the price and order your ride. It’s as simple as that.
The Snapp app is easy to use and works in Persian, English, and French. Each ride has several transportation options with different price indications. Whichever option you choose, be sure to pay a lot less compared to prepaid taxi’s.
One tip for the very adventurous solo traveler; prevent getting stuck in traffic and order a motor-cycle taxi if you dare. It will surely be one memorable introduction to Tehran’s hectic traffic system. And you’ll immediately understand why the Iranian authority obliges you to have a medical insurance 😉
The third option to reach the city is by metro. Tehran is blessed with an extended metro network that can take you close to everywhere in the city. Depending on the hour of the day the metro can be a quite relaxed or a jam-packed option. It will most certainly lead to encounters with curious, welcoming Iranians who are eager to meet you.
From the arrival hall, walk outside and cross the road to the opposite building. From here you easily follow the signs to the metro station.
At the Imam Khomeini airport station, you’ll need to buy one ticket of 7500 Toman (75.000 Rial) to get you everywhere in the city. As there’s no direct line to the city center you will need to transfer at the Shahr-e Aftab station, conveniently the last stop on this line. A trip to Shar-e Aftab will take around 30 minutes. From there you can only transfer to the red line, line 1, and reach the city center in about one hour. Metro maps can be found inside every metro, at the stations, and with the Tehran Metro app. Every metro shows the name of the next station in both Persian and English.
The airport metro operates both ways from morning to evening with an interval of 80 minutes. According to the following times;
|IKA- Shahre Aftab||06:50||08:10||09:30||10:50||12:10||13:30||14:50||16:10||17:30||18:50||20:10|
|Shahre Aftab – IKA||06:10||07:30||08:50||10:10||11:30||12:50||14:10||15:30||16:50||18:10||19:30|
That’s it! For more tips and advice on traveling in Iran be sure to check the link in this article or browse through the MahCard blog.
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