A lot of people were skeptical about the idea of me visiting Iran by myself. Some even asked if I was planning for a suicidal trip! To be honest, the media sometimes portray a very bias judgement and opinion on certain subject. Today’s internet world has brought the world closer, but on the flip side, it also drew some of us further apart. Blind-sided us with things we did not know were far from the truth. My trip to Iran was an eye opener! A lot of people asked me is it safe to travel to Iran? This long overdue article serves as a justice to uncover the truth and the beauty of Iran.
So what exactly was I looking for before I decided to visit Iran??? Well, I have heard many amazing stories from other travellers who safely travelled to Iran before, and I was hoping to search for some beautiful stories and experience Iran myself on what this mysterious country could offer. Indeed, Iran was simply overwhelming! Simply beyond my imagination! To some of you, you might have heard parts of the stories over my sharing recently over Mediacorp Radio and TV programme in Singapore! Now, with more detailed sharing… here’s why…
Iran Is Simply, Beautiful!
Need I say more? The photos below sums up the point! 🙂
Is It Safe To Travel To Iran? Well, In Fact, Iran Is Very Safe & Is Safer than many developed cities!
It is absolutely safe to travel to Iran! You will be surprised! I felt much safer in Iran than many major cities in the developed world! Never a moment I felt my life was in danger! Even when I was walking alone on the street after dawn was perfectly safe! At most you will get some stares, or requests to take photos (because Iranians are extremely hospitable towards foreigners). Absolutely no touting, no pestering, and no harassment! All I’ve got was beautiful smiles and genuine greetings for welcoming me to Iran, by strangers! 🙂
Well, this brings me to the next point below!
Iranians Are Very Friendly People!
Iranians are EXTREMELY friendly! Trust me on this, I have visited 84 countries so far, Iranians, hands down are the most friendliest people in the world! Everyone was welcoming me, wanted to know where I am from. Requesting a photo with me, or simply wanting to talk to me and to find out more about Singapore (where I am from). A very genuine curiosity and simple request.
When I was in Isfahan, many people were playing volleyball during the evening. I joined a group of young adults and interacted with them till midnight. Two men, who are now my friend, decided to send me back to my hotel, which was 45 mins walk away. It was a kind gesture from them, and I happily obliged! Innocently thinking that I am picked up by a car or a van! Nope I was wrong! haha We ended up riding on a small motorbike back to the hotel. Imagine 3 big adults sitting on a small little motorbike, indeed, that was a thrilling experience. Not my first time tho, but to be honest, that was a pretty cool experience! haha
Every evening, there were kind families inviting me to sit with them and join them for their picnic dinner! It was during Ramadan period, and families break their fast after a specific time. One talented young man wrote me a Persian calligraphy “May Allah Blessed You!” with my name in Persian, as a gift! I was truly touched by his friendly gesture and generosity. No where else in the world made me feel this way! Only in Iran! 🙂
Iranians Are Very Hospitable
I never had to pay for my dinner meals in Iran! As surprising as it may sound, it wasn’t because I have got a sponsored trip. Almost every night, there will be families, strangers on the street, or some Instagram followers inviting me over for dinner in Iran! You may be wondering what’s their objective? I wondered too. After my short two weeks in Iran, I realized it was just pure goodwill and generosity, and they wanted me to feel welcome in their country! They never expect anything in return, but perhaps a grateful smile and getting to know you more about your country and background! Iranians gave me a lot of warmth touches that I didn’t find in a lot of places. It was an amazing interactions with the Iranians.
When I was kinda lost in a village of Abyaneh (see the photo of the red village above). A kind hearted old couple saw I was lost, helped me out and showed me around the beautiful village. It was later, I found out they were actually ex-government officials now retiring in Tehran, the capital city of Iran. Occasionally, they will be back to their village in Abyaneh for weekend breaks. This kind couple invited me to their vacation weekend house to escape the afternoon heat, and also to show me their beautiful house. What would you be expecting to see in an old and rustic village? Well, I was simply blown away with the lavish interior of their house. You really cannot judge the book by its cover. It was amazingly beautiful! An old rustic village exterior, with a modern maisonette interior! Where else could you imagine such scene?
I hope you are not thinking of visiting Iran just because you can get free meals eh. 😐
Iran Is Relatively Cheap To Visit
Iran is relatively a cheap place to visit. Nothing is really expensive in there. Meals and Drinks can be within a few dollars in major cities. Of course, there are cheaper and more posh restaurants in Iran, up to your choice and budget. But in general, Iran is a relatively a more affordable country to visit when compared to its neighbours e.g. the Gulf countries.
Ancient Persian Civilization Suffers From History Bias
Have you ever watched the famous movie 300 by the hunklicious “Gerard Butlet”? If you watched this movie, you might dislike the 5 millions of Persians for killing the 300 Spartans or deemed heroes from Greece. You might be openly or secretly rooting for the Greek gods, and not supportive towards the evil and “ugly” monster looking Persians? Yea, if you think this way, you may be one of the victim to fall under such history bias. For many years, there were many movies and books that have shown us the bias against the ancient Persia civilization!
If you think that Persian kings were cruel conquerors based on what the movies that have shown you, you couldn’t be more wrong. The Persian was the notable empire that abolish the human slavery acts during their era! Sadly, none of the other civilizations were influenced by them on this point. The Persian king also did not mandate one common religion for the country. People had the freedom to choose their religion. Predominately, ancient Persians adopted Zoroastrianism, which forbids slavery. The Persian empire were powerful, wealthy, and united, and they were benevolent to their people. They respected women better than the Greeks and forbids slavery. The Persian empire simply have too many positive points that were not covered by the movies. A very interesting history that you should find out more when you visit. Or from my next article. 🙂
Persian Architecture Is Amazing
Mystical, Magical, Magnificent, Marvelous, and Masterful architecture! Simply amazing! I just can’t believe the scale of the things I was seeing. I was very impressed with its finest detail in the architecture design, which modern system cannot compete nor compare. See for yourself! 🙂
Iranians Are Not Entirely Muslims!
Thinking you will only see mosques in Iran? You will be surprised there are many famous churches and cathedrals sitting peacefully in the cities or towns in Iran. There are an estimated of 600 over churches and nearly 400,000s of Christians in Iran! One of the cathedral I visited was the Vank cathedral in Isfahan, built in 1606, dedicated to the Armenians deportees during the Ottoman empire war. The interior is covered with fine frescos and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work. One of the most beautiful cathedral I have ever seen.
Iranian Child Wanted Me To Tell The World “We Are Not Terrorist!”
As you may realised, I was truly blessed to be able to see this beautiful country, exploring the off beaten places and uncovering beautiful faces, hearts and stories of the kind Iranians. One last story I am going to tell before wrapping up this article was my encounter in Isfahan.
I was at the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, wanting to visit the Shah Mosque, also known as Royal Mosque or Imam Mosque after Iranian revolution. I was devasted to find out from the security guard that the Shah Mosque was closed for the preparation of the Duas (prayers) for the last day of Ramadan and Eid. A boy stood next to me realised I was disappointed, came and approached me. I explained it was such great disappointment that I came all the way and probably going to miss the only chance to see the Shah Mosque. He whispered to me and told me he could get me into the mosque as he knows the man working in the mosque. Initially, I was really skeptical about this young boy. But in desperate mode, he was my only hope.
I waited patiently, and 10 minutes later he came out with the security guard, and they allowed me to go in. I was elated and excitedly thank them for the great kindness. It means a lot to me by letting me see the beautiful mosque. The boy brought me in, and showed me everything he could in the mosque. Bringing me to the oldest Persian building containing a dome of the Grand Mosque of Zavareh, dated year 1135. The distinct, blue-colored shape dominated the skyline of Isfahan. The mosque reflecting the light of the sun, and these domes appeared like glittering turquoise gem that could be seen from miles away from Silk road. It was simply magnificent.
The boy continued to show me around in the city and unknowingly became a young tour guide to me. Bringing me to the mosques, explore the city bazaars and beautifully designed ancient bridges e.g. Khaju Bridge and Si-o-se-pol.
I figured out a generous tip for the boy would be good to show my gratitude for his help, but it was rejected several times despite several attempts. Ended up, to my persistence, he agreed to let me buy him an Iranian ice cream as a gratitude from me. Before we parted our ways, he made a little request, “Would you please help us tell the world that, Iranians are not terrorist.”. This sentence broke my heart!
To be honest, his simple request has gave me strength and enforcing the purpose of why I wanted to blog on Travel Inspiration 360! I realized I could help to open minds, inject positivity by sharing stories and experiences via my travel journeys. I am truly blessed to be able to experience this, and I hope this could inspire us to appreciate what we have, and also open up our minds towards the world we are living in today. There are far too many beautiful things that can’t be seen via traditional media (TV news, newspaper etc…) I hope this brings you a new perspective not just on Iran, but also our perceptions!
2018 has just arrived, I hope this article can inspire you not just to travel to Iran, but to also open your heart, open your mind before you open your mouth to say negative things about a place, a country, people, or things we know so little about. May 2018 be a year filled with lots of loves and happiness! May God, Allah, Buddha and all Saint and Sages be united to bless everyone in the world with peace and harmony! 🙂
If you like this story, please open up more hearts and minds by sharing this article. 🙂
Open your mind before you open your mouth. – Subroto Bagchi
Where I Booked My Tours From?
While this is NOT a sponsored article! I would like to specially thank all the staff from Friendly Iran Travel and Tours Agency Gardeshgaran, especially Ms Setare (2nd left lady in the photo below), who arranged my transfers. Iran is totally safe to visit and plan by yourself. I arranged the places I want to go, and Ms Setare simply arranged the driver and book my hotels according to my budget. Easy breezy! For those who are interested, will leave the contacts below for your consideration. 🙂
Friendly Iran Travel and Tours Agency Gardeshgaran
Address: Fars Province, Shiraz, Farhang Shahr, Rajaei Blvd, Iran
Telephone: +98 917 111 8404