Before anything, I’d like to kindly invite you to read the article written by Alex Kovacheva, ‘a nomad girl’ who traveled to Iran in September 2019 as a solo traveler. So, her account of what she has experienced in Iran would be the best living proof.
“Err… are you sure you want to travel alone?”
“But why Iran? Perhaps, Turkey will be a better destination.”
“What makes you think you’ll be fine all alone by yourself in Iran?”
Undoubtedly, we’ve all heard these incredulous sentences our dear ones tell us each time we bring up the topic “solo female travel in Iran”. And as a matter of fact, a great number of these sentences were surprisingly successful in making us reconsider the choice or even rejecting it. You might actually praise yourself for making such a smart choice about keeping yourself safe from all the dangers Iran might serve you as soon as you step in the country. Hello? This is Iran we’re talking about. Are you sure you did not mistake it for another country? You might want to reconsider your smart choice after reading this article and seeing the Travel Risk Map of 2019.
It goes without saying, for solo traveling you need to get out of your comfort zone. But it is a unique experience giving you the chance to know more about yourself and the world. It teaches you self-confidence and makes you know more about the purpose of your life. You can make new friends along the way and follow your own heart. Maybe one day you decide to spend your time with the locals. When there is no one else to adapt, it’d be much easier to go after your interests. So, you don’t need to follow someone when he wants to do something you don’t like.
Truth be told, I felt fear in Iran the first 1 hour in Tehran. This was because because my mind was programmed to feel fear. A few hours into the trip and I was free from it all. A few days in, I felt at home. Two weeks in, I was in love with everything and everyone, already thinking about what I want to do on my next visit…
Unfortunately, some people think Iran is a country ruined by war. But let me assure you that is an utterly wrong misunderstanding. Although Iran borders countries entangled with war and other political difficulties, it is believed to be one of the safest destinations in the Middle East for travelers and tourists. Thus, Iran is completely free of any war or other military conflicts. Tourists who have visited Iran will usually regard it as a “safe country” and in some cases they might even say “safer than Europe”.
According to Independent News: “IRAN AS SAFE AS THE UK AND SLOVENIA, DENMARK AND SWITZERLAND AMONG WORLD’S LEAST DANGEROUS COUNTRIES”. Here you can read the whole article. And here you can read some helpful tips considering coming to Iran.
According to the Institute for Economics & Peace, Iran is 44th in the world in the 2018 Global Terroism Index. For comparison, Thailand is 17th, USA is 20th, UK is 28th, France is 30th and Germany is 39th. This means that Iran has less terrorism than Thailand, US, UK, France and Germany.”
Since you’re a foreigner, you’ll surely stand out among the locals. You might even be bombarded with same questions repeated over and over again from different people. Questions like “where are you from?” or “how do you like Iran?” are the most common questions you’ll face while you’re sightseeing. But these questions are only asked out of curiosity, because seeing a foreigner is something interesting and uncommon for them. So, no need to worry about their intentions. They don’t mean anything bad.
During your stay you’ll find many hospitable people kindly inviting you to their houses. Make sure to accept at least one of their invitations and that’s when a new adventure begins. Homemade foods by Iranian mothers are definitely not something to miss on your journey. So, no worries even if you are a solo traveler.
One of the best things when traveling around in big cities like Tehran is its easy public transportation. You can easily go to many different places with metro and buses no matter if you are traveling solo. And for any lady who might find it difficult to sit among men, there are separate women-only carriages in metros that provide improved privacy for them. Such a case is with the buses as well.
When travelling between the cities with a bus, there are no marked areas the separate men from women. But the drivers mostly arrange the seats in a way that a woman doesn’t sit with a man she doesn’t know. So, get yourself ready for a repetitive changing-seats process on your journey!
Needless to say, every woman around the world has dealt with at least one creepy man making crude and abusive remarks to them or in some cases stalking and harassing them. Just like other countries, such irritating people exist in Iran too. Though it’s not something that happens frequently, we’re going to have a rough time if we were to be in such trying situations. But, this feeling of unpleasantness will soon vanish if the right measures are taken. There are times when you might spot a suspicious man trying to bother you. If the person hasn’t gone too far in invading your privacy, it’s recommended to ignore him. But if you see the man is disturbing your inner peace, feel free to shout “LEAVE ME ALONE”. There will always be kind people to support and help you. Never let such annoying things ruin your stay in any country. It should be also taken into consideration that smiling at men whom you don’t know may be considered as an invitation. Ignore the strangers who try to talk to you. Moreover, try not to be in isolated areas especially late at nights.
What about being a solo female traveller? I did not experience any form of harassment or aggression. People were looking at me, yes, but I did not feel uncomfortable. I felt like they were curious rather than with malicious intents. For comparison, I traveled solo to Indonesia (not Bali, but the real Indonesia) and there I really felt bothered by the looks (and, ugh, sounds) I got. Nothing like this in Iran.
Following the cue of what to wear to be more like the local is one of the helpful measures for those who would like to try solo traveling. It is recommended to wear modest clothes, more like what local women wear especially in smaller cities.
You might think it uncomfortable to have your whole body covered in clothes. But it’s not as bad as you think. You are required to wear a hijab or scarf but it doesn’t mean you have to wear anything dark and dull. In fact, you can use this as an opportunity to take more colorful and cheerful photos of yourself. Make sure you pick your clothes in your favorite brightest colors.
For all the people desiring countries rich with various historical and natural places, Iran has proved to be quite successful in fulfilling this wish. There are many big and small cities in Iran and each of them will provide you plenty of breath-taking sights. It’s very rare for a female foreigner to visit Iran all by herself, but that’s not something impossible to happen nor something that might make you anxious. Many female travelers have visited Iran by themselves and enjoyed the safety Iran provided them. So, throw away all your delusions about a lady’s difficulties in Iran and give yourself a chance to experience new things in a country enriched with stunning nature and magnificent history. You’ll like the experience of a solo journey.
Written by: Fatemeh Amini