Easy To Travel On A Budget!
Type Of Travel
My two trips to Iran showed a major difference: on the first trip in April 2014, we were 2 and hence shared quite a few expenditures (double rooms, sharing cabs…). In September 2017, I was traveling solo, and had to cover everything on my own. This makes a significant difference, especially in a country like Iran, where you will have to rely on chartered taxis further afield and where you will more often than not pay the same for a single and for a double room…
Both trips were a “flashpacking” to mid-range standard of travel. As far as hotels are concerned, I mostly chose rather budget guesthouses or in more remote areas standard hotels. Otherwise, I was not pinching pennies. Several times I chartered taxis, even for longer trips, or flew on long distances. This added up, but it is an undeniable comfort, also enhancing my flexibility.
Itinerary & Time Of The Visit
In April 2014, I spent 2 weeks in Iran and covered the cultural heartland of Iran (most of which has now turned into the “Tourist Trail”, except Na’In & Qom): Shiraz, Esfahan, Na’In, Yazd, Kashan, Qom and last but not least Teheran.
In September 2017, I spent 3.5 weeks and wanted to discover less visited parts of the country and covered Tabriz & Northwest Iran (Zanjan, Soltaniyeh, Takht-e Soleiman); Teheran; Mashhad & Torbat-e Jam; the Southwest of Iran (Sushtar, Choqa Zanbil & Shush); before returning on the “Tourist Trail” (Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd & Shiraz).
Iran is a cheap country to travel, though it is much, much cheaper for couples than for solo travelers, as many expenditures will be the same for one or two (hotels, taxis…)
Beware that the times when you could just show up without reservations are long gone, and that you should plan at least a few days in advance on popular routes for transportation and book hotels ahead on the “Tourist Trail”, as there is a lock of good and fairly priced accommodation. On the “Tourist Trail”, prices have increased significantly over the last 3 years, especially hotels and entrance fees, where a dual system applies (foreigners paying up to 10 times more than Iranians).
|Costs per Person per Day in €||2014||2017|
|Long Distances’ Transport||€ 3,65||€ 10,80|
|Short Distances’ Transport||€ 2,75||€ 1,90|
|Total Transport||€ 6,40||€ 12,70|
|Hotels||€ 15,00||€ 28,80|
|Restaurants & Food||€ 6,80||€ 6,20|
|Drinks & Going Out||€ 0,00||€ 0,00|
|Every Day Life (& Souvenirs)||€ 6,10||€ 0,60|
|Total Living||€ 27,90||€ 35,60|
|Visits & Tours||€ 11,90||€ 5,80|
|Activities||€ 0,00||€ 0,00|
|Total Tours & Activities||€ 11,90||€ 5,80|
|Total Country:||€ 46,20||€ 54,10|
Hostels & Hotels
There is definitely a lack of reasonably priced hotels, especially in popular cities like Kashan, Esfahan, Yazd & Shiraz. Therefore, you should book in advance if you want to enjoy the better, fairly priced options.
|City||Hostel / Hotel
|Type of Room||Price
per Night (€)
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Shiraz (2014)||Park Saadi Hotel||Hotel||Double Room||51,40||***|
|Esfahan (2014)||Jolfa Hotel||Hostel||Double Room||27,90||***|
|Na’In (2014)||Na’In Tourist Inn||Hotel||Suite||28,60||****|
|Yazd (2014)||Orient Hotel (Marco Polo)||Guesthouse||Double Room||19,10||***|
|Kashan (2014)||Negin House||Guesthouse||Double Room||35,70||***|
|Qom (2014)||Khorshid Hotel||Hotel||Superior Room||45,60||**|
|Teheran (2014)||Khayyam Hotel||Hostel||Double Room||27,90||**|
|Tabriz (2017)||Darya Guesthouse||Guesthouse||Single Room||10,50||**|
|Zanjan (2017)||Park Hotel||Business Hotel||Single Room||41,90||***|
|Takab (2017)||Hotel Ranji||Guesthouse||Double Room||28,80||***|
|Teheran (2017)||Iran Markazi Hotel||Hotel||Single Room||41,90||***|
|Mashhad (2017)||Vali’s Non Smoking Homestay||Guesthouse||Double Room with Shared Bathroom||17,50||**|
|Shushtar (2017)||Hotel Jahangardi||Hotel||Single Room||19,30||***|
|Sush (2017)||Apadana Hotel||Hotel||Single Room||27,90||***|
|Kashan (2017)||Kamalalmolk Traditional Guesthouse||Hotel||Single Room||30,10||****|
|Esfahan (2017)||Hasht Behesht Appartment Hotel||Hotel||Single Room||43,00||****|
|Yazd (2017)||Orient Hotel (Marco Polo)||Hotel||Double Room||39,70||****|
|Shiraz (2017)||Sasan Hotel||Hotel||Single Room||28,20||***|
Restaurants & Food
It was hard to spend 7 € per person per day on food, although mostly I ate at touristy places. The local restaurants I dropped in were usually inexpensive eateries. Only a few times did I stop at a fancy restaurant… Which immediately reflects in the price level! Note that the prices bellow are only 2017.
|Type of Meal||Type of
(1 to 5 Stars)
|Tabriz||Hamed No||Dinner||Local Restaurant||1,72||***|
|Teheran||Khayyam Traditional Restaurant||Lunch||Restaurant||9,02||*****|
|Mashhad||Vali’s Non Smoking Homestay||Breakfast||Guesthouse||1,68||***|
|Mashhad||Vali’s Non Smoking Homestay||Diner||Guesthouse||4,19||****|
|Kashan||Mirors Restaurant – Saraya Ameriha Boutique Hotel||Diner||Restaurant||9,02||*****|
|Esfahan||Khan Gostar Restaurant||Diner||Café||4,51||****|
|Yazd||Marco Polo / Orient Hotel||Diner||Restaurant||7,62||****|
|Shiraz||Haji Baba Restaurant||Diner||Restaurant||2,79||****|
Transport is incredibly cheap, and really efficient in Iran. All in all we spent 6,5 € per person per day on transports, even though we took a plane from Teheran to Shiraz, which was 35 €…
Buses and Trains are extremely cheap – for example Yazd to Kashan by train, a 390km ride, was less 5 €.
From Qom to Teheran, 130km, we traveled by taxi for 25€. So even such extravaganzas won’t have a large impact on your budget.
|From||To||Type of Transport||Distance
|Yazd (2014)||Kashan||Train (Express)||390||03:15||4,50|
|Kashan (2014)||Qom||Taxi (Chartered)||113||01:30||11,90|
|Qom (2014)||Teheran||Taxi (Chartered)||130||02:15||23,80|
|Tabriz (2017)||Zanjan||VIP Bus||249||3,3||€ 5,37|
|Zanjan (2017)||Soltaniyeh & Back||Savari||86||1,2||€ 2,36|
|Zanjan (2017)||Takab||Savari||184||2,8||€ 4,73|
|Takab (2017)||Takht-e Soleiman & Back||Taxi||84||1,3||€ 17,18|
|Takab (2017)||Zanjan||Savari||184||2,8||€ 5,15|
|Zanjan (2017)||Teheran||VIP Bus||342||4,2||€ 5,15|
|Teheran (2017)||Mashhad||Plane||900||1,6||€ 47,25|
|Mashhad (2017)||Torbat-e Jam & Back||Bus & Savari||332||5,1||€ 4,73|
|Mashhad (2017)||Ahvaz||Plane||1.623||1,9||€ 60,96|
|Ahvaz (2017)||Shushtar||Taxi||98||1,2||€ 16,11|
|Shushtar (2017)||Shush||Taxi||82||1,3||€ 15,04|
|Shush (2017)||Andimeshk||Taxi||41||0,7||€ 8,16|
|Andimeshk (2017)||Kashan||VIP Bus||543||10,0||€ 10,74|
|Kashan (2017)||Esfahan||Taxi (Shared)||218||2,5||€ 15,04|
|Esfahan (2017)||Yazd||Taxi||323||4,2||€ 34,37|
|Yazd (2017)||Shiraz||Bus||441||6,3||€ 7,73|
Tours & Activities
THAT will be a big chunk of your budget! Admission fees to museums, mosques, tombs or even gardens are high, and there are very few sights where you do not have to pay. Quite often I had to rent a taxi for the whole day to reach places that were outside of the city I stayed in (Persepolis, Abyaneh, Meybod & Khoronaq, Zein – O – Din) and those journeys were not that cheap. Of course, you can take one of the tours now on offer almost everywhere on the “Tourist Trail”, but it is not significantly cheaper and far less flexible, especially if you want to avoid the crowds, starting very early.
Splurge At Reasonable Costs?
Chartering Taxis is a great way to increase your comfort and remains very reasonable. I did it on many occasions, and that significantly enhanced my flexibility and offered me very relaxing trips.
More comfortable hotels, like in Shiraz, will have a real impact on your overall budget, as comfortable hotels are high in demand with tour groups.
Enjoying exquisite Iranian cuisine is also quite a cheap affair, and will not significantly impact your budget. So once in a while you should really consider paying the little extra and sample some local specialties from the more upscale restaurants.
Solo travelers will have a significantly more expensive trip than couples, as there are quite a few expenditures that you can share (taxis, hotel rooms…).
Probably the most efficient way to cut costs is to try to find fellow travelers for tours outside of large cities. There, expenses add up quickly…
Really appreciate the budget info – very difficult to find online. Thanks!
You are most welcome, Krista.
It is indeed difficult to find detailed budget information, this is why I do it for each country I visit.
If I may suggest, you should provide expenses at local currency. Or at least, provide the average exchange rate you had. Because exchange rates can fluctuate tremendously. The iranian rial is a very good example.
As you indicate, local currencies can fluctuate so much against Euro & USD (most readers come from countries with one of those currencies or a currency linked to those), so giving exchange rates in various currencies make things harder to compare.
You are actually absolutely right though, I should at least give an average exchange rate to the Euro.
Good tip! I will remember it for the future.
Thanks for such a wonderful information!!
Do you recommend to book hotels and train/flight in advance, or is it ok to just ‘walk-in’? I’m planning to visit Iran as a solo traveler, mainly to experience people and their culture. Also, do you suggest a guide for any city/place, or ample ‘homework’ about places to be visited will be enough?
Thank you for your feedback!
You do not need to book trains & flights in advance. For hotels, it depends if you are traveling during major school holiday, especially France (many French people visit Iran currently). If yes, it might be wise to book slightly ahead in the more popular places. But I do not think it is a must if you are flexible on the accommodation.
As far as guides are concerned, it is definitely a matter of taste. But in all major sight, you can book a local guide on short notice (at the sight). They are normally very knowledgeable. And it is not that expensive. I had several guides, as I really enjoy understanding more. But once again, this is a matter of taste.
Do not hesitate if you have further questions.
very well written, almost covered all the tips
if any one wants budget accomodation in Iran,
here is Hi Isfahan Hostel http://www.hiesfahan.com
Denj hostel in Tehran http://www.denjhostel.com
Good to read that new Hostels are being opened in Iran
Hey Buddy,you wrote a Great article, almost covered all the tips. BTW I want to introduce our hostel to readers of your blog if its possible, HI Tehran Hostel offers excellent value budget accommodation in a convenient location of Tehran, stay with us and see what a difference a stay makes.
thank you for all the interesting inforrmations. As I will enter Iran in May 2018, Ramadan will be part of my travel. You mentioned, it could be difficult to travel during Ramadan. Can you please tell me more about it, so I can prepare myself?
I personally never traveled in Moslem countries during Ramadan (I only experienced the Ashura in Iran, and everything was closed during 3 days, I mean everything: bus stations, train stations, shops, everything).
What I heard is that many restaurants will be closed during the day (from dawn til dusk, and that makes a long time in Mai), and that people are not as friendly as they normally are in Iran, being deprived of food and worse, water (May is hot in Iran).
I’ve been staying in Iran the 2 first days of Ramadan (Ramazan for iranian people) in September 2010.
Markets were open normally during day time, easy to buy foods, including local flat breads (which are not supposed to be saved for long time ;-).
Breakfast had been served lately, long after sunrise at the Amir Kebir Guesthouse in Esfahan. Probably an exception due to so many western people at this hostel.
During day time, some restaurants are open (travelers, ill people, young childs, old people… are exempt of fasting), especially close to bus stations, but curtains can be shut. You need to observe and detect people getting in and out.
As a non muslim, I was not oblige to fast, but as respect to the local people, I haven’t been eating or drinking outside on open field. Not always easy to find a discrete location.
Water from the public fontains was warm, a big difference with the nominal situation when it is icy (indeed, too cold for me).
I did not have any problem taking a bus from Esfahan to Tehran. Metro and bus transportation was available at Tehran, with major traffic jams as usual.
Beware, sites and museums opening times are adjusted during Ramadan.
Lot of parties for diner time, when people are breaking fast.
Thanks Fabrice for sharing
Thank you very much for all the informations. I probably will go to the north-west during the time of ramazan, as I suppose it could be more liberal in this area. The more religous places like Maschhad could make it much more difficult to deal with ramazan, couldn ´t it?
By the way, has anybody ever been in Golestan National Park?
Larger cities will be more liberal than remote places.
But yes, the Northwest has partly a different culture, the Azeris being partly Christians.
But you also find a christian community in Esfahan (Jolfa).
For Golestan NP, look at “Against The Compass”, great blog, and Joan is currently in Iran (I think he was there).
I wouldn’t rate the North-West as more liberal. When visiting Ardabil and Tabriz, I was surprised by the darkness of women dresses. Quite only black and dark braun colors, exceptionnaly dark blue. Some local young men told me that it was very diificult for them to have there a satisfying life. According to them, iranian Azerbaidjan is very traditionnal.
If some Syriac Christians are still living around Orumiyeh, they are in very very low numbers. Despite the historic Armenian Monasteries located in the iranian Azerbaidjan (St Stefanos, Kara Kelisa), most of the Armenian Catholics are living in Teheran and Esfahan (Jolfa).
Shiraz is reputed to be more liberal than other big cities in Iran. Next should be Teheran North (around Tajrish).
Quite interesting, Fabrice: I experienced Tabriz as relatively liberal, and around Elgoli Park, it was quite relaxed (Iranian standards). And I agree with you, larger cities (especially Teheran & Shiraz) are more liberal than rural areas.
What I meant is that if there is some Christian community, things might be more open during the Ramadan: during the Ashura, the only place where I could eat (except large international hotels) in Esfahan was Jolfa, the Christian quarter.
Visiting Elgoli Park evening time end of July 2010, I’ve been seeing lot of people there, enjoying the relative freshness. Mood was relaxed, with lot of children and youngsters playing, but dressing code was stricly observed.
Day time, nobody there. In Tabriz streets, mainly tchador and maghneh, dark colors. No elegant hijab like the ones you can observe in Tehran North.
Of course, Jolfa is different due to the armenian christians based there. No such communities in the iranian Azerbaidjan.
For lunch time, I suggest to buy vegetables (for instance tomatoes, small crusty cucumbers), cheese, yoghurt, fruits on the markets. Then, you just need to find a calm and discrete location.
Thank you Fabrice for all this input.
Maybe things have changed a lot since 2010. Actually between April 2014 & September 2017, changes could be seen.
In September 2017, dresses were much more colorful than what you describe in Tabriz & especially Elgoli Park at night (I haven’t been there during the day), with quite a bit of bright colors used.
Buying vegetables as you describe is probably the best option for lunch during Ramadan (again, I haven’t experienced it). This is what I did during the Ashura (which I experienced in September 2017), when almost everything was closed.
Thank you Gilles,
thank you Fabrice,
your experiences and advices are very helpful. I will report about my journey when back home.