Female solo travel is no longer the stigmatised thing it used to be, and nowadays it’s perfectly acceptable to head off to the far reaches of the globe on your own, using that all-important female intuition as your guide. Of course, there are some places you shouldn’t go, male or female, and in that case you should heed advice and be cautious, however on the whole, it doesn’t matter whether you wear a bra or not, your gender doesn’t tend to dictate where you can and can’t go.
Now, with this is in mind, we should point out that not every country in the world has the same relaxed westernised frame of mind, and in certain countries there are rules which women must abide by, including those visiting for travel and tourism reasons – Iran is one of those countries.
Basically, Iran gets a bad reputation but it’s quite an unfair one. Iran is a country filled with amazing, ancient sights, extremely friendly people, an intoxicating culture, and visiting Iran will be something you won’t forget in a hurry. Iran is not somewhere to avoid, provided you know the rules and etiquette you must abide by beforehand.
Female dress code
Iran is an Islamic country, and it’s not only down to religion, but the law too; because of this, you need to stick to the dress code rigidly, to avoid unforeseen problems. Women should always wear a headscarf in public, also known as a hijab, and to cover arms and legs, with no skin showing when out and about. Dresses and trousers should always reach the ankles, not above them, and a long cardigan is best worn, which ticks the box of a woman needing to wear a manto, or long jacket, over clothes. Stick to these guidelines and you won’t find yourself subject to unwanted attention or problems.
Do your research first
Make sure you do your reading up first on where you want to go and what you want to see – basically avoid wandering around on your own in rural areas or places which simply don’t feel right. This is where that all-important female intuition comes into play. As an obvious tourist you may be at risk if you wander into somewhere totally off the beaten path, just like anywhere in the world, so listen to your gut.
Read up on etiquette
There are certain rules you need to be aware of. For instance, any physical contact between a man and a woman in public, especially unmarried, is a huge no no, so do bear this in mind. In the large cities, for instance the capital, Tehran, you will notice a slightly more relaxed way of life in terms of being able to interact with people, and by this we mean men speaking to women, in a public setting such as a café, passing the time with a question for instance. You will know when to relax and when not to from this point of view, so take your pointers from what is going on around you. Basically, if you’re not sure, keep yourself to yourself.
Any tips to give on females visiting Iran solo are really the same as any other country in the world, and the only difference is that Iran is a strict Islamic country and therefore you need to abide by those rules; other than that, you simply listen to your gut, don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger, don’t be too trusting, and stay in contact with loved ones back home – just like anywhere else in the world.
Photo Credit: Hamed Saber