Over the past few months, if I had gotten a dollar every time I was asked ‘but weren’t you scared’ when discussing my travels in Iran, I could probably afford to fly back there for a return trip!
I am not exaggerating.
Iran definitely has a bad reputation – one which it really doesn’t deserve.
It is an amazing country and an amazingly safe one to visit, so without further ado, here are a handful of reasons why you should NOT be afraid to visit Iran.
Iranian people are some of the friendliest and kindest people in the world
I know that people say that about people from all over the world, but when it comes to Iranian people, it is just undeniably true!
Whenever I passed school kids in Iran, they would react in one of three ways.
One – they would blush, giggle, laugh and/or smile. Two – they would shout ‘welcome to our country’. Three – they would shout out ‘we love you, we love you!’ – not a reaction I have gotten anywhere else in the world.
Just about anywhere I went I was greeted with a friendly ‘salam!’ and I was offered tea and food more than in any other country I have ever visited! It has been said that you could travel through Iran for free – relying solely on the hospitality of locals, and I believe it, without a shadow of a doubt.
Violent crime is rare
Statistically speaking, you are significantly less likely to be the victim of violent crime than you would be in the US. The murder rate is almost about 1/6th of what it is in the US, and even when taking into consideration the fact that Iran has a population approximately 4 times smaller the US, the US still has a significantly higher murder rate per million people (39% higher to be precise) – furthermore, you are a whopping 12 times less likely to experience gun violence in Iran than you are in the US.
Wear the hijab and men will (almost always) be respectful
Apart from one dickhead wolf whistler in Shiraz (dude, no, just no) I experienced no other sexual harassment. I found men in Iran to be friendly and respectful, which is a lot more than I can say about many other places in the world!
Iranian people love to see foreigners in their country
Iranian people aren’t thick – they know exactly how their country is portrayed through western media – so when they see foreign travellers roaming through their streets, they know that those foreigners haven’t been brainwashed by news sources that in my humble opinion, are bordering on fascist.
Basically, they can pretty safely assume that the foreigners visiting their country aren’t racist, islamophobic or assholes (I might be projecting my own opinions on that last one there) – which makes them very happy when they see such foreign visitors!
Tourism is bigger than you’d expect
Tourism isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, but it is bigger than most people would think. There are a tonne of travel agents, comfortable boutique hotels and numerous easy to use modes of transportation – so the place is very well set up for travellers from all walks of life.
You will feel safer in Iran than a lot of other places
As a female who travels solo the vast majority of the time, I have learned to have my guard up at all times. In some countries I would feel nervy walking around alone in the middle of the night. Hell, in some countries I would be on guard when walking through back alleyways in broad daylight!
But not in Iran.
I never once felt on edge or nervy during my travels through Iran.
Not once. Not even for a second. Not even for a millisecond!
That is pretty fricking amazing.
…and last, but definitely not least…
IRAN IS NOTHING LIKE YOU SEE ON THE NEWS!
I feel like I made this point quite clear above, but a little reiteration never hurt!
Now go forth and fearlessly travel to Iran!