Good question. It was asked by everyone whom i told about my travel plans, albeit with a lot more emotion and shock. Some went on to the extent of asking me if i booked a one way ticket. I surprised them by not getting souvenirs.
Anyway, having failed at executing the plan twice in the last 2 years, I was bent on just doing it this time. In short, i wanted to go because i had overdosed on their movies and had to tick naqsh-e-jahan square off my list. more reasons to follow.
the more important part – let me give you a summary of my expenses and some tips/ info on the basics…
Summary of my trip:
Duration: 16 days
Flights: INR 32,500
Visa+insurance: INR 7,300
Stay+Food+Sightseeing+Transport: INR 34,500
Total: INR 74,300 (EUR 980)
Visa Code: First step started from obtaining the visa code, which is given by the foreign affairs ministry of Iran through a local travel agent. I chose key2persia (firstname.lastname@example.org) for mine, they charged 27 EUR for the code and had it sent in 7 days from the time i requested, damn professional fellows.
Medical tests: Next step is to get the medical reports from one of the authorized centres. I got mine from Apollo clinic in Navi Mumbai and spent a total of around INR 1,700. You can get these in a day’s time
- HIV both types (trust me, you’ll be biting your nails during results’ time)
- Hepatitis A & B
Visa application: Then comes the visa application part, you fill in the form (http://newdelhi.mfa.ir/index.aspx?fkeyid=&siteid=328&pageid=30382) and take the medical docs to the consulate (mine was in Mumbai). They accept the application on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 to 3. It was a quick process there, not much of waiting. You pay INR 2460 for a 1 month single entry visa by paying at the bank outside the consulate and giving a receipt to the visa officer. He asked me basic questions about the trip and handed me an acknowledgment receipt stating that i have to collect my passport in a week’s time at a given time on the date mentioned. And so i did, with great anticipation i collected the passport and saw a gleaming ticket to Iran!
This is easy, i took the icici lombard policy that covers meds upto USD 100k for INR 1200
Total cost of Visa + reports + insurance : INR 7,300
There are multiple options:
- Iran Air: cheap and good i hear. They fly direct to Tehran from Bombay on Tuesdays and Fridays. No online booking, you have to call them.
- Kuwait Air: cheap and cheap. You wait in Kuwait airport till you grow old and forget where you are headed
- Etihad/Jet: slightly expensive and good. I chose this for INR 32,500 with a reasonable stopover both ways and good landing time. Tough combo to get
You can use wikitravel, it is easily one of the best resources out there. I booked only the first hostel in tehran (it is recommended since they may ask at the immigration) and left the rest to be chosen as my trip unfolded. You may want to get all confirmations in place if you are the apprehensive kind who worries about ‘what-if-the-immigration-guys-dont-let-me-in’ – simple, write to each one and they respond pretty quick.
Since i was traveling during off season, availability wasn’t a concern, so you can walk into one of these and check-in (at least for dorms, not sure about private rooms). I stayed in the following:
Tehran: 7 hostel
Kashan: Khan – e – ehsan
Varzaneh: yasna guest house
Isfahan: Amir kabir hostel
Yazd: kohan hostel
Shiraz: niayesh boutique hotel
Buses are the easiest way out. With cheap tickets that get you a business class seat + juice + snacks…it is a steal. I have mentioned in my day-wise blogs about the terminals and prices. On an average, tickets range between 2.5 eur to 8 eur. Also, hitch hiking is equally easy and safe. Just stand by the road and wave, dont show a thumbs up (it means something really offensive)…when they stop, say ‘mikham biram ‘name of the place’ (i am going to…), if they nod, then follow it with ‘raai ghaane?’ (is it free). confirm multiple times before you get in and voila!
Well, that’s it. ready my daily account (which i’ll post as my laziness permits) for the detailed info…feel free to buzz me in case any more info is needed, would be more than glad to help.