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Hallie Mavis
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 Iran Audio Guide App

In an innovative move, a private company in Shiraz, Fars Province, has designed an application that enables tourists to visit Iran's attractions on one's own, as it offers a complete overview of the places in English on smartphones.

 

"Iran Audio Guide" has been designed by Shiraz Durandish Programmers Company for both Android and iOS operating systems and is downloadable at App Store and Google Play free of charge. The first version of the app was launched in April 2017.

 

Users can download audio tracks of each listed attraction and listen to accurate and comprehensive details about the place. The audios are also available in Persian for domestic tourists.

 

The first two tracks of each category are free but a complete package is available for purchase on Iranaudioguide.com at 300,000 rials ($7.8) in English and 10,000 ($2.6) in Persian, payable through Shetab and Web Money payment portals.

 

Soroush Ansari, chief technology officer of the company, told Financial Tribune that a few shops have been set up in Shiraz where packages can be bought at a discount.

 

The tracks can be paused, rewound and fast-forwarded, which gives it an advantage over human guides, as the tourist can visit the site at one's own pace and take as much time as one needs to capture photos without worrying about missing the explanations.  

 

So far, the tracks have been prepared for a limited number of places, including a complete package of Persepolis world heritage site, attractions of Shiraz and Isfahan as well as the description of Iranian traditional architecture.

 

However, Ansari said the company is working to expand the tracks to include all attractions of the country.

 

"Yazd, Tehran, and Tabriz are our top priorities," he said, adding that the process would take time as they insist on delivering precise information and facts. The contents of the tracks include step-by-step guides through the attractions, stories of wars, victories, and invasions, information about kings and prominent figures, famous Persian myths, love stories and techniques of Iranian architecture, as well as gossips and scandals.

 

It also shows the attraction's location on a Google map to facilitate access.

 

A number of tourism applications are currently available on web stores. However, Iran Audio Guide is among the front-runners in designing audio applications in English.

traveling applications

There are dozens of online guides for travelers on what they should pack before visiting Iran. This is a guide to what applications you can install on your smart devices before hitting the road.

 

1-Local App Markets

 

Several Iranian apps are not available on conventional app markets like App Store and Play Store. A month ago, in a strange move, Google and Apple started removing applications of Iranian businesses from their app markets.

 

The two companies sighted the unilateral US sanctions as the reason for their unprofessional move.

 

To overcome this hurdle, you should use the locally established app markets — for Android users Cafe Bazaar and for iDevices, Nassaab or SibApp.

 

You can directly download the app markets from the businesses’ websites.

 

2-Ride-Hailing

 

The first thing you will need after getting off the plane is a taxi. Getting an airport cab is something close to a nuisance and the fares are high.

 

A dozen ride-hailing businesses are now operating in Iran. The most popular are Snapp and Tap30. In addition to Persian, Snapp is available in English and French.

 

These applications have been removed from App Store and Play Store; therefore, you should download them from one of the local alternative app markets introduced earlier or directly from the websites of the cab companies.

 

3-Payment Services

 

One of the main complaints of travelers not in the too distant past was that they needed to carry stacks of money when traveling around Iran. That belongs to the past. Now you create a local bank account and get a debit card.

 

Again due to the banking sanctions international credit cards do not work in Iran. To circumvent the problem, authorities have introduced the so-called Tourist Card, a prepaid credit card with a maximum balance of $5,000.

 

The card can be obtained at international airports and recharged at any of the branches of Bank Melli, Bank Sepah and Tourism Bank across the country.

 

One of the popular payment applications in Iran is offered by electronic payment company Asan Pardakht.

 

You can charge local SIM cards, transfer money to other accounts and pay for a variety of services through the application.

 

Asan Pardakht is available for download on Google Play Store. iOS users can download the app from its website.

 

In addition to Asan Pardakht, another payment app that comes handy is Pardakhtam. Using the app you can pay the cabbie by scanning QR codes installed in cabs.

 

Each taxi driver has a unique identification number in Pardakhtam’s database peered with a QR code installed in his car. Currently, the app is only available for Android phones and can be downloaded from the businesses website or Café Bazaar.

 

4-Telegram

 

Telegram is the most popular messaging application and social media platform in Iran. The application has close to 45 million users. It is so popular that most youngsters will ask for your Telegram ID instead of a phone number to stay in touch. The telegram can be downloaded from the App Store and Play Store as well as its official website.

 

Other messaging application, like WhatsApp and Vimeo, are also used in the country but are not as popular.

 

5-Persian Calendar

 

The Persian calendar is a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Iran. The calendar has been modified time and again during its history.

 

For staying abreast of local events and even planning your trip you need to check the date(s) on the Persian calendar.

 

While several websites offer bilingual services for converting Gregorian dates to the Persian one, getting a Persian Calendar application will come handy.

 

Dozens of Persian calendar applications are available on App Store and Play Store for free.

 

6-Tehran Metro Guide

 

The capital’s tube has become popular with tourists, especially backpackers. The fares are cheap and the service efficient and secure.

 

Tehran Urban and Suburban Railway Organization has launched a companion app that enables users to find their way fast and easy.

 

The application is available for download on App Store and Play Store.

 

 An Afterword

 

Dozens of applications and services are blocked in Iran, services like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

We have all experienced Internet outages and we know that we can survive without checking our social media networks. But by using a VPN service you can easily get through.

 

In addition to downloading the apps, buying a SIM card offered by Iranian operators is highly recommended. Most operators have booths at the airport. By showing your passport and visa you can buy a prepaid SIM and activate it in a few minutes. This will cut your costs significantly. The SIMs cost very little.

 

The applications that you use on a daily basis, regardless of where you are, will come handy, apps like Google Maps or Foursquare — one of the most popular city guide apps in the world.

hijab in Iran

If anybody looks through some photos of this travel it will be automatically obvious to her that I love scarves. The one item that will never be missing from my backpack is a piece of fabric to be wrapped, hanged, folded, spread and shifted around in a million shapes.

Maybe because of that, and because when it comes to clothing I am usually happy with long and loose stuff, I had not thought it would be a great deal the fact that in Iran I would need to wear hijab. In fact, it wasn’t a great deal most of the time.

Iran visa on arrival

Iran plans to extend airport visa validity from one month to 90 days in order to meet a great demand of foreign tourists, especially from Muslim and Arab states, Iran’s Head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Masoud Soltanifar said.

 

‘As the number of foreign tourist arrivals in Iran rose over the past years, ICHHTO decided to issue Iran airport visa for a three-month stay.’ Soltanifar said on Monday.

 

Visa validity for foreign tourists arriving in Iran has already been 30 days and could be extended to another 15 days in case passengers wish to stay more, on arrival at some Iranian airports.

 

According to Soltanifar, the nationals of 190 countries can obtain a tourist visa to visit Iran on arrival at the airport.

 

Earlier reports said that the nine countries whose citizens still need to arrange their visa through consular services beforehand are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, UK, and the USA.

 

‘Visa On Arrival (VOAs), at present, are issued at nine airports including IKIA (Tehran), Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz, Bandar Abbas, Larestan, Kish and Qeshm’, Irna news agency quoted Soltanifar as saying.

 

‘Facilities are being prepared at airports of Orumieh, Ahvaz, Yazd and Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport as well’, he added.

 

Soltanifar also said Iran has currently reciprocal visa cancellation agreement with 12 states, adding that 28 countries are on the agenda for visa cancellation with reciprocity by the respective governments.

 

According to earlier reports, the Citizens of Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Egypt, Georgia, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria can travel to Iran visa-free for the period of maximum 90 days.

 

Following the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iranian president in 2013, Iran has sought reciprocal visa waiver programs with some countries as part of its bid to boost tourism.

Iran Tourism FAQs

since Iran's nuclear deal with the world powers in June 2015 and the lifting of economic sanctions on Tehran in January 2016, Iran has been constantly named by international tourism media and industry outlets as a must-see destination. 

 

Isolation has rendered Iran an “exotic” holiday destination. While from a marketing perspective this bodes well for the ancient Middle Eastern country, it also makes Iran a little-known destination for many tourists, particularly young travelers.

 

Some of the common questions asked about Iran are addressed as follows:

 Is Iran safe?
 
The short answer is "Yes." The long answer is "Yes, of course."

Iran boasts an excellent security record, especially when you take into account the fact that it is located in one of the world’s most volatile and unstable regions. The country is a safe haven in a sea of turmoil, and you would be hard-pressed to find a foreign tourist who felt unsafe during their visit.

 

Popular destinations such as Tehran and Isfahan have formed tourism law-enforcement units whose main purpose is to serve foreign travelers.

 

Furthermore, the legal arm of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization even help foreign visitors pursue complaints after they have left the country, should they want the organization to follow up a complaint.

 

When is the best time to visit?

 

Thanks to its diverse climate, Iran has something to offer in every season.

 

That said, it might be best to avoid certain periods, such as the Iranian New Year holidays that typically begin on March 21 and last for two weeks.

 

The Persian month of Ordibehesht (April-May) is also when the country hosts a myriad of international conferences and exhibitions, but those who avoid Tehran, Isfahan, and Kish during this period may not face the problem of hotel room shortage.

 

Those who visit Iran during the holy month of Ramadan should know that that's when people fast for hours, eating and drinking in public is forbidden and cafes and restaurants do not open until early evening.

 

Being a month on the lunar calendar, Ramadan shifts from year to year so it would be a good idea to check the month on the Gregorian calendar it coincides with before booking your trip.

 

Who can travel to Iran?

 

Citizens of every country recognized by the Iranian government can travel to Iran. The country offers 30-day visa-on-arrival to citizens of 190 countries at its international airports.

 

Iran has also waived visa requirements for citizens of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Bolivia.

 

Russians traveling to Iran as part of an organized tour also do not require a visa.

 

Are there exceptions?

 

Yes: Passport holders of Colombia, Somalia, Britain, Canada, USA, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan must acquire a visa before traveling to Iran.

 

Furthermore, Americans, Canadians, and the British can only visit Iran as part of an organized tour. In other words, they have to be accompanied by a state-certified tour guide at all times.

 

Iran has no diplomatic relations with the US and Canada. The Iranian interest's section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C. handles visa applications for Americans. Iran has seen an 11.5% increase in American visitors year-on-year, as of September 2016, according to the US National Travel and Tourism Office's latest data.

 

The Embassy of Oman processes Iranian visas for Canadians. However, since Oman is represented in Canada by a non-resident ambassador in the Sultanate's office in Washington, D.C., Canadians have to travel south to the US to apply for a visa.

 

Can I use my credit card?

 

Due to banking sanctions, international credit cards do not work in Iran. To circumvent the problem, authorities have introduced the so-called Tourist Card, a prepaid credit card with a maximum balance of $5,000.

 

The card can be acquired at international airports and recharged at any of the branches of Bank Melli, Bank Sepah and Tourism Bank across the country.

Is there a dress code?

 

Women must wear a headscarf and loose-fitting clothes, while men should avoid wearing shorts. There are no color restrictions.

 

When visiting holy sites, women are obliged to wear a "chador" which is given to them at the sites. To gain a better understanding of the dress code in Iran, a simple image search on Google can be very helpful.

What are some useful apps?

 

There are a handful of apps that may help you make the best of your trip to Iran. Apps such as Snapp (think Uber but for Iran), Google Maps, Google Translate and Date/Calendar Converter are immensely helpful, regardless of what city you're visiting.

 

Moreover, popular apps such as Foursquare, Lonely Planet, and Trip Advisor have very well-maintained sections on Iran, from what cafes to visit to which sites to see.

What are the emergency numbers?

 

It is always good to know the local emergency numbers. Unlike the European Union and North American countries, there is no single number for all emergencies in Iran.

 

It's 110 for police, 125 for the fire department and 115 for an ambulance. The telephone directory number is 118.