Infidel753, in a blogpost, asked five questions about travelling to some countries, including Iran. I couldn’t comment on blogspot (I have no idea why) and then again, my own readers might be interested in knowing the answer, so I’ll write his answers here.
Generally speaking, I’ve just begun seriously exploring Iran myself. It’s a very beautiful country. I wish we had much more income from tourism. Sadly, being a theocracy limits your chances, like alcohol not being readily available and women being forced to wear hijab.
That aside, Iran has everything a traveler could wish: beautiful nature, (from forests to green places to deserts to mountains to beaches), lots of fascinating cultural and historical monuments, great local food, good shopping malls, and hospitable people. I still think Tehran mostly sucks, and most cities are shit, but travel to cities like Taleghan, Javaher Deh, Shiraz, Isfahan, and many similar places and you’ll have a blast.
Also let me emphasize the food again. It’s awesome. Iran’s definitely worth a visit.
Now answering questions of Infidel753:
1) Attitudes of local people toward Americans (regardless of what the attitude of the government is). Is it common to run into hostility or do most people accept having Americans visit the country?
Not at all. People here love Americans a lot. And among people of all stripes you’ll only meet very hospitable people. You’re more likely to be annoyed by how much people are eager to please you and make sure you have a great time than the other way around.
I’ve heard getting a VISA is a challenge for Americans though. Europeans have it a lot easier, I’ve heard.
2) Safety. Is crime a problem? In the case of Iran, is an American visiting the country likely to be targeted by the government or police in some way?
Depends. There are safe places and unsafe places in Iran. After the midnight it’s generally not safe either. I’d advise you to listen to your Iranian friends about where to go and where to avoid. Or ask the hotel receptionist. Ask someone.
3) How commonly people speak English.
Commonly? I think you’ll never be far from an English speaker in major cities or tourist spots, but if you are the type who goes on the road alone and wants to visit every shitty village on the way, you might want in terms of communication. Don’t do that though. Stick to major cities and tourist spots.
4) Cigarette smoke. Is it easy to avoid in public places, restaurants, and the like? And I do mean avoid it. I have bad reactions to even a slight exposure.
You won’t be able to avoid it in the streets and parks. You will be able to avoid it in restaurants and other enclosed places, exception being traditions tea houses where they serve hookah.
5) Vegetarian food — is it easy to get?
Nope, sorry to inform. Vegetarian restaurants are very rare in Iran.
That’s it. If you have questions of your own leave them in the comments and I’ll answer them.
Image: Tomb of Hafez, the great Iranian poet, created by via Wikipedia