One of the most difficult things about independent travel to Iran is how much money to budget for 2 weeks of travel. My Lonely Planet guidebook was years outdated already and it is difficult to manage a travel budget for Iran. So, to help you plan your travel to Iran and help you budget your money, I share with you exactly how much I’ve spent and some money saving tips in my 2 weeks Iran travel budget.
Money in Iran
Iran is not connected to the western banking system. This means, although there are plenty of ATM’s and banks across the country, you cannot withdraw cash with your debit or credit card. You can put your card in the machine but it will give you the message they cannot make a connection with the bank. Therefore you need to bring all your travel money for Iran with you on your arrival to Iran. As a result, you need to calculate how much to bring, because you do not want to be stranded for cash!
Travel Credit Card for Foreigners
Some banks in Iran now also offer the option for foreigners to get a travel credit card which is only valid for Iran. It still requires that you’ll bring all your money with you when you enter the country, but you don’t have to walk around with wads of cash. I personally don’t have any experience with this type of card but it might be a good option to look into it when you travel with a bigger party for a longer period of time in Iran.
Read more: Practical Preparations for Travel in Iran
Exchange rate in Iran
The official currency in Iran is Iranian Rial. When I travelled in Iran, I got 40.000 Rials for 1 Euro (Feb. 2017). The official exchange rate online mentioned around 32.000 Rials for 1 Euro which is obviously considerable less. Exchanging money is easy and can be done everywhere. As usual, always make sure to count again and don’t be distracted. Euros and US Dollars are equally easily accepted so you can bring either of this currency (or a mixture).
Tomans or Rials?
What makes things confusion about money in Iran is the use of Tomans. Officially not a currency, Toman is used by everyone in Iran and prices are indicated in Tomans unless stated otherwise.
So can you get Tomans at the exchange office? No, you can’t. Tomans are not coins or banknotes; it is just a name for the money.
For example, you need to pay 120.000 Rials for a souvenir at the bazaar. The vendor will tell you it’s 12.000 Tomans, or he will just say 12. You need to understand he means Tomans and multiply the amount by 10 to know what to pay. If you pay too little and give the vendor 12.000 Rials, he will say: Toman, Toman! And you’ll know you’ve made a mistake.
How much to budget for 2 weeks travel in Iran?
Ok, now that we got the basics of money in Iran covered, how much do you need to bring when you plan to travel to Iran for 2 weeks?
About my travel style
Before you go copy my travel expenses, you need to know a little about my style of travel. I traveled solo in Iran and opted for a few comfortable options like private bedrooms, taxis to the bus station and airport. To see as much as possible, I joined tours and even hired a private guide on a few occasions. I only choose hotels with breakfast included and only had a light snack for lunch to avoid an upset stomach. I ate my dinner at the hotel restaurant or kebab shops near the hotels. Although offered, I did not couch surf with local Iranians. At the beginning of my 2 weeks travel in Iran, I was very strict about the money because I was afraid to run out. In the end, I splurged a little here and there which reflects in my travel spending.
Read more: Is it safe to travel solo in Iran?
Costs for hotels in Iran
I wanted to be a little bit more comfortable and had private rooms in hotels and guesthouses with breakfast included. Almost all hotels I’ve stayed in, also had a dorm where prices varied from 8$ to 15$ per person per night. Although it is not possible to book hotels in Iran via popular booking websites like booking.com or hotelscombined, you can book your hotel in Iran in advance. Check this link for options and prices (and availability).
Read more: Travel for 2 weeks in Iran
2 nights in Tehran + 1 night in Tehran
Due to the cancellation of my budget hostel a week before my trip, I picked Amir Kabir Hotel Tehran for the first 2 nights. At 55$ per night it’s way too pricy for what it offered. I do not recommend staying here.
At the end of my trip, I had to leave for the airport at midnight. To catch a few hours of sleep before my flight, I booked a room at the new See you in Iran hostel. I definitely recommend this place as it was within budget, clean and has a good vibe. The dorm room (4 bed female shared bathroom) was €15 per night.
3 nights in Shiraz
I stayed at the Niayesh Boutique Hotel in Shiraz and I highly recommend it. Full of style and character it’s located near the centre of Shiraz. The restaurant has affordable food, the best I had in Iran. There is a tour office at reception.
I paid 35$ per night for a double private bathroom with private shower, breakfast included. Their dorm was $8 per night.
Read more: My love letter to Shiraz Iran
3 nights Yazd
Because the Silk Road Hotel in Yazd was full, I stayed at hotel Alibaba which is almost next door. I paid $20 per night for a private room with private shower and breakfast included. The price is per room, so if you share a room with your travel partner, you save half but then you don’t have an extra bed to dump all your sh*t on like I usually do.
3 nights in Esfahan
If you decide to try couch surfing in Iran, Esfahan is the place to do it. Boutique hotels in Esfahan are hard to come by so I stayed at Amir Kabir Hostel. I picked it because I wanted to meet other backpackers and its proximity to the center of Esfahan. I didn’t want to stay in their dorm so I took the single room which is basically a closet where they put a bed.
It has shared bathroom facilities and I wasn’t too happy with my stay there. But, I only paid $15 per night (breakfast included) and I got to do some laundry, exchange some money and book a tour there. The dorm at 10$ per night was more spacious and might be a better option if you travel solo.
2 nights in Kashan
At the end of my trip, I stayed 2 nights at one of the traditional houses in Kashan. The Ehsan House was 60$ per night. Which makes it the most expensive room in my 2 weeks Iran travel budget. Not really worth that much money, you might want to book the dorm and still enjoy the good breakfast and restaurant and the traditional ambiance when in Kashan.
Check out Backpack Adventures’ post with Top 10 budget hotels in Iran.
Total costs for hotels in Iran:
14 nights: €400 (435$). Average: 28,50€ (31$) per night.
(I stayed 15 nights in Iran but the overnight stay at Varzaneh was included in the price of the tour.)
As you can see below, with almost 40%, the costs for hotels is the biggest portion of my 2 weeks Iran travel budget.
Costs for transport in Iran
I took a few taxis and mainly local busses. Here are some fees to give you an idea to manage your Iran travel budget.
- 20$ taxi from the IKA airport to my hotel in the centre.
- 200.000 Rial from my hotel to the domestic Mehrabad airport in Tehran.
- 35€ for a flight from Tehran to Shiraz (1.470.000 Rial), booked online in advance.
- 270.000 Rial for VIP bus Shiraz- Yazd
- 300.000 Rial bus Yazd- Esfahan
- 135.000 Rial bus Esfahan- Kashan
- 180.000 Rial bus Kashan- Tehran
- 150.000 to 200.000 Rial for taxis from the bus station to the hotel, depending on the distances
Total costs for domestic airfare (1x), bus tickets (4x), 2x metro in Tehran and taxi’s (1.000x): 6.905.000 Rial (155€ or 170$)
How much to budget for food and drinks in Iran
I had breakfast at the hotels and only had small snacks in the afternoon. A few times I ordered some teas but mainly skipped lunch. I did go out for diner, either at the hotel’s restaurant or a kebab shop in town. Obviously, I did not have alcohol during my travels in Iran and mainly ordered water.
- 0 Rial for breakfast as it was included with the hotel fee
- 40.000 to 100.000 Rial for small snacks like macarons, dried apples or a bread roll with meat
- 40.000 to 60.000 Rial for tea at a tea house
- 240.000 to 300.000 Rial for stew dinner + water and some ice cream for desert or tea afterwards
- 150.000 to 200.000 Rial for a kebab dinner
- 10.000 Rial for 1 litre of water
- 20.000 to 35.000 Rial for a can of cola
Total amount spend on food, drinks and snacks:
3.518.000 Rial (88€ or 95$)
Only covering 9% of my 2 weeks Iran travel budget, the food costs are a bit low and might not be representative. If you have lunch, ice cream and eat more candy, you can add easily 250.000 Rial per day. Or get invited by Iranians to join them for tea/lunch/diner and you might end up spending as little as I did.
Costs for tours in Iran
I did do a lot of tours while I travelled in Iran. It’s an easy way to meet other travellers and you get to see a lot in a short time. 2 weeks of travel in Iran isn’t enough time to really do everything independent and the tours are just very easy. Entry fees are usually 200.000 Rial, for small mosques but also to visit Persepolis for example. The Golastan Palace is an exception as you pay for each room separate and I opted to see 2 rooms.
Entrance fees in Iran
- Golastan Palace Tehran: 380.000 Rial
- Al Moluk Mosque in Shiraz: 150.000 Rial (worth a 1,000 bucks)
- Khan Citadel Shiraz: 200.000 Rial (not worth it)
- Vikal Mosque Shiraz: 150.000 Rial (worth it)
- All sights in Esfahan like mosques, palace and Armenian Cathedral: 200.000 Rial each
- Entrance to Abyaneh village: 50.000 Rial
- Fin Gardens in Kashan: 200.000 Rial
- Entrance to Maranjab desert: 100.000 Rial
Tours in Iran
- Full day tour of Persepolis (and Necropolis and Parsargadae) with a tour company: $55, lunch included.
- Free walking tour of Yazd: free
- Kharanagh, Chak Chak and Mehbod tour Yazd: 600.000 Rial
- Private taxi driver to the sand dunes in Yazd: 600.000 Rial (this is the same for 1 person or 4)
- Varzaneh Tour to the desert including overnight stay, lunch and diner: $40
- Private taxi driver for the day in Kashan (visit to Abyaneh, Fin Gardens and Maranjab desert): 2.000.000 Rial (this is the same for 1 person or 4).
Total amount spend on entrance fees and tours:
8.886.000 Rial (225€ or 245$)
Read more: Best places to see the desert in Iran
Other things to add to your Iran travel budget
You need a visa to enter Iran. I opted for the visa on arrival, which was 75€ for me. Read more about the visa on arrival at Tehran airport.
The first thing I bought at the airport was an Iranian sim card for my smart phone. This was 560.000 Rial for 5 GB of data which was a good investment in my opinion.
I also bought a few souvenirs like postcards (165.000 Rial for 10 cards) and stamps (165.000 Rial for 5 stamps). At the bazaar I bought some delicious Gaz candy and saffron and treated myself to a new necklace. I needed a few necessities like new deodorant (110.000 Rial) and I did laundry once.
My biggest expense must have been my own idiocy as I managed to make a few bloopers with the currency exchange. For example, I exchanges 100€ at the airport for a staggering 32.000 Rial per euro, which costed me 30€ just for the exchange. I think if I paid more attention to the right rates and exchanged more at the same time, I could have saved more money.
Total 2 weeks Iran Travel Budget
I budgeted 100€ per day as my 2 weeks Iran travel budget and took some emergency cash (440$) as a back-up. I didn’t need that at all! There were some days where I spend almost 100€ per day, but on other days I only spend 20€.
Total costs of 2 weeks travel in Iran: 1.025€ (1,117$). That comes down to a daily travel budget of 68€ (or 74$) on average.
I have excluded the airfare as this varies per departure city. To be 100% complete, I paid €299 for a direct return flight from Amsterdam to Tehran Airport with KLM Airlines.
Budget Travel in Iran
Although my 2 week trip to Iran wasn’t a budget trip, Iran can be done on a much tighter travel budget. If you decided to couch surf with Iranians and be able to share taxis with either locals or other travelers, you can save a lot of money. Tours and lodging are by far the biggest travel expense, but with the famous Iranian hospitality, you can save a lot of money (but make sure to bring some gifts for your hosts and not be a complete freeloader all the time!).
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