• Lebanon!

    Lebanon: House in Byblos. Go Now!

    Lebanon
    This country is home to a wide range of people from conservative Muslims and Christians to liberals who embrace the changing world. Explore Lebanon!

  • Bangladesh!

    Bangladesh: Traditional houses. Go Now!

    Bangladesh
    This low-lying country has historic ties to India and Pakistan, but today maintains a wholly unique culture. Explore Bangladesh!

  • Indonesia!

    Indonesia: Lombok. Go Now!

    Indonesia
    This archipelago nation is culturally diverse from big cities to isolated islands. Begin Your Journey!

  • Mongolia!

    Mongolia: Desert. Go Now!

    Mongolia
    This vast country has a culture that spans past and present... a nomadic life shifting to a modern & sedentary society. Begin Your Journey!

  • Kyrgyzstan!

    Kyrgyzstan: Tian Shan Mountains. Go Now!

    Kyrgyzstan
    The mountains, including the Tian Shan Mountains (pictured), give Kyrgyzstan a unique culture, partially formed from this isolation from the mountains. Go Now!

Social Life in Iran

WARNING: International disputes with Iran are ongoing, please read this travel warning before going!

Behavior

Due to the Islamic laws in Iran, there are a huge number of behavior restriction and laws. Most of these are common sense, such as stealing is wrong, but stealing comes with a penalty of having your hand cut off in Iran, so be very careful regarding your actions and when in doubt ask.

Adult women are best off traveling to Iran with their husband, father, or brother. Single women travelers are looked at oddly and traveling with a man who is not related or married to you is widely considered inappropriate. It is also improper for a man to touch a woman, even holding your spouse's hand or offering to shake the hand of a person who is of the opposite sex can be considered inappropriate to a conservative Muslim. While almost no one will take offense at hand holding, you are best to avoid this behavior in public and don't offer your hand to a local woman unless she does so first.

Islamic law also has a number of dietary restrictions, but these are difficult to break. Islam forbids pork products and alcohol; however there is little worry about adhering to these rules since neither is available anywhere in Iran. You should be aware that attempting to take either into the country is strictly forbidden so don't try to smuggle any pork or alcohol into the country as punishments can be severe.

Dress

Unlike many Middle Eastern countries, the dress in Iran for women is often times bright and colorful, which makes it impossible to miss a Persian in the region. The women dress in a more traditional style, while the men tend to prefer western-styled clothing, which is often times in browns and earth-toned colors, making their dress quite a contradiction to that of the women.

Today the dress is varied significantly as women tend to wear brightly colored loose-fitting clothing, but many of the more conservative Muslims prefer to wear a black dishdasha or abaya. This loose-fitting clothing reveals nothing and many women who do wear this tend to also wear a hijab over their heads and often times will also cover their faces. In fact, women must cover their hair by law in Iran, although many young people reject this notion (although not publicly). Even for the women in more colorful dress, it is loose-fitting and conservative as all skin is covered to the hands and feet. Men in Iran have significantly shifted to conservative western-styled clothing, but this is not consistent across the country. Many men continue to wear more traditional clothing items, including the dishdasha.

As a visitor to Iran you are likely on a tour, so check with your tour company for the most recent recommendations on travel to the country. However, some things that haven't changed in some time is the conservative nature of dress in the country. Always cover your arms and legs in Iran and women must always cover their hair by law. Also avoid anything that may indicate where you are from or that may encourage social unrest. Although wearing a shirt with a flag of a foreign country or a foreign country's soccer jersey (football kit) may seem innocent in Iran it can be interpreted very differently and may send you to prison or get you deported.

This page was last updated: December, 2013