Handmade perfume maker in Iranian bazaar

Money Issues, Shopping and Travelling Costs‎

Iran is still a cash economy, so bring enough hard currency for the duration of your stay. US ‎Dollars and Euros are the most useful, and new and large (USD 100 or EUR 100 or higher) bills in ‎good condition are preferred and usually get a better rate. Trade embargoes mean that banks will ‎not forward cash advances on your foreign credit cards and they are only accepted by select ‎stores for large purchases, such as Persian rugs. Most will be happy to forward you some cash on ‎your credit card at the same time as your purchase.‎

There is little point in risking the black market moneychangers who loiter outside of major banks ‎and only offer marginally better rates than the banks. Central banks in most cities will change ‎money for you, but the process can be a drawn out affair requiring signatures from countless ‎officials and a fair deal of running around. A better compromise is the private exchange offices (sarāfi) scattered around most large cities ‎and major tourist centers. Although their rates are comparable to those of the banks, they are far ‎quicker and, unlike their black market colleagues, they can be traced later on if something goes ‎wrong.

The most widely-accepted currency is the US dollar, but Euros and UK Pound Sterling are also ‎widely used. Other currencies are harder to change. $100 notes attract the highest prices, and ‎you will be quoted lower rates for any old or ripped notes. ‎ In most other aspects of life prices are fixed. Tipping is usually accepted. Locals will ‎generally round up the bill in taxis and add around 10% in classy restaurants. Porters and bellboys ‎will expect $2 to $3. ‎

If you are prepared to stay in the cheapest guesthouses, travel only by bus and eat only at fast ‎food outlets or kebab houses, you can get by in Iran on a minimum of around $15 per day. If you ‎want to eat a decent restaurant meal every now and then and stay in mid-range accommodations, ‎a more realistic budget is around $40. If you want to eat and sleep in luxury and fly between ‎major sights, you can easily chew through $100 per day.