How much to budget for 2 week in Iran?
If you have followed me enough on my travel blog or my Facebook page, you’ll be well aware that one of my favourite pastimes now is boasting how beautiful and underrated Iran is.
One bad thing about Iran though – you cannot use your credit/debit cards in Iran as the banks in Iran are not connected to the Western banking system.
Up till now, there are only some banks in Iran that take international credit cards.
As it’s not accepted everywhere, everyone seems to just take in the idea of using just cash while travelling in Iran.
This means that you have to carry the total amount of cash (in USD or Euro) that you will expect to spend in Iran before flying into Iran.
Don’t know how much to budget for Iran? This guide aims to give you a comprehensive idea of how much things are gonna cost in Iran!
Things to know
Official Currency: The official currency in Iran is Rial. However, you will hear people saying “Toman” all the time. Toman is not a currency, it is just another representation of Rial.
For example, if something costs 100,000 Rial, it means that it costs 10,000 Toman. Sometimes, you will hear people saying 10 Toman – which basically means 10,000 Toman. However, hotels and tour guides may accept USD or Euros for the convenience of the travellers. If the rate is in your favour, pay with that currency.
Currency Exchange at the airport: USD and Euros are widely accepted in currency exchange shops in Iran. Get your hands on one of these two currencies before you fly into the country. There will be official money changers in the airport for you to change your money into their official Rial. However, their rates are normally bad. To make the most of your bucks, just change enough for you to take a taxi to the city. There will be plenty of currency exchange shops in the city.
Currency Exchange in the city: Major cities like Tehran or Shiraz have many currency exchange shops, official or not.
You’ll find people carrying a huge stack of Rials by the streets (especially near the entrance of major bazaars) asking if you wanna change your USD for their Rials.
These are the unofficial ones (a no-brainer, right), and their rates are sometimes better than the rate of the official currency exchange shops.
However, I advise against this as there is normally no receipt provided. Just find an official currency exchange shop and change your money there. Ask if they have brand new notes as there have been fake notes of the older version circulating around according to my friend from Tehran.
The exchange rate when we were there: We were in Iran when USD was the strongest. We managed to get 40000 Rials for 1 USD.
Our spending habit
I travelled to Iran with my mum in winter. As we are both huge fans of food, we tend to spend more on food when we travel. But, even splurging in good restaurants in Iran doesn’t cost that much!
You can see that we didn’t spend anything on accommodation in some cities. This is because we did Couchsurfing in Tehran, Isfahan and Yazd.
We want to know the local culture and what it’s like to live in Iran. We definitely enjoyed our Couchsurfing experiences!
In return, we bought something for them. It definitely is a way to save costs if you are low on budget but remember, do not be a freeloader. Read more about Couchsurfing here!
We are a little FOMO so we spend quite a bit on entrance tickets. There will be a further breakdown in the toggle down below so check that out.
Another big chunk of our expenditure went to transport. We didn’t wanna lose time so we bought some flight tickets to fly between cities.
In total, we spent 27,924,000 Rials (or 853 USD) for two people while travelling in Iran for two weeks. Depending on your spending habit, you might go over this budget or go even less if you are Couchsurfing, hitchhiking or eating cheap all the time!
Iran is an inexpensive country in general. Food is normally cheap if you don’t eat at touristy areas. Both of us are food aficionados so we instantly lost all our thriftiness when it comes to food. After all, Persian cuisine is worth the money!
Cheap: Street food like Khoresh kebabs cost 150,000 Rials (3.75 USD) for two of us. The portion is big and it’s tasty too. There are a lot of Iranian bread shops selling bread as cheap as 5,000 Rials (0.12 USD).
Moderate: We dined at a sit-down restaurant for 420,000 Rials (10.50 USD). We ordered 3 dishes and 1 saffron rice and it was plentiful for us. As it was winter when we were travelling in Iran, the street food scene wasn’t as bustling. Basically, we ate in Iranian restaurants every day.
Expensive: When we were at the Grand Bazaar in Tehran, we dined in Moslem restaurant. As it is near to both the Golestan Palace and the Grand Bazaar, it wasn’t cheap in Iranian standards. 2 dishes cost us 675,000 Rials (16.88 USD). We thought that we shouldn’t have ordered two because the portions were huge!
Snacks: A small pack of almond nuts costs us 20,000 (0.50 USD) Rials. A bottle of fresh pomegranate juice costs us 40,000 (1.00 USD) Rials. That’s why we snacked so much. A pack of cookies cost 15,000 Rials (0.38 USD).
As both of us wanted to see the most of Iran in 2 weeks, our pace was quick. That’s why transport actually took the biggest chunk of our money.
I will further break down my major expenses under transport.
Taxi from Tehran IKA Airport to the city centre: This costs us 750,000 Rials (18.75 USD). Upon arrival at IKA airport, proceed to the official taxi counter and ask about the cost for your ride to your destination. They will quote you a price. Then, go up the escalator and you will find an official currency exchange shop. Change just enough Rials for you to take the taxi to the city as the rate is normally bad. You can also skip Tehran straight away and go to Qom. However, I think that there’s a lot to see in Tehran and I definitely recommend you spending some time there.
Travelling around Tehran: Tehran is a huge city with a considerably well-maintained subway system. One subway ticket will cost around 7500 Rials (0.20 USD) per pax depending on how far you are travelling. However, we used Snapp (Uber equivalent) most of the time. A 20-minute ride (without jam) will cost around 100,000 Rials (2.50 USD). I highly recommend Snapp, although you need someone to set it up for you as the set-up process was entirely in Persian. You can try to ask the person in the phone shop to set it up for you when you buy a SIM card. My kind Couchsurfing host set it up for me.
Tehran to Kashan: We took a bus to Kashan and it costs 160,000 Rials (4.00 USD) per person for a one-way ticket. We didn’t buy our tickets beforehand and we just boarded whichever VIP bus that was leaving at that time. Avoid the touts. Go in the building and see which is the next VIP bus leaving. VIP buses are awesome and I highly recommend them. You can opt for non-VIP bus as well and it will cost around 120,000 Rial (3.00 USD). Just take a VIP bus. You won’t regret it.
Around Kashan: We hired a tour guide and a driver to drive us around for two days. We went to Abyaneh, which is around 1.5 hours away. They charged us 2,820,000 (70 USD) Rials for 2 days. This includes accommodation (a super huge house with only both of us staying in there), fuel, breakfasts and a super good tour of Kashan and Abyaneh in English. We absolutely recommend it.
Kashan to Isfahan: Again, we took the VIP bus from Kashan to Isfahan and it costs 135,000 Rials (3.38 USD) per person. There’s no need to prebook your ticket before you go to Iran (it’s hard to do it anyway as they don’t take credit cards). Just buy your ticket on the spot.
Around Isfahan: We walked a lot around Isfahan. Our Couchsurfing host is a really nice guy who brings us around on foot. Unless it’s really necessary, he will not drive. So we spent almost nothing in Isfahan, except for the taxi ride to and from the bus station. Bear in mind that Snapp only works in Tehran, so you will have to take the normal taxi in Isfahan. Haggle to a price that you are happy paying before you get in a taxi. If you are not comfortable with haggling the prices down, ask your guesthouse to order a taxi for you as they will normally quote you the official rate (though it can be a little more expensive compared to haggling the price down by yourself).
Isfahan to Varzaneh: The ticket price of VIP bus to Varzaneh costs 150,000 Rials (3.75 USD) per person. The bus to Varzaneh is not frequent, so plan well by finding out the schedule from your guesthouse a day before.
Around Varzaneh: We hired a tour guide and a driver. For two days, it costs 1,800,000 (45 USD) Rials for a car. Of course, this depends on what places you are going and how far is the distance. We went to the Black Mountain, sand dunes, wetlands, the citadel and two smaller attractions.
Varzaneh to Yazd: There’s no direct bus from Varzaneh to Yazd – you have to take a taxi to Na’in and board the bus from there. Your guesthouse can organise a taxi to take you to the main road (there’s a police station there) where you can catch a bus going to the direction of Yazd. The taxi costs us 500,000 Rials (12.50 USD). We were sharing it with 2 Vietnamese girls so we paid only 250,000 Rials (6.75 USD). The bus from Na’in to Yazd costs 150,000 Rials (3.75 USD) per pax. I don’t think it was a VIP bus but we had no choice – we had to go with any bus that’s willing to stop for us and take us.
Around Yazd: We didn’t enjoy Yazd so much so we stayed for only a day. We hired a driver and it costs us 1,000,000 Rials (25 USD). The price can be lower if you are not visiting the Fire temple. Negotiate before deciding on a deal.
Yazd to Shiraz: We took a VIP bus. It was a night bus and it costs 360,000 Rials (9 USD) per person. The ride was very pleasant and both my mum and I could sleep throughout the journey. The reclining seats were amazing.
Shiraz: The public transport system in Shiraz is inadequate. We walked a lot and also used taxis. However, Snapp app doesn’t work here, so expect to pay a little bit more compared to the prices that you are paying in Tehran using Snapp.
We did Couchsurfing in Tehran, Isfahan and Yazd, so technically there is no cost. But we bought things for our hosts, which you might want to consider as “expenses”.
The accommodation in Iran wasn’t too expensive. A dorm bed in Shiraz will cost you around 9 – 12 USD whereas a private room will set you off at 40 USD – 45 USD. We stayed at Niayesh hotel and we loved it. We took 2 dorm beds as we were told that no one was taking any of the bed in the room anyways. So we had the whole room to ourselves.
When in Varzaneh, we had a private room to ourselves which costs only 15 USD for a night.
Your accommodation is likely to take care of everything for you. That’s why research well before going. We had a terrific stay at Niayesh Boutique Hotel in Shiraz as the hoteliers and the receptionists took care of our needs immediately all the time.
However, our stay at Varzaneh Traditional Guesthouse was not a pleasant one. Although the room rate is really cheap, the guesthouse owner overcharged us on our food and tour. The next day, we opted for the tour by Chapaker guesthouse with 2 Vietnamese girls and the owner was so much nicer and less money-minded.
PS: I quoted the price in USD because that’s how they charged us. You can choose to pay in USD or Rials. Some hotels/hostels take Euros too.
In Iran, foreigners are charged much, much more compared to Iranians.
For example, the ticket for Eram Garden in Shiraz costs 200,000 Rials (5 USD) for foreigners and 30,000 Rials (0.75 USD). Entrance for Tabatabaei house in Kashan costs 150,000 Rials (3.75 USD). Entrance for Sultan Amir Bathhouse in Kashan costs 150,000 Rials (3.75 USD). The price difference is applied to Persepolis, Necropolis and other major attractions regulated by the Ministry of Tourism in Iran.
We hired a tour guide when we were at Persepolis as we heard that it’s the best way to learn about the grandeur of this place. It was 500,000 Rials (12.50 USD) and it was totally worth it! Upon your entry to Persepolis, there will be a counter for you to hire a tour guide if you want to. Our tour guide speaks perfect English and German, and she was really funny too (hope that you get the same one)!
This includes one-off stuff like my SIM card and some souvenirs. I got Irancell SIM card with 3 GB of data (if my memory didn’t fail me) and it costs us 250,000 Rials (6.25 USD). I bought a beautiful handmade souvenir for my friend in Yazd and it costs 250,000 Rials (6.25 USD) with minimal haggling.
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Going to Iran soon?
I hope that this budget breakdown helped you in planning you travels to Iran!
If you need more inspiration to travel to Iran, read more about why I chose to travel to Iran with my mum!