Iran Travel: Western Tourists Increasingly Visiting America's Frenemy
Just six years after the American president deemed Iran to be part of an "Axis of Evil," the reclusive country is cracking open its borders to an increasing number of western tourists. As USA Today reports, Canadian tour company G.A.P Aventures is now offering the Discover Persia Tour, a fourteen-day journey by bus and plane with stops at Iran's most famous sites, including the ancient cities of Esfahan, Persepolis, and Shiraz, as well as the parks and museums of the capital Tehran. And guidebook giant Rick Steves, who toured Iran in May to film a PBS special, raved about the country, claiming that any preconceived notions he had were blown out of the water by his visit. There remains a U.S. State Department travel warning for Iran, and visitors would be well served to bone up on etiquette and cultural pitfalls, but somehow it doesn't seem like such a scary place anymore. In my limited Middle Eastern travel experience, I've found that government relations and human relations are entirely different things. Most local people are kind and welcoming to visitors, and if you smile or make eye contact with someone, you're likely to be invited to share tea and conversation over a game of backgammon. Steer clear of topics such as religion and politics and you just might have a friend for life.
[Photo: USA Today]
· In Iran, Open Arms, Rich History Await Intrepid Western Travelers [USA Today]
· Discover Persia Tour [G.A.P Adventures]
· Rick Steves' Iran: Yesterday and Today [ricksteves.com]
· Iran Air: We Take You There, We Take You Back [Jaunted]