THESE MEN ARE DANGEROUS CRIMINALS. In fact the fat one on the left physically assaulted me when I started shouting for the Police. These evil criminals are Moneychangers on the street. I needed some cash and they offered me a better rate than the Exchange shop and the banks were closed. I knew they would charge me a small charge, but then they said I had only given them $40 when I handed over $50. That’s when I shouted Police! And the guy on the left hit me. Then my $50 was handed back and these guys disappeared. The Police did arrive, but seemed uninterested in my photo. Well I got a free lesson. I found an exchange shop that gave me a descent rate nearby. After that I only used the banks.
AVOID THESE MEN. THEY OPERATE IN FERDOSI SQUARE
One of the major hazards in Tehran, is the state of the roads and pavements. And not just in Tehran, it is the same all over Iran in all the cities we visited. It really is not a place for wheelchair users. The gutters are deep and wide (and full of very fast flowing icy cold mountain glacier water in spring, often causing severe flooding), and sometimes it can be quite hard to get across from the pavement to the road. Many places have small concrete ‘bridges’, but often these are absent, or not in the place you want to cross. Keep your eyes on the ground or you could come a-cropper like Yasmina did – falling over and hurting her knee when she missed her step. Be careful.
Don’t leave it until the last minute to make those important gift-purchases. Having taken a domestic flight from Mehrabad Airport which was full of cute little shops selling souvenirs, snacks and all sorts of useful and useless items any traveller needs, I was so disappointed with the shopping opportunities at the new, modern Imam Khomeini International Airport. They are almost non-existent! There were a few (maybe four) small, expensive shops in a row, that’s it! Don’t rely on any duty-free (Iran being a dry country, there is no alcohol of course) for gifts and memories of your trip. Buy them when you can!
The biggest danger by far in Tehran, is the traffic. You take your life in your hands crossing the road, with the myriad of cars, taxis and motorbikes who all weave in and out on the road and sometimes on the pavements too. Zebra crossings don’t help you much either, as traffic do not stop for pedestrians. You don’t wait for a gap in the traffic to cross the road in Iran, you create one. When you see a small window of opportunity, aim for it, walk with confidence and don’t hesitate. You’ll be fine, we were.
Tehran is home to some fascinating sights but unfortuantely this massive city also has extreme air pollution and for travellers with sensitive eyes this city will makes your eyes burn. My first four or five hours in Tehran were spent walking around in awe of the Iran/Iraq murals, traffic and smog! My eyes felt like they were on fire (I wear contact lenses) and I felt like I rubbed some form of cleaning product in them causing me to use my eye drops every 20 minutes. Be warned that people with any form of lung/throat or eye problem shouldnt hang around this city for days. I spent 3 great days here and after a day or so I felt better but be warned. The old cars in the capital will buzz you too close for comfort and they would make even the most healthy good spirited fellow ie Richard Simmons feel their wrath ;) Good luck.
I would like to suggest you not to take pictures of former US embassy building. You can end up in police station for some short time. I know there are very interesting murals on the wall, but you can download them from internet if you want to show your family and friends what you have seen;)
Be extremely crefull when crossing street. Mostly there are no traffic lights in Tehran, but even when they are working you should be very carefull. You need to have scills to cross the street in this city. Better start with waiting for some local who also want to cross it and then go together.
There are far fewer police on the streets of Tehran than in London, Paris or New York. But westerners, since there aren't so many of them wandering around the city, tend to get noticed. You don't want this pair taking aim at you – so behave yourself when you are in Tehran.
Tehran's traffic problems just keep on growing. Huge traffic jams are an everyday occurrence and the pollution problems , particularly in the lower parts of the city, are acute.
Allow yourself plenty of time to get anywhere you have to be to a timetable - the airport, bus station, etc.
If you find the pollution is getting to you, do as the Teranis do, take some time out in the foothills of the mountains around the city -visit a teahouse in the hills and valleys outside the city or the palace complex of the Shahs at Zaferanieh, in the north of the city.
While the problem is worse in Esfahan, watch out for men claiming to be police who will ask for your passport then demand money before they give it back. Generally they will cruise in Paykans (the old cars found everywhere in Iran) and hold up some document from the window to get you to stop.
Either walk into a shop or as I did, pull your camera out and they'll leave you alone. Of course if there hadn't been people around I wouldn't have dared to be so brazen.
In Tehran and Esfahan some people have developed a nice scam. They pretend to be police, stopping tourists demanding to see their passport. If they get it, they will be gone in a moment. In tehran i was stopped by a patrol of three siviliandressed men in a paykan. The leader showed me an ordinary ID card saying he was poliuce, demanding to get my passport as he asked if i had heroine or hasjis. I responded "let us go to the nearest uniformed police". Then they disappeared.
if you are a tourist,there is no particular danger in tehran,and anyway iran is very very very very very very very less dangerous than morocco or tunisia,where all the tourists go without fear.According to me ,it is better not to walk in the streets of tehran if you are wearing a tee-shirt'long life to israel' or a shirt all written in hebrew.
attend to direction & be careful about where you go, the Grand Bazaar is very crowd & huge & may easily getting lost.
It's hoped that you won't need any of the fonumbers:
Ambulance 220071-2. Tehran Traffic 197, 8834910. General 115, 6469990.
Water 5634000. Power 3261.
Be careful in the traffic! Don't even think about driving a car yourself, and use extreme care when crossing a street. Driver's mostly have only to pay a fine if they run over somebody.