Howdy all! It’s time to head to a city that I KNOW you can do on $100 and still have a very awesome time indeed. It’s a town you may not have heard that much about dear reader, but one I have featured a few times on this blog because frankly, it’s really a special place and one I would recommend you try and visit if you ever get the chance (visas can be tricky depending on your country!). That is the town of Isfahan or Esfahan if you prefer, in central Iran, a city known for it’s amazing square, friendly people and just being a very attractive Islamic city to visit.
And also, being in Iran it is extremely affordable, which makes it perhaps almost too easy a fit for this challenge – remember, we arrived early morning day one, and fly out late day two, flights are not included but everything on the ground is!
So the first question is transport – getting into the city from the airport (yes, there is an INTERNATIONAL airport!). It shouldn’t set you back too much although even in Iran there has been a spike in petrol prices. But we can happily use taxis which are mucho affordable and with the airport close enough to town the interweb says it costs between 1 and 2 USD to get into town. I’d say that as much as I am sure that it’s dirt cheap, this seems a little too cheap to be true, but let’s take a transport budget in total for the two days of $20 USD and include our two rides to and from the airport in that and I am confident that we will have enough money.
Then we need to take our night’s accommodation into consideration. I slept in basically a hostel when I was there, on the floor and strangely I didn’t mind. I would today, and that place is not longer in the guide book, let’s get ourselves a decent budget room, and in Central Isfahan we find the Iran Hotel, which help you remember what country you are in by its name if nothing else. It comes recommended by the guide book and has a website, and for a single it’s $28 so I think it’s a goer.
Food is pretty darn cheap also in Iran, meat, rice and vegetables are pretty much all you need and if we keep another $20 aside for that, well I think that will cover us. We will look at things to see and do and anything left over you can use to buy something at the bazaar or eat a bit more, but $5 should comfortably cover you for a casual meal.
So what else do we need money for? We have so far spent $68USD and have $32 left. Well, you can easily spend the best part of a day explore the Iman-I-Khomeini/Naqsg-e Jaman – the huge square which is the centre of everything pretty much and is STUNNING with a huge wall on each side incorporating multiple mosques, a palace and the bazaar. The Masjed-e Shah is one you don’t want to miss, and the entrance is 200,000 rials which is a little under $5. You will be dazzled by the design, the arches and the blue mosaics. The other main mosque in the square is the Masjed-e Sheikh Lotofallah, also $5 and is worth a look but also the Kakh-e Ali Qapu is worth visiting which is a palace incorporated into the structure, again $5. The Bazar-e Bozorg is a place to wander inside the walls of the square, that has no entrance price. Just the inside of the square you can wander for an hour or so, meeting people – the people of Iran are incredible friendly and kind and you will NOT be led astray – so devote time to that too.
Outside the square you should visit the Masjed-e Jameh, again $5 and close to the other entrance of the Bazaar-e Bozorg which starts as I said from the square and leads away from it for quite a way. I have not visited this mosque, but I do recommend it a it is big and intricate and looks amazing.
That’s a day for you there, and well, the second day you must take the chance to get to the Zayandeh River and go for a wander along it for a couple of hours. It’s beautiful and you will surely meet locals and get to know them. There are several famous bridges that cross the river such as the Si-O Se bridge, and many have tea houses located under the bridge which you should take some time to sit in and have tea.
Other places to consider for your second day include the Hasht Behesht Palace (around $3.50), the Armenian quarter is really interesting and you can wander for free and appreciate the architecture or visit the cathedral Kelisa-ye Vank ($5), Iran has sheltered many Armenian refugees and it’s an interesting story. There are other historic buildings, a Decorative Arts Museum, a Music Museum ($3.50 – $6.50) which you can use to fill your second day.
Two mosques, the cathedral, the palaces and something else will have you spending around another $23 getting us to $91 leaving $9 or so for the bazaar or more to eat. And you will have had a very full two days! The Iranian Rial is not the world’s most stable currency – at around 42,000 rial to the USD it’s not going to convert easily in your head, and often people will prefer USD in their hand. DO NOT expect to use ATMs, it’s cash or nada in Iran! So bring a crisp $100 and… no don’t do that, take it in small denominations, change $30 – $40 and use USD for the rest!
Anyways, a great city with amazing experiences, warm people and stunning architecture. I can’t recommend it enough! Thanks for joining me today! Take care wherever you may be in the world, and May the Journey Never End!