• About Mashhad

      Traveling to Mashhad

      On this page:

        Language Spoken

      The official language spoken is Farsi or Persian. However, a good portion of the youth and shopkeepers can understand and speak some English.
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      The month of May is spring time and the weather is usually quite mild and lovely. The day time is an average of 21ºC and night time is fairly chilly at 13ºC. However, the locals say that the weather is so unpredictable that we should carry a suitcase with us when we leave the house, as we may experience four seasons in one day!
      In general, the climate in Mashhad is semi-arid. In the summer the average temperature is around 30ºC, with clear sunny skies. In the winter the average temperature is about 12ºC, with a few snow showers; with autumn being similar to spring.
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        Geographic Location

      Mashhad is situated in the northeast of Iran and is 934 km from Tehran. It is the capital of Khorasan Razavi province and covers an area of 10450 km2 and is 980 m from sea level. It is surrounded by two mountain ranges; Hezarmajed extends from the northeast to the east of Mashhad and Binalood extends from the southwest to the west.
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      The local time in Mashhad is GMT +3:30 hours. Iran observes daylight savings time and the majority of the country is one time zone, with the exception in the far west of the country.
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        Business Hours

      The official work hours in Mashhad are from 7:30 am to 2 pm, from Saturday to Wednesday and on Thursday from 7:30 am to 1:00 pm. Banking hours are 7:30 am to 2 pm; some banks are open in the afternoon.
      Shops are usually open at 10 am and close around 2:00 pm for lunch. They then reopen around 5 pm to about 10 pm. Stores around the Holy Shrine generally open earlier – about 8 am – and remain open all day until 11 pm. Most stores are closed on Friday mornings, with a few exceptions around the Holy Shrine. However, nowadays some are open in the afternoon.
      Restaurants and fast foods normally open for lunch at 12 pm until 3 pm. They reopen again for dinner around 8 pm until 11 pm. Most sandwich shops remain open all day, starting at 11 am.

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        How to Pay

      Iran presently cannot process credit cards and everything must be paid with Iranian currency. Bargaining for lower prices is common, especially around the Holy Shrine; however, in chain stores prices are fixed.
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        Iranian Currency

      The currency of Iran is called the Rial and approximately 46,000 Rial is equivalent to about $1 US or 0.7 Euros. Upon arriving in all international airports it is fairly easy to exchange major foreign currency, such as the US Dollar, Euro, and British Pound. In fact there is a bank right after passport control and it is open 24/7. Otherwise, throughout all Iranian metropolitans there are plenty of banks and authorized exchange centers which can easily convert your currency.
      The paper money of Iran is printed in small increments and you may find it a bit awkward to carry. As an alternative, you can request travelers’ checks from banks/exchange centers - also known as Iran Checks – in increments of 500,000 Rial (approximately $10.5 US).
      Please note that the official name of Iran’s currency is the Rial, however in the streets it is referred to as the Toman and the last digit of the Rial is dropped. For example, 1,000,000 Rial is 100,000 Toman or 10,000 Rial is 1,000 Toman.

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        International Telephone Calls

      SIM cards can be easily purchased at the airport, in the hotel store or at practically any supermarket and shopping center. Irancell is the most popular SIM card seller and the prices are fairly reasonable. Moreover, all types of mobiles operate in Iran, analog and digital.
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      Mashhad has a large variety of hotels including 5-star hotels, inns, hostels, and motels. However, during peak tourist season booking a hotel must be done well in advance. It is common for 4 and 5-star hotels to have wireless Internet, coffee and ice cream shops, handicraft stores, ticket agencies, inner-city transportation to the Holy Shrine, taxi services (for a fee) and restaurants.

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      Mashhad has an array of restaurants to suit everyone’s taste. They range from western fast food to top quality international buffets and traditional garden restaurants. The portions are usually generous and the prices are fair, compared to the rest of the country.
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      It is not customary in fast food restaurants or sandwich shops to leave a tip. However, in larger and more formal restaurants it is common to leave a 10 to 15% tip, provided there is no automatic service charge.
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      Tap water is safe to drink. Take care to only drink from public fountains designated for human consumption. Moreover, domestic and foreign bottled water is readily available in all grocery stores and restaurants for a nominal fee.
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        Electrical Voltage

      The voltage is 220V and the plugs are 2-pins and rounded. Similar to the below picture.
      plug 16
      ECA C
      CEE7 XVI(2) Europlug,
      CEE7 XVII
      plug 18
      ECA E or F
      CEE7 VII Schuko

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        In the Airport

      As mentioned before, foreign currency can be easily exchanged 24/7.
      Porters are available for assistance and they expect a small tip for services rendered (1,000 to 2,000 Tomans).
      Official airport taxis are always on hand to transport travelers; although be sure to only use official airport taxis. They can be easily identified by TAXI or TAKSI signs on their cars. See section on Getting Around Mashhad for more information.
      Custom laws prohibit the transfer of precious carpets and other objects which have historical and cultural value. Only one carpet or short-napped coarse carpet, not more than 6 m², is allowed to be taken out of the country. You should check with your own country’s custom laws to see what you are not allowed to take back; as some countries prohibit pistachios and other types of nuts and dried fruits.
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       Getting around Mashhad

      Buses: Using public transportation in Mashhad is relatively cheap compared to other parts of the world due the government’s subsidization program. There are modern CNG buses for a nominal fee per trip and are easily accessible at all bus stops and run every 15 minutes. Bus tickets cost 1500 Rial (150 Tomans) and can be purchased in kiosks near busy bus stops.
      Taxis: The city also has semi-private and private taxi services and shared taxis. The system of shared taxis is such that a passenger must hail a taxi, usually on a street corner or taxi stand and state which street you intend to go. This type of taxi picks up several passengers at a time, unless you state Dar-Bast (meaning you want private service). It is important to know that you should get into shared taxis only with an official taxi sign on its roof or written on the body of the car.
      Semi-private taxis have an official taxi sign and emblem on their cars, plus use meters to calculate the cost of each trip. The names of these taxi services are 133, 1829, and 1830 and you can contact these taxis by dialing those numbers or hailing them on the street.
      In most tourist and pilgrim sites and airports/terminals there are taxi stands that make it much easier to get around. Some hotels also provide taxi and shuttle services for their patrons. Traveling is relatively safe; however, just like in all other parts of the world common sense should be used.

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        Important Phone Numbers

      In case of emergencies it is best to contact one of our staff workers (contact in Mashhad: Mr. Isfahanizadeh 09151177499), since emergency centers will only be able to speak Persian.
      • Police: 110
      • Ambulance: 115
      • Fire fighters: 125
      • Taxi Co. numbers: 133, 1829, 1830

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        Dress Code

      Throughout Iran, everyone is expected to follow the religious laws of observing the Islamic modest dress. Males should not wear shorts.
      For females this includes covering one’s head with a scarf, and a loose-fitting long-sleeved tunic, and full-length skirt or pants. Note the fabric should not be see-through and the color of one’s clothing is not important. In addition, the wearing of light makeup for women is no problem.

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        Other Points to Know

      Moreover, there are social and religious taboos, which are good to know so as not to give a wrong message. Men and women do not shake hands or physically touch in public and out of marriage relationships are punishable by law. Generally, behavior one would observe in a formal situation is preferred.
      Picture or video tapping is not allowed in high security locations, as is in other countries. Otherwise, everyone is allowed to take personal pictures and video tape. However, if you want to take pictures of strangers it is preferable as well as polite to ask permission first.
      Consuming alcoholic beverages and using illegal drugs are against the law in Iran; as well as public drunkenness and disruptive behavior. Please note that these carry heavy punishments, if caught.
      In business situations, business cards and other exchanges (email, contact numbers, etc...) are offered only to high-level managers. The situation is very formal. People are addressed solely by titles and last names. Again, handshaking is only reserved for the same genders.
      During meetings or conferences, a snack is usually offered along with tea and meals are rather heavy, as Iranians are very hospitable.
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        Mashhad’s Religious and Historical Significance

      The initial name of this city was initially Mashhad al-Reza, which means “the place of martyrdom of al-Reza”. Al-Reza or Imam Reza (peace be upon him), as he is widely known by, was a direct descendent of the holy Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and the eighth Imam (leader) of the Shi’ite Muslims. Over one thousand years has passed since Imam Reza’s martyrdom, and present day Mashhad has grown into a large metropolis that annually hosts over 20 million pilgrims and tourists. Moreover, the grave of Imam Reza has growing into a grand spiritual complex to accommodate these pilgrims. Indeed, the artistic architecture of this complex is a definite must-see and the spiritual atmosphere is wondrous!
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