EghtesadOnline: There are dozens of online guides for travelers on what they should pack before visiting Iran. This is a guide to what applications you can install on your smart devices before hitting the road.
1-Local App Markets
Several Iranian apps are not available on conventional app markets like App Store and Play Store. A month ago, in a strange move, Google and Apple started removing applications of Iranian businesses from their app markets.
The two companies sighted the unilateral US sanctions as the reason for their unprofessional move.
You can directly download the app markets from the businesses’ websites.
The first thing you will need after getting off the plane is a taxi. Getting an airport cab is something close to a nuisance and the fares are high.
These applications have been removed from App Store and Play Store; therefore, you should download them from one of the local alternative app markets introduced earlier or directly from the websites of the cab companies.
One of the main complaints of travelers not in the too distant past was that they needed to carry stacks of money when travelling around Iran. That belongs to the past. Now you create a local bank account and get a debit card.
Again due to the banking sanctions international credit cards do not work in Iran. To circumvent the problem, authorities have introduced the so-called Tourist Card, a prepaid credit card with a maximum balance of $5,000.
The card can be obtained at international airports and recharged at any of the branches of Bank Melli, Bank Sepah and Tourism Bank across the country.
One of the popular payment applications in Iran is offered by electronic payment company Asan Pardakht.
You can charge local SIM cards, transfer money to other accounts and pay for a variety of services through the application.
Asan Pardakht is available for download on Google Play Store. iOS users can download the app from its website.
In addition to Asan Pardakht, another payment app that comes handy is Pardakhtam. Using the app you can pay the cabbie by scanning QR codes installed in cabs.
Each taxi driver has a unique identification number in Pardakhtam’s database peered with a QR code installed in his car. Currently, the app is only available for Android phones and can be downloaded from the businesses website or Café Bazaar.
Telegram is the most popular messaging application and social media platform in Iran. The application has close to 45 million users. It is so popular that most youngsters will ask for your Telegram ID instead of a phone number to stay in touch. Telegram can be downloaded from App store and Play Store as well as its official website.
Other messaging application, like WhatsApp and Vimeo, are also used in the country but are not as popular.
The Persian calendar is a succession of calendars invented or used for over two millennia in Iran. The calendar has been modified time and again during its history.
For staying abreast of local events and even planning your trip you need to check the date(s) on the Persian calendar.
While several websites offer bilingual services for converting Gregorian dates to the Persian one, getting a Persian Calendar application will come handy.
Dozens of Persian calendar applications are available on App Store and Play Store for free.
6-Tehran Metro Guide
The capital’s tube has become popular with tourists, especially backpackers. The fares are cheap and the service efficient and secure.
Tehran Urban and Suburban Railway Organization has launched a companion app that enables users to find their way fast and easy.
The application is available for download on App Store and Play Store.
Dozens of applications and services are blocked in Iran, services like Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter.
We have all experienced Internet outages and we know that we can survive without checking our social media networks. But by using a VPN service you can easily get through.
In addition to downloading the apps, buying a SIM card offered by Iranian operators is highly recommended. Most operators have booths at the airport. By showing your passport and visa you can buy a prepaid SIM and activate it in few minutes. This will cut your costs significantly. The SIMs cost very little.
The applications that you use on a daily basis, regardless of where you are, will come handy, apps like Google Maps or Foursquare — one of the most popular city guide apps in the world.