Safety in Iran
Iran is seen by many travellers as one of the safest countries in which to be a tourist. The vast majority of Iranians consider foreigners to be honoured guests who should be showered with hospitality. There is hardly any violent crime and in the unlikely event of trouble, passers-by will flock to your aid.
Aggression towards cycle tourists is, like other crime in Iran, quite rare. Petty theft is a possibility though. We heard one report of a cyclist who had his camera stolen by two men on a small road leading out of Shiraz. As you would anywhere, don’t flash your valuables around and lock your bike when you leave it unattended.
Consider asking local advice before you take any particularly remote roads. Some people say certain roads crossing the Dasht-e-Kavir desert between Mashhad and Yazd are unsafe because of drug smuggling between Afghanistan and Pakistan, although we have not heard of any actual incidents to support this talk.
The entire region east of Kerman is definitely known for drug smuggling however and some tourists have been kidnapped here. This is perhaps the only truly unsafe area for foreigners in all of Iran and travelling here may invalidate your insurance. Check before you go.
Travellers should be careful when taking pictures. Under no circumstances should you photograph government or military property. Cyclists should not to stop for lunch or place their tent near any official installations without asking permission.
When wild camping, the normal precautions apply. Either sneak off into the bushes unnoticed or ask locals for a safe place to put your tent during the night. Most people will be only too happy to oblige, especially if you have a letter in Farsi that explains your trip and what you need.
Pay extra attention to motorbikes driven by young men. Their intense curiosity about you combined with a desire to show off can result in some dangerous driving. Popping repeated wheelies in your path or riding alongside you while trying to hold a conversation are two favourite tactics.
You may come across people who think that, as a foreigner, you must want to buy some alcohol. If someone drives past you a few times waving an empty bottle or if you hear the word “arak” you can bet that’s what is going on.