Iran Now: The Islamic Outlier
28 December 2017 – 7 January 2018
Iran, though easily seen as a threat to peace, remains calm and stable amidst the troubling events happening in the Middle East. The country seems to be an Outlier in the Islamic World as it is the rare Muslim country dominated by Shia 什葉派 Muslims, there is a blossom of arts and films in the dry Middle East, and it is the unique mix of the bright Persian culture with Islam.
Iran Now: The Islamic Outlier is a 11 days programme that brings you to understand what makes Iran special among its neighbours by tracing its glorious past, absorbing the rich Persian cultures, experiencing Iranian’s Muslim spirit, appreciating Iranian beauty, and studying issues from Women’s Right, Press Freedom, Refugees to Iranian Revolution.
DAY 1: 28 DEC 2017 (Thu)
Start of Programme
- Arrive at the hotel within the day
- (Group flight arrives at 1935)
- Welcome dinner and free time, tour mentors’ introduction of Iran
- Overnight at Tehran
Day 2: 29 DEC 2017 (Fri) Islamic Revolution and Legacy (伊斯蘭革命)
Tehran > Shiraz
- Golestan Palace (古列斯坦宮), a palace representing the Qajar era (愷加王朝), it consists of gardens, royal buildings, and collections of Iranian crafts and European presents from the 18th and 19th centuries.
- Grand Bazaar (德黑蘭市集), to experience the traditional Iranian way of shopping just like the ancient times. We will check out the world’s smallest teahouse in the bazaar and observed the hustle and bustle of Iranians. Our team was interviewed by CNN (please see 0.14 seconds!) when we were there in July!
- Former US Embassy (前美國大使館), the focal point of the 1979 Revolution. It was stormed by Iranian students who held diplomats hostage for over a year. Participants will learn about the pro-American Iranian government before 1979, and critically examine the relationship between the US and Iran since 1979, especially after the implementation of Donald Trump’s executive order and additional sanctions against Iran in 2017.
- Azadi Tower (阿扎迪塔), literally meaning “Freedom Tower” was built to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of Persian Empire, but was ironically became a place for mass demonstrations and currently a symbol of the past.
- Overnight train to Shiraz (設拉子) We will hop on a train all the way to Shiraz. The train will guarantee all of us a memorable commuting experience.
Day 3: 30 DEC 2017 (Sat) Old Persia (古老波斯)
- Arg of Karim Khan (卡里姆汗堡), an immense brick fortress that was the residence Karim Khan who ruled Iran between 1750 and 1779. Participants will learn about Iran in 18th century and how it looked like before it entered the modern period.
- Vakil Mosque (瓦基爾清真寺), built by order of Karim Khan and recently went under a full renovation work
- Vakil Bazaar (瓦基爾市集), also commissioned by Karim Khan and was part of his plan to make Shiraz into a great trading centre. During the tour, we will have chance to visit several Bazaar in different major cities, the Vakil Bazaar will be the one we cannot miss.
- Tomb of Hafez (哈菲茲墓), the mausoleum of the most famous poet in Iran, Hafez. His work, which was mostly about love, was a pinnacle of Persian poetry.
- Shah-e-Cheragh Shrine (燈王之墓), the Mosque is most well known in Shiraz and bears important meaning to the city and Iranian Islamic history. We will join in local Muslims to pray at the dome shaped mosque.
- Overnight at Shiraz
Day 4: 31 DEC 2017 (Sun) Through the Windows (設拉子色彩)
Shiraz > Persepolis > Isfahan
- Nasir ol Molk Mosque/Pink Mosque (莫克清真寺), People said “Stepping in Pink Mosque is Like Stepping Into A Dream” – the Nasir ol Molk Mosque has become the icon for Iran, and a mecca for tourism. In winter times, the beam of lights shine through the colourful windows with a large shadow, a justification for all of us to get up REALLY EARLY to captivate the best view.
- Persepolis( 波斯波利斯), the ancient capital of Achaemenid Empire, probably the START of Persian Empire, which underscores the site’s importance. Ironically, the last Shah (Emperor) in Iran wanted to throw a party to celebrate the 2500 years of Persian Empire at the site by spending huge amount of money, which ignited the discontentment of the Iranian, triggering the start of 1979 Revolution.
- Travel to Isfahan (伊斯法罕市), often referred as the cultural capital of the Islamic World, known by its inheritance of a lot of mosques and stunning Persian-Islamic architectures during the Safavid Dynasty (薩法維王朝).
- Countdown near Khaju Bridge (郝久古橋), let’s welcome 2018 at the beautiful Khaju Bridge and local Iranian in this beautiful city!
- Overnight at Isfahan
Day 5: 1 JAN 2018 (Mon) Persia and Half of the World (波斯半個世界)
- Chehel Sotoun Palace (四十柱宮), you will see how “forty pillars” are counted including the ones reflected as shadow from water.
- Armenian District of Isfahan (亞美尼亞社區), there is still around 100,000 to 200,000 Armenians living in Iran side by side with the mainstream Persians with harmony by and large. We will visit the Armenian Quarter of Isfanhan, called New Julfa, a rather well-off community in the city.
- Vank Cathedral and Museum (凡克主教座堂和博物館), was the symbol of how Catholicism was kept in the quarter. We will also look at the Armenian Genocide Memorial and study the history of this tragic event, as well as to understand how oversea Armenian commemorates the tragedy.
- Naqsh-e Jahan Square (伊瑪目廣場), being one of the largest squares in the world, and connected to long bazaar tunnels that form the 5th largest shopping areas in the world, the Square is the center of a cultural center.
- Lunch at Haj Mahmood Beryani, a restaurant that is over a century old, famous for its unique beryani and fun bazaar experience
- Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (希克斯羅圖福拉清真寺), a mosque that was never intended for public use but rather served as the worship place for the women of the shah’s harem.
- Ali Qapu Palace (阿里卡普宮), located at the western side of the Square, this grand palace is the residence for the shah and built to dominate the Naqsh-e Jahan Square.
- Shah Mosque (伊瑪目清真寺), located at the south side of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square, it is unique for its continuous expansion and modification in conjunction with the growth and needs of the community
- Dinner with local family, a great opportunity to talk to the local about the life in Isfahan, even the family’s view to their country.
- Overnight at Isfahan
Day 6: 2 JAN 2018 (Tue) The Another Half (伊斯法罕之美)
Isfahan – free exploration day, participants can find out the hidden gems of Isfahan.
- Atashgah Fire Temple, where you can enjoy the panoramic view of Isfahan and the remains of Zoroastrianism (拜火教)
- Free exploration
- Zurkhaneh visit, a traditional martial art combines with music. It is believed that the Pahlevans (the athletes), who are highly respected in the community, would get closer to God through the workout.
- Overnight at Isfahan
Day 7: 3 JAN 2018 (Weds) Oldest and the Dusty (九千年前)
Isfahan > Kashan
- Travel to Kashan (卡尚), a historical town that dates back 9,000 years ago, Kashan witnessed the rise and fall of Persia.
- Underground City of Nushabad, a 1500 years old complex tunnels where the ancient Persian used to hide from the enemies.
- Maranjab Desert, one of the most beautiful deserts in Iran, we will experience how the ancient trades passing through dessert from the Silk Road (絲綢之路)
- Dasht-e-Kavir Salt Lake/ Namak Lake (卡維爾鹽漠), where you can see hexagonal to octagonal shapes of salt. We will settle by the lake and watch the sunset in Iran!
- Overnight at Maranjab Caravanserai (沙漠客棧), one of the oldest caravanserai where we will spend a night and experience the life in desert.
Day 8: 4 JAN 2018 (Thu) The Magnificent Village (瑰麗紅村)
Kashan > Abyaneh > Qom
- Travel to Abyaneh, often referred as the Red Clay Village due to the use of red mud bricks for the houses.
- The village’s population is only 305 with 160 families, which is one of the oldest in Iran. Some villagers still inherited the languages and clothing from the Sassanid Period (3rd to 7th century)!
- We will walk around the village, including the chief mosque and an old castle, and explore the unique landscape of the houses which are all built with local materials in centuries.
- We will then travel to Qom, referred as the Holy City in Iran. As a religious city with a conservative mindset, over 90% of the women in Qom wear Chador, a relatively stricter covering as women’s outfits, in contrast to Tehran’s rather loose and sometimes fashionable coverings.
- Jamkaran Mosque, a popular pilgrimage site for Shi’ite Muslims. Being the holy mosque in the holy city, every year tens of thousands of Shi’ite Muslims will come to worship. Photo shooting is strictly regulated here, but Eastern Vision team will try to get the best sights for you to remember the moment.
- Overnight at Qom
Day 9: 5 JAN 2018 (Fri) The Muslim Holy City (什葉派聖城)
Qom > Tehran
- Seminar at Al-Mustafa International University (伊朗穆斯塔法國際大學) on “The Basics of Islam”.
- Lunch with students from Al-Mustafa International University.
- Meeting with the Iran Project and Journalists, we will meet with the founder of the Qom-based digital media and discuss the future of media in Iran.
- Imam Khomeini’s Historic House (高美尼古居), the old home of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who stayed in Qom to study and research on Islamic classics, before he initiated the Iranian Revolution. We will explain why Qom is one of most religiously important cities in Iran.
- Travel to Tehran
- Free time and overnight at Tehran
DAY 10: 6 JAN 2018 (Sat) Iranian Kind of Freedom (伊朗式自由)
- University of Tehran (德黑蘭大學), the oldest and most prestigious modern university in Iran. It is regarded as a political symbol of modern Iran as it triggered the 1979 Revolution, turning Iran into the first Islamic state in the world. We will meet with students from the University and discuss their view on Iran and the world.
- Iranian Short Film Association, a NGO in Tehran, aiming to promote the development of film industry in Iran. We will be able to talk with members of the association to know more about the achievement of Iranian film industry and censorship in Iran.
- Holy Shrine of Imam Khomeini (高美尼墓), the mausoleum of the Supreme Leader Khomeini, it is regarded as ‘the holy shrine’ among the Iranians since they considered this mausoleum to be as sacred as the shrines of Mohammad (穆罕默德’s) descendants.
- Iranian Artist Forum and Free time (伊朗藝術家公園), we will spend an evening at the artistic cafes and galleries inside the Park, and chat with young Iranian.
- Overnight in Tehran
DAY 11: 7 JAN 2018 (Sun) Refugees, Poverty and Persian language (難民、貧窮及波斯文)
- Field Visit with Society for the Protection of Refugee, a NGO based in Tehran, aiming to protect women and children refugees who are mostly from Afghanistan. We will learn more about the Afghan refugee situation in Iran and understand how the organization helps and empowers the refugees via meeting with NGO members and a visit to the field site.
- Workshop on Persian Calligraphy (波斯書法), we will join a workshop to be conducted by a Persian Calligrapher and try to learn how to write Persian characters, which is the most eye-catching and fascinating manifestations of Persian culture.
- Free time – Explore Tehran in the final moments!
- End of Programme
- Group Flight departs from 20:45
*The above itinerary is for reference only and is subject to change. Registrants will receive a full itinerary with programme details via email.
*Note: Walk In Hong Kong (License No.: 353919) is the responsible tour operator of this programme.
14,500 HKD (1,850 USD)
Our Tour Fee includes
- Iran visa application
- Transportation in Iran
- Shared twin-room accommodation in Iran (10 nights)
- Meals in Iran as indicated on the Briefing Note
- Local tour expert and one driver per group
- One Eastern Vision tour mentor per group
- All entry fees to museums
- Academic materials
Our Tour Fee excludes
- Extra meals or activities and souvenirs in Iran
- Extra Iran VISA cost (if applicable)
- Tips to local tour guide and driver
- Travel Insurance*
- Transportation between Hong Kong (or your place of origin) and Tehran, Iran**
*An appropriate and adequate travel insurance is a condition of travelling to Iran with us.
**Our programme starts and ends at Tehran. You are free to arrange your own flights/trains to Iran upon confirmation of the tour. However, we also facilitate a separate, non-bundled Group Flight Option via our responsible tour operator if you depart from Hong Kong, details as below:
28 Dec 2017
Hong Kong to Bangkok
TG 603 0750-0935
Bangkok to Tehran
TG 527 1510-1935
7 Jan 2018Tehran to Bangkok
TG 528 2045-0640 (+1)
Bangkok to Hong Kong
TG 600 0800-1145
Further details will be provided in the Briefing Note (you will receive this after registration).