Money in Iran is a complete enignma at the start. Everything is just so cheap there that you’ll rarely question the price of things. However, you need to be careful, as you yourself could be to blame for paying exactly 10 times as much for everything. Anyone that has been to Iran will know why – the difference between Rials and Toman. Monday’s Money Saving Tips today will clear up this beast for you, the Rivals v Toman debate. It is something that is rarely covered on travel blogs so I thought I’d step in to keep you all in the loop. It is important to understand that in Iran, there are two different prices quoted for a lot of things.
What is a Rial?
It’s the official unit of currency used in Iran. That’s all there is to it. It comes in denominations of:
100 Rial Notes (you rarely see them)
200 Rial Notes (you rarely see them)
500 Rial Notes – $0.02
1,000 Rial Notes – $0.04
2,000 Rial Notes – $0.08
5,000 Rial Notes – $0.20
10,000 Rial Notes – $0.40
20,000 Rial Notes – $0.80
50,000 Rial Notes – $2
100,000 Rial Notes – $4
So yes, when we were backpacking in Iran the highest value of one note was a mere $4US. It sounds crazy, but when you realise that for $4 you can get a bed for the night in some places, you’ll find that ardent backpackers can get by easily on $10 US a day.
What is a Toman?
A Toman is the local speak, it’s not the official currency but it’s what most people quote as the price for something. To work it out is easy – you just take a “0” off the Rial amount. The notes are the same of course, but they are quoted with the last zero removed.
Toman is used MORE often than Rial by locals when quoting prices, at least in the parts of Iran that we visited. So in other words if a guy tells you something costs 2,000. He probably means 2,000 Toman. Which is actually 20,000 Rials. We spent a month in Iran and after 2 days we were fully aware and asked for things in Toman a lot of the time just to confirm the price. Always start low and haggle, even in cheap markets as locals are becoming aware that some foreigners are not that clever and will pay the first price they are quoted. It’s essential for you to barter things down in this case as we want all fellow travellers to Iran to have a positive report of the people there. It’s not a poor country, it’s just that the money is worth less to them, it’s cheaper to foreigners.
In closing though, I will also add that it’s not actually that big an issue as Iranians are so friendly and it’s a very safe and welcoming country, but you need to confirm if you’re paying in Rials or Toman in advance anyway. The only people that really tried to rip us off in Iran were taxi drivers and haggling down too much is also not cool, Iranians are lovely people and while we want a bargain, let’s not deprive them the right to earn a decent wage.
Here are my other useful posts from backpacking in Iran:
– How to get an Iran Authorisation Code
– How to get an Iran Visa in Trabzon
– How to get from Turkey to Iran
– Working with Issa at Zarad Band in Iran
– Touring Kandovan Cave Town
– The Amazing Deserts of Kaluts
– Top 5 Sights Tabriz
– Top 10 Sights Kerman
– Top 11 Sights Yazd
– Top 7 Sights Shahr-e Kord
– Alamut Castle Gazor Khan
– Camel Riding in Mesr
– Food – Camel Meat Stew
– Food – Beer and Burgers
With my endless money saving travel tips and stories, I want to help you all save money as you travel the world! Check my advertising page if you have an idea for my Monday’s Money Saving Tips, and don’t forget I welcome free trips, free food and any spare Rials or Toman that are going…