Getting a Taxi!
To get a taxi in Iran you can either go to the closest taxi station or just stand in the street and hail for one. You just need to look interested and you’ll have cars stopping at your feet without blinking an eye. But the tricky part is to know what kind of Taxi to look for.
Let’s get into detail:
Darbast means ‘closed door’. In the Persian transportation dictionary it means hiring a private taxi. You could be standing anywhere in the city and getting a Darbast. To hire a Darbast just stand along the street and wait for an empty taxi to stop. Then tell him Darbast and if he’s interested let him know of your destination.
Make sure you negotiate a price before getting in, as Darbast is the most common way of ripping off in public transportation in Iran. Mainly because most people don’t have a clear idea of how much a taxi to their destination could cost. So in the end it’s really up to you to decide if you’re ok with the price or not.
If you’re in any of the major parts of the city, it’s easy to find taxi drivers shouting Darbast here and there. Just walk up to them, tell them your address and negotiate a price.
Shared taxi is a common way of getting around in Iran. Many actually prefer it to buses. They have their own designated routes. So you’re supposed to get on if only you’re intended destination is within their route. They have fixed prices, which is usually written on a sticker on their front window, and they carry up to four people. You are expected to pay along the journey as sometimes they make stops in the most unexpected places and you are required to hop off quickly. Drivers also appreciate having change.
Let’s work with an example: Tajrish or Vanak are one of Tehran’s main squares. They both have a huge taxi station with lines for each route. Their destination is written above each line but in Persian. You’re suppose to find your route and then stand in the line belonging to that route until a taxi arrives. Usually the taxis are already there waiting so you just hop in. If you can’t read the signs which you probably can’t, just walk up to one of the drivers and ask them for the right route for your destination. Have in mind that these taxis will probably not end up at the door of your hotel so you’re suppose to find the closest route you can get and then walk the extra mile.
If you’re not in any of the major avenues or squares with a taxi station, then you’ll just need to stand along the street and call for one. If the car is empty, make it clear that you’re not expecting a Darbast and you want a shared taxi instead (it means the driver can pick up other people along the road as well). After that, just tell him your destination and he will show if he’s interested or not.
This might all sound a bit complicated at first, but you will get the hang of it quickly, so do not panic.
There are thousands of drivers working as unofficial taxis in Iran. Anyone with a car be a taxi without being licensed or registered! Pretty messed up, huh! It has become extremely common for people to get a ride with these taxis but if you want to be extra cautious then avoid getting on any taxi that is not the official yellow or green cars.
If you’re staying at someone’s home or you’re at a hotel or restaurant, you can always have someone call for a telephone taxi. This is probably your easiest option when you plan to leave for the airport or train station.
Snapp is Iran’s Uber, which is doing perfectly great, and everyone seems to be extremely happy with it. Especially since, they are much cheaper than Darbast or a Telephone Taxi. The app is available in English but it could be a little difficult if the driver does not speak English and is not able to locate you on his map.
Nevertheless, here is how it works: You download the app (IOS or Android), make a quick profile and then locate yourself on the map. Then you can locate your destination by either using the search engine or just searching through the map manually. Once your destination is fixed, you make a request and as soon as a driver accepts your request, you will have his name, his car model and plate number. Normally the driver will call you just to make sure of your location, but that should not be a problem if you have located yourself clearly on the map. After that, it is very straightforward.
Snapp is currently available in Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz and recently in Mashhad.
Intercity Taxi or Savari:
Most people would opt for a bus when traveling between cities but a taxi could be another quick option. I personally would advice against it as they cost more than the bus and are less comfortable. It is also more expensive if you are sitting in the front seat. However, I once used it to go from Shiraz to Persepolis and it turned out to be a lot cheaper than hiring a private taxi. Not to mention I did not have many options with the buses in that route and this was the quickest and easiest way. I think it works great for smaller and closer cities but definitely not the way to travel between major cities like Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz or Yazd.