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The official Iranian Railways company is IRIR (or RAI - not the famous Rai). Its main website is the one @chx mentioned - I should correct it does have a tiny (useless) English version though. A main associate company of RAI is RAJA which comes with a slightly better website . RAJA once completely belonged to RAI (~ until 2010) but now its shares are ...


As an Iranian I'd say most probable explanation is that you've seen gas flares of some oil refineries.


The Lonely Planet is correct here, western travel cheques are not useful in Iran, they have the same problems as Western credit cards. Some bigger businesses have bank accounts in Dubai and may be able to handle your cards or even cheques but I wouldn't count on it and they would always add an extra fee for it. Using Iranian cheques may be an option, but ...


It seems regardless how you travel it will involve several taxi rides, so when traveling by yourself like I mostly do, it is very helpful to find some other people going the same way. This saves a lot of money. I went from Mashhad to Ashgabat in June 2014, I had already met a Chinese girl also going to Turkmenistan in my home stay and we met two Japanese ...


There are no direct train connections between Armenia and Iran (Wikipedia,Iranrail.net) If you can make it to Jolfa or Tabriz, you can take a train from there.


Homestay is more common in Iran. Stayed in one in Mashhad, rather by accident, than by choice :) It was not too bad. Don't expect too much. It had hot water, toilet and fan. Location was central, and Valid is able to help you with the visa if you'd like. We later found out, that it is refered in Lonely Planet. Therefore you get to meet foreigners as well. ...


The main difference between a hotel and a hostel is that a hostel has dorm rooms (exclusively, or in addition to private rooms). I spent a month in Iran in May 2014 and I did stay in some dorm rooms in Yadz, Shiraz and Isfahan. Still those places felt more like hotels as the majority of the rooms were private and they didn't have a kitchen for guests. Still ...

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