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I am planning for a vacation in Iran. I am a European Union passport holder and would especially like to see the main architectural sites along the Teheran-Kashan-Esfahan-Shiraz corridor. I am cognizant of current travel warnings (avoid gatherings of crowds, be mindful of when not to take pictures, etc.) and some cultural parameters (respect local dress code, etc.) From the reading I have done so far I am comfortable with undertaking the trip in the near future.

Here is a possible complication: I (a male) may have a female travel companion. She is about two decades younger than myself, blond, and quite beautiful. We are not a couple, so there won’t be an issue with public displays of affection, etc. (a no-go among the cultural parameters, in my understanding). She is basically a friend who is also interested in seeing the country as an independent traveler but does not want to go in alone.

Is this a complete no-go and should it trigger serious warnings? Can I assume that we could stay in same hotels (in separate rooms) and travel on same trains or buses (sometimes in different sections perhaps)? Is there a pattern for older-male-traveling-with-younger-female that we could adopt so that it’s clear we are not arriving on an "illegitimate honeymoon" and that will keep us safe in all (most) situations?

Before issuing default warnings please consider that I am an experienced independent traveler and that (again as far as I know) the situation may be very different e.g. for U.S. passport holders.

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    Why not simply pretend you're father and daughter?
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 1 '20 at 17:07
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    @JonathanReez Yes, this crossed my mind but such lies (e.g. when recorded "officially" in a hotel registration) can backfire in a serious way, I suppose.
    – Drux
    Jan 1 '20 at 17:09
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    From what I've heard from people having been in Iran, I would not expect any problems. The people in Iran is much more liberal than what the government wants you to believe. Jan 1 '20 at 20:35
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Yes, that also fits what I have learned so far, but for me it's only anecdotal evidence received from secondary sources and outside the country at this point. So I am looking for further evidence (or counter-evidence).
    – Drux
    Jan 2 '20 at 4:47
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    Rather than father-daughter, if you do anything in that direction have her address you as "uncle". Many young people use that as a familiar but respectful form of address for a family friend of their parents' generation, so you do not have to claim an actual relationship if questioned about it. Jan 20 '20 at 15:08
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+500

I spent some time in Iran back in 2016 with my girlfriend. My answer is based off that experience, but shouldn't necessarily be considered an exhaustive answer.

As we were a couple we were advised to pretend to get a fake wedding ring to pretend that we were married. When we actually got there no one really questioned it too closely.

As you guys aren't actually a couple you shouldn't really have any trouble, especially as you're planning to stay in separate rooms.

From what you've said in your question, you already seem to be aware of the major Do's and Don'ts of visiting Iran.

You'll have an absolutely great time in Iran.

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