To twist the punkish, geographical words of Dead Kennedys’ frontman Jello Biafra, it’s a holiday in Tehran. That’s right, add the Iranian capital to that list of places to explore in the coming year. While intrepid skiers have recently embraced the slopes here – lured by the altitude, affordability and lack of crowds – it’s now time for Tehran itself to shine. Luxury, foreign-owned hotels are either recently opened or in the process of being built – a first since the 1979 Islamic Revolution – with last year’s historic nuclear arms deal delivering a stronger sense of security across the region.
The city itself is chaotic, at times claustrophobic. The disparity between wealth and poverty is obvious – matched by an unusual mix of modernity and history. Travelling here is about adventure and excitement, about discovery and surprise. About not doing Cambodia, again. Given certain government policies, venturing here is also a moral choice, but the people are extremely welcoming and far removed from how the descendants of ancient Persia tend to be portrayed.