Question: Many thanks for all the valuable information provided here; it makes trip planning much easier!
1. Tipping: Many sources, some dated back in ages, say it’s not customarily. At the best, tipping is appropriate in the restaurants, top-rated hotels and travel-related services (guides etc).Is that still so? Where tipping is considered appropriate?
2. Bargaining: How fair is that? Is bargaining indeed not a custom and not a part of local culture?
3. Ta’arof: Is this principle more a custom between people who know each other or relates to strangers as well? I wouldn’t wish to look rude, ignorant or ridiculous, but am also aware of some traps of the “never-ending courtesy. How strongly are foreigners involved and are expected to follow the suit?
4. Punctuality: Are Iranians punctual in a European (strictly as agreed) or Oriental (as soon as I can) manner?
Answer: 1. Tipping is not customary in Iran but is appropriate in restaurants, to drivers, travel-related services, hotels, and the amount is around 10% of the total amount in restaurants, and 2,000 - 5,000 tomans (2-5usd) to others, depending on the service, quality.
2. Like many countries Iran relies on a culture of bargaining but a rule of responsible travel says
“To the traveller this seems to represent a challenge to haggle relentlessly over the miniscule amounts of money which they wouldn’t give a second thought about in everyday life.
Bear in mind that a small amount to you, can represent a day's food or more to the vendor.
Bargaining should be done in good humour and even though you will inevitably be paying an inflated price. Bargain in the spirit of the situation, not as a means of competition.”
It is not true that every price is negotiable. In department stores, and higher class shops, where the items are labeled with prices, you won’t find any room for bargaining, but is traditional shops and in Bazaars, bargaining is a common practice.
3. Ta’arof is not limited to locals and even with foreigners; it can be deeper and more serious. You are not expected to follow, but being ignorant normally does not give a good impression to your audience. You can use the word "bi-Ta'arof" to express that you are asking them to avoid, or stop Ta'arof with you.
4. Punctuality, the time is a bit slow in Iran. But if you want to, you can keep asking everyone to be on time with you, and it can have the impact on making things better. It is suggested to relax and be prepared for the "as soon as I can" style.