Trans Eurasia travel

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Persian Gulf

Few geographical descriptors are as evocative - and as controversial - as the Persian Gulf. Rich in oil gas and mystique, this body of water and surrounding land is the heart of Arab consciousness and pride. No wonder, then, that Iran and her neighbours to the south have long argued over its name. The Gulf countries may call it the Arabian Gulf, but for all Iranians - including the proudly traditional Iranian Arabs (or Bandari) who live along its northern coastline - it could never be called anything but the Khalij-e Fars (Persian Gulf).

In the past, foreign interlopers headed here to establish trading posts. These days, there aren't many reasons for non-Iranians to visit. Those interested in eco- and cultural tourism will love Qeshm Island, but the resort island of Kish is overhyped and underwhelming, and the rest of the region offers little to the traveller other than long, hot journeys. The islands in the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz may be visited by boat from Bandar Abbas.

The gulf is hotter than Hades between April and November, with temperatures averaging 35°C and occasionally climbing as high as 50°C. Not surprisingly, life adjusts accordingly - most businesses start early and then shut up shop from about noon to 5pm.

During No Ruz (Iranian New Year; 21 March to 3 April) the entire coast is inundated by swarms of domestic tourists - avoid travelling here at this time. Try to visit during winter, when the temperature averages between 18°C and 25°C, humidity is relatively low and crowds nonexistent.