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As a general rule the prices of groceries, food, sights, transport except private taxis and most things with a price tag attached are fixed. But virtually all prices in the bazaar are negotiable, particularly for souvenir-type products and always for carpets.
First, when you find something you like be sure not to show too much interest. Vendors can smell desperation a mile away. With this knowledge, casually enquire as to the price and then make a counter-offer, thus beginning the bargaining process. However, having looked at the competition you know what is a fair price so only edge up slowly.
Remember that bargaining is not a life and death battle. Violent crime against foreigners is extremely rare and, indeed, if you do your best to fit in with local customs, you are unlikely to be treated with anything but courtesy and friendliness — that applies to Americans, too.
We have hitchhiked across deserts, stayed in the homes of strangers and left bags in restaurants and cafes without any problem. Western embassies advise their nationals to register on arrival, especially if you will be in Iran for 10 or more days, or plan to visit remote places. Foreign women will attract unwanted suggestions and, in crowded bazaars and Metro carriages, the odd grope. The biggest dangers are actually driving and crossing the street.
For an idea of how fellow travellers found Iran, see the Thorn Tree www. While there are few stories of assaults and thefts in Iran, it pays to take the usual precautions. It makes sense, too, that if the economic situation worsens crime will rise.