Located in the northern-eastern part of Iran and home to some of the most stunning landscape in the country, Masuleh is a one-thousand-year-old stepped village and a major touristic destination in Iran.
This guide contains everything you know about visiting Masuleh village in Gillan province.
Stepped villages are quite common to find around Iran, especially in Iranian Kurdistan and around Mashhad.
Basically, they have been built on a hill so steep that the roof of one house is the pathway for the next.
Whereas practically, all stepped villages in Iran have been able to keep their rural and traditional essence, for some reason, Masuleh has evolved into a popular touristic destination which especially attracts wealthy local tourists from Tehran.
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Foreigners are less common though, basically because it is far away from the classic Persian route, so most tourists don’t have the time to travel that deep into the country.
However, thanks to pretty developed tourist infrastructure, Masuleh is receiving the attention of all the guidebooks, portraiting it as a dreamy mountain village so, slowly, it is becoming the prime destination for those travelers who have a little more than 2 weeks in Iran.
The village is actually pretty, composed of some yellowish houses which disappear behind the mist during the early morning hours.
Being the most visited stepped village in Iran, Masuleh has all types of opinions.
On the one hand, the most well-traveled backpackers will tell you that Masuleh is not worth the journey unless you don’t mind eating in overpriced restaurants or trying to bargain ridiculous fares with taxi drivers who clearly want to rip you off.
On the other hand, less demanding travelers will tell you that Masuleh is such a lovely village which you can’t miss.
I personally think that, whereas it is true that, from a cultural point of view, Masuleh has lost its authenticity, it is actually surrounded by some of the most striking nature in the country and, the thing is that 99% of the visitors will just remain in the village, so with just stepping slightly out of the comfort zone you will be suddenly hiking among striking nature only disturbed by the greetings of the shepherds.
So yeah, I think that, if you had time, you can’t miss Masuleh.
Trekking in Masuleh
Surrounded by green valleys, misty forests, and 3,000m peaks, Masuleh is the ultimate trekking destination in Iran, offering several trails that include both day treks and multi-day treks.
I hiked to the nearest peak, which took me around 8 hours (round trip) and it was a very easy trail to follow.
Along the way, you are likely to find quite a few Iranian shepherds who actually live there, perhaps not in winter, but they have fully equipped shacks and you are likely to be invited to have some chai.
Some of them are very old and live there alone, without a family. I met that old man living in his small hut. He got suddenly surprised when he saw me wandering around those hills by myself.
I asked him for water and he kindly filled it with some boiled water.
We kept at staring at each other until he said: Chai?
Close to the peak, the landscape turns from misty forests to vast green, gorgeous meadows covered in blankets of flowers, a stream, and a few more shepherd shacks, like in a fairy tail.
It’s absolutely stunning.
Practical information for visiting Masuleh
Where to stay in Masuleh
You can find both expensive hotels and budget guesthouses. To find a homestay, you just need to walk around town and someone will approach you.
I paid around 300,000IR a night but prices may vary. It was a comfortable and warm room.
As per mid-range hotels, Aram is one of the best options.
How to get to Masuleh from Tehran
From Tehran, you will have to take a bus to Fuman. Buses leave from Freedom square and it is a 4-hour ride. If you don’t find buses to Fuman, alternatively, you can also go to Rasht, which is a bigger city very close to Fuman, so there should be a few more options.
I personally went straight to Fuman. Once you get there, you need to take a taxi to Masuleh (34km). At the same bus station, if you opt for a private taxi, drivers will charge you 300,000-400,000IR, depending on your negotiating skills. Please note that since it a very touristic destination, they could even charge more.
For a cheaper option, you can go On a local shared taxi. This station is 3km away from the main bus station where you dropped off. A taxi there shouldn’t cost you more than 50,000IR. Then, once at the station, the local shared taxi should be 100,000IR per person.
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When to visit Masuleh
Spring, summer and autumn would be the ideal months. In winter, the area is covered by snow.
Internet in Masuleh
There is no Wi-Fi in Masuleh so you should have a local SIM Card. By the way, as you know, many popular websites are blocked in Iran, which means that you will need a VPN. If you want to know more, read: How to find the right VPN for Iran.