Kish Island, Iran, and Kuthar, India

By Carl Boyer
This item appears on page 14 of the February 2018 issue.

While heading to India in October 2017, my travel buddy, Bob, and I had a stopover in Dubai, and we US citizens decided to try the visa-free trip to Kish Island in Iran. Details were scarce, so we went to Terminal 2 at Dubai International (DXB) and started asking questions.

While the office of Kish Airlines ( was not easy to find (ask around at desk 59 or 60 and someone will point out the door where you can begin the search), persistence paid off. A round trip cost AED735 (about $200), payable in cash, and we left on the next flight.

(As I recall, we found out about the deal before noon, went to our place and packed for an overnight, went back about 15:00 to buy the tickets, and we left DXB at 17:10. There was one flight a day at the time we were there, but the passenger load was light.)

The flight was very short, though snacks still were served.

While the police asked lots of questions upon our arrival in Iran, they were friendly and recommended a hotel near the Great Mall, the Tatilat Hotel (Siri Square, Kish, Iran; phone +98 764 4445206 11,

We had a suite for one night for $38 worth of Emirati dirhams (AED). We spent dollars elsewhere and got Iranian rials (IRR) in change, 34,000 per dollar.

After returning to Dubai, we flew to Bahrain, then Kuwait, then Delhi, India, where we stayed overnight. We took the Shatabdi Express train to Kalka, in Haryana state, and were picked up by car and driven to the former kingdom of Kuthar, near Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh state, where we had a superb visit. (If I had to do that trip again, I would consider the nonstop from Dubai to Chandigarh, joint capital of Haryana and Punjab.) 

A stay in Kuthar can be booked at the Alcor Spa Resort ( for about $100 per night. The 14-room hotel is a beautiful conversion of royal stables, and the grandson of the last-recognized king showed us the royal palace, a small part of which has been restored. Biking, hiking and spa services were recommended.

However, my friend and I did not stay at the resort, as we were guests of Pinegrove School, a boarding school with two campuses and about 1,000 students. The campus we stayed at was near Dharampur in Himachal Pradesh.

After we returned to Dubai, I flew home on Saudia in business class (as arranged by Delta Air Lines) by way of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. While I felt the airport in Jeddah was very poor (carry your own toilet paper), the service on Saudia’s nonstop to Los Angeles was truly wonderful.

Anyone who has questions can send me an email at


Newhall, CA