Useful Information and Tips
While planning your trip to Turkey do not forget to check your passport if it is valid for at least 3 months. Depending on your nationality most probably your stay as a tourist is limited up to 3 months (for one entrance). More on passport, visa, customs and tax refund... Incase you loose your passport you should immediately contact your countries embassy or consulate in Turkey. More in on Foreign Embassies and Consulates in Turkey.
Incase you need specific entry information or obtain a visa for Turkey you should contact one of the embassies of Turkey abroad. More on Turkish Embassies Abroad...
If you are visiting Turkey in summer time (particularly July and August), you may need a sun hat and sun cream to protect yourself against sun burning, also people with sensitive skin should have something to cover their shoulders. If you are visiting Turkey in winter time (Dec, Jan, Feb), you will need your warm clothes as the temperature may drop down as low as -15 C (5 F) especially in the central eastern parts of Turkey. Also, bring your umbrellas and raincoats with you. More on Climate in Turkey. up
Major Credit Cards and Traveler's checks are accepted in big cities however you may need to carry some cash with you. US dollars and Euro's are also widely excepted. Turkish money is a convertible one but DO NOT exchange your money to Turkish lira's in your home town, the rate you get is much lower than what you get in Turkey. You could easily exchange money on arrival at airports or borders. More on money and exchange rates ... up
Many people in big cities could speak a foreign language. Although it might not be perfect, you could communicate. It is always useful to have a dictionary with you and learn some basic words. More on Turkish Lesson and Basic Words.... up
Telephoning from your hotel room might be expensive, the alternative would be to use the public phones available out on the streets, or in some hotel lobbies. All you need is to buy a telephone card from Post Office (recognizable by "PTT" sign), which is in 30, 60 and 100 counters. One 30 counter card would be enough for a quick international call. More info on communication and telephones... up
Electricity : Those who use 110 V or any other than 220 V at home need a converter as Turkey has 220 V power system. Please check your electric appliances before you use them in your hotel room. Only the five stars deluxe properties would have converters so it is advised to bring one with you in case it is needed. up
If you are eating out in a restaurant, waiters expect some tip usually 10% of your bill, and even if it is included in your bill, you should leave it at the table separately. Tipping taxis is not necessary, they do have the taximeter, just pay the mentioned amount. up
Drink Water Although it is safe to drink tap water, it is recommended to buy bottled drink water which can be found almost everywhere at stores. The city water is chlorinated for sanitation reasons of which you might not like the smell. You can safely brush your teeth with tap water. up
Smoking is not permitted in flights, public places, most tour busses and public transportation. The Turkish people do smoke a lot , you would easily recognize that nearly 80 percent of the population smokes cigarettes. By the way Turkish tobacco is top quality and you should buy your cigarettes in Turkey as they are delicious and cheap. up
Public restrooms are available at the town
centers, museums, restaurants, mosques and gas stations and usually a
small service charge is expected ( 15 c. ). It is sometimes hard to find a
European style (sitting closet) closet especially in
rural areas. Western style can be found at gas stations and
restaurants along the major tourist roads. In any case, it is
advised to have your own toilet paper and Kleenex where it is
unavailable at public rest rooms. The usage
of the squat toilet
can be summarized as follows:
Traffic is running from the right in Turkey. While crossing streets in big cities, make sure that the vehicles are at a reasonable distance to allow you cross the street safely. In Turkey, cars have the privilege to use the streets. You can safely walk on the pedestrian walk ways. up
The mosques are open to everyone. You will have to leave your shoes at the entrance or carry them in your hands, women in most mosques are required to cover their heads with a scarf and naked parts of their legs and shoulders. If you don't have anything with you, they will give you some scarves at the entrance for free. Silence is required inside the mosques, it is suggested that you shouldn't laugh loudly inside as this may offend people praying. Most of the mosques are closed to visits at prayer times. Turkey is a secular country with a population that is mostly Moslem. Turkey is a secular country where religion and politics is slightly separated. The weekends are Saturdays and Sundays, while Fridays are working days, even though in the Moslem belief Friday is the holy day. More info on Religion in Turkey... up
Photographing : In some of the museums or palaces you are not allowed to take pictures or use flash, before you go in, just check if there is a sign with a camera crossed over, which means keep you camera in your hand bags, or check them in. Also, as an universal rule you are not permitted to touch any of the artifacts displayed.
Photographing the Turkish ladies in the rural areas may offend them. The procedure is, just direct your camera towards them, if they say no, or mean it with gestures, just leave it. Some people including ladies love to be photographed, and will probably give you their address hoping to receive a copy from you. up
If you are traveling independently, check which dates that the museums are open to visits. Most of the museums are closed to visits at least one day a week. Archaeological sites can be visited everyday from 9 AM to 5 PM ( this may change from summer to winter ). More on Closed days of museums ... up
National / Official Holidays in Turkey:
and Children's Day
of the establishment of Turkish Grand National Assembly)
Food matters, sanitation is taken seriously and strictly controlled in general by the authorities. Because of climate and food differences rarely diarrhea could occur. Do have some medicine with you against stomach upsets and diarrhea. Those who are vegetarian will be able to find vegetable food or at least omelet which is very popular in Turkey, almost in every town. The Turkish and Ottoman Kitchen is one of the world leading kitchens (Supposed to be the third after the Chinese and French). Dishes are mainly cooked of meat (lamb, chicken and cow -pork is not eaten-) and vegetables (Beans, Eggplant, Peppers, Onion, Garlic, Potatoes, Pumpkin). Rice, Macaroni , local specialties made from flour (Pide, Manti, Gozleme, Borek...), sweets (Baklava, Kadayıf, Burma, Sobiyet ...) are all widely eaten. More on Turkish Kitchen ... up
Most of the restaurants display their food in windows, or waiters can bring the samples if you request. Also, the menu that shows available food can be found on your table, in tourist areas in English and German (Specially in South part of Turkey) as well. up
Alcohol: There is no restriction on the sale and use of Alcohol in Turkey. The famous local anis drink "Rakı" is widely consumed in Turkey. The "Rakı Culture" is sitting long hours at the dinner table, eating "meze"'s and chat with each other on regular and personal subjects. While most people prefer Rakı, wine is also famous in Turkey. The local wine production in northwest and mid Anatolia is worth to mention. Many foreigners do tell that the local beer, specially the "Efes Pilsen" brand does have a wonderful taste. You only should if possible avoid drinking in public during the month Ramadan (The vesting month). As a tourist you will not be effected from the Ramadan, the night life will continue in rural areas. More information on Beverages and Night life in Turkey... up
Hotel guests are not allowed to bring any food and drink into hotel rooms, but in most cases, this is tolerable. A bottle of water or some fruit might be brought in to the rooms but just carry them in unvisiual bags.
In case your hotel has a swimming pool you should not take towels from your room, as towels are available at the pool free to hotel customers.
Don't forget to return your hotel room keys before your departure, this may cost the innocent hotel receptionists a lot....
Some of the hotels have energy saving systems. You may need to insert the metal part attached to your room key in a slot , which is usually just around the entrance. When you remove it from the slot, all electric appliances including air-conditioning will automatically turn off. If you would like to leave your a/c on, separate the key from metal attachment and leave the metal in the slot while you can take the key with you. up
Turkey is one of the safest countries in the world to travel, but some rare instances of theft and robbery happen in big cities. Just leave your valuable stuff, spare money and passport at hotel safety box. Almost every hotel has a safety box service free to hotel customers. Click to learn what to do incase you loose your passport... up
The pavements are high and there may be some holes, steps up or down in the streets just pay always attention where you are walking... up
Bargaining and Shopping is part of Turkish culture. Before you purchase anything, try to get the prices down as low as possible. In most cases, just leave the shop or vendor and pretend to walk away, you will be probably invited back to his shop by the vendor asking what would be your best offer. Then, feel free to declare your own price for your purchase. Usually, bargaining margin starts from 10 % and may go up to 40%. Do not push more than possible, this will cause you to under estimate the value of the good. Bargaining could only be done in touristy areas, in local towns or new city and modern shopping malls no bargaining is possible. More on Shopping in Turkey... up
In touristy areas you may see some goods selling or shoe shining children, do not think they are homeless. They most probably have big families and they do help their family budget.
If you are annoyed by street vendors trying to sell something to you, don't look interested in their products and look the other way. Even if you start an innocent dialog, that might continue insisting to sell. up
If you like to contact or speak to local people especially kids, go ahead, they love it. Incase it seems to be an economic relation and some goods are trying to be sold (saying he would like to show you interesting things, or his shop or invite for a drink) just be careful this might not be a real hospitality.
Usually customs check at entry and departure ports is not strict. However, customs officials are authorized to check your hand bags and suitcases any time. If they request, you have to open up your bags and suitcases. More on custom regulations ... up
Antique pieces are not allowed to be taken out of the country, this is a serious crime and may need a heavy punishment, most probably imprisonment.
Use and traffic of any kind of drugs are not allowed and is illegal.
Flight reconfirmation: Some airline companies may require a final flight reconfirmation a few days before your departure, You could contact our free assistance service for this or call your self. More on Airline Office Telephone Numbers... up
Please send us your comments or information supplements on useful information on Turkey...