As we may all know, Turkey has become one of the most sought-after tourist destinations of the world due to its agreeable weather and unparalleled sights (not to mention Istanbul, the city situated upon two continents). Yet, like with most countries, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to respect the local traditions and remain on the friendly side of things. So, here are six things to know before visiting Turkey!
There is no denying the fact that people in the Middle East and beyond enjoy bargaining. If you are one of those people who are visiting Turkey for the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, then you should know that you striving to pay yourself out of a calamitous bartering situation might not be all that productive. Why? Because haggling is a major part of the local culture and merchants will not hand over their goods until you either pay hectic amounts or put up a good fight. A word of advice: never fork over the initially-brainstormed amounts because what usually happens is that these traders realise that you are a backpacker and they try to overcharge you. Always make it clear that the price is too much for you and that it should be lowered. If they fail to meet your needs, feel free to turn your back on them and walk away slowly. Chances are that they will stop you and offer a more reasonable price. We have to say, this can get a lot of fun if you get a hang of it (wink)!
2. Visas and mobile phones:
Yes, this is a painful one for some people – numerous countries are required to obtain visas before they can visit Turkey (always research the specific guidelines that pertain to your country). And wait, this isn’t even the end of it. You must also have at least 6 months left on the availability of your passport. If you do not meet these requirements, you will be halted and sent back to whence you came. Also note that Vodafone is one of the few international phone operators that have a reach into Turkey. If you happen to be using Orange, you will have to switch to the aforementioned, Turkcell or Avea. These are the absolute basics when it comes to getting around and getting in touch within the bounds of Turkey, so we recommend that you think ahead.
3. Visiting mosques:
There are quite a few rules when it comes to visiting mosques but the most important one is the one related to clothing. There is a strict dressing code when breaching the bounds of these holy places and it becomes even stricter if you are a woman. While you will not encounter problems wearing thigh-shorts or cleaved tops out on the streets, chances are that you will be heavily frowned upon when entering a mosque that way. Wearing socks is also advised as you will have to remove your shoes upon entering. Additionally, eating, cell phones and making noise are also forbidden. Oh, and if you are not a Muslim, you should not try end enter a mosque during prayer time.
4. Spices and food:
This is quite an obvious one but like most “Belly” conditions, Turkey has its own. If you’ve heard Ylvis’ song “Mister Toot” (a funny one), then you’ve already heard Istanbul being called “the land of turbans, spice and carpets.” Well, spices sure are plentiful there and the food, thus, may become difficult for your stomach to get accustomed to. Also, never eat meat from streetside stalls as they cannot guarantee their adherence to the global health code. Eat meat at reputable restaurants only and all will be well.
While it is always good to have cash on you, no matter where you might be going, it is especially advantageous in Turkey. Why? Because over-reliance on credit cards will most certainly land you in sticky situations. The same goes for loose change – most vending machines and toilet accessories rely on change. Oh, and do not mind the squatties, they are good for your leg muscles (wink). Just kidding – you do not need to worry about Turkey not providing western toilets because most reputable places are well-equipped. Do carry your own tissues and toilet paper if you can, though.
The Turkish people are quite possibly some of the most friendly and hospitable people in the world. They can go to the length of inviting you into their homes and feeding you plentifully (mind that belly, though – remember the spices). This can backfire, however, if you are a woman and you are travelling alone as you can garner a great deal of unwanted attention. Most of the times, unsolicited followers are harmless but it never hurts to be cautious. Always make sure that you make it clear that you are not interested and they are bound to disappear.
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Turkey and how did they affect your overall experience? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it. See you next time!