– Before your departure from home, check your passport if it is valid at least for 3 months. Your stay in Turkey as a tourist is limited up to 3 months.
– Always keep your passport handy especially at the entry port.
– Turkey’s time zone is Eastern European Time ( GMT +2hrs ).
– Major Credit Cards and Traveler’s checks are accepted in big cities however you may need to carry some cash with you.
– Passport is not required for domestic flights within Turkey.
– Although you can find somebody in big cities and towns who speaks English, but not at an advance level.
– Visiting mosques in Turkey, 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 it, they will give you one at the entrance 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.
– 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 is strictly illegal.
– Smoking is not permitted in flights and public places also in closed areas.
– Photographing the Turkish ladies especially 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. If you promise them you would send a copy, please do, or you don’t have to promise.
– Although most of Turkish people are friendly towards the tourist, some people especially Muslim fundamentalists may not be that way.
– Visiting museums, in some of the museums 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 a universal rule you are not permitted to touch any of the artifacts displayed.
– If you are visiting Turkey in summer time (particularly July and August), you may need a sun hat and sun blocks to protect yourself against sun burning, also people with sensitive skin should have something to cover their shoulders for the same reason.
– If you are visiting Turkey in winter time ( Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar), 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, have your umbrellas and raincoats.
– Public rest rooms are available at the town centers, museums, restaurants, mosques and gas stations, usually a small service charge is expected ( 15 c. ). Only the problem is that it is hard to find a European style closet especially in rural areas. Western style can be found at gas stations and restaurants along the major tourist roads. In any case, you should have your own toilet paper and Kleenex where it is unavailable at public rest rooms.
– Food matters, although the sanitation is taken seriously and strictly controlled at tourist places by the authorities, some rare instances of diarrhea have occurred, that’s partly because of the hot and spicy meals eaten, or the guests may have a sensitive stomach. So, 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. I would like to remind you that Turkish cuisine comes among the top three along with chinese and french.
– 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 at your table, in tourist areas in English as well.
– If you are eating out in a restaurant, waiters expect some tip usually 10% of your bill, and it is not included in your bill, you will have to leave it at the table separately.
– Water, although it is safe to drink tap water, it is recommended to buy bottled water for drinking which can be found almost at store, that’s because the city water is chlorinated for sanitation reasons of which you mightn’t like the smell. You can safely brush your teeth with tap water.
– 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.
– Usually hotel guests are not allowed to bring any food and drink into hotel rooms, but in most cases, this is tolerable. Personally, on my tours, I always arrange social parties in my room.
– All of the five star class hotels have pools and others may have one too, you don’t need to take towels from your room, as towels are available at the pool free to hotel customers.
– If you are provided a breakfast and dinner ticket by the hotel reception to eat in the hotel restaurant, have it with you, as though not all of them but some of them may require it at the entrance of the restaurants. Also, if you are provided a hotel credit card, have it in your pocket, so you can put your extra expenses on it, and pay your bill before your check out.
– Don’t forget to return your hotel room keys before your departure from the hotel, as this will cost the friendly hotel receptionists a lot.
– Some of the hotels have energy saving systems. You may need to insert the metal attached to your room key in a slot which is usually right behind the room door. 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.
– Crossing the streets in big cities, before you do that, make sure that the car or whatever is at a reasonable distance to allow you cross the street safely. Because, in Turkey, cars have the privilege to use the streets. You can safely walk on the pedestrian walk ways.
– Turkey is one of the safest countries in the world to travel, but some rare instances of crime, theft and robbery happen in big cities. Especially, if you would like to walk around the city at night, leave your valuable stuff, money and passport at hotel safety box. Almost every tourist hotel has a safety box service free to hotel customers.
– Telephoning from your hotel room might be expensive, 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 comes in 30, 60 and 100 units.
– 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 ). A separate page showing the visiting days and hours of the museums is coming soon, please check this page again.
– Bargaining 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 60-70%. This depends on your bargaining capabilities.
– You may be approached by vendors at archaeological sites trying to sell ancient coins or fragments of a statue or a piece of pottery, don’t buy them, they are fake.
– Usually customs check at entry and departure ports is not strict. However, customs officials are authorized to check your hand bags and suitcases. At their request, you have to open up your bags and suitcases.
– If the kids approach you saying “bon bon”, they mean some candies or chewing gums. Or saying “kalem”, that means pencil, or in most cases “Para”, which is money.
– 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 may take half an hour to an hour costing your invaluable time.
– If you would like to contact or speak to local people especially kids, go ahead, they love it. If somebody approaches you saying he would like to show you interesting things, or his shop or invite for a drink, don’t go with them.
– Some airline companies may require a final flight confirmation a few days before your departure flight, please check it with your travel agent.
– Always pay attention to where you are walking, as there may be some holes in the street or some steps up or down.
– When your car or bus is moving, always remain seated as some of the roads are winding with sharp curves.
– Although there is no restriction on the sale and use of Alcohol which is available at stores, the guests should avoid drinking in public during the month Ramadan
Please check this page again, as more tips will be coming soon.