Make sure your passport will still have at least six months’ life in it after you enter Turkey.
Generally speaking, entering Turkey by air is pretty painless. The only snag to be aware of is that most people need a ‘visa’, which is really just a stamp in their passport issued at the point of entry. If you fly into the country you must first join the queue to pay for the stamp in your passport before joining the queue for immigration. Rarely do customs officers stop you to check your bags at airports. The cost for a visa will be around € 15 for most Europeans. Other nationalities may need to pay different amounts.
After decades of rampant inflation, the lira is now stable. The Yeni Turk Lirası (new Turkish lira; YTL) was used between 2005 and 2008 as an anti-inflationary measure; watch out for people dumping their old-currency kuruş coins on you.
- ATMs. ATMs dispense new Turkish lira to Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro cardholders. Look for these logos on the machines; they are found in most towns. Virtually all the machines offer instructions in English, French and German. You can usually draw out about €350 per day. Note that if a stand-alone ATM booth swallows your card, it may be tricky getting it back in a hurry – these booths are often run by franchisees rather than by the banks themselves.
- Cash. US dollars and euros are the easiest currencies to change, although many banks and exchange offices will change other major currencies such as UK pounds and Japanese yen. You may find it difficult to exchange Australian or Canadian currency except at banks and offices in major cities.
- Credit cards. Visa and MasterCard/Access are widely accepted by hotels, shops, bars and restaurants, although not by pensions and local restaurants outside main tourist areas. You can also get cash advances on these cards. Amex cards are rarely accepted.
The World Health Organization recommends that all travellers, regardless of the region they are travelling in, should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as hepatitis B. While making preparations to travel, take the opportunity to ensure that all of your routine vaccination cover is complete. The consequences of these diseases can be severe and outbreaks do occur in the Middle East. Rabies is also endemic in Turkey, so if you will be travelling off the beaten track you might want to consider an anti-rabies jab.
Although Turkey is by no way a dangerous country to visit, it’s always wise to be a little cautious, especially if you’re travelling alone. Be wary of pickpockets in buses, markets and other crowded places. Keep an eye out for anyone lurking near ATMs.
220V 50Hz European plug with two circular metal pins. Power surges are not uncommon. If using your own laptop, it’s a good idea to bring a surge protector from home.
- Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting.
- Pointing your finger at someone, turning the sole of your shoe towards anyone and blowing your nose is considered very rude.
- If you must blow your nose in public, especially restaurants, turn or leave the room and blow quietly.
- Only pick your teeth with a hand shielding your mouth.
- Public affection with the opposite sex is frowned upon.
- Hospitality is very important and visitors should respect Islamic customs. Informal wear is acceptable, but beachwear should be confined to the beach or poolside. Smoking is widely accepted, but prohibited in cinemas, theatres, city buses and dolmuses (shared taxis).
- Turks indicate ‘yes’ (evet) by nodding their head forward and down. To say ‘no’ (hahyur), the head is nodded up and back, lifting the eyebrows at the same time, or just raising the eyebrows. Turks may also make a ‘tsk’ sound to indicate ‘no’. By contrast, shaking your head from side to side means ‘I don’t understand’. ‘Thank you’ is expressed by raising a hand to the heart, sometimes accompanied by a slight nod of the head.
- In big cities it is acceptable to take photographs at will. However, in more rural areas, it is best to ask permission first, especially if you want to photograph women who are wearing headscarves.
- Bargaining is only practiced in touristic places. When bargaining, check the average price of the item in several places. Try and negotiate the price down by 15-20% of the average price.
- If you are happy with the service in your restaurant, taxi, hotel or any other service, a tip of 10-15% is an appropriate way to show your appreciation.
- When visiting a mosque, dress modestly and take off your shoes before entering. Women may be asked to wear a scarf on their heads.