Turkey’s diverse landscapes, adventure activities, incredible culture, ancient history, scrumptious food and interesting art make it a very unique place to explore. Before you set off to see the landscapes of Cappadocia, mosques in Istanbul and mighty ancient ruins of Ephesus, here are five handy tips.
1. You Need a Visa*
Turkish customs require nationals from many countries to obtain a visa to enter Turkey. Click here to apply for your visa online and find out if you require one.
Before getting a visa, make sure your passport has six months validity from the date of entry into Turkey, or you may be refused entry to the country. Visas generally take a couple of weeks to obtain, so don’t leave this until the last minute.
*For any information about visas and how that relates to your situation, please contact the Turkish embassy in your country.
2. A Little Effort Goes a Long Way
Turkish people are very friendly, and if you earn yourself an invite into a local family home for Turkish coffee or tea, knowing a little of their langauge will go a long way.
Watch out for men who take advantage of that friendly nature, and find out why “Hello, my friend!” is not always what you want to hear.
3. Carry Cash in Different Currencies
The easiest currencies to convert into Turkish Lira are US Dollars and Euro. Change offices offer the best rates. There are many ATMs throughout Turkey, but don’t solely rely on your ATM card as your main source of cash in the event that you cannot find a machine that accepts your card.
Always have a mixture of cash (in small denominations), an ATM card and a credit card available. Traveler’s checks are not recommended, as most stores won’t accept them and banks and post offices with very long queues are the only places to cash them in.
Make sure you keep your cash and cards safe by following these simple money security tips.
4. Cover Up
Turkey’s land mass straddles eastern Europe and western Asia, creating an incredible fusion culture where east meets west. While most cities are quite cosmopolitan, rural communities retain their old customs and traditions. Wherever you chose to travel in Turkey, be aware of the proper dress etiquette, and dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention – escpecially women traveling outside tourist areas.
5. Traditional Turkish Toilets Abound
While many Turkish hotels, museums and restaurants have western toilets, you’ll definitely encounter a few squat toilets on your travels. Beginners will no doubt be challenged with the new skills required to master this task, but soon enough you will become accustomed, and might even enjoy them.
It’s a good idea to remove any objects, such as your phone or wallet, from your pockets before you squat. If you forget to do this, good luck retrieving it.
There is usually a tap with running water (bidet) located next to the squat, which you can use to flush.
Don’t forget to carry toilet paper and small change with you at all times, as most public toilets in Turkey (and toilet paper provided) are not free. Antiseptic wipes aren’t a bad idea, either.
What do you wish you knew before traveling to Turkey?