If you’ve made up your mind and want to visit Turkey, you’re in for a treat. But a little bit of insider information doesn’t hurt, does it? Let’s take a look at the 5 things you should know before travelling to Turkey!
Turkey ‘s Visas – No Hassle, More Fun!
A Turkish Visa is easily obtainable for most countries. First you have to find out if you need a VISA for your country in the first place. If you do, then you can get your VISA after you land in Turkey, but if you don’t really feel like waiting in one for a VISA, you can get one before you leave for Turkey. People from Germany for example are exempt from VISA for up to 90 days, and can enter the country with just a passport. Patients from the USA can use the Electronic Visa Application System for $20 or just get the VISA once they arrive. FlyMedi can also help international patients with VISA arrangements and other details regarding their trip.
Let’s Talk Cold Hard Cash …or Liras.
Turkey uses the Turkish Lira as a local currency. It abbreviates as TL within the country and TRY in international mediums. You can chance USD or EUR for Turkish Liras just about anywhere in the country but it is recommended to change your dollars or euros in the city centre and not in the Airport or Hotel. Most of the change offices will not charge you a commission, so it’s not a good idea to pick a change office with commission. You can also use ATMs to withdraw money and there are quite a lot to pick from. Also, you can use your credit card for payments and even small shops offer this option.
PRO TIP: Changing your money into Liras before coming to Turkey can be more expensive than changing it after you arrive in Turkey, so it’s wise to wait a bit.
Sticks, Stones and Mobile Phones
Turkey has three main mobile operators – Avea, Vodafone and Turkcell. If you have roaming available on your phone, you’ll automatically connect to one of these three. Prices may be a bit expensive while on roaming so it’s a good idea to simply buy a new Turkish SIM card and use it for the duration of your stay.
The Grand Bazaaar – a Free Negotiator’s Course
Turkey, although not cheap, is quite affordable compared to countries from Europe or the US. Shopping is loads of fun in Turkey and in the Grand Bazaars you can find just about anything. One thing you should keep in mind is that there are no price labels in the shops, so you’re in for a free negotiator course! If you’re good at it, you can reduce the price to as low as 50%. This is one of the best experiences when visiting Turkey.
Textiles Etiquette – The guide to Turkey
Turkey’s population is mainly Islamic and apart from the natural religious diversity one can expect from a large country, 99% of Turkish people are Muslim. Some women cover their hair and heads with a scarf and some do not, it’s a matter of choice in Turkey. One thing to note is that when visiting religious sites you should wear something that covers the knees and a headscarf to cover your hair. Don’t have a headscarf? No problem, you can just borrow one when you enter a Mosque and then return it after you leave. Also, it is good etiquette for men not to wear shorts in Mosques or religious sites. Other than that, people are very friendly and helpful towards foreigners and very open to communication.
Other Fun Facts About Turkey
- Cats are extremely popular in Istanbul and Turkey as a whole. Turks simply love them and they take care of them by leaving out food and small bowls of water.
- It is a customary greeting for people to hug and kiss both cheeks, regardless to gender.
- Turks love their water and spring water is the best there is. Spring water is served just about everywhere, even in the busses.
- Same goes for tea – you’ll get served complimentary Turkish tea even in small shops and restaurants.
- Turkish coffee is quite different from Western coffee – It’s stronger with a richer aroma. Just be careful with the coffee grounds on the bottom of the cup. Turkish coffee must be hot, sweet and foamy at the top.