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Visiting Turkey | A Brief Guide

Turkey is a gem of world-cherished cuisine and Asian-European designs. Collectively, these attributes alone make Turkey a popular traveler's destination, but there is even more to love. To help you plan your trip, here is all you need to know about visiting Turkey.  

Preparing For Your Trip

You must apply for a visa to travel to Turkey. In the US, you can apply online and get your Turkish visa within five minutes. When you arrive, prepare for spotty WIFI. Get an international phone plan, purchase a Turkish SIM card, or rely on a local to give you their passcode for internet access.

Things to Take With You

You should get a Turkish outlet adapter to stay connected while traveling. There are not very many electronics stores around, and most exist for repairs.

Turkish Currency Information

The Turkish Lira is the national currency of Turkey, and it has undergone many changes in value over the years. It is currently about 8.5 lira: 1 USD. 

Where to Stay In Turkey

Turkey is an enormous country, so you're not likely to see everything in one trip. Set your sites on an area you're most interested in exploring. If you want to see a city, stay in Istanbul. If you want to take advantage of hot air balloon rides, stay in Cappadocia. If you're hesitant about visiting a conservative area, stay in Izmir. For beach lovers, stay in Antalya. Most hotels cost between $33 and $141 per night and about twice those prices if you rent a vacation home.

Areas To Avoid

Areas within 10 kilometers of the Syrian border should be avoided. Some of these areas include Mardin, Kilis, Hakari, and Tunceli. Not only are these areas restricted, but they are hubs of illegal drug activity. Be mindful of elevation changes. Drink water to stay hydrated in these areas or avoid them. In Turkey, about 85% of the land is 450 meters in elevation, with the highest point being Mount Ararat at 5,137 m.

Traveling Do's In Turkey

  • Do wear modest clothing (and headscarves if you're a woman) inside places of worship. Islam is a significant part of Turkish culture, which dictates clothing. For women, keep your hair, shoulders, and legs covered. Men can wear shorts and t-shirts.
  • Do take off your shoes before entering a mosque.
  • Do expect merchandise sellers to negotiate.
  • Do learn common Turkish phrases.
  • Do understand mannerisms: nodding the head downward means 'yes,' and nodding upward with eyebrows raised while making a click sound indicates 'no.'
  • Do drink moderately in public.
  • Do pay for the whole meal if invited by a guest. 

The Weather In Turkey

The weather in Turkey depends on the area. The Northeastern ends are colder, and the Mediterranean regions, such as Istanbul, have mild winters. The center is a desert climate that shifts to cold during the winter months. The high peak season for travelers is in the spring and fall, and the least amount of people visit in winter. If you're willing to take the heat, summer is a great time to go, as prices and tourism are low.

Traveling Don'ts In Turkey

  • Don't attempt to visit a mosque on a Friday, as this is for Muslim worship.
  • Don't speak loudly inside a mosque.
  • Don't showcase public displays of affection.
  • Don't sit or chat with younger Turkish women if you are a male traveling alone.
  • Don't practice poor manners.
  • Don't make derogatory comments about anything Turkish.
  • Don't smoke in public places.
  • Don't make stays through Booking.com, as Turkey has banned this site.
  • Don't expect to use PayPal in Turkey, as it is inaccessible.

Local Laws In Turkey

Smoking is not allowed on public transport or any indoor public or workplaces. Imprisonment and fines are enforced for the possession or use of illegal drugs. Derogatory comments of anything Turkish, currency defacing, and not carrying ID with you are all illegal acts.

The Essence Of Turkish Culture

Traditional customs are integrated into daily life in Turkey. You can expect sincere hospitality from locals. Some areas of Turkey are more conservative than others (Kayseri, for example), and others, that are much more liberal (such as Izmir). Istanbul is divided in these trends, primarily by neighborhoods, like cultural differences you might see across the boroughs of New York. Some parts of Turkey are dedicated to conservative culture with Islam at the forefront. Other parts are secular and advocate for progressive movements. To gain cultural knowledge, check out Sultanahmet, a historic district filled with museums and ancient architecture. Istanbul is also filled with many markets, craft shops, bazaars, and other shops to explore.

Languages Spoken In Turkey

Turkish is the native languages spoken by ninety percent of Turkey’s population. There are also languages and dialects that reflect Kurdish, Romanian, Greek, Armenian, and other cultures. English is not spoken nearly as frequently as French or German. 

Turkish Food And Drink

Food in Turkey ranges in prices from $1 street food finds to $20 for a full-course meal. The prices in Turkey are very fair, compared to dining prices in the US. Turkish cuisine was influenced by Ottoman cuisine, and other associated cultures. Olive oil, yogurt, and black pepper are used alongside red chili pepper, mint, cumin, and paprika to create authentic flavor. Popular foods and drinks to try are Turkish coffee, Dolma, Baklava, and Kebap.

Transportation Tips While Visiting

Transportation is easily accessible in Turkey. You can choose from affordable buses to cheap flights. Many people choose to go the flight route because it saves time and energy. Inside cities, public transportation is adequate. Buses and trains are reliable but avoid independent taxis. You can use metered taxis through Uber in Istanbul but be sure to take screenshots of your meter to avoid scamming. Traffic is not much of an issue in Turkey. The roads are clear, and navigation is straight-forward. 

Turkey is a cultural playground of artisan design, mouthwatering cuisine, and scenic views. Plan responsibly for your trip and you can enjoy these wonders to the fullest.

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