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Welcome to www.HELLOTURKEY.net
We believe these are
some important and practical facts that
YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT TURKEY
First of all, before anything else... check your passport to insure that it is valid for at least 3 months from date of arrival into the country. Your stay in Turkey as a tourist is limited up to 3 months.
(For more, please visit our other page)
If you need a visa and you didn't get it through a Turkish Consulate, please be prepared to pay the exact amount of $45.00 in USD for an entry visa. This can be paid at any port of entry into the country Stamp Visa or any consulate worldwide.
No immunization shots are required for travel within Turkey.
The national monetary unit is the 'Turkish Lira'.
At midnight on January 1, 2005 Turkey dropped six zeros from its currency when it introduced the YTL (Yeni Turk Lirasi: new Turkish Lira). To ease the burden on the citizens, both the old and new Lira were used until January 1, 2006 when the old currency was removed from circulation. Although the old Lira can no longer be used, people who have them have until 2016 to convert them to the new currency.
Again please note that, as of January 1, 2009, the word 'New' ('Yeni' in Turkish) has been dropped. The currency is again call 'the Turkish Lira'.
Although exchange rates fluctuate, one Turkish Lira is worth approximately USD 0.53. Conversely, USD 1.00 is approximately 1.86 Turkish Lira (as of October 2nd, 2011). Practically 2 USD can buy ~4 Turkish Lira.
Check for actual exchange rate click here.
Turkish Lira are available in the following denominations:
The exchange rates for foreign currencies are published daily in every bank and at private sector exchange places. The best exchange rates can be usually found there. To find one, ask to anyone in Turkish "Where, ask to anyone in Turkish where there is an exchange office: 'DOVIZ BUROSU NEREDE ?'
Don't worry, Doviz Burosu (money exchange offices) are everywhere; one will always be nearby.
So, when you arrive at the airport in Turkey, we suggest you do not exchange a large amount of your money. You may be charged a high commission. Get only the amount that you need for your transportation and other immediate needs.
You can use your mobile phone in Turkey if your provider has enabled international roaming. Turkey has very wide mobile coverage networks so you should not have any problems in the main cities and tourist resorts.
However if you intend to stay for a long time in the country or make several calls, it may be preferable to buy a local prepaid SIM card. Take your mobile phone and passport to a Turkish mobile phone shop where your new SIM will be registered along with your handset's IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number and your personal information.
A unique 15 digit IMEI code number is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone. It can also be displayed on the screen of the phone by entering *#06# into the keypad on most phones.
People living in Turkey are free to have foreign currency in their possession; to buy foreign currency without limitation from banks, authorized institutions and private finance institutions; to transfer foreign currency abroad; and to open foreign currency deposit accounts at banks.
Banks are open between 8:30 and noon Monday through Friday. They are closed Saturdays and Sundays. In some touristic areas banks are kept open 7 days a week and during afternoon hours too. Also, ATM machines are available in the large cities and in towns that cater to tourists. ATMs are mostly connected to worldwide cash point networks such as the Cirrus or Plus systems.
Don't take Traveler's Checks with you to Turkey. Most stores don't accept them. Banks and Postal Service units(PTT)are the ONLY ways to cash them and you may end up waiting for an hour while they verify the checks.
The best currencies to carry for changing to TL are US dollars and Euros.
The exchange slips for the conversion of foreign currency into Turkish LIRA should be kept, since you may be required to show these, when reconverting your Turkish Lira back into foreign currency and also when taking souvenirs out of the country... to prove that they have been purchased with legally exchanged foreign currency.
Major credit cards and travelers checks are widely accepted by larger businesses. However most small businesses still prefer good gold cash.
In fact sometimes you might purchase the same item for less, if you pay cash.
An American Express card is NOT widely accepted in Turkey.
We have a good news for you: In Turkey there is no airport tax !
Turkey has same time zone all over the country.
Local time in Turkey from April-September is: GMT + 3 hrs. and from October-March: GMT + 2 hrs.
Emergency service telephone numbers in Turkey are:
155 - Police,
112 - Medical Emergency (First aid),
110 - Fire,
118 - Information (Unknown numbers),
161 - PTT Information (Turkish Postal Service)
Before you take your trip going to Turkey, we highly suggest that visit our particular page and get it printed. This page offers information on all the Airlines, major Hospitals, Airports, Museums and other worth to visit places and more: IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS and WEB LINKS IN TURKEY (This link can also be found in the left column of every major tourist destination page on this site.)
The electrical current is 220 volts, 50 cycle's alternating current (AC) all around Turkey. Wall outlets take standard round continental type plugs. The voltage is clearly marked on all hotel outlets. (You may need a transformer in order to use some of your appliances. Find out before you plug your appliance into the electrical outlet.)
Very small sections of Istanbul distribute 110V electricity.
Museums, archeological sites and similar visitor sights close for the first full day of the holiday, but are usually open on the second and third days. See dates for Turkish holidays
It is customary for people to hug and kiss both cheeks regardless of the their gender.
While visiting any of the Mosques in Turkey, it is required that women are required to cover their heads with a scarf and naked parts of their legs and shoulders. If you do not have a scarf, please ask at the entrance. In most cases you might get one free, while use it during your visit. Also men should not wear shorts.
Silence is required inside the mosques, it is suggested that you shouldn't laugh loudly inside as this may offend people praying. Please respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
There are no chairs or benches in a mosque. A Turkish mosque is often covered from wall to wall with several layers of carpets.
Most of the mosques are closed to visits at prayer times.
Do not look for inside! All public restrooms are located out of the Mosque.
If you're planning to travel over the period of a Religious holiday, make sure you've got your tickets & your stays booked in advance.
Also if are you traveling by your own transportation please be very careful on the road; highways are very busy day and night during a holiday!
Turks, like people everywhere, travel most during holidays. However, the majority of them use intercity buses, rather than driving their own cars. All of the highways and all other roads are extremely busy at this time. Also, in small towns and cities, the majority of small businesses remain closed during religious holidays. This may interfere with your travel plans. For example, Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is always closed for at least the first and second day of any religious holiday.
Turkish Religious Holiday dates are as follows by years
( If you would like more on religious holidays, please see our 'RELIGIOUS PAGE' )
SEKER BAYRAMI (sheh-kehr bah-yee-rah-muh)
--- or call ---
RAMAZAN BAYRAMI (Please note: 'Ramadan' in Turkey is "Ramazan")
2011: (It was on Aug.30th through Sept.1st)
2012: Sun. Aug. 19th, Mon. 20th and Tue. 21st
(The month of RAMAZAN will be on July 20 through August 18th)
2013: Thur. Aug. 8th, Fri. 9th and Sat. 10th
(The month of RAMAZAN will be July 9th through August 7th)
KURBAN BAYRAMI (koor-bahn bahy-rah-muh)
2011: Wed. Nov. 16th, Thur. 17th, Fri.18th and Sat. 19th
2012: Thur. Oct. 25th, Fri. 26th, Sat. 27th and Sun. 28th
2013: Tue. Oct. 15th, Wed. 16th, Thur. 17th and Fri.,18th
If you are planning to visit Turkey during month of Ramadan (RAMAZAN, in Turkish), note that while the Turkish people are fasting during the day, it is legal and permissible for you to eat.However, it is considered impolite to eat in front of those who are fasting.
Also, in small towns and in some conservative areas of larger cities, yes, during daytime hours some of the restaurants might kept remain closed, but in the most other ones food service will be as normal in all hotels.
However; traffic can be a problem for an hour before the IFTAR... which is the time when sun goes down and Muslims are allowed to eat. It is better if you do not go sight-seeing during this time.
Tap water is safe to drink in all cities as it has been chlorinated for sanitation reasons. Because of this, you might not like how it smell. Bottled drinking water is available almost everywhere. Btw; you can safely brush your teeth with tap water.
If you will drive in Turkey, you must obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is a special licence that allows travellers with a valid foreign driver's licence to drive in over 160 countries without a specific test. Contact your local AAA office to pick up an application or have one mailed to you. An IDP is valid for one year from the date of issue.
Doctors and dentists can be found in major hospitals and as individual businesses. There are certain foreign-operated hospitals in Istanbul.
See this page
Almost all pharmacies in Turkey are individually owned and operated.
In Turkey weights and liquid measurements are in the metric system.
Turkish domestic flights are often much more expensive if purchased outside of Turkey, so you should consider having a good Turkish travel agent make your internal flight reservations.
Turkey has a zero tolerance drug policy. Sale, traffic or use of drugs is strictly forbidden by Turkish Law.
Please keep in mind that; if you visit a Turkish family, in general, Turks take their shoes off upon entering a house. Thus, the dust and dirt of the outdoors is not tracked inside. In most houses the family keeps some extra pairs of slippers ('terlik' in Turkish) for their guest to wear.
Specially brewed tea is a Turk's most accepted favorite beverage and is called their CHAI ('CAY' in Turkish and pronounced 'chay').
For sure, drinking Drinking CAY starts with breakfast and goes on all during the day and night; at any time for any occasion.
For example; while you shop around, as a guest in a shop, you often might be offered a cup of CAY. If you take a ferryboat to cross to other side in Istanbul, you'll see bunch of people will have their CAY during their ~20 minute ride. Turks drink the tea real hot and fast, and many of them pretty often.
CAY is not drunk from porcelain cups or mugs, Turks drink CAY with a small tulip shaped clear glass (shown left in picture above), which is called a 'CAY BARDAGI' in Turkish. It is served unsweetened, but is accompanied by one or two sugar cubes and a small spoon on the saucer.
For some, the traditional tulip shape CAY glasses might be difficult to hold. Because they are full with hot tea and perhaps you cannot handle it easily... unless you get used to it. The easiest way to hold the 'CAY BARDAGI' is to hold it by the rim with the thumb and forefinger, and place the third finger under the thick bottom of the glass.
When you ask CAY in a coffee house or restaurant, you might be served with non-traditional cups (shown right in picture above). This is to make you believe that; the restaurant is serving you the CAY with a modern cup and accordingly can charge a higher price for their service.
We suggest that, wherever you may be, that you ask your server to not serve the CAY in a non-traditional cup which in Turkish is called a FINCAN (pronounced finjan). If you follow our suggestion, say to the server, "FINCANDA ISTEMIYORUM." This means, I don't want it in a fincan!
>> (Read more CHAY, in our TURKISH CUISINE page)
Exporting antiques from Turkey is absolutely forbidden. Antiques brought into the country must be registered in the owner's passport to avoid difficulties upon exit.
It should be remembered that Turks are by nature a modest people, and find other people's nudity offensive. Topless sunbathing actually contravenes the Turkish obscenity law; albeit a law that is not enforced on foreign visitors. However, please respect Turkish' traditions.
A note to American tourists: You should not expect to get iced beverages in Turkish eating establishments. While bottled beverages (water, soft drinks and so on) are kept in a refrigerator, they may not be cold in a busy eatery. Typically, the only beverage served with ice in a Turkish restaurant is RAKI (Turkey's national alcoholic beverage. It is similar to Greek ouzo or Arabic arak).
When you visit Turkey, you might thing that you are in coffee grown land. But in reality, there is not even a single coffee tree in the country. The climate is unsuited for growing coffee and Turks have always imported it from various countries since the year 1540, when it first appeared in the OTTOMAN LANDS. What made Turkish Coffee famous around the world is it's ritual of preparation and it's service.
Turkish coffee is served very hot. If it's done right, there's a very thick foam at the top, called 'KOPUK'... the thicker, the better. Lack of foam indicates bad preparation and/or bad quality of beans.
If you receive your Turkish coffee without foam or with too little foam on the surface, do not accept it and do not believe the other things that you might be told about Turkish coffee.
Don't stir it! The grounds have settled to the bottom of the cup, and that's where you want them to stay. Sip your Turkish coffee slowly. This isn't a shot, it's meant to be savored.
The presentation of Turkish Coffee varies from establishment to establishment depending upon the quality of the cups (FINCAN in Turkish) and the manner in which the server presents it to the customer. In some high-class coffee houses, the coffee is prepared at your table in a special pot called a CEZVE (pronounced jez-vey). This pot has a long handle, and may be made of brass, copper, or ceramic and is typically just large enough to hold the amount of coffee being served. Once it is brewed, the server may pour it into your cup, or you may pour it yourself. Of course, you can expect to pay a little more for this showy presentation.
Note too; Turkish coffee is often served with a glass of room temperature water on the side.
Keep in mind that, while it is customary in the U.S. to receive free refills or carry-out service for many beverages, this is not the case in Turkey. There are no refills for coffee, or other beverages. Note also that, Turkish coffee is drunk almost exclusively by adults and is not served at breakfast or with a regular meal. Turkish coffee is served after a good meal when it can be sipped and enjoyed.
>> How to prepare
Ministry of Tourism Offices and travel agents can provide professional interpreters/guides. Travel agents are obligated to provide professional interpreters/guides on all their tours.
In Turkish hotels, motels, restaurants and other business establishments does not meet American expectations of Air-conditioning (A/C), ['klima' in Turkish ] except, perhaps, in a super luxury hotel or resort. Some hotels and motels charge extra for their rooms that have air conditioning.
Some of the foreign newspapers are always available in large cities book stores and tourist areas.
Turks as love to drink water and in Turkey spring water is served everywhere, even on inter city buses.
Turkey has a well developed telecommunication system. You can easily call any country in the world using the public telephone. The telephone calls from the hotels are quite expensive that's why it is recommended to use PTT telephone cards both for domestic and long distance calls.
Public telephones takes tokens (called JETON) and phone cards which can be bought from any Post Office (PTT).
JETONS (the tokens)comes in three sizes; small for local calls, large for international calls and medium which can be used for either.
Local and international calls can usually made with no problems at all. Also PTT offices now provide fax and telex services.
Making phone calls 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 to do buying a phone card from a PTT (Turkish Post Office), which comes in 30, 60 and 100 units.
AT&T, MCI and SPRINT have international services that make calling home relatively affordable and convenient and let you avoid hotel surcharges. Before you go, call the company of choice to learn the number you must dial in Turkey to reach its network!
In Turkey Post Office called a PTT(Post-Telephone-Telegraph Company) and any PTT branch can easily recognizable by their yellow PTT signs.
As we are talking about PTT here, let us include here this too: Stamp collectors will be delighted with the wide range of special Turkish stamps available to them.
In Turkey toilets may be either of oriental or western style. Usually older buildings and public toilets have the oriental style. As seen in the photo.
There will always be a public toilet near a mosque. In restaurants, hotels, motels and other types of businesses the public toilets are usually of the western type, but either may be present. Homes, also, may have either type of toilet.
NOTE: In Turkey, western style toilets have a small pipe coming from the back of the toilet from a water valve. It is there to use to cleanse yourself. It is sort of a simplified bidet. Toilet paper is used only for drying oneself.
All tourist hotels, motels, and restaurants, etc. are equipped with western toilets and toilet paper is provided.
In Turkey, you will pay a fee to use a public toilet (restroom). You may also have to pay a toilet fee in a restaurant, tea garden, private museum, archaeological site, or other establishments open to the public. Therefore, it is a good practice to always carry some change with you.
Turks use many form of body Languages. For example; many times you might meet someone who says you 'EVET' (eh-veht)... which means YES, by nodding his/her head forward and down. They also say 'HAYIR' (hay-yurh)... which means NO, by nod their heads up and back, lifting their eyebrows at the same time.
>> Read more on Turkish language...
Taxi cabs (TAKSI in Turkish) are abundant in Turkey and are always ready to serve you.
Taxis are easily recognizable by the yellow and black checker-board band around the cab, Each taxi is metered.
Taxi cabs charge two different tariffs: Daytime and overnight. Overnight tariff applies after midnight, till morning 6 AM and will cost the customer 50% more than the daytime fare. Additional expenses, like ferryboat or bridge crossings fees are extras added onto the fare. Tipping is not necessary however, leaving the change or rounding up the fare is customary.
In Istanbul, if you have problem with taxi cub and it's fare, call this number to complain: 212-283-6546
Crossing a big city street can be dangerous. If there is one, always use marked pedestrian crosswalk. If there is no designated crosswalk, make sure there is enough of a break in the traffic to allow you to cross safely. Unless stopped for a traffic light, the cars have the right of way. As a general rule, drivers are supposed to give way to a pedestrian but, unfortunately, not all drivers do so.
If you want to send something home from Turkey you can use the PTT (Turkish Postal Service), UPS or DHL. You might want to keep information below handy!
UPS UPS Turkey website
Istanbul - Karakoy branch: Ph. 212-3938219 & 2514069
Istanbul - Sirkeci branch: Ph. 212-5197662 & 5197663
Istanbul - Kadikoy branch: Ph. 216-4494447 & 3492035
Istanbul - Levent branch: Ph. 212- 3179097 & 3179098
Istanbul - Sultanahmet branch. 212-5174102 , 6384865 & 6384877 Email
Istanbul - Airport branch: Ph. 212-4680300 Email
Antalya branch: Ph. 4440033 Email
Izmir branch: Ph. 4440033
Izmir Airport: Ph. 4440033 Email
DHL (International Deliveries) DHL website
Yalcin Kores Cad. No.20
Yenibosna, Istanbul / Turkey 34540
Ph. (212) 478 10 00
Fax: (212) 478 14 00 & 01
Cats abound in Istanbul and everywhere in Turkey. Yes, cats are inside and out. Even one of them famously greeted Barrack Obama, when he visited Istanbul's famous former Byzantine Church of Haghia Sophia, (now a museum), in April 2009.
Istanbul has plenty of street cats and dogs. Both species nicely divide the available space between themselves. Turks have a special love for cats and often leave out food or small bowls of water for the neighborhood cats. Cats have personalities and in many neighborhoods and they are almost part of the community.
On the other side, history indicates that cats have a special place in Islam. The prophet Mohammed was a big cat lover, as were several other important Muslim religious figures. So teachings about cats are plentiful in Islam, and they are nearly always about the goodness of cats. One story is how Mohammed so loved his cat that, when the cat fell asleep on his sleeve, Mohammed cut off the sleeve rather than to bother his little friend.
If you are cat lover, you may want to read our story about Turkey's famous VAN CATS, which have eyes of two different colors and are swimmers. Find the story at the bottom of the right column of this page
Most restaurants display their food in the front window and in show cases inside. Also, if you ask, the server can bring samples of the food to you. You may also ask your waiter if the menu is available in English, German, or another language. However, you must be careful if you do this. The prices on these menus may be higher than on the Turkish menu.
Almost all restaurants automatically add a 10 or 15% service charge to your bill so, it is not necessary to leave more than a few coins in the change plate.
At your hotel, motel, pension, or resort, porters, and/or parking lot attendants expect a tip equivalent to a dollar. You may want to tip a taxi driver by rounding the fare up to the next higher amount.
If you found this website useful and believe that you know others also utilize this, please pass the word on.
Thank you! / Tesekkur ederiz!
DO YOU NEED
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DO YOU NEED
We are proud
to be affiliated with