General Questions

Please ask your general practitioner or travel doctor. We cannot give medical advice about whether or not you require vaccinations. In general, people travelling to Turkey do not have vaccinations as there are no official requirements. Some doctors recommend typhoid vaccinations if you plan to visit the southeast of Turkey.

Most doctors also recommend vaccinations against hepatitis A and B wherever you travel in the world. Malaria is not a problem in Turkey but you should still carry mosquito repellents. If you would like vaccinations, visit your doctor one month prior to departure from your home country.

You need to have 6 months validity left on your passport when entering the country.

Turkey has now introduced an e-visa system that prevents waiting in long queues at the airport. The process for application is simple. Head to the website listed below and chose for instructions to be displayed in English. Answer the questions on the application form, then pay using Visa or Mastercard.

Once your application has been submitted, you will receive your e-visa via email within 48 hours.

Website for e-visa information

Most hotels throughout Turkey have internet installed and they open it up for use by customers. The password can be obtained from reception. You should always check whether there is a charge before using it. Most cafes and restaurants offer wifi for free for customers and some of our tours buses also has wifi. Otherwise, in most of the busy cities and towns, there are internet cafes.

This depends on the disability. The hearing impaired should be accompanied by a professional sign language translator if they want to join guided tours. People with walking disabilities should check with our staff regarding the level of difficulty for the area they want to visit. We can source disabled friendly hotels however in many rural places, wheel chair ramps are non existent and the conditions of roads are unsuitable for wheelchairs. Please email or call us with details of the disability and we can advise further.

Tourism in Turkey carries on when there is a religious event or public holiday. Places like banks, school, and offices will shut but restaurants, hotels and bars will stay open.

Two religious holidays occur and their timing changes every year according to the Islamic calendar. Road trips during these periods are generally avoided since traffic is heavy, with Turks visiting families in their hometowns. Banks and offices will close for the duration of these periods. Attractions and historical sites will often close for the morning of the first day and open for normal business in the afternoon.

Planning your holiday to ensure no interruptions occur is easy. A set check list covering all aspects including what to pack and weather conditions, normally prevents most things from going wrong.

Unfortunately, one aspect that people tend to forget is public and religious holidays and how they will affect opening hours of amenities and attractions.

Additional Notes

Both the Grand and Spice bazaars of Istanbul are closed for the duration of religious holidays, and the public holiday of October the 29th. They are also regularly shut on a weekly basis for Sundays.

The Blue Mosque & St Sophia continues to stay open during religious holidays but prayer times receive more attendance than normal so re-opening times to visitors after prayer sessions may be delayed.

It is worth noting that many museums around the country already designate Monday for closure. Although they only close for half a morning during religious holidays, if you are on a road tour or just an overnight stay, this can limit the amount of time left to visit attractions.

If you are traveling to Turkey on the day of vote for a general election, most amenities and attractions will still be open but it is against the law for restaurants and bars to serve alcohol, until voting has officially closed.

If you are in Turkey during Ramadan, you should be sensitive to those around you who may be fasting. Food and drink is still available at all hours of the day but do not eat or drink on public transport or while walking down the street. Sit down at a cafe or restaurant to eat meals or snacks.

Although not a religious event, Independence Day on October the 29th is  colourful because the Turkish flag hangs from balconies, windows and anywhere else that is possible! Depending on where you are, there may also be music festivals and marches organized.

Turkey has a low crime rate and single women can feel relaxed about travel. You should take normal precautions like you would anywhere else in the world such as only using licensed taxis and not accepting drinks from strangers.

On all our tours, the comfort of our customers is of top importance and the guide can recommend establishments where a single female would feel comfortable.

Shop vendors may call out to you in the busy areas like the Grand bazaar of Istanbul but they only want you to come into their shop to buy something. You can ignore them or simply say no thank you and walk on.

Istanbul is a city operating all year round so any-time is good to visit. If you like sunshine, come between April to October as winter in Istanbul can be cold and rainy with the occasional snowfall.

The tourism season on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts run from May to October but tourist sites like Ephesus are open all year round. Gulet cruises are more enjoyable when refined to the months of June to September.

Cappadocia is also a region operating all year round, although in the wintertime, snowfall is usual. The snow does provide a pretty landscape view and the hot air balloons rides will still operate as long as weather conditions are advisable.

If you travel between the months of December to March, bring an umbrella as this is when the country receives the most amount of rain.

In general terms, you need to be alert to pickpockets and petty theft. However, levels of this kind of crime against tourists are far lower than in many European and North American cities. The risk of terrorist attack is probably similar to that in London or New York – generally very low.

Turkey is a friendly country which has not been not affected by the Arab uprising. It is also very big.  Many destinations in Turkey are far away from the border with Syria. For example, it is over 1550km from Istanbul to the Syrian border. We do recommend staying away from the border areas of Syria south of Antakya. There are many refugees in this area, and there is some tension. At this stage it seems completely safe, but we continue to watch for volatility.

On the other hand, the Syrian border areas near Harran and Sanliurfa appear completely unaffected by the situation in Syria. We would also recommend avoiding the entire border area with Iraq, especially south of Hakkari.

You should carry your passport or a photocopy of your passport with you at all times, and show it to police who ask for it (though this is likely to be very rare, unless travelling in the south east.) Roads in rural and regional Turkey are generally very good, and driving conditions are fine. Drivers are advised to always be on alert for small trucks overtaking in inappropriate circumstances. In Istanbul, driving conditions can be quite difficult and traffic can be very heavy, so it is not recommended except for drivers experienced with large cities.

In general, when you come to Turkey, you will find a welcoming country with extremely warm, hospitable locals.

You can buy prepaid SIM cards at Istanbul Ataturk airport – after you pass through the arrival doors. Your driver will be waiting for you with a sign bearing your name, but can wait while you buy a SIM. There are two places, but we recommend Turkcell as more straight forward. This will only work with a phone which is not under contract or locked into an Australian network.

However, please note that Turkish authorities only seem to allow a foreign phone to be used for around 6 weeks. After that, they shut down the service, regardless of whether you have credits left or not. They want people who will use a foreign phone in Turkey for more than 6 weeks to ‘import’ or ‘register’ the phone.

This can usually be done at the Turkcell counter at the airport by showing your phone, passport and arrival stamp, but can take a little time. Depending on what time you arrive, and who’s on the counter, they may also feign no knowledge of the issue, in which case there’s not much you can do.

You can approach a Turkcell shop elsewhere in Istanbul or Turkey, but the level of English is likely to be even lower, and it will take up a good deal of time.

Round, two-pin plugs are used in Turkey, the same as those used on the European continent. You are advised to bring your own adapators with you, as hotels rarely have (enough) adaptors.

Most places in Turkey accept credit cards. As a security measure, some banks will block transactions made in a different country so please inform your  credit card provider of your travel plans. Please be aware that Diners and American Express cards are accepted in far fewer places than Visa or Mastercard. If an establishment does accept Amex, they may impose a hefty surcharge.

It is customary (but optional) to tip your housekeeper in the hotel by leaving a few coins by the bed. You can tip taxi drivers a few lira or round up to the nearest 50 or 100. The same goes for waiters in restaurants. If it’s a more formal restaurant, and no service was added, then 15% is appropriate.

You will have different bus and car drivers throughout. You may wish to tip them 50 or 100 lira each, particularly if they have helped with heavy luggage. Alternatively, you can just give a tip to the guide on a day tour and s/he will share with the driver.

It is usual (but optional) to tip your guide at the end of each tour according to how you found his/her information and communication. One a one day tour, you might tip 100-200 lira to the guide. If you have the same guide for several days, a similar rate may apply on a per day basis.

On a standard gulet cruise, around EUR5 per passenger per day is a good starting point, more on a deluxe cruise. On a chartered vessel, the crew as a team would hope to receive at least EUR50 per day from your group. Please remember that gulet crew only have work for 6 months of the year, and often have a family to support year round.

This will vary depending on the region you visit. In the summer time, all along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, the beaches are full with women wearing bikinis. If your travel plans include entering a mosque, you should ensure that your cleavage, midriff, knees, and shoulders are covered. You will also need a headscarf.

The South East of Turkey is more conservative than the west so women should bear this in mind. In the big city of Istanbul, women’s clothing standards are relaxed, modern, and European however; you should cover your cleavage and legs if you are looking to prevent unwanted attention.

Most people like to take souvenirs home with them at the end of their holiday. They remind us of destinations that we enjoyed and loved. There will also be family and friends expecting token gifts.

The good news is that Turkey has original souvenirs that will not only be a reminder of your travels, but they also look great in the home as décor or utensils. To inspire you on a shopping quest for Turkish souvenirs, we have listed our favorites below

Best Souvenirs to Buy in Turkey

Everywhere you look in Turkey; there is one common object in homes, offices, cars, and businesses. Many Turks believe that the blue evil eye wards off evil thoughts and presence. This is not a superstition taken lightly in Turkey and the evil eye can be purchased in many forms including jewelry, ceramics, key rings, and trinkets.

Anyone with a sweet tooth will enjoy the taste of Turkish delight. This sweet snack comes in a variety of flavors and sizes. Made from sugar and starch, it has been around since Ottoman times so you will also be indulging in a time-honored tradition. You won’t have to look far to find it either because Turkish delight is sold everywhere.

After a few days in Turkey, you will soon realize that spices are also popular. This is most notable in theGrand bazaar of Istanbul, where rows of stores sell spices in big bulk amounts to local Turks. Food fanatics will certainly have a great time smelling and tasting the spices that among them include examples like fresh saffron.

One of the more expensive purchases of souvenirs is Turkish carpets. Professional collectors flock from all over the world to purchase a Turkish carpet because they are known for expert artistry and quality. Turkish women spend many months making a carpet that will vary in size from the small prayer mats to the huge carpets for large living rooms.

The symbols on each carpet also represent local and traditional beliefs so do not just purchase one depending on the color. Sadly, there are also carpet shops that sell fakes but portray them as original.

These carpets are often made in China. Since this is a big decision to make, please contact us if you want to buy carpets and we can give some handy tips on how to recognize the fakes from the originals. Ceramics are sold everywhere in touristic areas but the small town of Avanos in Cappadocia is well known for its production and pottery masterpieces. Local artisans take clay from the nearby Red river and use it to make many beautiful ornaments and plates. If you are not just happy with purchasing the souvenir, ask for a demonstration and a chance to sit on the clay wheel to make your own pottery product.

Copper is especially traditional to the South East of Turkey where age-old techniques are still used to make objects. The most popular copper items are cooking utensils and jugs. In Turkey, the coppersmith trade is still very much in demand but if you do not have this advantage in your home country, resist using the products so quality is maintained. Keep them instead as a kitchen ornament and a unique reminder of your time in the country.

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