How to avoid high-season prices in Turkey

As the temperature rises in Turkey's resorts, so do prices. Businesses that rely on the tourist dollar often fall to the temptation of hiking up their prices to get the best of the summer season. 

Home to a number of luxury hotels and a favourite of celebrities, Bodrum is one spot in particular where, if you're not careful, you'll end up with a rapidly emptying wallet. Recently, Bill Gates hit the headlines when he spent $10,000 on lunch when he visited the peninsula. While it's unlikely your meze platter will set you back anything close to that heady amount, it's by all accounts an eye-watering price and most of us aren't on Bill Gates budgets.

Thankfully, there are ways and means of dodging the tourist traps that are lying in wait to fleece you out of every dollar. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your holiday spending money.

Avoid pricing in foreign currency

If you see a restaurant with a menu priced in dollars or pounds - walk away, this establishment has "tourist trap" written all over it. Anything that caters to overseas visitors will be charging much higher prices than the more "local" places.

Find out the price upfront

If you can't see prices on a menu, or on an item you're looking at at the market, ask. This includes being asked if you'd like extra bread, or sparkling water: don't be afraid to clarify whether it's free, or will end up on your bill. Many restaurants will happily offer freebies (the odd fruit plate, or a coffee). Just politely check before you accept that these are complimentary. Also note, that if you order fish or meat dishes you might incur a service charge: make sure you clarify this as you sit down.

Always check the bill

It's good practice (in Turkey or anywhere) to run your eye over the bill before you hand over your cash. At a lot of restaurants, waiters will weave between the tables with an array of dishes to tempt diners. This system means you might end up trying something new - but mistakes happen, so make sure when you're paying up that you're not footing the bill for someone else's kofte or salad.

Get on top of "kuver" and "servis"

"Kuver" literally means the tablecloth used as a restaurant. Therefore, this cover charge refers to this, the cutlery, spices and sauces on your table. This charge, which is usually detailed on the menu, is generally for each person.

"Servis" is a service charge of up to 10%, also added to your bill at the end. While the kuver goes to the restaurant, servis is like a tip that goes to your waiter, and hopefully the kitchen staff. Servis generally sits around 5 to 10%, depending on how fancy your chosen establishment is.

Watch out for the hidden cost of sun

The sunbeds dotting Turkey's seashore are a tempting rest spot for tourists. But not everyone realises that these relaxing recliners come at a cost. This summer, the inflated cost of some of these sunbeds hit the media, with one news outlet revealing that in Turkbuku, lounging on a sunbed could cost over 1,000 lira (US$115) a day! So, before you flop down to enjoy some shut eye and a bit of sun, make sure you find out exactly how much a day of tanning will cost you.

Take care when taking a taxi

A lot of tourists find taking a taxi a bit of a nightmare. Prices seem to vary wildly, and there's always an unexpected charge. Like other operators, taxi drivers unfortunately see tourists as easy money. If you take a taxi in a tourist area, make sure you ask the price of a ride first. If possible, ask the restaurant or hotel you've just left for their best guess on the fare. Get your driver to commit to a price (or even an estimate) before you jump on board.

It's best to get a taxi from a taxi rank, or by phoning one. 

Haggle, haggle, haggle

Tourists are often scared of haggling. They're afraid to insult the vendor by going too low, or they get annoyed when they don't get the "best" price. The best thing to do is set the price you want in your mind, and if it doesn't work out, just walk away. Be sure to ask if there is a discount or paying by cash, or if you're buying something in bulk.

Read more: how to haggle like a local in Turkey

Do your research

Check your restaurant or tourist destination ahead of time to find out prices. Most eateries now have their menus posted on Zomato, or you can check reviews. will help you calculate taxi fares, and websites like Hepsiburada, Trendyol and MorHipo are selling sites that can give you a good idea of what souvenirs cost before you head to the local market.


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