Top Travel Tips for Turkey: Includes Budgeting and Culture

The diversity of culture, a historically rich timeline, and more than 700,000 square kilometres of land makes Turkey an interesting country to visit and enjoy Turkish holidays every year. It often attracts repeat visitors, lured by the friendly nature of Turks and the beauty of various destinations, and indeed first time visitors may find themselves overwhelmed by the unique ambience and vibes. So, to help you have a stress free holiday, keep to your budget, as well as adhere to social, and culture protocols, we have put together this list of holiday tips. 

Money Exchange

The first budgeting trick is to avoid exchanging all your money in your home country or at the airport. Obtain a small amount of currency to see you through the first couple of days, then shop around in your chosen location, because the exchange rate is better locally. 

Avoid hotels, and instead look for jewellers shop or the nearest bank. Clever thinking when it comes to the exchange rate can often net you hundreds more Turkish lira, depending on how long you plan to stay.  
Turkish liras

Choosing Accommodation

Save lots of money, when choosing accommodation by altering the time of year that you plan to travel. Typically, high season for the Turkish hotel trade is classed as July, August, and September. These are the busiest times and prices can often double. 

Travel out of high season and look around for package deals in your home country before you leave because hotels do not offer a cheaper rate to walk in customers. Your chosen destination also plays a large part in the price factor. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts as well as Istanbul promote cheap hotel rates, while if you start travelling east, prices will rise because there is not mass tourism in those areas.  
Ready for your beach holiday?

Eating out and Tipping

Eating out can be expensive or cheap. In many coastal resorts, restaurants on the beachfront have a higher price of rent to pay and this is reflected in their prices of steaks and alcoholic drinks. Traditional Turkish or foreign restaurants, situated away from beachfronts have dramatically cheaper prices that can save a lot of money for a family.

Always check the bill when it arrives and never eat somewhere that does not display prices on the menu. Still on the subject of eating out, one question that first time visitors may ask is how much to tip. The answer is 10% of the bill depending on how happy you are with the service. If you have just ordered drinks, no tip is needed.
Don't forget a Turkish tea

A Scam that will Break the Bank

Unfortunately, unsuspecting visitors can soon find their budget blown if they become the victim of a scam. They exist all over the world including in Turkey and the aim is to get your money, with as little hassle as possible. 

Any budget conscious solo male traveller will need to pay careful attention, especially in the large metropolis of Istanbul. They may be invited into clubs where women dance. However, these clubs have massively over inflated prices and even a bowl of peanuts can cost as much as 20 USD. 

Any attempt to leave without paying, will result in stern words from the bouncer. Known as Pavyons, one night spent in these establishments, will certainly break your bank balance. 
Have your whits about you

Getting About

Getting about can be done easily by car hire rental. This method of transport does have benefits, but petrol is expensive. If you do want to drive, instead opt for a diesel car; otherwise learn about the cross-country and internal bus systems. They are cheap, frequent, and clean, often getting you from A to B with no hassle. 

Bargaining and Hassle

Although bargaining is one tool that can help you stick to your budget, it is also a cultural aspect of Turkey that people sometimes get drastically wrong. Egged on by holiday reps to bargain everywhere they go, people were attempting to do it in restaurants and at the local market for a few pennies. 

The cultural acceptance of bargaining is refined to items that have no displayed price or they are of a large amount of money i.e. gold or carpets. You will also see clothing while walking around the local market and bargaining is accepted here, more so if you buy in bulk. 

Anyone from the western world may be hesitant at bargaining because it has disappeared in those countries but in Turkey, some clever bargaining can save you money. Once the seller confirms the price, go back with a 50% discount. Of course, this will not be accepted and the only response will be a lot of huffing and puffing but this is an act and eventually, a price will come back. 

Continue the discussion until you reach a price that you are happy to pay. Bear in mind, that once the buyer and seller shake hands, social decorum dictates that the transaction is a completed deal of which neither party will back out of. 

On the same subject of bargaining, it is worth discussing the intense hassle while walking past shops, restaurants, and bars. Do not get angry or take it personally because it is just the Turkish way of doing business. This tradition stems from the Ottoman period when Turkey was an important trading route of the International Silk Road. The perfect solution is to smile, walk on, and do not engage in conversation. 
Haggle and get a better deal

Dress Codes

The coastal resorts in the West of Turkey are relaxed regarding women’s dress sense, and bikini clad women lay on beaches or wear shorts and T-shirts in the streets. However, if you travel to the east, it is completely the opposite. 

Both sides of the country have immensely different cultures and the east is conservative and reserved. Women should wear long skirts, keep their shoulders, midriff and cleavage covered. Women do not need to cover their head unless entering a mosque, and on this occasion, men should wear trousers. 

The Social Greeting of Hello

Lastly, social greetings and making new friends is a relaxing process in Turkey. Turks think nothing of asking strangers questions about their lives and will often invite them into their home immediately after meeting them. If a friendship is formed, even saying hello becomes a joyous occasion, signified by the kissing of both cheeks. 
Merhaba - Hello!

Anyone concerned about making a social or cultural faux pas in Turkey, should relax. The Turks have been inviting foreign visitors into their country for decades and are eager to interact where possible. Mistakes made by holidaymakers and travellers in the country, do not offended but are more laughed at, so relax and enjoy your time in Turkey. 


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