Turkey is a phenomenal country. Close up after Canada and New Zealand, they are my 3rd favourite country that blows your mind in terms of exotic-ness. From adventure activities like paragilding to different landscapes; your pick between stone chimneys in Cappadocia to lush forest at Black sea region.
If you are more into food and history, there is the delectable Turkish food, rich biblical history and the incredible Turkish culture that makes it a rewarding place to visit. No matter if you are going in for a long break or a quick stopover afte the pandemic is more under control, you have plenty of things to explore.
Before you set off on your journey to the world of blue mosques and hot air balloons, you need to gather details that will make your travel a more enjoyable experience. Let’s take a look at these details.
1. Check the travel restrictions
In view of the recent pandemic, it is important to be mindful of the various travel restrictions put in place in various countries. While at the moment, Turkey is accessible for travellers from most countries as long as you do a 2 week quarantine, the situation varies all the time, so read up on the government restrictions and immigration terms before you buy your ticket.
2. Turkish is Vegetarian friendly
Albeit, Turkish cuisine is popular for its kebabs (meat-heavy), a majority of the local restaurants have a wide range of vegetarian options. Even the kebab and fish restaurants will give you meat-free mazes on the menu. This usually includes generous portions of eggplant salad, lentil soups, hummus, herbs, and yogurt.
Have a sweet tooth? Turkey is also known for their very delectable turkish delight, flower teas, oils and nuts. Buy back a few of these really amazing spices and treats.
3. A Few Turkish Phrases or Words will be Helpful
The people of Turkey are quite friendly and approachable, sometimes overally approachable if you are quite an introvert. In case you happen to earn yourself an invitation to the house of a local Turkish family for chai (tea) or a lovely cup of turkish coffee, knowing the basics of the language will be highly appreciated. For example, hello is ‘Merhaba’ / ‘Selam‘ while thank you is Teşekkür Ederim (pronouced as teh-sheh-kull-erh Ed-erh-im).
However, you need to watch out for overzealous invites, especially if you are a solo female traveller. Make sure that you do not just accept anyone’s invitation.
4. You Might Need a Visa
Turkish customs need nationals from several countries to get a Turkish visa. Prior to getting the visa, you have to ensure that the passport has at least 6 months validity from your entry date into Turkey.
In case you don’t, you will be refused entry to the country. Usually, it takes a couple of weeks to get the Visa. Hence, you shouldn’t leave it to the last minute. Do gather further information about the visa in advance so that you have all the time in the world without making haste rushed decisions before the trip.
5. Avoid Drinking Tap Water
The tap water quality might vary from one region to the other. However, one thing that you need to keep in mind is it is not used for drinking purposes. Sure, it can be used to cook food or make tea since you are boiling it. You can also use it to brush your teeth if you are not swallowing it. There are filtration systems in the bigger cities but the local people choose to avoid tap water to be on the safer side.
6. Keep Enough Cash in Hand
Euro and US Dollars are the easiest currency that you can convert to Turkish Lira. Change offices will give you the best rates. You will find ATMs across the country but you should just depend on the ATM card as your cash resource. If you don’t find a machine that accepts your card, you might have to face a lot of trouble.
So, you should keep a mix of cash, credit card, and ATM card. Travelers’ checks do not help as a majority of the stores or restaurants do not accept them. Post offices and banks are the only places where you can cash them, but they tend to have long queues. So, it is always better to keep enough cash on hand aloneg with your cards.
7. People Greet by Kissing Both the Cheek
Turkish people are usually quite affectionate and this is evident in the way they treat each other. Albeit, their first encounters include a handshake, the general rule is to kiss the cheek when you are meeting someone you already know or a friend. At times, this is a couple with a hug. This is primarily because Turkish people are quite friendly when it comes to their attitude.
8. Public Display of Affection is Frowned Upon
You should know that public display of affection is quite frowned upon like in most religious states and countries. So, even though friends kiss on cheeks, couples kissing in public will not be a common sight. Holding hands is okay but you need to be a little cautious if you are in a place of worship or sacred grounds/ sights.
9. Conventional Turkish Toilets Are Abounded
While several Turkish restaurants, museums, and hotels have western-style toilets, you are surely going to encounter a few squat toilets while traveling. Travelers are surely going to find it difficult to master this task but you will get accustomed to it soon enough.
When you are going to the toilet, it is better to remove any objects like your wallet or phone from the pockets prior to squatting. If you forget to do this, you risk dropping them in the toilet.
Just next to the place you are squatting, you will find a tap with running water. You can use this water to flush. Make sure that you carry toilet paper with you and some changes with you all the time. This is because a majority of the public toilets in Turkey aren’t free.
10. Wi-Fi Might be Spotty for Foreigners
A majority of the Wi-Fi spots need a Turkish or a European number to get the pass-code for accessing Wi-Fi. You will encounter this issue in the airport itself. This is a serious problem that you need to be aware of as you might have to get your online visa when you are landing at the airport. So, the best way to solve this issue is to get an international plan. So, get a Turkish SIM card or get in touch with a Turkish number who can spot give you the pass-codes to go online.
At hotels, too, the internet keeps dropping constantly. It can be quite frustrating if you are going there for work. Hence, even if Wi-Fi or internet in Turkey is available in most places, it is usually slow or stops working.
11. Know how to Dress Appropriately
The landmass of Turkey straddles Western Asia and Eastern Europe and this creates an incredible fusion of culture where the west meets the east. Albeit, most of the cities are cosmopolitan, the rural areas retain the old traditions and customs. So, whenever you are choosing to travel to Turkey, you have to be aware of the proper dress etiquette and be respectful of their culture and tradition. You cannot go wrong getting one of their beautiful cashmere scarfs or elephant pants to enter sacred or religious places of worship. This way you will be respectful and avoid unnecessary attention and disapproval from both the locals and other fellow travellers.
So here concludes the 11 useful tips before making a visit to the exotic country of Turkey. If you need more ideas of what to see like Butterfly Valley at Fethiye or Amasya cliff tombs in the Black Sea Region, search them out on my website.