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Turkey

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Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye) is on the Mediterranean, in the Anatolian region of West Asia, with a small section in Southeastern Europe separated by the Turkish Straits (Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles) from Asia. With the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea in the west and Mediterranean Sea to the southwest, Turkey is surrounded by Bulgaria and Greece to the west, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the northeast, Syria, Iraq and Iran to the southeast. While geographically most of the country is situated in Asia, most Turkish people consider themselves to be Europeans.

Turkey offers a wealth of destination varieties to travellers: from dome-and-minaret filled skyline of Istanbul to Roman ruins along the western and southern coasts, from heavily indented coastline against a mountainous backdrop of Lycia and wide and sunny beaches of Pamphylia to cold and snowy mountains of the East, from crazy "foam parties" of Bodrum to Middle Eastern-flavoured cities of Southeastern Anatolia, from verdant misty mountains of Eastern Black Sea to wide steppe landscapes of Central Anatolia, there is something for everyone's taste—whether they be travelling on an extreme budget by hitchhiking or by a multi-million yacht.

Regions

Cities

  • Ankara — the capital of Turkey and its second largest city
  • Antalya — the fastest growing city, hub to an array of beach resorts
  • Bodrum — a trendy coastal town in Southern Aegean which turns into a crowded city in season when it serves as a playground for Turkish and international holidaymakers alike, featuring a citadel, Roman ruins, trendy clubs and a number of villages surrounding the peninsula each with a different character from classy to rustic
  • Edirne — the second capital of the Ottoman Empire
  • Istanbul — Turkey's largest city, the former capital of both the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, and the only major city in the world to straddle two continents
  • Izmir — Turkey's third largest city, hub to an array of beach resorts
  • Konya — a quite large city that is the heartland of mystic Sufi order, the site of Rumi's tomb, and with some elegant Seljuq architecture, all surrounded by vast steppes
  • Trabzon — the wonderful Sumela Monastery is just outside the city and it is a great gateway to exploring the Turkish Northeast
  • 9 Urfa — a city with beautiful architecture and extremely friendly locals at the gates of Eastern World; where Kurdish, Arabic, and Persian cultures mingle

Other destinations

  • 1 Ani — impressive ruins of the medieval Armenian capital in the far east of the country; known as the city of 1000 churches
  • 2 Cappadocia — an area in the central highlands best known for its unique moon-like landscape (the "fairy chimneys"), underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks
  • 3 Ephesus — well-preserved ruins of the Roman city on the west coast
  • 4 Gallipoli — site of 1915 Anzac landing and many WWI memorials
  • 5 Mount Nemrut — a UNESCO World Heritage site with head statues dedicated to ancient gods on its summit
  • 6 Ölüdeniz — incomparable postcard beauty of the "Blue Lagoon", perhaps the most famous beach of Turkey which you will see on any tourism brochure
  • Pamukkale — "the Cotton Castle", white world of travertines surrounding cascading shallow pools filled with thermal waters
  • 8 Sümela — stunning monastery on the cliffs of a mountain, a must-see on any trip to the northeast coast
  • 9 Uluda? — a national park featuring school textbook belts of different types of forests varying with altitude, and the major winter sports resort of the country

Understand

History

See also: Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, Islam, Ottoman Empire

There is evidence that the bed of the Black Sea was once an inhabited plain, before it was flooded in prehistoric times by rising sea levels. Mount Ararat (A?r? Da??), at 5,165m, is Turkey's highest point and the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark on the far eastern edge of the country. The area that is now Turkey has been part of many of the world's greatest empires throughout history. The city of Troy, which was famously destroyed by the Greeks in Homer's Illiad, is believed to have been located in northwestern Anatolia. Subsequently, the area was to become part of the Roman Empire, and subsequently the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire after the Roman empire spit into two, with the city of Constantinople (now Istanbul) serving as the regional capital, as well as the Eastern Roman capital after the split. The Ottoman Empire subsequently defeated the Eastern Roman Empire, and dominated the eastern Mediterranean, until its defeat by the Allies in World War I.

Turkey was founded in 1923 from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats and many other radical reforms designed to rapidly modernise the state. Changing from Arabic script to the 29-letter Turkish alphabet, based on the Roman alphabet, was one of many personal initiatives of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN, and in 1952 it became a member of NATO.

Geography

Turkey occupies a landmass slightly larger than Texas, at just over 750,000 square kilometres, and is more than three times the size of the United Kingdom. In terms of the variety of terrain and particularly the diversity of its plant life, however, Turkey exhibits the characteristics of a small continent. There are, for example, some 10,000 plant species in the country (compared with some 13,000 in all of Europe) — one in three of which is endemic to Turkey. Indeed, there are more species in Istanbul Province (2,000) than in the whole of the United Kingdom. While many people know of Turkey's rich archaeological heritage, it possesses an equally valuable array of ecosystems — peat bogs, heath lands, steppes, and coastal plains. Turkey possesses much forest (about a quarter of the land) but, as importantly, some half of the country is semi-natural landscape that has not been entirely remodelled by man.

Culture

While it may sound like a tourism brochure cliché, Turkey really is a curious mix of the west and the east—you may swear you were in a Balkan country or in Greece when in northwestern and western parts of the country (except that Byzantine-influenced churches are substituted with Byzantine-influenced mosques), which are indeed partly inhabited by people from Balkan countries, who immigrated during the turmoil before, during, and after WWI, while southeastern reaches of the country exhibit little if any cultural differences from Turkey's southern and eastern neighbours. Influences from the Caucasus add to the mix in the northeast part of the country. It can be simply put that Turkey is the most oriental of western nations, or, depending on the point of view, the most occidental of eastern nations.

Perhaps one thing common to all of the country is Islam, the faith of the bulk of the population. However, interpretation of it varies vastly across the country: many people in northwestern and western coasts are fairly liberal about the religion (being nominal Muslims sometimes to the point of being irreligious), while folk of the central steppes are far more conservative (don't expect to find a Saudi Arabia or an Afghanistan even there, though). The rest of the country falls somewhere in between, with the coastal regions being relatively liberal while inland regions are relatively conservative as a general rule. The largest religious minority in the country are the Alevites, who constitute up to 20% of the population and who subscribe to a form of Islam closer to that of the Shiite version of Islam and whose rituals draw heavily from the shamanistic ceremonies of ancient Turks. Other religious minorities—the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Jews, Syriac Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Catholics, the latter of whom mainly settled in Turkey within the last 500 years from Western European countries—once numerous across the country, are now mostly confined to the large cities of Istanbul and Izmir, or parts of Southeastern Anatolia in the case of the Syriac Oriental Orthodox. Despite its large Muslim majority population, Turkey officially remains a secular country, with no declared state religion.

Holidays

The savvy traveller should remember that when travelling into, in or around Turkey there are several holidays to keep in mind as they can cause delays in travel, traffic congestion, booked up accommodations and crowded venues. Banks, offices and businesses are closed during official holidays and traffic intensifies during all of the following holidays so do your research before you visit. Do not be put off by these holidays, it is not that difficult and often quite interesting to travel during Turkish holidays, simply plan ahead as much as possible.

Official holidays

  • 1 January: New Year's Day (Y?lba??)
  • 23 April: National Sovereignty and Children's Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayram?) — anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Grand National Assembly
  • 1 May: Labour and Solidarity Day (Emek ve Dayan??ma Günü, also unofficially known as ??çi Bayram?, i.e. Worker's Day) was long banned as a holiday for almost 40 years and only restarted as a national holiday in 2009 because in years past it usually degenerated into violence. The wary traveller would be advised to not get caught in the middle of a May Day parade or gathering.
  • 19 May: Atatürk Commemoration and Youth & Sports Holiday (Atatürk'ü Anma Gençlik ve Spor Bayram?) — the arrival of Atatürk in Samsun, and the beginning of the War of Independence
  • 30 August: Victory Day (Zafer Bayram?) — Celebration of the end of the war for Turkish Independence over invasion forces. A big Armed Forces day and display of military might by huge military parades.
  • 29 October: Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayram? or Ekim Yirmidokuz) is anniversary of the declaration of Turkish Republic. If it falls on a Thursday for example, Friday and the weekend should be considered in your travel plans. October 29 is the official end of the tourist season in many resorts in Mediterranean Turkey and usually there is a huge celebration at the town squares.
  • 10 November, 09:05 — Traffic usually stops and sirens blare for two minutes starting at 09:05, the time when Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, died in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul in 1938. That moment in time is officially observed throughout the country but businesses and official places are not closed for the day. However, do not be surprised if you are on the street, you hear a loud boom and all of a sudden people and traffic stop on the sidewalks and streets for a moment of silence in observance of this event.

Religious holidays

Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) is a month long time of fasting, prayer and celebration during which pious Muslims neither drink nor eat anything, even water, from sun up to sun down. Businesses, banks and official places are not closed during this time. In some parts of Turkey, such as most of inland and eastern locations as locals are more conservative than people in the rest of the country, it is considered to be bad taste to eat snacks or drink sodas in front of locals in public places or transport—to be completely on the safe side, watch how local folk act—but restaurants are usually open and it is no problem to eat in them as usual, though some restaurant owners use it as an opportunity for a much-needed vacation (or renovation) and shut their business completely for 30 days. However, you will unlikely see any closed establishment in big cities, central parts of the cities, and touristy towns of western and southern Turkey. At sunset, call for prayer and a cannon boom, fasting observers immediately sit down for iftar, their first meal of the day. Banks, businesses and official places are NOT closed during this time.

During Ramadan, many city councils set up tent-like structures in the major squares of the cities that are especially aimed and served for the needy, for those in poverty or who are elderly or handicapped, and are also served for passers by, with warm meals during the sunset (iftar), free of charge (much like soup kitchens, instead serving full meals). Iftar is a form of charity that is very rewarding especially when feeding someone who is needy. It was first practised by the Prophet Muhammad during the advent of Islam, for that purpose. Travellers are welcome to join, but do not take advantage of it during the entire fasting period, just because it is free of charge.

Immediately following Ramazan is the Eid-ul Fitr, or the three-day national holiday of Ramazan Bayram?, also called ?eker Bayram? (i.e. "Sugar" or more precisely "Candy Festival") during which banks, offices and businesses are closed and travel will be heavy. However, many restaurants, cafés and bars will be open.

Kurban Bayrami (pronounced koor-BAHN bahy-rah-muh) in Turkish, (Eid el-Adha in Arabic) or sacrifice holiday is the most important Islamic religious festival of the year. It lasts for several days and is a public holiday in Turkey. Almost everything will be closed during that time (many restaurants, cafes, bars and some small shops will be open however). Kurban Bayrami is also the time of the annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, so both domestic and international travel is intense in Turkey at this time. If you are in smaller towns or villages you may even observe an animal, usually a goat but sometimes a cow, being slaughtered in a public place. In recent years the Turkish government has cracked down on these unofficial slaughterings so it is not as common as it once was.

The dates of these religious festivals change according to the Muslim lunar calendar and thus occur 10-11 days (the exact difference between Gregorian and Lunar calendars is 10 days and 21 hr) earlier each year. According to this,

  • ?eker/Ramazan Bayram?
  • Kurban Bayram? continues for four days

During both religious holidays, many cities (but not all) provide public transport for free (but note that these do not include privately owned minibuses, dolmu?es, taxis, or inter-city buses). This depends on the place and time. For example, Istanbul's public transport authority provided free transport in Eid-ul Fitr 2008, but not in Eid-ul Adha 2008 when its passengers had to pay a discounted rate. For some years, it was all free in both holidays, while in some others there was no discount at all. To be sure, check whether other passengers use a ticket/token or not.

Climate

The climate in Turkey has a vast diversity depending on the diverse topography and latitude.

Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas enjoy the typical Mediterranean climate. There is hardly a drop of rain during the sunny and hot summer (May to October). Winters are mild and rainy in these regions, and it very rarely snows at coastal areas, with the exception of mountainous areas higher than 2000 metres of these regions, which are very snowy and are frequently not passable. The water temperature in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is warm during the long summer season (May to October) which constitutes the swimming season and fluctuates between 23° and 28°C from north to south.

The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has a transitional climate between an oceanic climate and a semi-Mediterranean climate, but it does rain, albeit not a lot, during the very warm summer (as showers which tend to last for 15-30 minutes). Its winters are colder than those of the western and southern coasts. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn't stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter. The water temperature in the Sea of Marmara is also colder than the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, with the water temperature reaching only between 20° and 24°C during the summer (June, July and August) and the swimming season is restricted to those summer months.

The Black Sea region has an oceanic climate (thanks to the protective shield effect of Caucasus mountains) with the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500mm annually which is the highest precipitation in the country. Summers are warm and humid while the winters are cool and damp. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn’t stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter, though mountains are very snowy as it is expected to be and are frequently not passable, there are glaciers around the year in the highest zones. The water temperature in the whole Turkish Black Sea coast is always cool and fluctuates between 10° and 20°C throughout the year, and is even less suitable for swimming during the summer than in the Sea of Marmara.

Most of the coastal areas have a high level of relative humidity during most of the year which makes hot weather feel hotter and cold weather feel colder than it actually is.

Interior areas like Ankara, generally have hot summers (though the nights are cool enough to make someone who is wearing only a thin t-shirt uncomfortable outdoors) and cold and snowy winters. The more easterly the location is, the colder the winters are and the heavier the snow is. The northeastern part (around Erzurum and Kars) is the only inland area which has cool and rainy summers.

The southeastern region near the Syrian border has a desert-like climate, temperature is frequently above 40°C during summers with no rain. Snowfall is occasional in winter.

Get in

Turkey is one of only three Middle Eastern countries that accept Israeli citizens in their country. Entry into Turkey will not be a problem for Israeli passport holders.

Visas

Citizens of the countries listed below can enter Turkey visa-free for 90 days unless otherwise stated: Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Azerbaijan (30 days), Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (60 days), Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica (30 days), Czech Republic, Northern Cyprus (Turkish Republic of), Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Hong Kong (SAR Passport), Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan (30 days), Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan (30 days), Latvia (30 days), Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau (30 days), Macedonia , Malaysia, Moldova (30 days), Monaco, Mongolia (30 days), Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Russia (60 days), San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan (30 days), Thailand (30 days), Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan (30 days), Ukraine (60 days), Uruguay, Uzbekistan (30 days), Vatican City and Venezuela.

German and French citizens don't need a visa for stays up to 90 days and can even enter with their national ID card (Personalausweis or carte d'identité respectively) or an expired passport/ID unless arriving at the non-Council of Europe land border crossings (eg from Iran, Iraq and Syria).

Citizens of the following countries can get a tourist visa online. E-Visas cost US$15-60, depending on passport (for most EU countries: US$20, for USA/Canada/Australia: US$60), plus a service fee of US$0.70. According to the Turkish MFA, Visitors arriving to Turkey without visas may obtain their e-Visas via interactive kiosks placed in Turkish airports, but the fee is higher than the online e-Visa (typically US$10 more than e-Visa). Some carriers have earlier refused passengers without the e-Visa (Pegasus, Italy, June 2014).

Valid for three months: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Hong Kong (BNO Passport), Ireland, Jamaica, Kuwait, Maldives, Malta (Gratis), Mexico (with valid Schengen, UK, Canada, US, or Japan visa), Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America

Valid for two months: Belarus

Valid for one month: Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh (with valid Schengen, Irish, UK, or US visa), Republic of Cyprus, Hungary, India (with valid Schengen, Irish, UK, or US visa), Indonesia, Mauritius, Moldova, Pakistan (with valid Schengen, Irish, UK, or US visa), Philippines if you have a valid Schengen or OECD member's visa or residence permit, Slovakia, South Africa (Note: Payments in pounds sterling must be in Bank of England £10 notes only. No Scottish or Northern Irish notes and no other values of notes, eg £5 or £20 or £50)

More information can be found at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

By plane

Turkey's primary international gateway by air is Istanbul's Atatürk International Airport. Ankara's Esenbo?a Airport handles a comparatively limited selection of international flights, and there are also direct charters to Mediterranean resort hot spots like Antalya in the peak summer and winter seasons. In 2005 customs at Istanbul international airport was rearranged to the effect that one is now required to go through customs and "enter the country" there, rather than first travel to a regional destination and pass customs there. Luggage will generally travel to the final destination without further ado, but on occasion you may have to point it out to be sure it will be transported on. The information given by flight attendants in the incoming flight may not be adequate so until the procedure is changed (it is supposed to be only temporary) it is wise to inquire on Istanbul airport. Since one must pass security again for any inland flight, it is advisable to hurry and not spend too much time in transit. There are also some other regional airports which receive a few of flights from abroad, especially from Europe and especially during the high season (Jun-Sep).

Sabiha Gökçen Airport

Of special interest to those traveling on low-cost carriers is SAW Sabiha Gökçen Airport, situated some 50km east of Istanbul's Taksim Square on the Asian side of Istanbul. Airlines servicing this airport include EasyJet, Germanwings, Condor, THY (Turkish Airlines) and many more. It is interesting to point out that there is the possibility of catching a plane from Emirates' budget carrier Air Arabia to Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) and from there to India for a very competitive price. All those low-cost options though, entail departure and arrival times in the middle of the night. There are shuttle buses to the airport from Taksim square operated by Havas and Havatas.

By train

From Western Europe to Turkey by train, the route goes through Budapest then overnight from either Bucharest or Sofia to Istanbul. The better route is across Romania, leaving Bucharest on the Bosforus Express (departs 12:55), since this is direct and has sleeping cars. The route across Bulgaria via Sofia and Plovdiv will usually involve changing trains in the small hours, and at best couchettes to sleep on. (Also, in spring 2017 train connections between Belgrade and Sofia are disrupted.) Both trains run nightly and meet at Kapikule on the Turkish border, where you’ll have to get out for passport control. The Bosforus Express then continues as far as Halkali, on the outskirts of Istanbul, arriving at 7 am. A connecting bus takes you to Sirkeci, Istanbul’s Europe-side station, which no longer has trains. Second class single fares are about €20 from Sofia, €40 from Bucharest, plus couchette supplement of €10 – see below for railcards and other discounts. The standard of accommodation aboard is similar to the Turkish domestic slow trains, described below.

The historic Orient Express took the Bucharest route but no longer exists. Its name lives on in a restaurant at Sirkeci, and in a once-a-year luxurious and very expensive tourist train.

You probably need a visa in advance to enter Turkey by train – see section on visas above and under Istanbul Ataturk Airport.

There are no cross-border trains to any other country, though a new line to Georgia and the Caucasus may open in 2018. For Greece, travel to Sofia then change for Thessaloniki. For Iran, the timetable optimistically lists the Trans-Asia Express to Tabriz and Tehran, but no trains run. There is no foreseeable prospect of services to Armenia, Iraq, Syria, or the Azerbaijan exclave of Nakhchivan.

By car

From Central Europe, getting to Turkey is not too difficult. In any case you'll need your International Insurance Card (Green Card). Pay attention to "TR" not being cancelled and be sure your insurance is valid for the Asian part of Turkey, too. Otherwise you will have to buy Turkish car insurance separately. In any case, Turkish customs will make an entry into your passport stating when the car (and thus you) have to leave Turkey again.

A carnet de passage is not necessary unless you intend to move on to Iran, which requires you to have a carnet de passage.

National driving licences from some of the European countries are accepted. If you are not sure about your situation, obtain an international driving licence beforehand.

Major roads from Europe are:

  • E80 enters Turkey at Kap?kule border gate (NW of Edirne, SE of Svilengrad) from Bulgaria
  • E87 enters Turkey at Dereköy border gate (north of K?rklareli, south of Tirnovo) from Bulgaria
  • E90 enters Turkey at ?psala border gate (west of Ke?an, east of Alexandroupolis) from Greece

A convenient connection from Western Europe, especially if you want to avoid narrow and perhaps poorly maintained highways of the Balkans, is to take the weekly motorail trains run by EuroTurk Express [1], which depart from Bonn-Beuel station (Germany) every Saturday at noon, arriving two nights later during the afternoon in Çerkezköy, about 100 km northwest of Istanbul or an hour's drive through a high-standard motorway. Fares start at €139 for passengers, cars at €279.

Major roads from Middle East enter Turkey at numerous border gates around Antakya (Antioch), from Syrian cities such as Aleppo and Latakia, Habur border gate (south of Silopi, north of Zakho) from Iraq, and Dogubeyazit border gate (near Ararat) from Iran.

Major roads from Caucasia enter Turkey at Sarp/Sarpi border gate from Georgia (south of Batumi) and Türkgözü border gate south of Akhaltsikhe (this is the nearest border gate from Tbilisi but the last few kilometres on the Georgian side were really bad as of summer 2009). The border with Armenia is closed, thus impassable by car.

There are also other border gates (unlisted here), from all the countries Turkey has a common land border with (except Armenia), leading to secondary roads passable with a car.

During holidays these border gates may be extremely congested at times. Especially during the summer many Turks who live in Germany drive back home and this creates huge lines at the border.

By bus

Europe

From Bucharest there is a daily bus to Istanbul at 16:00 for RON125. There are also several daily buses from Constanta, Romania and from Sofia, Bulgaria and from there you can get connections to the major cities of Europe. Another possibility is the bus from Athens in Greece via Thessaloniki. You may also find smaller bus companies offering connections to other countries in the Balkans.

A couple of Turkish bus companies operate buses between Sofia and Istanbul. These buses typically stop at various cities along the way. A direct bus service connects Odessa, Ukraine with Istanbul once a week for 1000 UAH (about €40) (2015).

Georgia

There are several border points between Turkey and Georgia, in particular in Batumi and Tbilisi. You may have to change buses at the border. However there are many bus company which travels directly between Istanbul-Batumi and Istanbul-Tbilisi.

Iran

There is a direct bus to Istanbul from Teheran in Iran which takes approx 48hr and costs USD$35 for a one-way ticket between Istanbul or Ankara and Tehran.

  • Dogubeyazit/Bazerghan This Turkey/Iran border crossing is easily (and fast) done by public transport. Take a bus to Bazerghan and a shared taxi to the border (US$2-3). Cross the border stretch per pedes and catch a frequent minibus (~5 TL, 15 minutes) to Dogubeyazit. Check the security situation in the region, due to the unsolved PKK conflict.
  • There are also buses from Van to Urmia crossing the Turkey/Iran border at Esendere/Sero. The buses cost app. €13 and it takes more than 6 hr to finish the 300 km path. That's because of the poor roads, harsh snowy conditions during the winter and also many military checkpoints because of security reasons concerning the PKK.

This southern route is less frequent than the northern Dogubeyazit/Bazerghan, as it is much slower but therefor a scenic mountainous route.

Make sure you get a clear idea about exchange rates if you want to change Turkish lira or rial as the official bank at the border does not exchange these currencies and you have to deal with the plentiful black market.

Syria

From Aleppo in Syria a 3hr bus to Antakya costs SYP250 departing at 05:00. There is also a minibus service at 15:00 for SYP350. From Antakya you can get connecting buses to almost anywhere in Turkey, however initial prices may be overinflated and often inconvenient times. If travelling through to Istanbul, there are bus services from Damascus with bus changes along the way at Antakya. Purchasing a bus ticket in Damascus will be significantly cheaper than in Aleppo or Antakya. If travelling from Syria it is worthwhile to purchase additional supplies of snacks and drinks before leaving the country - these are significantly more expensive at bus stations in Turkey.

By boat

Many people arrive in Bodrum on one of the hydro-foils or ferries that run from most of the close Greek islands into the port. A fairly pretty way to arrive. While many of the lines that originate and terminate in Istanbul have been discontinued (due to bankruptcy), there are still summer departures direct to Eastern Italy.

Other main towns on the Aegean coast have ferry connections with the nearest Greek islands as well. Trabzon, a major city on the eastern Black Sea coast has a regular line from/to Sochi on the Russian Black Sea coast. Mersin, Ta?ucu, and Alanya on the Mediterranean coast has ferry links with either Famagusta (with Mersin) or Kyrenia (with others) in Northern Cyprus.

See Ferries in the Mediterranean.

Get around

By plane

Major cities are served by airlines as well, with reasonable prices, beating the bus travel experience especially over longer distances. Tickets can be conveniently bought at the Istanbul domestic terminal and local ticket offices of Turkish Airlines, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines and Atlasjet among others. Many of the large cities have daily connections to the traffic hubs Ankara and Istanbul, others will have flights on specific days only. Upon arrival at regional airports there will often be a connecting Hava? bus to the city center, which is much, much cheaper than taking a taxi. They may wait for half an hour, but will be available after the arrival of major flights. In some spots a whole fleet of minibuses will be waiting for an important flight, and then they will head out for cities in the region. For instance, flying to Agri in the East a connecting minibus will head for Dogubeyazit within twenty,thirty minutes or so, so you don't have to travel into Agri first, then wait for a Dogubeyazit bus. Do ask for such easy connections upon arrival!

By bus

Turkey has a very good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good-quality service, at least with the major operators. There are now a few firms providing luxury buses with 1st class seats and service. Standard buses, however, have seats narrower than those of economy class on aircraft. Buses are often crowded, but smoking is strictly prohibited. Cellphone use is also restricted on many buses.

Five big bus companies with websites (though with poor English support) are:

  • Metro Bus
  • Pamukkale
  • Varan
  • Ulusoy
  • Kamil Koç

Bus travel is convenient in Turkey. Go to the Otogar (bus station) in any of the major cities and you can find a bus to almost any destination departing within half an hour, or a couple of hours at the most. Buses are staffed by drivers and a number of assistants. During the ride you will be offered free drinks, a bite or two, and stops will be made every two and a half hours or so at well-stocked road restaurants. The further east you travel, the less frequent buses will be, but even places as far as Dogubeyazit or Van will have regular services to many places hundreds of kilometers away. Only the smallest towns do not have a bus straight to Istanbul or Izmir at least once every two days.

Finding the right bus quickly does require some help and thus some trust, but be careful. Scammers will be waiting for you, and some may assist you in buying a ticket to a bus that won't depart in the next two hours. Sometimes there simply is no other bus, but on other occasions you will be sitting there while other buses with the same destination start well ahead. If you have some time to spare: check the departure (and arrival) times of other companies, that may save you time overall. Still, if you indicate you really want to leave NOW (use phrases like "hemen" or "?imdi", or "acelem var" - I am in a hurry ), people will realize you are in hurry, and off you go on the next bus departing for your destination.

If you have several operators to choose from, ask for the number of seats in the buses you compare. Roughly, a larger capacity implies a greater comfort (all bus-seats have approximately the same leg-room, but larger 48-seat buses are certainly more comfortable than a 15-seat Dolmu?, which may be considered a 'bus' by the company selling the seat). Also, the bus company with the largest sign is usually the one with the most buses and routes. If possible, ask other travellers you meet about their experiences with different operators: even big operators have different standards of service, and even with the same operator the standards may vary from region to region.

Don't be surprised if halfway to some strange and far-off destination you are asked out of the bus (your luggage will often be already standing next to it) and transferred to another. The other bus will "buy" you, and will bring you to the destination. This may even happen for 'direct' or 'non-stop' tickets.

Sometimes long-haul bus lines will leave you stranded on some ring-road around a city, rather than bringing you to the center. That can be annoying. Inquire ahead (and hope they don't lie). On the other hand, many companies will have "servis arac?" or service vehicles to the center, when the Otogar is on the periphery of a city, as they nowadays often are. In some cities these service vehicles are used by many companies combined, and a fleet of them, to different parts of the metropolis, will be waiting. The company may also choose to combine the passengers of multiple buses; meaning that you may have to wait until another bus or two arrives before departing. Keep your ticket ready as proof you were on a bus (though most of these services are run on good faith). In some cities (including Ankara, excluding Istanbul), the municipality have prohibited the use of service buses due to their effect on traffic. In that case, you might have to take a public bus or metro to get to your destination. One should probably avoid using taxis (at least departing from the Otogar) since they usually tend to abuse their monopolistic position by refusing to go to closer destinations, behaving rudely towards the passenger, charging on the night tariff, etc. If you have to take a taxi, it is usually suggested that you do it from outside the bus terminal.

Seating within buses is partly directed by the "koltuk numaras?" or seat number on your ticket, partly by the ritualistic seating of women next to women, couples together and so forth. So don't be too annoyed if you are required to give up your seat. In general, as a foreigner, you will have the better seat much of the time.

One hint: it often is easiest to take a seat in the back, whatever the number of your koltuk, and not be bothered for much of the ride. This is particularly true if you travel alone, and want to keep it that way, even though the last row may be reserved for the driver-off-duty, who wants to sleep. And remember: many buses pick up short-track fare along the ride, and park them in the last two or three rows. Also keep in mind that the back of the bus may be more noisy compared to the front, since that is where the engine is located.

If you have a bicycle it will be transported free of extra charge. In most buses it fits in the luggage area of the bus- Make sure you have the tools to fold your bike as small as possible (height matters most)

Fez Bus. This is another alternative, a Hop on hop off travel network that links Istanbul to the most popular tourist destinations in western Turkey, and a few other destinations. The buses runs hostel to hostel and have an English speaking tour leader on board. The pass can be purchased for a few days or all summer. Departures are every other day. More expensive than local buses, but could be far less hassle, and offers a different experience. The main office in Istanbul is in Sultanahmet next to the Orient Youth Hostel on Yeni Akbiyik Cd. [2]

By train

Mainline train services in Turkey fall into three categories: i) very fast and modern; ii) slow and scenic; and iii) suspended long-term for rebuilding or for other reasons. The train operator is TCDD, Turkish Republic State Railways, visit their website for timetables, fares and reservations. In autumn 2016 they are in the throes of establishing a new customer portal, www.tcddtasimacilik.gov.tr, but this is as much a work-in-progress as the railways themselves.

Most cities in Turkey have a rail connection of some sort, but not the Mediterranean / Aegean holiday resorts, which only sprang up in recent years and are hemmed in by mountains. (Ku?adas? is the exception, being close to Selçuk on the line between Izmir and Pamukkale.) For some destinations, connecting buses meet the trains, eg at Eski?ehir for Bursa, and at Konya for Antalya and Alanya. The main cities also have metro and suburban lines, described on those cities’ pages.

The very fast, modern trains are called YHT: yüksek h?zl? tren. These serve Istanbul, Eski?ehir, Konya and Ankara. They are clean, comfortable and modern; fares are low and reservations are compulsory (see below, it’s the same reservation procedure as for slow trains.) They run on new, dedicated track at up to 300 km/h so they keep to time. Thus, from Istanbul Pendik it’s under 4½ hours to Ankara (six per day, standard single about €20), and likewise 4½ hours to Konya (two per day). Their major drawback is the lack of YHT or indeed any kind of mainline train service into central Istanbul – currently you have to take the metro away out to Pendik, then walk or taxi to the YHT station. See the Istanbul page for more on how to make that 90-minute transfer, but note that Pendik is convenient for Sabiha Gökçen (SAW) airport.

Because YHT journey times are short, they only run daytime, and have only snack-catering. On-train announcements in English forbid “smoking, alcohol, smelly food and peanuts.” The smoke-free and alcohol-free rules are enforced, it’s unclear how zealous they are about peanuts. Between the cities, YHTs make a few momentary intermediate stops. The only one likely to be relevant to visitors is Sincan, as an interchange with the Ankara suburban system.

The YHT network is gradually extending, so by 2018 trains may again reach central Istanbul. Other routes under construction are from Ankara towards Kars, from Konya towards Adana, and from Istanbul towards Edirne. The long-term strategy is to create a high-speed, high-capacity passenger and freight route from Edirne on the western border through to Kars in the east.

But where the YHT services terminate, the line closures and disruptions immediately begin, as Turkey’s Ottoman-era railways are upgraded for the 21st century. The main closures and suspensions (as at 2017) are:

  • From Ankara to Irmak, 70 km east: bus connection for the trains to Erzurum and Kars (Do?u Express), to Elazig and Tatvan on Lake Van (Vangölü Express), and to Diyarbakir and Kurtalan (Guney Kurtulan Express);
  • From Konya to Karaman, 100 km east: bus connection for the Toros Express to Adana;
  • From Van east to Tabriz and Tehran in Iran (the former Trans-Asia Express) cancelled;
  • From Adana east to Gaziantep cancelled;
  • Between Izmir and Bandirma (for the Istanbul ferry) cancelled;
  • No mainline trains in central Istanbul as described earlier;
  • Ankara railway station, suburban line and metro all partly closed, but YHTs unaffected.

For details of these routes, see the pages for the relevant cities, and the TCDD website.

The conventional trains are slow and scenic, with the emphasis on slow: most run overnight, with journeys from Ankara to eastern cities taking 24 hours. They are infrequent, at best daily, sometimes only one or two per week. The typical train set includes a sleeping car (yatakl? vagon), a couchette car (ku?etli), and three open saloons (layout is single row-aisle-double row), plus a buffet that may or may not have any food, plan on bringing your own. How clean and comfortable they are depends on how busy: at quiet times they are fine, but when crowded they soon become filthy. (Always carry your own toilet-roll and hand-wipes.) They are difficult for anyone with impaired mobility to use, and station re-building makes access worse. Nominally these trains are non-smoking, but there’s often a smell of tobacco smoke aboard. They are diesel-hauled and run on single track: on straight level sections they can rattle along at 100 km/h, but in the mountains they plod up steep gradients and round tight bends. So they generally start on time but become delayed along the route.

You can book mainline (‘’anahat’’) trains on the TCDD website; international trains can be booked by other methods (below) but not via the website; and regional (‘’bolger’’) trains are not bookable. Consult the timetable first, for the latest on timings and disruptions, but beware that timetable and reservations system sometimes give different days of running for some services, for no good reason. The timetable only lists the main stations, where the train waits for about 10 minutes, and you might just have time to dash to the station kiosk and replenish your food supplies. The trains also stop momentarily at many little wayside halts, where sometimes food vendors will hop on.

Then to buy your ticket, move to the reservation system, but this only opens 15 to 30 days in advance – look further ahead and it will seem like there aren’t any trains. Pick your preferred train service and seat or berth, whereupon the system will display the price and give you the choice of immediate purchase, or of holding the option for a few days. Immediately note your confirmation number, and print your ticket at home whenever convenient – it doesn’t need validating at the station. It’s unclear whether a soft ticket on your phone is currently acceptable without validation.

The Inter Rail Global Pass and Balkan Flexipass are valid for all trains within Turkey and the trains to & from Europe, but you may still need a seat reservation. TCDD also offer discounts for those under 26 (genç bilet, whether or not you’re a student) and for those over 60 (ya?l? bilet). Check their website for other discount offers, but usually these are aimed at commuters and others making multiple repeat journeys.

Tickets can also be bought from the stations (either at the counter, or from self-service kiosks), from travel agents, or from PTT post offices. The main stations (including the train-less Sirkeci) accept credit cards and can book you onto any bookable train, but they’re unlikely to accept non-Turkish cash. (And nowadays you may struggle to find a money-changer, as they’re replaced by ATMs.) Advance reservations are strongly recommended during summer, on Fridays and Sundays, and around public holidays and religious festivals. Of course you may be able to get a reservation for immediate departure, and the non-YHT trains usually have non-bookable seats, and a scrummage on the platform to claim them. Bear in mind that the main stations may involve a queue for security just to get into the station hall, then another queue for tickets, then a further queue for security and document-check to get onto the platform. You can’t just rock up and jump on.

By car

Like all of its neighbours (except Cyprus off the southern coast of Turkey), driving is on the right side of the road in Turkey..

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood for drivers has recently been lowered to 0.01 grams per litre, which means that in case of a sobriety check, even a pint of beer enjoyed right before driving will get your license temporarily confiscated and will earn you a fine of more than 800 TL. The use of seat belts both at the front and back line is obligatory, but, although failing to use one carries a penalty, this is not always adhered to by locals, including the drivers themselves.

Turkish signboards are almost identical to the ones used in Europe, and differences are often insignificant. The place names written on green background lead to motorways (which you should pay a toll, unless it is a ring road around or within a city); on blue background means other highways; on white background means rural roads (or a road inside a city under the responsibility of city councils); and on brown background indicates the road leads to a historical place, an antique city, a place of tourist interest or a city out of Turkey (these signboards used to be on yellow background till a few years ago, so still there is a chance of unreplaced yellow signboards existing here and there). Also keep in mind that these signboards are not always standardized; for instance, some of the blue ones may be leading into the rural roads.

Most intercity highways avoid city centres by circling around them. If you'd like to drive into the centre for shopping, dining, and the like, follow the signposts saying ?ehir Merkezi, which are usually on white background, and are accompanied by no further translations though you can still spot some old signs saying "Centrum" besides ?ehir Merkezi. City centres typically have two or more entrances/exits from the ringroads that surround them.

As Turkey uses the metric system, all distances on the signboards are in kilometres, unless otherwise stated (such as metres, but never in miles).

Motorways

There are no fees to use the highways except intercity motorways (otoyol). While Turkish highways vary widely in quality and size, the toll motorways have three lanes and are very smooth and fast. Motorways are explicitly signed with distinct green signs and given road numbers prefixed with the letter O. The motorway network currently consists of the routes stretching out to west, south and east from Istanbul (towards EdirneBursa and Ankara respectively), a network in Central Aegean fanning out of Izmir, and another one connecting the major eastern Mediterranean city of Adana to its neighbouring cities in all cardinal directions.

Most motorways no longer have toll booths (two glaring exceptions are the third bridge crossing the Bosphorus north of Istanbul and the bridge and motorway across the Gulf of ?zmit to the direction of Bursa, where you can still pay in cash) and instead have lanes automatically scanning the windowpane for the RFID stickers (HGS) or tags (OGS) while accessing and again exiting the motorway. HGS stickers are easier to use and allow you to install as much liras as you need. To buy an HGS sticker, look for the service buildings at the major toll stations. They are also available in postoffices.

KGS, a system using prepaid cards, has been phased out.

In addition to the distance driven, motorway fees also depend on the type of your vehicle. Edirne–Istanbul motorway—about 225 km and the main entry point to Istanbul from Europe—costs 8.50 TL for a car, for example. The newest additions to the network, such as the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge and the Osman Gazi Bridge (crossing the Bosphorus and the Gulf of ?zmit, respectively) tend to be much more expensive per km.

Fuel

Despite bordering countries which have the richest oil resources, fuel in Turkey is ridiculously expensive, in fact one of the most expensive in the world because of the very heavy taxes. For example, a litre of unleaded gasoline costs a little less than 5 TL (€2.15 - that equals almost US$11 per US gallon!). Diesel and LPG is less damaging to your wallet (and to the environment in case of LPG), but not that drastically.

Petrol stations (benzin istasyonu) are frequently lined along the highways, most (if not all) serving round the clock and accepting credit cards (you have to get out of the car and enter the station building to enter your PIN code if you are using credit card). In all of them you can find unleaded gasoline (kur?unsuz), diesel (dizel or motorin), and LPG (liquid petroleum gas, LPG). In many (if not most) of them you can also find CNG (compressed natural gas, CNG). Though, petrol stations in the villages off the beaten track are exception, all they offer is often limited to only diesel, which is used for running the agricultural machinery. It is advised to keep the gas tank full if you are going to stray away from main roads. Also petrol stations along the motorways (toll-ways) are rarer than other highways, usually once every 40-50km. Make sure to fill your tank in the first station you’ll pass by (there are signs indicating you are soon going to pass by one) if your “tank is getting empty” alert signal is on.

Biofuels are not common. What most resembles a biofuel available to a casual driver is sold in some of the stations affiliated with national chain Petrol Ofisi under the name biyobenzin. But still it is not mostly biofuel at all – it consists of a little bioethanol (2% of the total volume) stirred into pure gasoline which makes up the rest (98%). Biodiesel is in an experimental stage yet, not available in the market.

Repair shops

In all cities and towns, there are repair shops, usually located together in complexes devoted to auto-repairing (usually rather incorrectly called sanayi sitesi or oto sanayi sitesi in Turkish, which means “industrial estate” and “auto-industrial estate” respectively), which are situated in the outskirts of the cities.

And all cities and towns,there are big 3 s plants (sales, service, spare parts). These are more corporate than sanayi sitesi these called oto plaza.

Renting a car

You may rent a car to get around Turkey from an international or local car rental agent. If you are traveling by plane you may find car rental desks in arrival terminals of all airports such as IST Atatürk Airport, Istanbul.

By dolmu?

The minibus (or Minibüs as called in Istanbul) is a small bus (sometimes car) that will ride near-fixed routes. The ride may be from the periphery of a major city to the centre or within a city, but may also take three to four hours from one city to the next, when the route is not commercial for large busses. They sometimes make a detour to bring some old folks home or collect some extra heavy luggage. You will find them in cities as well as in inter-city traffic. All during their journey people will get in and out (shout “Inecek var” – “someone to get off” – to have it stop if you’re in). The driver tends to be named “kaptan” (captain), and some behave accordingly. The fare is collected all through the ride. In some by a specially appointed passenger who will get a reduction, in others by a steward, who may get off halfway down the journey, to pick up a dolmu? of the same company heading back, and mostly by the driver himself. If the driver collects himself, people hand money on from the back rows to the front, getting change back by the same route. On some stretches tickets are sold in advance, and things can get complicated if some of the passengers bought a ticket and others just sat inside waiting – for maybe half an hour - but without a ticket.

The concept of dolmu? in Istanbul is somehow different than the rest of Turkey. The vehicles are different, they take max. 7 sitting passengersand non standing. they do not tend to take passengers along the way, they depart immediately when they are full, and many of them operate 24 hours a day. The name derives from “dolmak”, the verb for “to fill”, as they used not to start the journey without a decent number of passengers. They usually leave when they are full, but sometimes start at fixed hours, whatever the number.

By boat

Fast ferries (h?zl? feribot) are fast (50-60km/hour) catamaran-type ferryboats that connect for instance Istanbul to the other side of the Marmara Sea. They can cut travel time dramatically. Again for instance leaving from the Yenikap? jetty in Istanbul (just a bit southwest of the Blue Mosque) you can be at the Bursa otogar in two hours, with less than an hour for the actual boat ride to Yalova. Similar services are operated to connect several parts of Istanbul with the Asian side, or places farther up the Bosporus. And this type of fast ferry is increasingly seen all over the country wherever there is enough water.

There are also ferry connections between Istanbul and Izmir and between Istanbul and Trabzon in the eastern Black Sea region, ships operating on the latter line also stop at all of the significant cities along the Turkish Black Sea coast. However both of these lines are unfortunately operating only in summer months.

All inhabited Turkish islands have at least one daily cruise to the nearest mainland city or town during summer. But as winter conditions at the seas can go harsh, the frequency of voyages drop significantly due to the bad weather.

Perhaps one of the best cruising grounds in the world, Turkey offers thousands of years of history, culture and civilization set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. The coastline is a mixture of wide gulfs, peaceful coves, shady beaches, uninhabited islands, small villages and bustling towns. Many of these locations are still only accessible by boat. Rare in the Mediterranean, one can still find some seclusion on a private charter in Turkey. In fact, Turkey offers more coastline than any other Mediterranean country. The best way to see Turkey is from your own private yacht on your own schedule. Turkey offers some of the most exquisite yachts in the world known as gulets.

By bicycle

Simply put, long distance cycling is not a very easy task to do in Turkey, mainly for two reasons: most of the country's terrain is hilly, and special lanes devoted to bicycles are virtually non-existent, especially along the intercity routes. That being said, most coastal cities nowadays have cycling lanes of varying shapes and lengths along the shores (mainly built for a leisurely ride rather than serious transportation, though) and most highways built within the last decade or so have quite wide and well surfaced shoulders, which can double as bicycle lanes.

If you have already made up your mind and give cycling a try in your Turkey trip, always stay as much on the right side of the roads as possible; avoid riding a bicycle out of cities or lightened roads at night, do not be surprised by the drivers horning at you, and do not enter the motorways, it is forbidden. You could better prefer rural roads with much less traffic density, but then there is the problem of freely roaming sheepdogs, which can sometimes be quite dangerous. Rural roads also have much much less signboards than the highways, which turns them into a labyrinth, in which it is easy to get lost even for non-local Turkish people, without a detailed map.

Air can be pumped into tyres at any petrol station without a charge. Bicycle repair-shops are rare in cities and often in hard-to-locate places; motorcycle repair shops can be tried alternatively (however, they are very reluctant to repair a bicycle if they are busy with their customers who have motorcycles).

On Istanbul's Princes' Islands, renting a bike is an amusing, cheaper, and obviously more animal-friendly alternative to hiring a horse-drawn carriage. On these islands well-paved roads are shared only by horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and public service vehicles (like ambulances, police vans, school buses, garbage trucks).

By thumb

Almost every driver has an idea about what universal hitchhiking sign (“thumb”) means. Don’t use any other sign which may be equivalent of a signal meaning a danger. In addition to the thumb, having a signboard with the destination name certainly helps. Waiting for someone to take you generally doesn't exceed half an hour, though this dramatically varies depending on the density of traffic (as is elsewhere) and the region, for example, it usually takes much longer to attract a ride in Mediterranean Turkey than in Marmara Region. Best hitchhiking spots are the crossroads with traffic lights, where ring-roads around a city and the road coming from the city center intersect. Don’t be so away from the traffic lights so drivers would be slow enough to see you and stop to take you; but be away enough from the traffic lights for a safe standing beside the road. Don’t try to hitchhike on motorways, no one will be slow enough to stop, it is also illegal to enter the motorways as a pedestrian. Don’t start to hitchhike until you are out of a city as cars may head for different parts of the city, not your destination, and if not in hurry, try to avoid hitchhiking after night falls, especially if you are a lone female traveler.

Although the drivers are taking you just to have a word or two during their long, alone journey, always watch out and avoid sleeping.

On some occasions, you may not be able to find someone going directly to where your destination is, so don’t refuse anyone stopped to take you – refusing someone stopped to take you is impolite - unless he/she is going to a few kilometres away, and if he/she would go to a road that doesn’t arrive at your destination in a coming fork. You may have to change several cars even on a 100-km course, changing in each town after town. However, because of the enormous numbers of trucks carrying goods for foreign markets, you can find unexpectedly long-haul trips from, say a town in western Turkey to as far as, for instance, Ukraine or southern Germany.

Not many, but some drivers –especially van drivers- may ask for money (“fee”) from you. Refuse and tell them that if you had money to waste, you would be on a bus, and not standing on the side of the road.

Drivers staying in the area may point downwards (to the road surface) or towards the direction they’re driving or flash their headlights while passing, indicating that they wouldn't make a good long-haul ride. Smile and/or wave your hand to show courtesy.

On foot

Turkey has two long-distance waymarked hiking trails, one of them is the famous Lycian Way, between Fethiye and Antalya, the other one is the Saint Paul Trail, between Antalya and Yalvaç up to the north, in the Turkish Lakes District. Both are about 500 km, and signed with painted stones and signboards. Since Lycian Way is much older, it has more facilities for shopping and accommodation in the villages situated along or near its route.

Eastern Black Sea region covers very beautiful quite long trekking routes between the greenest of green plateaus well above the clouds as well, and some tourism agencies in the main cities of Turkey are offering guided trekking tours –including the transportation- in this region.

Inside the cities, there are white-, or rarely yellow-painted pedestrian crossings (zebra crossing) on the main streets and avenues, which are normally pedestrian-priority spots. However, for many drivers, they are nothing more than ornamental drawings on the road pavements, so it is better to cross the streets at where traffic lights are. Still, be sure all the cars stopped, because it is not unusual to see the drivers still not stopping in the first few seconds after the light turns to red for vehicles. As a better option, on wide streets, there are also pedestrian overpasses and underground pedestrian passages available. In narrow main streets during rush hour, you can cross the street anywhere and anytime, since cars will be in a stop-go-stop-go manner because of heavy traffic. Also in narrow streets inside the residential hoods, you need not to worry about keeping on the sidewalk, you can walk well in the middle of the road, only to step aside when a car is coming.

Talk

See also: Turkish phrasebook

The sole official language of Turkey is Turkish. Turkish is an Altaic language and its closest living relatives are other Turkic languages, which are spoken in southwestern, central and northern Asia; and to a lesser degree by significant communities in the Balkans. Because Turkish is an agglutinative language, native speakers of Indo-European languages generally find it difficult to learn. Since 1928, Turkish is written in a variant of the Latin alphabet (after so many centuries of using the Arabic one, evident in many historical texts and documents) with the additions of ç/Ç, ?/?, ?, ?, ö/Ö, ?/? and ü/Ü, and with the exclusions of Q, W and X.

Kurdish is also spoken by an estimated 7-10% of the population. Several other languages exist, like Laz in the North-East (also spoken in adjacent Georgia), and in general people living near borders will often be speaking the language at the other side too, like Arabic in the South-East.

Thanks to migration, even in rural areas most villages will have at least somebody who has worked in Germany and can thus speak German. The same goes for other West-European languages like Dutch (often mistakenly called "Flemish" there) or French. Recent immigration from Balkans means there is also a possibility to come across native Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian, and Albanian speakers mainly in big cities of western Turkey, but don't count on this. English is also increasingly popular among the younger generation. The "Universities" that train pupils for a job in tourism pour out thousands of youngsters who want to practice their knowledge on the tourist, with varying degrees of fluency. Language universities produce students that nowadays are pretty good at their chosen language.

See

As a general rule, most museums and sites of ancient cities in Turkey are closed on Mondays, although there are numerous exceptions to this.

Ancient ruins and architectural heritage

At the crossroads of civilizations, all parts of Turkey are full of a mindblowing number of ancient ruins.

Hittites, the first indigenous people that rose to found a state in Anatolia—although there is one certain Çatalhöyük preceding them, the earliest settlement ever found to the date in Turkey—left the proof of their existence at the ruins of Hattu?a?, their capital.

Ancient Greeks and closely following Romans left their mark mostly in Aegean and Mediterranean Regions, leaving behind the marble ruins of hundreds of cities, temples, and monuments. Some are largely restored to their former glory, such as Ephesus as well as numerous others along the Aegean coast which are on the checklist of most travellers to Turkey, along with some more obscure ones off the beaten path such as Aphrodisias near Denizli, and Aizanoi near Kütahya.

In the meantime, some other indigenous peoples, such as Lycians, were carving beautiful tombs—many of which are fairly well preserved and can be seen all around Lycia—for their dearly departed ones onto the rocky hillsides.

Legendary Troy stands out as an example of different civilizations literally living on the top of each other. While what is visible today is clearly Hellenistic, the place has its roots as Hittite Wilusa, and later re-built many times over by Ancient Greeks.

Perhaps the most unique "architectural" heritage in the country, some of the Cappadocian cave houses and churches carved into "fairy chimneys" and underground cities (in a literal sense!) date back to early Christians hiding from persecution.

Successors of Romans, the Byzantines, broke new ground with more ambitious projects, culminating in grand Hagia Sophia of Istanbul, built in 537, and which had the distinction of being the largest cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years. While a stray monastery or two dating back to the era can be found in almost any part of the country, most of the Byzantine heritage intact today is found in the Marmara Region, especially in Istanbul, and in the area around Trabzon in the far northeast, which was the domain of the Empire of Trebizond, a rump Byzantine state that survived the Fall of Constantinople for about a decade.

Seljuks, the first ever Turkic state to be founded in Asia Minor, built most of their monuments—which incorporates large majestic portals and heavily delicate stonework, reminiscent of some landmarks in parts of Asia—in major centres of the time in Eastern and Central Anatolia, especially in Konya, their capital.

Ottomans, who had considered themselves as a Balkan state until their demise, built most of their landmarks in Balkans and the natural extension of Balkans within today's Turkey—Marmara Region—just like the Byzantines, whom the Ottomans inspired to in so many ways. Most of the earlier Ottoman monuments were built in Bursa, which have little Byzantine and comperatively large Seljuk influences, and later, when the dynasty moved to Europe, in Edirne, some of the major landmarks of which exhibit some kind of "transitional" and fairly experimental style. It wasn't until the Fall of Constantinople that the Ottomans adopted Byzantine architecture almost full scale with some adjustments. However, the Ottoman imperial architecture possibly reached its zenith not in Istanbul, but in Edirne—in the form of Selimiye Mosque, a work of Sinan, the great Ottoman architecture of 16th century.

19th century brought back the Greek and Roman taste of architectural styles, so there was a huge explosion of neo-classical architecture, as much fashionable in Turkey as in the much of the rest of the world at that time. Galata side of IstanbulIzmir (though unfortunately most of which was lost to the big fire of 1922), and numerous towns along the coasts, one most prominent and well preserved example being Ayval?k, quickly filled with elegant neo-classical buildings. At the same time, people in more inland locations were favouring pleasant, more traditional, and less pretentious half-timbered whitewashed houses, which form picturesque towns such as Safranbolu, Beypazar?, and ?irince in northern, central, and western part of the country respectively. It was also this time beautiful and impressive wooden mansions of Istanbul's seaside neighbourhoods and islands were built. Other contemporary trends of the era, such as Baroque and Rococo, didn't make much inroads in Turkey, although there were some experiments of combining them into Islamic architecture, as can be seen at Ortaköy Mosque on the banks of Bosphorus along with some others.

As the landscapes change the more east you go, so does the architectural heritage. The remote valleys and hilltops of Eastern Karadeniz and Eastern Anatolia are dotted with numerous medieval Georgian and Armenian churches and castles—some of which are nicely well preserved but not all were that lucky. Armenian cathedral on Akdamar Island of Lake Van and medieval Ani are two that lay somewhere on the midway between perfectly preserved and undergone total destruction, but both are absolutely must-sees if you've made your way that east. For a change, Southeastern Anatolia features more Middle East-influenced architecture, with arched courtyards and heavy usage of yellow stones with highly exquisite masonry. It's best seen in Urfa, and especially in Mardin and nearby Midyat.

Being on the crossroads of civilizations more often than not also means being the battleground of civilizations. So it's no wonder why so many castles and citadels dot the landscape, both in towns and countryside, and both on the coasts and inland. Most of the castles built during different stages of history are today main attractions of the towns they are standing on.

20th century wasn't kind on Turkish cities. Due to the pressure caused by high rates of immigration from rural to urban areas, many historical neighbourhoods in cities were knocked down in favour of soulless (and usually, drab ugly) apartment blocks, and outskirts of major cities transformed to shantytowns. There is not really much of a gem in the name of modern architecture in Turkey. Steel-and-glass skyscrapers, on the other hand, are now slowly and sparsely being erected in major cities, one example where they concentrate much as to form a skyline view being the business district of Istanbul, although hardly impressive compared with major metropolises around the world known for their skyscraper filled skylines.

Itineraries

  • Along the Troad Coast — ancient legends intertwine with beautiful landscapes and the deep blue Aegean Sea
  • Lycian Way — walk along the remotest section of the country's Mediterranean coast, past ancient cities, forgotten hamlets, and balmy pine forests

Do

While Turkey is rightly renowned for its warm Mediterranean beaches, wintersports, especially skiing, is very much a possibility—and indeed a popular activity—in the mountainous interior of the country between October and April, with a guaranteed stable snowcover and constant below freezing temperatures between December and March. Some more eastern resorts have longer periods of snowcover.

Most popular wintersports resorts include Uluda? near Bursa, Kartepe near Izmit, Kartalkaya near Bolu, and Ilgaz near Kastamonu in the northwest of the country, Palandöken near Erzurum, and Sar?kam?? near Kars in the northeast of the country, and Erciyes near Kayseri in the central part. Sakl?kent near Antalya is touted to be one of the places where you can ski in the morning and swim in the warm waters of Mediterranean down the coast in Antalya in the afternoon, though snowcover period in Sakl?kent is desperately short as not to let this happen every year.

Buy

Money

THe currency of the country is the Turkish lira, denoted by the symbol "?" or "TL" (ISO code: TRY). The lira is divided into 100 kuru? (abbreviated kr).

In 2005, Turkey dropped six zeroes from its currency, thus making each post-2005 lira worth one million pre-2005 lira (or so called "old lira"). During the transition period between 2005 and 2009, the currency was briefly called new lira (yeni lira). Since 1 January 2009, new banknotes and coins have been introduced and the currency is again simply called lira (officially Turkish lira, Türk Liras?; don't be confused if you see the currency symbolised YTL or ytl, standing for yeni lira). Pre-2009 banknotes and coins (those bearing yeni lira and yeni kuru?) are not legal tender, but can be exchanged at certain banks until 31 December 2019.

The new Turkish lira symbol, , which was created by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey in 2012 after a country-wide contest. However, as with most of the implementations of the current AKP government, this symbol proved to be controversial and divisive among the Turkish society.

Banknotes are in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 TL denominations. Coins of 5, 10, 25 and 50 kuru?es are legal tender. There's also a 1 TL coin.

Currency exchange

There are legal exchange offices in all cities and almost any town. Banks also exchange money, but they are not worth the hassle as they are usually crowded and do not give better rates than exchange offices. You can see the rates an office offers on the (usually electronic) boards located somewhere near its gate. Euros and US dollars are the most useful currencies, but pounds sterling (Bank of England notes only, not Scottish or Northern Irish notes), Swiss francs, Japanese yen, Saudi riyals, and a number of other currencies are also not very hard to exchange. It is important to remember that most exchangers accept only banknotes, it can be very hard to exchange foreign coins. In some places, where there is a meaningful explanation for it, more uncommon currencies can also be exchanged, too, for example Australian dollars may be exchanged in Çanakkale where grandchildren of Anzacs gather to commemorate their grandfathers every year, or in Ka?, which is located just across the Greek island of Kastelorizo, which in turn has a large diaspora in Australia. As a general rule, if a place attracts many visitors from a country, then it is usually possible to exchange that country’s currency there.

Tourism-oriented industries in tourism-oriented towns, as well as shops where big amounts of money change hands, like supermarkets, in most parts of the country, generally accept foreign currency (usually limited to Euro and American dollars only), but the rates they accept the currency are usually a little lower than those of exchange offices. Ask first if they accept foreign currency.

Credit cards and ATMs

Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, American Express much less so. All credit card users have to enter their PIN codes when using their cards. Older, magnetic card holders are excepted from this, but remember that, unlike some other places in Europe, salespeople haves the legal right to ask you to show a valid ID with a photo on to recognize that you are the owner of the card. ATMs are scattered throughout the cities, concentrated in central parts. It is possible to draw Turkish lira (and rarely foreign currency) from these ATMs with your foreign card. Any major town has at least one ATM.

ATMs ask whether to provide instructions in English or in Turkish (and sometimes some other languages, too) as soon as you insert a foreign card (or a Turkish card which is not the operating bank’s own). When withdrawing money from ATMs, if the ATM in question does not belong to the bank that you already have an account in, they charge some percentage (generally 1%) of what you withdraw from your account each time. This percentage is higher for advance withdrawing with your credit card.

No establishments require a commission surcharge when using a credit card.

Tipping

In general, tipping is not considered obligatory. However, it is very common to leave a 5% to 10% tip in restaurants if you're satisfied with the service. At high-end restaurants a tip of 10-15% is customary. It is NOT possible to add tip to the credit card bill. It is very common amongst Turkish people to pay the bill with a credit card and leave the tip in cash or coins. Most waiters will bring your cash back in coins as much as possible, that's because Turkish people don't like to carry coins around and usually leave them at the table.

Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but it is common practice to let them keep the change. If you insist on taking exact change back, ask for para üstü? (pronounced “pah-rah oos-too”, which means “change”). Driver will be reluctant to give it at first, but you will eventually succeed.

If you are fortunate enough to try out a Turkish bath, it is customary to tip 15% of the total and split it up among all of the attendants. This is an important thing to keep in mind when tipping in Turkey, and will ensure your experience goes smoothly and is enjoyable.

Supermarket cashiers usually round up the total sum to the next 5 kuru? if you pay in cash (the exact sum is extracted when paid by a credit card though). This is not a kind of involuntary tip, as the 2-3-4 kuru?es don’t go into their pockets. It is simply because they are not adequately supplied with enough 1 kuru? coins as it is very rare in circulation. So don’t be surprised if the change given to you is short of a few kuru?es from what should be given to you according to what the electronic board of the till says. It is totally okay to pay the exact sum if you have enough number of 1 kuru? coins.

Bargaining

In Turkey, bargaining is a must. One can bargain everywhere that doesn’t look too luxurious: shops, hotels, bus company offices, and so on. During your bargaining, don’t look so impressed and interested, and be patient. Since foreigners (especially Western people) aren’t expected to be good at bargaining, sellers are quick to reject any bargaining attempt (or are at least quick to look like so), but be patient and wait, the price will fall! (Don’t forget, even if you are successful at your bargaining attempt, when you get your credit card out of your wallet, rather than cash, the agreed price may rise again, though probably to a lower level than the original one)

VAT refund — You can get a VAT refund (currently 18% or 23% on most items) if you are not a citizen or permanent resident of Turkey. Look for the blue “Tax-Free” sticker on the windowpane or entrance of the shops, these kind of shops are the only places you can get a VAT refund. Don’t forget to take the necessary papers from the shop that will enable you for a VAT reclaim when leaving Turkey.

Although Turkey is in a customs union with the European Union for some goods, unlike the situation in the EU, there is currently not an initiative to abolish duty-free shops in the airports.

Shopping

Apart from classical tourist souvenirs like postcards and trinkets, here are a few of what you can bring back home from Turkey.

  • Leather clothing — Turkey is the biggest leather producer in the world, so the leather clothing is cheaper than elsewhere. Many shops in Laleli, Beyaz?t, Mahmutpa?a districts of Istanbul (all around the tram line which goes through Sultanahmet Square) are specialized on leather.
  • Carpets and kilims — Many regions in Turkey produce handmade kilims and carpets. Though the symbols and figures differentiate depending on the region in which the carpet is produced, they are generally symbollic expressions based on ancient Anatolian religions and/or nomadic Turkic life which takes shape around shamanic beliefs more than 1,000 years ago. You can find shops specialized on handmade carpets and kilims in any major city, tourist spot and Sultanahmet Area.

You seriously cannot go anywhere in Turkey without someone trying to sell you a carpet. People will approach you on the street, engage in a little friendly conversation about where you're from, how do you like Turkey, and "would you like to come with me to my uncle's shop? It's just around the corner, and has the best authentic kilims." It can be irritating if you let it get to you, but remember that a large part of these people's economy comes from tourist's wallets so you can't blame them for trying.

  • Silk — Dresses and scarves. Although can be found in many parts of the country, silk fans should head for Bursa and before that, pick up basics of bargaining.
  • Earthenware — Handmade Cappadocian pottery (amphoras, old-style plates, flowerpots etc.) are made of local salty clay. Salt content of clay, thanks to salt spray produced by the Salt Lake –which is the second largest lake in Turkey- in the heartland of Central Anatolia, is what makes local earthenware top quality. In some Cappadocian towns, it is possible to see how these artifacts are produced, or even to experience producing one, at the dedicated workshops. Tiles with classical Ottoman motives that are produced in Kütahya are also famous.
  • Turkish delight and Turkish coffee — If you like these during your Turkey trip, don’t forget to take a few packages back home. Available everywhere.
  • Honey — The pine honey (çam bal?) of Marmaris is famous and has a much stronger taste and consistency than regular flower honeys. Although not easily attained, if you can find, don’t miss the honey of Macahel valley, made out of flowers of a temperate semi-rainforest, which is almost completely out of human impact, in the far northeastern Black Sea Region.
  • Chestnut dessert — Made out of syrup and chestnuts grown on the foothills of Mt. Uluda?, chestnut dessert (kestane ?ekeri) is a famous and tasty product of Bursa. There are many variations, such as chocolate coated ones. Chestnut dessert can be found in elsewhere, too, but relatively more expensive and in smaller packages.
  • Meerschaum souvenirs — Despite its name meaning “sea foam” which it resembles, meerschaum (lületa??) is extracted only in one place in the world: landlocked Eski?ehir province in the extreme northwest part of Central Anatolia Region. This rock, similar to gypsum at sight, is carved into smoking pipes and cigarette holders. It has a soft and creamy texture and makes for a great decorative item. Available at some shops in Eski?ehir.
  • Castile (olive oil) soap — Natural, a silky touch on your skin, and a warm Mediterranean atmosphere in your bathroom. Absolutely cheaper than those to be found in Northern and Western Europe. Street markets in the Aegean Region and southern Marmara Region is full of olive oil soap, almost all of which are handmade. Even some old folk in the Aegean Region is producing their castile soaps in the traditional way: during or just after the olive harvest, neighbours gather in yards around large boilers heated by wood fire, then lye derived from the wood ash is added to hot water and olive oil mix. Remember – supermarkets out of the Aegean Region are generally offering no more than industrial tallow based soaps full of chemicals. In cities out of the Aegean Region, natural olive oil soap can be found in shops specialized in olive and olive oil. Some of these shops are even offering ecological soaps: made of organic olive oil and sometimes with additions of organic essential oils.
  • Other soaps unique to Turkey are: laurel soaps (defne sabunu) which is produced mainly in Antakya (Antioch), soaps of Isparta enriched with rose oil which is produced abundantly in the area around Isparta, and b?tt?m sabunu, a soap made out of the oil of seeds of a local variety of pistachio tree native to the mountains of Southeastern Region. In Edirne, soaps shaped as various fruits are produced. Not used for their lather, rather they make a good assortment when different “fruits” are placed in a basket on a table, they fill the air with their sweet scent as well.
  • Olive-based products apart from soap — Other olive-based products to give a try are olive oil shampoos, olive oil based eau de colognes and zey?e, abbreviation from the first syllables of zeytin ?ekeri, a dessert similar to chestnut desserts, but made from olives.

Warning! Taking any antique (defined as something more than 100 years old) out of Turkey is subject to heavy restrictions or, in many cases, forbidden. If someone offers to sell you an antique, either he/she is a liar trying to sell cheap imitations or he/she is committing a crime which you are an accessory to, if you purchase the item.

Eat

See also: Middle Eastern cuisine

Turkish cuisine combines Mediterranean, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Arabic influences, and is extremely rich. Beef is the most important meat (lamb is also common but pork is very hard to find although not illegal), and eggplant (aubergine), onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber are the primary vegetables. An abundance of spices is also used. The main staples are rice (pilav), bulgur wheat and bread, and dishes are typically cooked in vegetable oil or sometimes butter.

There are many kinds of specialized restaurants to choose from, since most do not prepare or serve other kinds of food. Traditional Turkish restaurants serve meals daily prepared and stored in a bain-marie. The meals are at the entrance so you can easily see and choose. Kebapçis are restaurants specialized in many kinds of kebab. Some Kebab restaurants serve alcohol while others don't. There are subtypes like ci?erci, Adana kebapç?s? or ?skender kebapç?s?. Fish restaurants typically serve meze (cold olive oil dishes) and Rak? or wine. Dönerci's are prevalent through country and serve döner kebap as a fast food. Köfeci's are restaurants with meatballs (Köfte) served as main dish. Kokoreçci, midyeci, tantunici, mant?c?, gözlemeci, lahmacuncu, pideci, çi? köfteci, etsiz çi? köfteci are other kinds of local restaurants found in Turkey which specialization in one food.

A full Turkish meal at Kebab restaurant starts with a soup, often lentil soup (mercimek çorbasi), and a set of meze appetizers featuring olives, cheese, pickles and a wide variety of small dishes. Meze can easily be made into a full meal, especially if they are consumed along with rak?. The main course is usually meat: a common dish type and Turkey's best known culinary export is kebab (kebap), grilled meat in various forms including the famous döner kebap (thin slices of meat shaved from a giant rotating spit) and ?i?kebab (skewered meat), and a lot more others. Köfte (meatball) is a variation of the kebab. There are hundreds of kinds of köfte throughout Anatolia, but only about 10 to 12 of them are known to the residents of the larger cities, kike ?negöl köfte, Dalyan köfte, sulu köfte etc.

Eating on the cheap is mostly done at Kebab stands, which can be found everywhere in Istanbul and other major cities. For the equivalent of a couple dollars, you get a full loaf of bread sliced down the middle, filled with broiled meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. For North Americans familiar with donairs wrapped in pita bread or wraps, you should look for the word "Dürüm" or "Dürümcü" on the windows of the kebab stands and ask for your donair kebab to be wrapped in a dürüm or lava? bread depending on the region.

Vegetarians

Vegetarian restaurants are not common, and can be found only in very central parts of big cities and some of the tourist spots. However, every good restaurant offers vegetable dishes, and some of the restaurants offering traditional “ev yeme?i” (“home food”) have olive-oil specialities which are vegetarian in content. A vegetarian would be very happy in the Aegean region, where all kinds of wild herbs are eaten as main meals, either cooked or raw, dressed with olive oil. But a vegetarian would have real difficulty in searching for food especially in Southeastern region, where a dish without meat is not considered a dish. At such a place, supermarkets may help with their shelves full of canned vegetables, or even canned cooked olive-oil courses and fresh fruits. If you are a vegetarian and going to visit rural areas of Southeastern region, better take your canned food with you, as there will be no supermarkets to rescue you.

Desserts

Some Turkish desserts are modeled on the sweet and nutty Arabic kind: famous dishes include baklava, a layered pastry of finely ground nuts and phyllo dough soaked in honey and spices, and Turkish Delight (lokum), a gummy confection of rosewater and sugar. There are also many more kinds of desserts prepared using milk predominantly, such as kazandibi, ke?kül, muhallebi, sütlaç, tavuk gö?sü, güllaç etc.

Breakfast

Turkish Breakfast, tend to comprise of çay (tea), bread, olives, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and occasionally spreads such as honey and jam. This can become very monotonous after a while. A nice alternative to try (should you have the option) is Menemen: a Turkish variation on scrambled eggs/omelet. Capsicum (Red Bell Pepper), onion, garlic and tomato are all combined with eggs. The meal is traditional cooked (and served) in a clay bowl. Try adding a little chili to spice it up and make sure to use lots of bread as well for a filling hot breakfast. Bread is omnipresent in Turkey, at any given meal you'll be presented with a large basket of crusty bread.

Ubiquitous simit (also known as gevrek in some Aegean cities such as Izmir), much like bagel but somewhat thinner, crustier, and with roasted sesame seeds all over, is available from trolleys of street vendors in virtually any central part of any town and city at any time except late at night. Perhaps with the addition of Turkish feta cheese (beyaz peynir) or cream cheese (krem peynir or karper), a couple of simits make up a filling and a very budget conscious breakfast (as each costs about 0.75 TL), or even a lunch taken while on the go.

Drink

Turkish coffee (kahve), served in tiny cups, is strong and tasty, just be careful not to drink the sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup. It is very different from the so-called Turkish coffees sold abroad. Sade kahve is served black, while as ?ekerli, orta ?ekerli and çok ?ekerli will get you a little, some or a lot of sugar in your cup.

Instant coffees, cappuccinos, and espressos are gaining more popularity day by day, and can be found with many different flavours.

Despite coffee taking a substantial part in national culture, tea (çay) is also very popular and is indeed the usual drink of choice. Most Turks are heavy drinkers of tea in their daily lives. Having only entered the scene in the 1930s, tea quickly gained ground against coffee due to the fact that Yemen, the traditional supplier of coffee to Turkey then, was cut off from the rest of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, and the first tea plants took root in Eastern Karadeniz after some unsuccessful trials to grow it in the country, as a result of protectionist economic policies that were put into effect after World War I. Be careful, if your tea is prepared by locals, it can be much stronger than you're used to. Although it is not native-typical and a rather touristic feature, you have to taste the special apple tea (elma çay?) or sage tea (adaçay?, literally island tea) of Turkey.

Ayran is a popular drink of water and yoghurt not unlike the Finnish/Russian "buttermilk" or Indian "lassi", but always served without sugar (and, in fact, typically with a little salt added). If you're travelling by bus over the Taurus Mountains, ask for "köpüklü ayaran' or "yay?k ayaran?", a variety of the drink much loved by locals.

Boza is a traditional cold, thick drink that originates from Central Asia, but is also common in several Balkan countries. It is fermented bulgur (a kind of wheat) with sugar and water additions. Vefa Bozacisi is the best known and traditional producer of boza in Istanbul. In Ankara, you get excellent Boza from Akman Boza Salonu in the old city in Ulus. Boza can also be found on the shelves of many supermarkets, especially in winter, packaged in 1-litre PET bottles. However these bottled bozas lack the sourness and consistency of traditional boza, they are sweeter and less dense.

Sahlep (or Salep) is another traditional hot drink, made from milk, orchid root and sugar, typically decorated with cinnamon. It is mostly preferred in winter and can be found in cafés and patisseries (pastane) and can be easily confused by the looks of it with cappuccino. You can also find instant sahlep in many supermarkets sold with the name Haz?r Sahlep.

Red Poppy Syrup is one of the traditional Turkish drinks made of red poppy petals, water and sugar by natural ways. Bozcaada is famous with red poppy syrup.[3]

International brands of colas, sodas and fruit-flavoured sodas are readily available and much consumed alongside some local brands. Please note, in Turkish, soda means mineral water, whereas what is called as soda in English is gazoz or sade gazoz in Turkish.

While a significant proportion of Turks are devout Muslims, alcoholic beverages are legal, widely available, and thoroughly enjoyed by the locals. The local firewater of choice is rak?, an anise-flavoured liquor double distilled from fermented grape skin. It is usually mixed with water and drunk with another glass of iced water to accompany it. You may order 'tek' (single) or 'duble' (double) to indicate the amount of rak? in your glass. Make sure to try it but don't overindulge as it is very potent. Remember not to mix it with anything else. There is a wide selection of different types in supermarkets. Mey and Efe Rak? are two of the biggest producers. Only the connaisseurs know which type is the best. Yeni Rak? which is a decent variety has the w?dest distribution and consumption.

As for Turkish wine, the wines are as good as the local grape varieties. Kalecik Karas? from Ankara, Karasak?z from Bozcaada, Öküzgözü from Elmal?, Bo?azkere from Diyarbak?r are some of the most well-known varieties. The biggest winemakers are Kavakl?dere [4], Doluca [5], Sevilen [6], and Kayra [7] with many good local vineyards especially in the Western part of the country. In addition liquory fruit wines of ?irince near Izmir are well worth tasting. One specific sweet red wine to try while you're there is Talay Kuntra [8].

There are two major Turkish breweries. Efes [9] and Tekel Biras? [10] are two widely known lagers. In addition, you can find locally brewed Tuborg, Miller, Heineken, and Carlsberg too.

Smoke

All cigarettes are sold freely and are still relatively cheap by western standards.

Although many, if not most, Turkish people do smoke, there is a growing health awareness about smoking and the number of smokers is slowly but steadily declining, and the rigid smoking ban that was introduced is surprisingly enforced.

Smoking in the presence of someone who does not smoke in a public place requires their permission. If someone does not like the smoke, they will ask you not to smoke or they will cough, then just stop and apologize. This is what the locals do.

If you are invited to someone's home, do not smoke unless the host does first, and after he/she does, then you can ask for his/her permission to smoke.

If you are in a place where people smoke, you can smoke, but if you are in place where no one is smoking, ask them first for their permission.

Smoking ban

Smoking is banned in public places (e.g. airports, metro stations and indoor train stations, schools, universities, government administration buildings, in all workplaces, concert halls, theatres and cinemas) and on public transport (airplanes, ferries, trains, suburban trains, subways, trams, buses, minibuses, and taxis). Smoking is banned in sports stadiums, the only outdoor areas where this ban is extended. It is a finable offence of 69 TL. Separately smoking is also banned, in restaurants, bars, cafes, traditional teahouses, the remaining air-conditioned public places including department stores and shopping mall restaurants; and there are no exceptions as indoor non-smoking sections are also banned. Apart from a fine for smokers, there is a heavy fine of 5,000 TL for owners, for failing to enforce the ban properly and that is why it is strictly enforced by these establishments.

In Istanbul, especially in non-tourist areas, some bars/restaurants/music venues and even work places will bring you an ashtray as there will be many people smoking inside, even though there is a sign on the wall forbidding it, many people consider it to be up to the discretion of the owners/workers of the building. However, bars/restaurants/music venues in tourist areas (e.g. Beyo?lu, Si?li etc...) are relentlessy "raided" (and in case of any violations – not just for flouting the smoking ban – fined heavily) by the zab?ta (municipal official), so these establishments will much less likely dare to violate the bans. Although such "raids" will be disconcerting for tourists, customers will not be affected as the zab?ta does not issue fines to customers – at most will be asked to leave the place, in case of serious violations.

However the smoking ban is openly flouted in government administration buildings, where the civil servants seem to think that they are somehow above the law.

Outside the cities and tourist resorts, the smoking ban is less rigidly enforced in small towns and in the villages hardly at all, because the municipal police (zab?ta) rarely comes to these places to enforce it and issue fines, leading to some establishments and its customers to ignore this, but even there it is nevertheless best to follow the less enforced smoking ban.

While smoking is strictly prohibited on public transport, you will see some taxi drivers smoking in their taxis, which are also included in the smoking ban, but is the only form of public transport where this ban is openly flouted. When entering the taxi just request the taxi driver not to smoke, and he will politely oblige - in fact most of them will put out their cigarettes immediately once they see a customer hailing them or approaching them.

Sleep

Accommodation in Turkey varies from 5-star hotels to a simple tent pitched in a vast plateau. So the prices vary hugely as well.

Hotels

All major cities and tourist spots have 5-star hotels, many of them are owned by international hotel chains like Hilton, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Conrad to name a few. Many of them are concrete blocks, however some, especially the ones out of cities, are bungalows with private gardens and private swimming pools.

If you are into holiday package kind of thing in a Mediterranean resort, you’d definitely find better rates when booking back at home rather than in Turkey itself. The difference is considerable, compared with what you’d pay when booking at home, you may end up paying twice as much if you simply walk in the resort.

Hostels and guesthouses

Youth hostels are not widespread, there are a few in Istanbul, mainly around Sultanahmet Square where Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are, and still fewer are recognized by Hostelling International (HI, former International Youth Hostel Federation, IYHF). However, guesthouses/pensions (pansiyon) provide cheaper accommodation than hotels, replacing the need for hostels for low-cost accommodation, regardless of their visitors’ age. Please note, pansiyon is the word in Turkish which is also used for small hotels with no star rankings, so somewhere with this name does not automatically mean it must be very cheap (expect up to 50 TL daily per person). B&Bs are also generally covered by the word pansiyon, as most of them present breakfast (not always included in the fee, so ask before deciding whether or not to stay there).

Unique in the country, Olympos to the southwest of Antalya is known for its pensions welcoming visitors in the wooden tree-houses or in wooden communal sleeping halls.

It is possible to rent a whole house with two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and necessary furnitures such as beds, chairs, a table, a cooker, pots, pans, usually a refrigerator and sometimes even a TV. Four or more people can easily fit in these houses which are called apart hotels and can be found mainly in coastal towns of Marmara and Northern Aegean regions, which are more frequented by Turkish families rather than foreigners. They are generally flats in a low-story apartment building. They can be rented for as cheap as 25 TL daily (not per person, this is the daily price for the whole house!), depending on location, season and the duration of your stay (the longer you stay, the cheaper you pay daily).

Ö?retmenevi - teacher's house

Like Atatürk statues and crescent-and-star flags etched into the sides of mountains, the ö?retmenevi (“teacher’s house”) is an integral part of the Turkish landscape. Found in almost every city in Turkey, these government-run institutions serve as affordable guesthouses for educators on the road and – since anyone is welcome if space is available – for those traveling on a teacher’s budget (about 35 TL/person, WiFi and hot water avalaible, breakfast (Khavalti) 5 TL).

For the most part, these guesthouses are drab affairs, 1970s-era concrete boxes usually painted in a shade of pink and found in some of the least interesting parts of town. To find the teacher's house in a town ask around for ö?retmenevi or use the address finder on www.ogretmenevim.com

Agritourism

Recently, Bugday Association has launched a project named TaTuTa (acronym from the first syllables of Tar?m-Turizm-Takas: Agriculture-Tourism-Barter [of knowledge]), a kind of WWOOF-ing, which connects farmers practicing organic/ecological agriculture and individuals having an interest at organic agriculture. The farmers participating in TaTuTa share a room of their houses (or a building in the farm) with the visitors without charge, and the visitors help them in their garden work in return. For more about TaTuTa, see [11]

Camping and RV-camping

There are many private estates dotting the whole coastline of Turkey, which the owner rents its property for campers. These campsites, which are called kamping in Turkish, have basic facilities such as tap water, toilets, tree shade (this is especially important in dry and hot summers of the western and southern coasts) and some provide electricity to every tent via individual wires. Pitching a tent inside the cities and towns apart from campsites is not always approved, so you should always ask the local administrator (village chief muhtar and/or gendarme jandarma in villages, municipalities belediye and/or the local police polis in towns) if there is a suitable place near the location for you to pitch your tent. Pitching a tent in the forest without permission is OK, unless the area is under protection as a national park, a bioreserve, a wildlife refuge, a natural heritage or because of some other environmental concern. Whether it is an area under protection or not, setting fire in forests apart from the designated fireplaces in recreational (read “picnic”) areas is forbidden anyway.

Stores offering camping gear, while present, are hard to come across, being located on back alleys, underground floors of large shopping arcades, or simply where you would least expect to find them. So, unless you are exactly sure you can obtain what you need at your destination, it's best to pack along your gear if intending to camp. In smaller stores in non-major towns, the price of many of the stuff on sale is pretty much negotiable—it is not uncommon for shop attendants to ask 30 TL for camp stove fuel, whereas it would cost typically 15 TL or even less in another store in a neighbouring town.

Caravan/trailer parks cannot be found as much as they used to be; there remains only a few, if any, from the days hippies tramped the Turkish highways with their vans—perhaps the most famous one, the Ataköy caravan park, known amongst the RV-ers for its convenient location in the city of Istanbul is long history (but there is another one still in operation several kilometres out in the western suburbs of the city). However, caravan riders can stay overnight in numerous resting areas along the highways and motorways, or virtually in any place which seems to be suitable. Filling the water tanks and discharging wastewater effluent seems to matter most.

Learn

  • Naile's Art Home [12] is a marbling paper (Ebru) gallery and workshop located in Cappadocia.
  • Kayaköy Art School [13], located in Kayaköy, a ghost town near Fethiye is offering art classes in summer, specializing on photography, painting, and sculpture.
  • You can take the Ottoman Turkish classes in Adatepe, a village frequented by intellectuals near Küçükkuyu/Alt?noluk in the northern Aegean Region. You can also participate in philosophy classes [14] taking place every summer in nearby Assos, organized as a continuation of the ancient “agora”/”forum” tradition of Mediterranean cities.
  • Glass workshops located around Beykoz on the northern Asian banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, are offering one-day classes that you can learn making (recycled) glass and ornaments made of glass.
  • There are many language schools where you can study Turkish in most of the big cities. Ankara University affiliated Tömer [15] is one of the most popular language schools in Turkey and has branches in many big cities, including IstanbulAnkara, and Izmir among others.
  • Many Turkish universities (both public and private) are participating in pan-European student exchange programs (Socrates, Erasmus, and the like). Some also have agreements with non-European universities, too. Check with your own university and the one where you intend to study in Turkey.
  • Many foreigners living in Istanbul support themselves by teaching English. Finding a good teaching job is usually easier with a well-recognized certificate like the ones listed below:
    • ITI Istanbul in 4. Levent runs Cambridge University's CELTA and DELTA courses year-round [16]

Work

Work as an English teacher is reasonably easy to stumble upon. ESL teachers with a Bachelor’s Degree and TESOL Certificate can expect to earn 800-2,500 TL (monthly) and will usually teach 20–35 hours in a week. Contracts will sometimes include accommodations, airfare, and health-care.

Being that import-export is huge in Turkey, there are also many opportunities outside of teaching, though these are often much more difficult to find and require some legal work.

You need to have a work permit to work in Turkey. The control over illegal workers have grown stricter in the past five years with the consequence of deportation, so take the work permit issue seriously.

However, if you have your own company in Turkey you are allowed to "manage" it without having a work permit. Setting up what is known as an FDI (foreign direct investment) company is relatively straightforward, takes a few days and costs around 2,300 TL (April 2007). You don't need a Turkish partner, the company can be 100% foreign owned and requires a minimum of two people as shareholders. Running costs for a company average about 2,500 TL per year for a small to medium enterprise, less for an inactive company.

Owning a company allows you to be treated as Turkish in respect of purchasing real estate and bypasses the need for military permission and allows you to complete a sale in one day if required.

Stay safe

Dial 155 for police, from any telephone without charge. However, in rural areas there is no police coverage, so dial 156 in such a place for jandarma (Military Police), a military unit for rural security.

Big cities in Turkey, especially Istanbul, are not immune to petty crime. Although petty crime is not especially directed towards tourists, by no means are they exceptions. Snatching, pickpocketing, and mugging are the most common kinds of petty crime. However, recently with the developing of a camera network which watches streets and squares –especially the central and crowded ones- 24-hour a day in Istanbul, the number of snatching and mugging incidents declined. Just like anywhere else, following common sense is recommended. (Please note that the following recommendations are for the big cities, and most small-to-mid size cities usually have no petty crime problems at all) Have your wallet and money in your front pockets instead of back pockets, backpack or shoulder bag.

You should drive defensively at all times and take every precaution while driving in Turkey. Drivers in Turkey routinely ignore traffic regulations, including driving through red lights and stop signs, and turning left from the far right lane; these driving practices cause frequent traffic accidents. Drivers should be aware of several particular driving practices prevalent in Turkey. Drivers who experience car troubles or accidents pull to the side of the road and turn on their emergency lights to warn other drivers, but many drivers place a large rock or a pile of rocks on the road about 10-15 meters behind their vehicles instead of turning on emergency lights. You may not use a cell phone while driving. It is strictly prohibited by law.

Don’t exhibit your camera or cellphone for too long if it is a new and/or expensive model (they know what to take away, no one will bother to steal a ten-year-old cell phone as it would pay very little). The same goes for your wallet, if it’s overflowing with money. Leave a wide berth and move away from the area quickly if you see two or more people begin to argue and fight as this may be a ruse to attract your attention while another person relieves you of your valuables. Be alert, this often happens very quickly. Watch your belongings in crowded places and on public transport, especially on trams and urban buses.

Avoid dark and desolate alleys at night. If you know you have to pass through such a place at night, don’t take excessive cash with you but instead deposit your cash into the safe-box at your hotel. Stay away from demonstrating crowds if the demonstration seems to be turning into an unpeaceful one. Also in resort towns, when going to beach, don’t take your camera or cell phone with you if there will be no one to take care of them while you are swimming. If you notice that your wallet has been stolen it is wise to check the nearest trash cans before reporting the loss to the police. It is often the case that thieves in Turkey will drop the wallet into the trash to avoid being caught in possession of the wallet and proven a thief. Obviously it is highly likely that your money will no longer be in it, but there is a chance that your credit cards and papers will be.

See also scams section of Istanbul article to have an idea about what kinds of scams you may come across with in other parts of the country too, especially the touristy ones, not just Istanbul.

Upon entering some museums, hotels, metro stations, and almost all shopping malls, especially in larger cities, you will notice security checkpoints similar to those found in airports. Don't worry, this is the standard procedure in Turkey and does not imply an immediate danger of attack. These security screenings are also conducted in a much more relaxed way than the airports, so you will not have to remove your belt to avoid the alarm when walking through the metal detector.

Though slightly off-topic be advised to carry passport or other means of identification at all times. One may not be requested to show them for a long period, then all of a sudden a minibus is checked by the traffic police (or the military, particularly in Eastern Turkey), or one runs into an officer of the law with time on his hand, and one must show papers. Some government buildings may ask you to temporarily surrender your passport in return for equipment such as headphones for simultaneous translation etc. and you may find your passport stored in an open box along with the locals ID cards which may be a little disconcerting. Hotels may request you to hand your passport in until you paid the bill, which puts you into an awkward situation. Referring to the police always made them hand the passport back, once the registration procedure was finalized. Showing a personal visiting card, one or two credit cards or knowing the address of a respectable hotel may solve the no-papers situation, but any self-respecting officer will tell you that you are in the wrong, and will be sorry next time. If treated politely however police and military can be quite friendly and even offer rides to the next city (no joke intended).

If you intend to travel to Eastern or Southeastern Anatolia, stay ahead of the news. Although it offers many beautiful sights, the situation is far from secure due to ethnic strife and protests, sometimes resulting in violence. The region is far from a war zone, but take precaution when visiting this volatile place. The real risk of threat is not very big though, if you stick on major routes and follow common sense rules (such as avoiding demonstrations).

Be careful when crossing the roads , as mentioned in the get around/on foot section.

Animals

The Turkish wilderness is home to both venomous and non-venomous snake (y?lan) species. In fact, humid forests of the northeastern Black Sea region is the habitat of a small-sized snake which is one of the most venomous in the world. Southern and especially southeastern parts (even cities) of the country have large numbers of scorpions (akrep), so exercise caution if/when you are sleeping on open rooftops, which is common in the southeastern region in summer. If you are stung by one, seek urgent medical aid.

As for wild mammals, presumably the most dangerous ones are wolves, bears and wild boars. All of these animals live only in mountainous areas (of almost all regions) and your chance of sighting one is very low (except boars which are not so rare). Wolves and bears do not attack if you don’t follow or disturb them (or, particularly, their young) aggressively, however boars are known to attack even with only the slightest provocation.

The biggest animal threat comes from stray dogs (or sheepdogs in rural areas). Don’t assume you will come across gangs of aggressive stray dogs next to the gate of Hagia Sophia, or the beach club however. They are mostly found in rural areas and non-central parts of the cities. They are usually discreet and are usually more afraid of you than you are of them. Rabies (kuduz) is endemic in Turkey (and most of the world) [17], so anyone bitten by a dog or other carnivore should seek urgent treatment, despite what you may be told by your hotel or other well meaning strangers.

Many stray dogs you’ll see in the cities bear plastic “ear rings”. Those ear tags mean the dog was cleaned up, vaccinated (against rabies and a number of other diseases), sterilized, and then returned back to the streets as this is the most humane treatment (compare with keeping them in a cage or a cage-like environment or putting them to sleep). The process is going on, so we can assume the stray dog problem in Turkey will disappear in natural ways sometime in the future.

Natural disasters

Much of Turkey is prone to earthquakes.

Tourism Police

There are "Tourism Police" sections of the police departments of AnkaraAntalyaIstanbul (in Sultanahmet), and Izmir providing help specifically for tourists, where travellers can report passport loss and theft or any other criminal activity, they may have become victims of. The staff is multilingual and will speak English, German, French, and Arabic.

Stay healthy

Dial 112 from any telephone, anywhere, free of charge for an ambulance.

Food safety - Food is generally free of parasitic or bacterial contamination, but be prudent anyway. Look at where local people are preferring to eat. Do not eat stuff that is sold outdoors, at least in summer and at least which local folk don’t eat. They can spoil fairly quickly without needed refrigeration. Wash thoroughly and/or peel fresh fruits and vegetables. They may be free of biological contaminants but their skin is probably heavily loaded with pesticides (unless you see the not-very-common certified organic produce marker on, of course). Food in western regions of the country is OK for (western) travellers for the most part, but the more east, south, and northeast you go, the more unaccustomed contents in the food you’ll come across, like goat or goose meat or hot/heavy spices. These contents may or may not cause diarrhea, but it is wise to have at least some anti-diarrhea medicine nearby, especially if you are going to travel to places a bit off-beaten-track.

Water safety - However tempting it may be on a hot day, try to avoid water from public water tanks and fountains (?ad?rvan), frequently found in the vicinity of mosques. Also, though tap water is mostly chlorinated, it is better to drink only bottled water except when in remote mountain villages connected to a local spring. Bottled water is readily available everywhere except the most remote, uninhabited spots.

The most common volumes for bottled water are 0.5 litre and 1.5 L. 5 L, 8 L, 10 L, and gigantic 19 L bottles (known as office jar in the West, this is the most common variety used in households, delivered to houses by the employees of specialized water selling shops, because it is far too heavy to carry) can also be found with varying degrees of possibility. General price for half-a-litre and one-and-a-half-litre bottled water is 0.50 TL and 1.25 TL respectively in kiosks/stalls in the central parts of the cities and towns (can be much higher in a touristy or monopolistic place such as beach, airport, café of a much-visited museum, kiosk of a roadside recreation facility), while it can be as cheap as 0.15 TL and 0.35 TL respectively in supermarkets during winter (when the number of bottled water sales drop) and a little higher in summer (still cheaper than kiosks, though). Water is served free of charge in intercity buses, packaged in 0.25 l plastic cups, whenever you request from the steward. In kiosks, water is sold chilled universally, sometimes so cold that you have to wait the ice to thaw to be able to drink it. Supermarkets provide it both reasonably chilled and also at room temperature.

If you have no chance of finding bottled water –for example, in wilderness, up in the eastern highlands- always boil your water; if you have no chance of boiling the water, use chlorine tablets –which can be provided from pharmacies in big cities-, or devices like LifeStraw. Also avoid swimming in fresh water, which you are not sure about its purity, and at seawater in or near the big cities –unless a beach which is declared safe to swim exists. And lastly, be cautious about water, not paranoid.

Hospitals – In Turkey, there are two kinds of hospitals (hastane)-private and public. Private hospitals are run by associations, private parties, and private universities. Public hospitals are run by the Ministry of Health, public universities, and state-run social security institutions. All mid-to-big size cities, as well as major resort towns, have private hospitals, more than one in many cities, but in a small town all you can find will probably be a public hospital. Be aware that public hospitals are generally crowded. So expect to wait some time to be treated. But for emergency situations this won't be a problem. Although this is not legal, you may also be denied entry to the public hospitals for expensive operations if you don’t have a state-run national (Turkish) insurance or a necessary amount of cash for prepayment which replaces it, though showing a respected credit card may solve this problem. Emergency situations are exception and you'll be treated without prepayment etc. A travel health insurance is highly recommended because the better private hospitals operate with the “user-pays” principle and their rates are much inflated compared with the public hospitals. Also make sure your insurance includes air transport (like a helicopter) if you are going to visit rural/wilderness areas of Black Sea or Eastern regions, so you can be dispatched to a city with high-standard hospitals on time. In the outlying hoods of cities, there are usually also policlinics which can treat simpler illnesses or injuries. In the villages all you can find are little clinics (sa?l?k oca??, literally “health-house”) which have a very limited supply and staff, though they can effectively treat simple illnesses or provide antibody against, for example, snake bite. On road signage, hospitals (and roads leading to hospitals) are shown with an “H” (over the dark blue background), whereas village clinics are shown with a red crescent sign, Turkish equivalent of red cross.

There is an emergency ward (acil servis) open 24 hours a day in every hospital. Suburban policlinics don’t have to provide one, but some of them are open 24-hr anyway. Village clinics do certainly have a much limited opening hours (generally 8 am to sunset).

Dentists – There are lots of private dentist offices in the cities, especially along the main streets. Look for the di? hekimi signs around, it won’t take long before you see one. Most dentists work on an appointment, although they may check or start the treatment on your turning up without an appointment if their schedule is okay. A simple treatment for a tooth decay costs about TRY40 on the average.

Ordinary toothbrushes and pastes (both local and international brands) can be obtained from supermarkets. If you want something special, you may check out pharmacies. It is okay to brush teeth with tap water.

Pharmacies - There are pharmacies (eczane in Turkish) in all cities and many towns. Pharmacies are open 08:30-19:00, however every town has at least one drugstore on duty overnight (nöbetçi eczane), all other pharmacies in the town usually display its name, address and telephone numbers on their windows. Most basic drugs, including painkillers such as Aspirin, are sold over the counter, although only in pharmacies.

Mosquitoes - Keeping a mosquito repellent handy is a good idea. Although the risk of malaria anywhere in the country is long gone (except the southernmost areas near the Syrian border which used to have a very low level of risk until up to 1980s), mosquitoes can be annoying especially in coastal areas out of cities, including vacation towns at nights between June and September. In some towns, especially the ones near the deltas, mosquito population is so large that people desert the streets during the “mosquito raid” which occurs between the sunset and one hour after that. DEET-containing aerosol repellents (some are suitable to apply to the skin while others, the ones that are in tall tin cans are for making a room mosquito-free before going to bed, not to be applied onto skin, so choose what you buy wisely) can be obtained from supermarkets and pharmacies. There are also solid repellents coming in a tablet form which are used with their special devices indoors having an electricity socket. They release scentless chemicals into the air of the room which disturb the senses of mosquitoes and make them unable to “find” you. The tablets, together with their devices, can also be obtained from supermarkets and pharmacies. Beware! You shouldn’t touch those tablets with bare hands.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (K?r?m-Kongo kanamal? ate?i in Turkish, shortly KKKA) is a serious viral disease and transmitted by a tick (kene) species. It can kill the infected person in a very short time, usually within three or four days. This disease has claimed more than 20 lives in Turkey within the past two years. The biggest risk is in the rural parts (not urban centres) of Tokat, Corum, Yozgat, Amasya, and Sivas provinces, all situated in an area where disease-carrying tick thrives because of the area’s location between the humid climate of maritime Black Sea Region and arid climate of Central Anatolia. Authorities recommend to wear light coloured clothing which makes distinguishing a tick clinged to your body easier. It’s also recommended to wear long trousers rather than shorts if you plan to walk through dense and/or tall grass areas (the usual habitat for ticks). If you see a tick on your body or clothing, in no means try to pull it out since this may cause the tick’s head (and its mouth where it carries the virus) sticking inside your skin. Instead, go to the nearest hospital immediately to seek urgent expert aid. Being late to show up in hospital (and to diagnose) is number one killer in this disease. Symptoms are quite like that of flu and a number of other illnesses, so doctor should be informed about the possibility of Crim.-Cong. hemorr. fever and be shown the tick if possible.

Coastal Black Sea Region, Marmara Region, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and East Anatolia are generally deemed free of this disease (and also free of the disease-carrying species of tick) with no casualties. But in the name of being cautious, you should head for the nearest hospital anyway if you are bitten by (most likely an innocent) tick. Also remember that if you should head for the danger zone described above, ticks are not active in winter. Their active period is April to October, so is the danger period.

Public restrooms - Though many main squares and streets in the cities have a public restroom, if you cannot manage to find one, look for the nearest mosque, where you will see a public restroom in a corner of, or below its courtyard. Despite the fact that there is no shortage of cheap toilet papers anywhere in the country, however, you are unlikely to find toilet paper in almost any of the public restrooms (except lavatories of restaurants –including the road restaurants, hotels and most of the cafés and bars, of course). Instead, you are likely to find a bidét or a tap (Don't be puzzled. That's because devout Muslims use water instead of paper to clean up and paper usually used as a dryer after cleaning.). So it is a good idea to have a roll of toilet paper in your backpack during your walkings for sightseeing. It is best to take your single roll of toilet paper from home or bathroom of the hotel you’re staying at, because the smallest size available in Turkey market is 4-rolls per package (8-rolls per package being the commonest) which would last very long (actually longer than your trip, unless you will do all the road down to India overland). It isn’t expensive but it takes unnecessary backpack space, or unnecessary landfill space if you won’t use it liberally and won’t take the unused rolls back to home as an unusual souvenir from Turkey. In the better places on the road in the country there are rest rooms that are maintained and an attendant ready to collect 0.50-1 TL. from the tourist for the privilege of using one. Restroom is tuvalet in colloquial Turkish, though you’ll more likely to see WC signs, complete with diagrams and doors signed Bay or Bayan (with their rather crude translations: ‘Men’, ‘Women’).

Menstrual products – Different types and designs of disposable pads are widely available. Look around in the supermarkets. However, Turkish women prefer tampons much less than European women do, so they are rarer. They are available only in some of the pharmacies.

Hamam - If you haven't been to one, you've missed one of life's great experiences and never been clean. You can catch your inner peace with history and water in a bath (hamam). See hamams in Istanbul.

Respect

Things to do

Turks are a very friendly, polite and hospitable people, sometimes even to a fault.

  • When you are invited into a Turkish home, make sure to bring them a gift. Anything is fine from flowers to chocolate and indeed something representative from your country (but not wine and other alcoholic beverages if you are about to meet the host or if you do not know them well enough, as many Turks, for religious reasons or not, do not drink alcoholic beverages, and that is why it would be considered inappropriate as a gift). When you arrive at the house take off your shoes just outside or immediately inside the door, unless the owner explicitly allows you to keep them on. Even then, it might be more polite to remove your shoes. And if you really want their respect, thank your host for the invitation and compliment them. When inside the house, don't ask for anything for they will surely offer it. The host will make sure to make you feel at home, so don't take advantage of their kindness.
  • People in Turkey respect elderly people, so in a bus, tram, subway and in other forms of public transportation, young(er) people will always offer you a place to sit if you are an old(er) person as well as a handicapped person or a pregnant woman or have children with you.
  • It is respectful to bend slightly (not a complete bow) when greeting someone older or in a position of authority.
  • Try to use some Turkish phrases. They will be complimentary if you try, and there is no reason to be embarrassed. They realize that Turkish is very difficult for foreigners and won't scoff at all at your mistakes; on the contrary, they will be delighted for trying it, even if they may not always be able to understand your pronunciation!

Things to avoid

Turkish people understand that visitors are usually not aware of Turkish culture and customs, and tend to be tolerant of blunders in this regard by foreigners. There are, however, some which will meet with universal disapproval, and these should be avoided at all costs:

Politics:

  • Turks in general have very strong nationalistic views, and would view any criticisms of their country and expressions and attitudes insulting the Turkish flag, the republic and Atatürk - the founding father of the republic as very offensive and with varying degrees of hostility. To avoid getting into the bad raps of your hosts, it is advisable to only praise the country and avoid bringing up anything negative about it.
  • Don't mention the Armenian Genocide, Kurdish separatism and the Cyprus problem. These are extremely sensitive topics and are definitely to be avoided. Turkish society has a highly emotional approach to these issues.

Symbols

  • Be respectful of the Turkish anthem. Do not mock or mimick the Turkish anthem, as Turks are extremely proud and sensitive of their national symbols, and will be very offended.
  • Be respectful of the Turkish flag. Don't put it on places where people sit or stand, don't drag it, don't wrinkle it, don't contaminate it, don't use it as a dress or uniform. Not only will Turks be very offended, furthermore the desecration of the Turkish flag is a punishable offence. The flag is extremely important and well respected in Turkey.

Religion:

  • Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, though secular, and although you will see varying degrees of Islamic practice in Turkey, with most Turks subscribing to a liberal form of Islam, it is extremely rude to insult or mock some of its traditions, and ensure that you do not speak badly of the Islamic religion. In regard to the Call to Prayer, which is read 5 times a day from the speakers of the numerous mosques throughout Turkey. Do not mock or mimick these calls, as Turks are extremely proud and sensitive of their heritage and culture, and will be very offended.

Social custom and etiquette breaches:

  • Don't try to shake hands with a devout Muslim (that is veiled) woman unless she offers her hand first, and with a devout Muslim (often recognizable with a cap and beard) man unless he offers his hand first.
  • Don't blow your nose during meals, even discreetly. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't pick your teeth during meals, even discreetly. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Do not put your feet up while sitting and try not to show the bottom of your feet to someone. This is considered rude.
  • Don't point with your finger at someone, even discreetly. This is considered rude.
  • Don't chew gum while having a conversation and during public occasions. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't touch someone without permission. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't bear hug or back slap someone, especially in formal situations and occasions and with someone you just met and/or you do not know well enough. This is considered very rude.
  • Don't use swear words during conversation or while talking to oneself in public and also among friends. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Public drunkenness (especially the loud and obnoxious variety) is definitely not appreciated and is frowned upon, especially in more conservative areas of the country. Drunken tourists may also attract the attention of pickpockets. However what is absolutely not tolerated with drunkenness especially by the police, if it is accompanied with physical aggressiveness towards other people, this may result with a fine and if this is repeated a heavier fine and/or a visit to the police station may result (if you are tourist, deportation from the country can result).
  • Certain gestures, common in the western world, are considered rude expressions in this culture. People tend to be tolerant if they can see you are a foreigner. They know you are probably doing it subconsciously, but if you take the time to keep these in mind, you won’t have any misunderstandings. Making an ‘O’ with your thumb and forefinger (as if to say “OK!”) is rude because you are making the gesture for a hole - which has connotations referring to homosexuality in the Turkish psyche. Avoid clicking your tongue. Some people do this subconsciously at the beginning of a sentence. It is a gesture of dismissal. Also the "got your nose" gesture which is made by making a fist and putting your thumb between your forefinger and the middle finger is considered the equivalent of the middle finger in Turkey.

Other things to watch for

  • Public displays of affection in larger cities and tourist resorts is tolerated but might invite unnecessary stares from the public. In more rural areas it is frowned upon and is to be avoided. Gay and lesbian travelers should avoid any outward signs of affection, as this will definitely invite unnecessary stares from the public. However overt displays of affection regardless of sexual orientation is regarded as inappropriate.
  • Avoid shouting or talking loudly in public. Talking loudly is generally considered rude, especially on public transportation. Talking on a mobile phone on public transportation is not considered rude but normal, unless the conversation is too "private".
  • It's not so common for Turks to smile. Avoid smiling at a stranger, because if you do they most likely will not respond in kind and they will regard you either as odd or think that you are mentally handicapped. Smiling in Turkey towards strangers in public is not done and will be considered inappropriate. Smiling is traditionally reserved for family and friends; smiling at a stranger will be considered offensive, as they will either think that you are making fun of them and there is something wrong with their clothes or hair. Furthermore, an automatic "Western smile" is widely regarded as insincere, as in "You don't really mean it".
  • Most of Turkish drivers will not respect pedestrian crossings so, be aware when crossing the street.

Mosques

Because of religious traditions, all women are required to wear head scarves and not to wear miniskirts or shorts upon entering a mosque (or a church and synagogue). The same goes for the tombs of Islamic saints, too, if the tomb is not named “museum” officially. If you don’t have a shawl or a scarf to put on your head, you can borrow one at the entrance. However wearing-a-scarf rule is somewhat relaxed recently, especially in big mosques of Istanbul in which seeing a tourist is not a rarity. On such mosques, no one is warned about their clothes, or because of their lack of head scarves. Even if you’d have to wear a head scarf, no need to worry about how head scarves can be worn properly, just put it onto the crown of your head (you may wrap it under your chin or behind your neck, lest it slip), that will be excessively adequate.

Also, men are required to wear trousers, not shorts, upon entering a mosque (or a church and synagogue), however nowadays no one is warned about their clothes (at least in big cities). You may find when entering a mosque in more rural areas you will be expected to follow all traditional procedures.

During the prayer time, worshippers choose to line in the front rows of the mosques, at such a time stay behind and try not to be noisy. During the Friday noon prayer, which is the most attended, you might be asked to leave the mosque, don’t take it personally, it is because the mosque will be very crowded, there just won’t be enough room for both the worshippers and the sightseers. You will be able to enter back as soon as worshippers are out of the gate.

Unlike some other Middle Eastern cultures, eating, drinking, smoking (which is strictly banned), talking or laughing loudly, sleeping or just lying, even sitting on the ground inside the mosques is frowned upon in Turkish culture. Public displays of affection is definitely taboo.

All shoes should be removed before entering any mosque. There are shoes desks inside the mosques, though you can choose to hold them in your hand (a plastic bag which would be used only for this purpose would help) during your visit. Some mosques have safeboxes with a lock instead of shoe desks.

Although there are “official” opening hours, which are typically shorter than what the mosque is actually open, at the entrances of the most sightseen mosques, they don’t really mean anything. You can visit a mosque as long as its gates are open.

Despite the odd tourists who do not conform to the dress code, it is best to dress conservatively and to follow all traditional procedures, when entering mosques, tombs and other places of worship; not only because it is required but also as a sign of respect.

Gay and lesbian travelers

Turkey is considered to be quite safe for gay and lesbian travelers, and violence against homosexuals is quite rare. There are no laws against homosexuality in Turkey, but same-sex relationships are not recognized by the government and revealing your orientation openly is very likely to draw stares and whispers.

Connect

Dial 112 for an ambulance in anywhere, from any telephone, without a charge. In case of a fire, dial 110; for police, call 155. However, in rural areas there is not a police coverage, so dial 156 for gendarme, a military unit for rural security. All these numbers are free of charge and can be called from a telephone booth without inserting a calling card, or any phone including cell phones.

Telephone

While not as common as they used to be, possibly because of the widespread use of mobile phones which are virtually used by the whole population in the country, public pay phones can still be found at the sides of central squares and major streets in towns and cities and around post offices (PTT), especially around their outer walls. With the phase-out of old magnetic cards, public phones now operate with chip telekom cards which are available in 30, 60 or 120 units and can be obtained at post offices, newspaper and tobacco kiosks. (However emergency numbers can be called without card or anything from these phones.) You can also use your credit card on these phones, though it may not work in the off chance. All phones in the booths have Turkish and English instructions and menus, many also have German and French in addition.

There are also telephones available in some kiosks and shops where you pay cash after your call. To spot these, look for kontürlü telefon signs. These telephones are more expensive than the ones at the booths, though.

It is estimated that approximately 98% of the population of Turkey lives within the coverage areas of Turkey’s three cell phone line providers. Line providers from most countries have roaming agreements with one or more of these companies.

Pre-paid mobile phone SIM cards can be purchased for approximately TRY20-50. These can be purchased at the airport on arrival or from the many outlets in Istanbul and other large cities. Providers include Vodaphone.

Here is a quick list of telephone codes for some major cities and towns of touristic importance:

Prior to the telephone code, dial 0 for intercity calls.

Numbers starting with 0800 are pay-free, whereas the ones starting with 0900 are high-fee services. 7-digit numbers starting with 444 (mainly used by companies) are charged as local calls wherever they are dialed in Turkey.

Dial 00 prior to country code for international calls from Turkey. When calling into Turkey, the international country code that should prefix city code and phone number is 90.

Post

Post offices are recognizable by their yellow and black PTT signs. Letters and cards should be taken to a post office since the postboxes on the streets are rare (and there is no guarantee that they are emptied at all, even if you spot one). Nevertheless, Turkish Post (PTT) prints some beautiful stamps. Postage for cards and letters costs TRY0.80 for domestic shipments, and TRY1.10 (about €0.55) for international shipments to most countries, although it may be a little more (up to TRY1.35) for the most distant countries; PTT website for current rates. Main post offices in cities are open 08:30-20:30, whereas post offices in towns and smaller post offices in cities are usually open 08:30-17:30.

Poste restante/general delivery letters should be sent to an address in the format of: official full name of the addressee (because the receiver will be asked for an ID card, passport or anything that can prove he or she is proper recipient) + POSTRESTANT + name of the quarter/neighbourhood/district if in a city where there is more than one post office or name of the town where the post office is + postal code (if known, not obligatory, generally available at the entrance or on the interior walls of the post office itself) + the name of the province in which the quarter/town of the post office is located. The receiver has to pay TRY0.50 upon receipt of mail.

Internet

Although not as widespread as they used to be in the last decade with more and more Turkish households tuning in DSL connections, internet cafes or net cafes are still available in reasonable numbers in cities and towns. In fact, any major town has at least one. All of them have good DSL connections, and price for connection is about more or less TRY1.50/hour. Most, if not all, of these internet-cafés also have cd-writers which are available for anyone who makes an additional payment. Free wireless connections are available at some airports, hotels and restaurants/cafés (especially in big cities). Some webpages are blocked by court order ——although most internet cafes get around these blocks by tricks on proxy settings.

Please see following web sites for information on Telecommunication services: TTNET, DSL internet provider[18] Turkcell, the largest mobile operator also provides 3G internet [19] Vodafone, mobile operator also provides 3G internet[20] Avea,mobile operator also provides 3G internet [21]

Wi - Fi

Hotel: Every hotel has their own Wi-Fi. Some hotels do have trouble with their network setup or the connection due to the historical location however at the least you will have free wi-fi at your hotel. All you have to do is to learn the wifi password to access the internet.

Cafes:

Every café, bistro, restaurant share their internet with their guests. Even the small restaurants now have internet access. Stability and speed depend on where you are and what kind of café, bistro or restaurant you are in. Starbucks, Nero etc. typically have stable wi-fi unless very crowded. If you are in a Starbucks all you have to do is connect your device (SSID should be TTNET or DorukNet, AND if you are in Nero DorukNet) and fill out some basic information for verification that you have to fill. After that, you are ready to go. And if you are in the other restaurant or cafés you can just ask to your waiter to get SSID and Password and after that you are ready to go.

Public Center and Squares:

Municipality of Istanbul recently announced that free public wi-fi will be available in most common city centers and squares. All you have to do is (when you near of one of these centers of course) register your id via your cell phone and you will get an access password.

Wi-Fi on the Go:

You can rent a mobile wifi hotspot during your stay in Turkey. It works based on 3G connection in the whole country, and you can connect up to 10 devices at the same time. These pocket-sized devices can be easily booked online. While there are plenty of international companies that rent a mobile hotspot, mainly two local companies are operating:

- Alldaywifi;

- Rent 'n Connect;

Moldova’s one of those countries that doesn’t get much press, though that has been changing recently with the high-profile arrest of its president for corruption. It’s poor and misunderstood, but is rapidly forming new connections with Western Europe and is sharing its spectacular wine with the world.

Geography

Questions about a href=Pin me on Pinterest!

Where is Moldova?

Moldova is located in eastern Europe. It’s a land-locked country that’s shaped roughly like a semi-circle, with Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east and south. Its southeastern point almost touches the Black Sea.

Which country is close to Moldova? Which country is to the west of Moldova?

Romania borders Moldova to the west, and Ukraine is to the east. Bulgaria isn’t far away, it’s easily reached through Romania; and Turkey is to the south and south-east, reached through Romania and Bulgaria by bus, or across the Black Sea.

What is the landmass of Moldova? How big is Moldova?

Moldova is quite a small country, especially in comparison to its neighbours Ukraine and Romania. It has a landmass of 33.843 sq km.

What is the capital city of Moldova?

The capital city of Moldova is Chișinău, which is located in the center-south of the country. You pronounce Chișinău “KISH-ee-now”.

Victory arch in Chisinau MoldovaThe Victory Arch is one of the symbols of Chisinau.

General facts

What is the currency of Moldova?

The currency of Moldova is the leu (singular), or lei (plural). One euro = 22.5 lei, one US dollar = 19.8 lei. Credit cards are accepted in many restaurants and in major hotels, but you’ll need cash for most transactions. ATMs are widespread and currency exchanges are located almost every 50m in Chișinău. The exchange office in the airport gives a fair exchange rate.

What language is spoken in Moldova? What is the native language of Moldova?

The official language of Moldova is Romanian, and Russian is also widely spoken. A Turkish dialect called Gaguaz is spoken in some areas.

English is not widespread, though it is now being taught at school from the first year of study. Many younger people and people in the tourism industry speak good English, but it is not common among older people.

You will see English on some signs, like this one at Asconi Winery.You will see English on some signs, like this one at Asconi Winery.

What is the climate like in Moldova?

Moldova has a temperate climate, with hot summers and winters that can be quite cold. Lows go below 0 in winter and highs in summer hover around 27-30. It’s mostly dry, with rainfalls in early summer and in October.

How safe is Moldova?

We found Moldova to be a very safe country. Corruption is a problem at a state level, and there is a big anti-corruption press campaign going on at the moment, as well as frequent protests. Pickpocketing is as common as in other European countries, and because of poor street lighting it’s important to be careful at night. You’re most likely to have problems with the uneven pavements!

Economy and government

What type of government does Moldova have?

Moldova is a parliamentary republic. It was part of Romania until the Second World War, when it became part of the USSR. It declared independence in 1991 and joined the UN in 1992. In 2014 it signed the Association Agreement with the European Union.

What is the economy like in Moldova?

Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and is plagued by corruption. A major part of its production is produce, and since Russia banned produce imports from Moldova in 2014, the fruit and vegetable industry is having major problems at present.

What is the average salary in Moldova?

The current average monthly salary is increasing, it’s currently around 4,900 lei or US$250. The GDP is US$3500.

Why is Moldova not part of the European Union?

Moldova is a relatively new country that is rapidly opening up. It signed the Association Agreement with the European Union in 2014, so although it’s not a member it is associated with the EU, and may be able to join in the future.

Why is Moldova so poor?

It’s a largely agricultural society plagued by corruption. Things seem to be changing now, though, with more connection with the western world and more opportunities for young people to choose alternative jobs.

Et Cetera winery is conveniently located on the road from Chisinau to Odessa, so we visited this morning before finally making it to Ukraine! The highlight was trying wine straight from the vat.

A photo posted by Craig and Linda (@indietravel) on Oct 18, 2015 at 6:37am PDT

Tourism

Do I need a visa for Moldova?

Probably not! On April 28, 2014, Moldova made a huge change to their visa regime which means that citizens of many countries don’t need a visa to enter. So if you’re from the EU, US, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia, no visa is required. South Africans still require a visa. Check the official website for more information.

What is Moldova famous for? What is Moldova best known for?

Moldova is perhaps best known for its wine, which is absolutely delicious. Most Moldovan families make wine at home, so the wineries chiefly produce wines for export. This is a relatively new industry and it’s growing fast.

There are also a lot of amazing religious buildings and institutions in Moldova, including churches and monasteries. There are castles and fortresses dating back to medieval times, as well as historical monuments to visit.

Soroca fortress in MoldovaSoroca Fortress in the north of the country is worth a visit.

What to do in Moldova?

Since wine is such an important part of the culture, visit during the first weekend of October to take part in the annual wine festival. This festival has been running for 15 years and now that citizens of most countries don’t need a visa to enter the country, it’s a lot easier to get to.

There are a lot of wines to taste -- Purcari has 16 on offer!There are a lot of wines to taste — Purcari has 16 on offer!

How much is a beer in Moldova?

In a local restaurant, expect to pay around 20 lei for a small beer (less than €1 or US$1). Check out Andy’s Pizza’s menu for more food and drink prices.

There are a couple of boutique breweries that are worth checking out, though the beer is a little more expensive.

Should I visit Moldova?

If you like wine, definitely. If you want to visit somewhere that’s relatively untouched by western tourism, it’s also a good choice; and if you’re into architecture you’ll also like it. It isn’t full of tourist attractions and getting around by public transport can be a challenge, but I think it’s certainly worth a visit.

Where should I stay in Moldova?

Moldova is a small country and most of its attractions are easily reached within two hours’ drive from Chișinău. You’re best to base yourself there, and you’ll find a full range of accommodation options, from apartment rentals to five-star hotels. Check out Hostelbookers for hostels or Booking.com for hotels.

If you want to get out of the city, consider an overnight stay at Butuceni Eco-resort, or at one of the wineries that offer accommodation (like Purcari or Chateau Vartely; Asconi, Castel Mimi, and Et Cetera are in the process of creating accommodation).

If you stay at Butuceni, you'll have the chance to try your hand at making traditional food.If you stay at Butuceni, you’ll have the chance to try your hand at making traditional food.

How to get to Moldova?

There are direct flights from many European cities, such as London and Milan. Wizz Air is a good budget choice: check options on Skyscanner. You can also arrive by bus or (infrequent) train from Romania or Ukraine.

Which Moldova guidebook should I buy?

Online information about Moldova is scarce (though Moldova Holiday is quite useful) so a guidebook could be a good option. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many available. If you’re travelling there as part of a larger trip, Lonely Planet’s Europe on a shoestring and Eastern Europe guidebooks both include basic information, but their Romania and Moldova guide was last published in 2007.

Do I need insurance for Moldova?

Yes, it’s always a good idea to have travel insurance. We use World Nomads, which allows you to extend your policy and make claims online.

Do you have any questions about Moldova? Ask in the comments below.

Some of the links in this post are affiliates.

roundup

From the stark whiteness of Iceland in winter to the vibrant greens found in sun-kissed Bangladesh, it was all about colour in this month’s roundup of our Pathfinders’ top Instagrams.

Every month we share the most eye-catching and interesting captures from our Pathfinders community. Here are our selections for January.

Istanbul, Turkey

A photo posted by Macca Sherifi (@backpackermacca) on Jan 17, 2016 at 5:01am PST

‘Taken just days after the bombings in Istanbul, this is the everlasting beauty of the Blue Mosque, one of those places that you’ve just got to see with your own eyes regardless of what’s going on around you.’ – Macca, A Brit and Abroad.   Why we like it: We love the angle of this shot, and the way it captures the contrast of the warm glow of the lighting against a backdrop of moody shades.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

 

A photo posted by Dan James | Travel Photography (@danflyingsolo) on Jan 11, 2016 at 9:29am PST

Iceland at the start of the new year was a blanket of snow. I thought it might wash the photos out but the beautiful blues of the rivers make for a stunning contrast.’ – Daniel, Dan Flying Solo.   Why we like it: There’s no doubt that Iceland has some epic landscapes to its name, and this aerial shot showcases just one of them. We like how the contrast in the deep blues against the stark whites help depict the full force of nature. It also makes us feel a little chilly!

Black Rock City, Nevada

A photo posted by A:M (@violetspring) on Jan 22, 2016 at 5:39pm PST

‘Amidst this grape-like haze, this magical moment was captured at Burning Man 2015. During this event, as dusk laid its blanket across the sky it would personify the calm before the storm- allowing moments of beautiful, quiet reflection before nights laced with wickedly wonderful behaviour. It was a personal and spiritual experience that will stay with me always and has taught me the essence of being completely consumed by the moment.’ – A, TRPN.   Why we like it: We love the shades of colour captured in this photo and how they progressively deepen, which gives us a sense of calm amidst the busy event.

Andalucia, Spain

A photo posted by A World to Travel (@aworldtotravel) on Jan 17, 2016 at 3:22pm PST

‘There is some magic in finding the right spot for sunset when you are road tripping your way around a new region. Gibraltar’s presence, a unique UK redoubt in the Southern tip of Spain, stands out as lights dim. So close and yet so far.’ – Inma, A World to Travel.   Why we like it: The contrast in the busy Spanish road against the darkness of the mountains and the (very still) rock of Gibraltar in the background, all bought together under a tremendous sunset. The colours really pop out of this shot.

Hum Hum Waterfall Park, Bangladesh

A photo posted by Alice Teacake (@teacaketravels) on Jan 13, 2016 at 6:35am PST

As we waded knee deep through the fresh waters of the park with our guide, our journey was full of joyous moments as the sun kept popping through the trees’ leaves in the sky. I kept back from the group for a minute to soak the natural beauty of Bangladesh up and snap this uplifting shot.’ – Alice, Teacake Travels.   Why we like it: This capture makes us want to reach for our passports, immediately. We love the way the sun filters into this shot which brings out out the gorgeous greens of the lush forestry and an overall element of fantasy.  

For your chance to be featured in our next round up, sign up to Lonely Planet Pathfinders – our programme for travel-loving bloggers and social content creators. In the meantime, you can get more Instagram inspiration by following @lonelyplanet.

iPhone GPS Hiking

Using Your Smartphone GPS for Hiking

Travel Tips

Would you be surprised if I told you my favorite piece of backpacking gear is my smartphone? I love using my iPhone’s GPS for hiking in the wilderness.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook & Instagram, you’ll know that I recently returned from an epic trek in Greenland on the Arctic Circle Trail.

There’s no cell-service on this hike. It was a 10 day adventure through remote Greenlandic wilderness. However I was still able to use my iPhone’s built in GPS capabilities to help me navigate the long-distance route.

My battery lasted 7 days before it needed recharging too!

I’ve been using Gaia GPS for hiking trips in places like Turkey, Norway, Israel, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, and the United States. It’s a super useful app for adventure lovers.

GPS Hiking App

Gaia GPS in Greenland

Smartphone GPS For Hiking

Did you know that cell service is not necessary to use your smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) chip? However to track your progress effectively without service, you must pre-download maps before the journey.

There are a few different GPS mapping apps out there for smartphones, but my favorite (and the most used) is called Gaia GPS Topo Maps.

This amazing app allows hikers to pre-download different types of maps from around the world for use with your iPhone’s GPS. You can also record altitude, speed, leave waypoints, create tracks, and produce all sorts of other detailed information about your backcountry trips.

Better Than Dedicated GPS Unit?

Why spend hundreds of dollars on a dedicated GPS device for hiking when you can get the same functionality with a $20 app for your smartphone?

Using your phone as a GPS unit saves you money, reduces the amount of weight you pack, and serves multiple purposes (photos, journal, notes, etc.).

It’s a wonderful backup to have along with paper maps, and can save your butt if you happen to lose the trail or get caught in bad weather.

Both have happened to me a few times, and whipping out your phone is far easier than attempting to use regular maps during a raging storm!

GPS Hiking App

Pre-Downloading a Section of Map

Gaia GPS Settings

To get the most out of Gaia GPS, there are few settings you need to be aware of. First, there are many different map layers you can use within the app. The two I use most often are the Open Hiking Map and Google’s satellite view called Imagery + Roads.

These are probably the best maps for hiking. The Open Hiking Map includes basic topographical features along with known hiking trails, while Satellite Imagery gives you a better picture of the landscape.

If hiking somewhere without cell service, make sure to pre-download sections of the map that cover the area where you’ll be.

Pre-downloading maps is explained in the YouTube tutorial below.

Gaia GPS also allows you to record tracks as you hike, but don’t do this unless you have a specific need, because it drains battery life and requires the phone to be powered on the whole time.

I only use the app to confirm my GPS location or navigate in bad weather.

Close the Gaia app after each use (double tap the home button and swipe the app up to close). This prevents Gaia from continually updating your location. Turn the phone off to further reduce battery drain.

iPhone GPS Hiking

Hiking in Norway with the LifeProof FRĒ Power

Protecting Your Phone

As you might already know, I’m a huge fan of the water & shock-proof smartphone cases from LifeProof, and they’re one of my sponsors too.

Using the LifeProof FRĒ POWER gives me double the battery power for long-distance treks like the Arctic Circle Trail.

So when my phone’s battery eventually dies, I simply press a button on the back of the LifeProof case to recharge it completely.

Battery Conservation Settings

While hiking through Greenland for 10 days, my iPhone 6 battery lasted for 7 days using the settings below. I turned off the phone when not in use, and only powered it up to compare my GPS location with the paper maps I carried.

  • Enable Airplane Mode (turns off WiFi/Bluetooth)
  • Close all apps except Gaia
  • General > Usage > Battery Percentage = ON
  • Privacy > Location Services = OFF (except Gaia)
  • Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking = ON
  • Privacy > Motion & Fitness = OFF
  • General > Siri = OFF
  • General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion = ON
  • General > Date & Time > Set Automatically = OFF
  • General > VPN = OFF

One more important tip is to keep your phone warm when it’s cold out, like in a pants pocket. This includes when sleeping too. Nothing drains the battery faster than cold weather! ★

Watch Video: Gaia GPS Tutorial

More Information

Product: Gaia GPS App for iPhone | Android Total Cost: $19.99 USD Useful Notes: Gaia GPS is a pretty big application with many features. You’ll want to set aside at least an hour to learn how to use it.

READ NEXT: Complete Travel Gear Guide

Have any questions about using your phone’s GPS for hiking?

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Boston Fourth of July

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, we joked that he’d be done within a few months. Comedians had a field day. He couldn’t gain any serious support, could he?

Until he started leading all the polls…and winning primaries.

Holy shit. This could actually happen.

“If Trump gets elected, I’m leaving the country!”

I know. Everyone says it. But there’s no way to actually do that, is there?

OF COURSE THERE IS! You could leave the country in SO many different ways — ways that are 100% legal and ethical.

Kate on the Sydney Bridgeclimb

1) Get a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand.

If you’re 30 or under, you qualify to spend a year living and working in Australia or New Zealand! These are the only traditional working visas currently available to Americans.

In both countries, you can apply for the visa if you’re as old as 30; you can enter the country within one year of receiving your visa, which means you could start your year at age 31. Australia also offers the option of taking a second year if you spend three months working in “regional Australia” (rural areas and outside the most popular tourist destinations). Edit: I’ve since learned the second year is not available to Americans, sadly. Brits and Canadians can take advantage of this option, however.

You could spend your year bartending in Cairns or Queenstown, working on a winery in the Barossa Valley or Marlborough, working at a corporate job in Melbourne or Wellington, or taking on a hospitality job just about anywhere. And those are just a few of the possibilities.

For more, check out the Australia working holiday visa site and the New Zealand working holiday site.

Hongdae

2) Get a job teaching English abroad.

Teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways U.S. citizens can get a job working abroad. Most countries only require a university degree in any field; others also require a TEFL certificate.

The most opportunity for Americans is in Asia. South Korea tends to offer the best packages: a competitive salary plus free housing and free flights to and from your home country. Many teachers in South Korea are able to comfortably save more than $10,000 per year and pay down debt or go traveling afterward.

Japan, China, and Taiwan also have great environments for teaching English with decent benefits. Entry-level teaching jobs in Southeast Asia and Latin America tend to pay only enough to get by.

While many Americans dream of teaching English in Europe, it’s extremely difficult to work in the EU without EU citizenship and the jobs are thus few. Eastern Europe and Turkey are a better bet.

Options in the Middle East tend to pay the most but have the most stringent requirements, often a teaching certification and experience in your home country and/or an advanced degree.

This is just the most basic of overviews — head to ESL Cafe to learn anything and everything about teaching English abroad.

El Tunco, El Salvador

3) Join the U.S. Foreign Service.

Dreamed of working as a diplomat around the world? The U.S. Foreign Service is your way in. If you’re able to pass the notoriously difficult Foreign Service Exam, you’ll be eligible to work two-year contracts in countries around the world.

The goal of the U.S. Foreign Service is “to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.” Basically, you represent the United States while abroad.

There are several different tracks: Administration, Construction Engineering, Facility Management, Information Technology, International Information and English Language Programs, Medical and Health, Office Management, and Law Enforcement and Security.

You don’t get to choose your destination — you could be headed to any of 270 embassies around the world — but if you work in a hardship destination, you’ll often get preferential treatment regarding your next assignment. Like two of my lovely readers whom I met in Mexico last year — after working as diplomats in Pakistan, they got stationed in Cuba next.

Check out all the details on the U.S. Foreign Service’s website.

Bitola

4) Join the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is perhaps the most famous volunteer program in America, starting in 1961 under President Kennedy. Volunteers are sent around the world in primarily two-year contracts working in the fields of Education, Health, Community Development, Environment, Youth in Development, Agriculture, and Peace Corps Response.

You don’t get to choose where you go — you’re sent where your skills are needed the most. That means if you speak Spanish, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Latin America; if you speak French, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Africa.

Most people I’ve known to serve in the Peace Corps describe it as life-changing. It’s a fantastic way to serve your country and make lasting contributions toward building a better planet.

For more, visit the PeaceCorps.gov.

Koolbaai

5) Find a job abroad.

I know it sounds daunting to find a job abroad when you don’t know anything about it, but Americans do it successfully every day!

The U.S. State Department has put together a comprehensive list of resources for finding work abroad, no matter what field you’re in.

Ljubljana

6) Study abroad or get another degree.

Are you still in college? Studying abroad will be one of the most valuable (and fun!) things you do in your college career. Here are the lessons I learned from my semester in Florence in 2004.

Already have a degree? This could be a great opportunity to get your master’s abroad! Several countries offer you the option of getting your master’s in just one year, unlike the standard two years in the United States.

You probably know that several countries offer free university education to their citizens. Well, several countries offer free university education to international students as well, including Americans! Don’t speak the local language? They offer degrees given in English as well.

It was big news when Germany began offering free education to international students in 2014. Other countries include Brazil, Finland, France, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Many of these countries also offer stipends, making getting your degree infinitely more affordable than in the U.S.

London Millennium Bridge

7) If your job has an international office, see if you can transfer.

This isn’t an option if you work for a small, independent, local business. But it could work if you work for a larger company.

I used to work for a company with offices in Boston and London, and plenty of people migrated across the Atlantic in each direction. The company took care of the sponsorship and all the red tape.

Another option: if your company has an international parent company, see if you can find a job abroad in one of your parent company’s other companies.

Playa Samara

8) See if you can start working remotely.

If your job is mostly doable online, you may have the ability to start working remotely and set up shop anywhere in the world.

Note that this is something best done little by little. Start by doing exceptionally outstanding work for awhile, then ask your boss if you can work remotely one day per week. Make that your most productive day of the week. If it goes well and your company is pleased, keep negotiating for more time working remotely.

If you’re able to transition to working 100% remotely, keep in mind that you may need to stay within the same time zone or in a destination where you have excellent internet. Still, that’s a small price to pay for working from, say, a beach town in Costa Rica!

Berlin

9) Look into the German Artist Visa.

Entering the EU long-term is a major challenge for most Americans, but one of the easiest ways in (aside from getting a student visa) is to get the German “artist visa.”

“Artist” is a relative term here. In this case, it means freelancer. If you’re able to prove multiple contracts paying you enough to get by, that may be enough for you to secure this visa and live in Germany.

Most people with this visa choose to live in Berlin due to its art scene, expat scene, and relatively low cost of living (albeit one that continues to rise). Increasingly popular alternatives are hip Hamburg and artsy Leipzig.

Check out Travels of Adam’s guide to getting the German artist visa or, alternatively, a student visa.

Paris Marais

10) Become an au pair in Europe.

If you love kids, don’t mind living with a family, and want to live like a local, becoming an au pair could be an excellent option for you. Many Americans become au pairs by finding a job and family online, then registering for a student visa to give you a year in the country.

The student visa could be for as little as a few hours of language study each week; some countries, like France, are notoriously lax about whether you actually attend class and many au pairs decide to ditch the classes entirely.

Being an au pair could be the time of your life — or a complete disaster. The best thing is to know exactly what kind of experience you want — how many kids and how old? Living with the family or in your own apartment? Urban, suburban, or rural environment? Would you be expected to cook or not? — and finding a family that fits your needs well.

Ashley Abroad has a great resource for getting started as an au pair.

Christmas at JJ's

11) Save up, quit your job, and backpack the world for awhile.

Yes. You can absolutely do this. Plenty of people around the world travel for months at a time — it’s very common for people from other western countries, but far less popular for Americans.

If you want your money to go the furthest, stick to a cheaper region. Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central America, and Eastern Europe are all great options. You can live in parts of these regions on less than $1000 per month if you want to (but that amount doesn’t include start-up expenses like flights, gear and insurance).

Here’s how I saved $13,000 in just seven months. That was almost enough to sustain me for six months in Southeast Asia from 2010-2011, but keep in mind prices have increased a bit since then.

Santa Cruz Atitlan Guatemala

12) Move somewhere cheap for awhile.

Not in the mood to be traveling all the time? You could just move somewhere. Many countries have visa policies that allow you to live long-term by leaving the country every few months and coming right back. (Be sure to check on your country’s latest visa regulations, as they can change at any time.)

I still think that Chiang Mai, Thailand, offers the maximum value for a great price. As a solo adult, you can comfortably get by in Chiang Mai for less than $800 per month, or even less if you’re part of a couple, and there are plenty of amenities for the many expats who live and work there.

Other popular options for expats? Oaxaca, Mexico. Ubud, Bali. Bangkok, Thailand. Medellin, Colombia. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (particularly Panajachel and San Pedro). If you have the ability to live in the EU, consider Berlin, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; or any town you can imagine in Spain: Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona.

Ragusa, Sicily

13) Get a second citizenship based on your ancestry.

Several European countries offer the option of getting a passport based on your ancestry. I’ve known Americans who have gained Irish, British, Italian, and German citizenship due to their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents being born in those countries.

The best part? Gaining EU citizenship means you can move around freely within the EU, not just the country where you hold the ancestry! I have an American friend with new German citizenship who’s thinking about moving to London. That’s totally fine on a German passport.

Do research this first — every country is different and has its own conditions. Some don’t offer ancestry-based citizenship at all. (While my great-grandfather immigrated from Italy, I don’t qualify for Italian citizenship because he naturalized before my grandmother was born.) Here’s a guide to obtaining citizenship in European countries.

Israel also offers citizenship based on the Law of Return. You must either be Jewish by birth (meaning your mother or grandmother is Jewish) or a convert to Judaism.

Keep in mind that this could potentially take years, depending on the country. It took three years for my friend Mike to get his Italian citizenship. (Then again, as someone who lived in Italy and visits often, they are not the most organized of nations when it comes to this kind of stuff. Or anything else, frankly.)

Skellig Michael

14) Fall in love with someone from a different country, get married, and move to their country.

I know a lot of people, particularly women, dream of this — meeting a handsome fisherman on a Greek island, or a brawny Australian at a beach bar in Thailand, and falling in love and it being destiny and your friends being so jealous.

Well…as someone who has lived in another country for two different boyfriends, let me tell you that the reality can often be quite difficult, even if you have a good relationship. Living in a different country is like fighting through hundreds of cultural differences every day, and there can be a chasm in your relationship if you’re struggling while your partner is surrounded by everything he knows and loves. It’s much harder if you don’t speak the local language or you’re living in a small town.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a strong support system on the ground. Make sure you have interests, activities, and a social circle outside your partner. Most importantly, make sure your partner understands how challenging it is for you to be there, even if you’re happy most of the time. Make sure he makes an effort to travel to America, too.

You’re the one who is sacrificing here. Even if you were excited to move there. Even if he supports you financially. Even if you work online and have the freedom to live anywhere.

quebec-ice-slide-gallery

15) Just move to Canada!

Everyone says they’re moving to Canada if a candidate they hate is elected. Well, this guy actually moved to Canada when George W. Bush was elected. That link gives you an overview of ways for Americans to move to Canada today.

Pink House New Orleans

But in all seriousness…

I know this is a tongue-in-cheek list, but I seriously hope you’re not voting for Donald Trump. (I know I’m preaching to the choir here. The kind of person interested enough in other countries to read a travel blog is not the kind of person who would support a xenophobic presidential candidate.) Please do everything you can to keep him from being elected.

But there’s something else I want to say.

In the past six years, I’ve met many American travel bloggers who have said something along the lines of, “I just don’t like it in America. I don’t want to live where I could be killed in a random shooting or where I could be bankrupted if I’m hospitalized. I don’t like it here anymore, so I’m leaving.”

I get it. I was like that. Parts of me still feel that way. But not anymore.

I recently moved back to the U.S. after more than five years of travel. There were many reasons. One is because I am sick of doing nothing. I want to be here and fight to make my country better. And I’m getting started.

All of us can run away. Believe me — there’s stuff about America that keeps me up at night. Frequent school shootings and a Congress that refuses to pass any kind of reasonable legislation like closing the gun show loophole. Black Americans, including children, being killed by the police for no reason at all. The racism, both overt and subtle, that our president receives on a daily basis. Out-of-control elections and candidates supported by corporations. The possibility of a religious ideologue being appointed to the Supreme Court.

So why do I even bother? Because when you choose to be inactive, you’re giving power to the opposition.

If you choose to travel, or to live abroad, that’s wonderful! But don’t use it as an excuse to check out of America completely. Donate money to causes that will make America better. Donate your time to causes and see if you can help online. Get absentee ballots, familiarize yourself with candidates in every race, and vote in every election. These things really can make a difference.

Would you leave the country if Trump was elected?15 legal, ethical ways to leave the country if Donald Trump gets elected.

A homestay can be an incredibly rewarding experience both for the homeowners and visitors. Typically, students use homestays as safe, affordable accommodations when traveling on a tight budget. But it’s also a great way to practice language skills in a comfortable environment and receive insider information on the best areas to explore in their travel destination—homestays are especially suited to solo female travelers

  1. Yuvacali, Turkey

In Turkey’s southeast region, in the village of Yuvacali, visitors receive a raw experience of what daily life is like for local Kurdish families. Traditional life means hard work for families living here, most only survive off a few dollars a day. Though struggling financially, these families offer a culturally rich experience for anyone interested in a unique holiday. A handful of families in the small village offer accommodation under the starry skies of Yuvacali in a nomadic canvas tent adorned with vibrant paintings or in a traditional, mud/brick house. Guests help out on the farm, learn to cook traditional dishes on an open hearth, and enjoy swapping stories with locals. This is no five-star hotel (in fact, it’s far from it) and families here, though extremely friendly, present an opportunity to work together, not offer hotel-like services. If you’re up for the challenge of helping out, Yuvacali has plenty to offer any curious, open-minded traveler.

  1. Tighza Valley, Morocco

Throughout Morocco, there an abundant number of opportunities to experience a homestay with a local family. One particularly magical place is within the breathtaking Tighza Valley where many Berber families open their homes to foreign visitors, offering simple, clean rooms within family owned homes. The arid valley, dusted with cacti and leafy green foliage, is within the high-reaching Atlas Mountains, far from the turbid, bustling cities of Fez, Marrakesh, Casablanca, and Rabat. This is rural Moroccan life at its finest: simple and scenic. Within the valley, most guests take to the alpine trails, hiking throughout the valley and enjoying mountainous routes filled with endless snap-worthy scenes: Berber women cultivating fields, shepherds watching after flocks of goats and sheep, and boisterous children playing imaginative games. Life definitely happens at a slow pace, which is not for everyone, but the Berber people are exceptionally welcoming and on point with keeping guests occupied and well-fed.

  1. Old Havana, Cuba

Becoming familiar with the words “casa particular” or “casa particulares” is a great advantage when traveling to Cuba for an independent holiday. The term means “private house”, and upon booking, will land you either a private home or room. The Cuban government issues special permits for renting out privately owned homes, or rooms in family homes, and they are advertised through bright blue signs out front with the words “Arrendador Divisa”, it’s a rental permit showing which casas are legal. Prices vary and depend on the travel season, area of Cuba, amenities offered, square footage, and so on. One of the best places for casas is in Old Havana, where friendly owners give a healthy measure of gossip and tips on the lay of the land. You’ll get great insider information on Old Havana’s top music clubs, festivals, and bars, and most often the owner will treat you just like family.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal

In Portugal, “Solares de Portugal” is an interesting idea introduced to bolster tourism within houses laden with charm and unique character, called “Turismo de Habitação”. The concept is aimed at preserving rich heirlooms of the country’s cultural and architectural heritage. This type of accommodation is not a guesthouse or hotel, but a genuine homestay. Accommodation comes in various forms such as rustic farmhouses, elegant estates, and grand country homes restored to their original luster for welcoming guests from around the world. Most homestays can be found in Lisbon, but others are in Porto, Faro, the southwest islands, and other small Portuguese cities and towns. The Solares exemplify hundreds of years of Portuguese culture and history (a large part of the magnificent 17th and 18th centuries manors are owned by descendents of the original owners). Taken quite seriously as a representation of their country, the Portuguese are dedicated to providing exceptional experiences to foreign visitors.

  1. Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

If you’ve ever had the desire to explore the deepest reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, a Brazilian homestay could be an idyllic experience. Easily planned in Manaus, you can book a trip and be paired up with an indigenous family. You’ll score a room in an eco-lodge or camp under the forest canopy—it’s entirely up to you. Lodges are simply constructed from locally sourced, natural building materials and designed in traditional style. Think “fancy” thatch hut with some modern conveniences and you’re not far off. Ideal for intrepid spirits, planning a trek through the lush, magical landscape is authentic, eye-opening, and lands you where wildlife is richest. Friendly indigenous guides offer a healthy dose of insight on the rain forest ecosystem and teach guests survival tips in a natural environment. You’ll also be treated to some amazing local eats and be privy to some Amazonian cooking secrets too.

The post Top 5 Destinations Around the World for Homestays appeared first on Geeky Traveller.

All photos by the author

There’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the world these days — terrorism attacks in major cities; a refugee crisis that’s become polarizing in Europe; out-of-control gun violence and racial profiling in the Unites States; and Donald Trump actually becoming president.

It seems like every time I turn on the news or check Facebook, something else disturbing has happened. Bombings. Shootings. Ignorant attacks. Intolerance. Fear.

Some people argue that the world is just becoming more dangerous; that there’s more murder and rape and other forms of violence now than ever before. And, as a woman who often travels alone, I would be stupid to ignore or brush off these arguments. Because it’s true that you DO have to be a little more vigilant when traveling these days — and especially when traveling as a woman.

Is the world dangerous? Is travel dangerous?

Well, the world is definitely not safe. But it never has been. For as long as history has been recorded, we humans have oppressed, killed, and waged war against one another. In every corner of the globe, there have always been catalysts to violence; reasons why we just can’t seem to get along.

So yes, the world can be a dangerous place.

But you shouldn’t let that stop you from exploring it.

Here are four reasons why you should still travel, even with all the craziness happening in the world:

LIFE is dangerous

Watch the news or listen to people on social media, and you might be convinced that terrorists are lurking around every corner “out there.” But, in reality, terrorism attacks are rare in most parts of the world — and to be caught in one as a tourist is highly unlikely. Here are everyday things that you are MUCH more likely to die from:

  • Cows (kill roughly 20 Americans per year*)
  • Getting struck by lightning (32 per Americans per year*)
  • Driving your car (roughly 37,000 deaths in the US per year*)
  • Your own body (in the US, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes kill more than a million people every year*

(In case you’re curious, according to the U.S. State Department, 3,380 Americans have died in acts of terrorism both at home and abroad between 2001 and 2013 — and that includes the 9/11 attack. Only 350 U.S. citizens have been killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism during that time.)

I was probably much more in danger in this helicopter over Cape Town than I was wandering the city’s streets.

And for those who worry about being kidnapped, raped, or murdered while traveling abroad? I’m not saying that it never happens. But you are far, far more likely to fall victim to this kind of violence at home (often at the hands of someone you know) than you are as a traveler.

Life in general can be dangerous. But just because more than 100 people will die today in a car crash in the U.S., will that stop you from driving to work or the grocery store? Of course not. So why should fear keep you from traveling?

Travel encourages tolerance and acceptance.

Travel is one of the most educational experiences a person can enjoy outside of school. And not only will it help you learn about history and cultural traditions first-hand, but travel also helps you discover the number one lesson I’ve learned after years of exploring the world: people, regardless of religion or race or cultural background, really do want essentially the same things.

No matter if you’re in Canada or Cambodia, people want to feel safe and happy and want to be able to provide for their families. It’s really that simple.

Kids want to play and take selfies no matter where they’re from.

The more I travel, the more I realize that we really are more similar than we are different. And that knowledge has lead to a greater acceptance of all people, and I think has made me a more tolerant person overall. There are many stereotypes out there when it comes to people from different cultures and backgrounds, and I think travel is one of the best ways to shatter a lot of them.

If only more people would be open to leaving the confines of their country’s borders…

Travel can make you LESS fearful.

This ties into travel making us more tolerant, too, because a big part of tolerance is learning not to fear things we don’t fully understand. As your mind opens up to other ways of thinking and living, you begin to be less fearful of the world “out there.”

We live in a world right now where bad news seems to be everywhere. And it’s easy to assume from all this bad news that the world is only getting more scary by the day. But if you actually go out and experience that world and realize that you feel safe far more often than you feel threatened, some of that fear can be silenced.

You learn that not every person in Muslim-leaning countries hates Americans — or even Christians, for that matter. You learn that a lot of the fearmongering you see in the media is just that — we don’t have to be terrified of life beyond our borders, because not everyone is out to get us.

You become a global citizen.

The more you travel, the more personal connections you make with the places you’re visiting and the people you’re meeting. So when something terrible happens in France or Turkey or any other place that you’ve been and fallen in love with, it suddenly hits a lot harder.

Travel can make us more compassionate about things happening to other people. If you never leave your hometown, it’s easy to look at victims of terrorism and violence through a screen of “otherness” — those people are different than you, and therefore you don’t feel any real connection to them. But when you’re shared meals and laughs with people from that place or culture, it suddenly makes it more real. Because those people really aren’t much different from you, and you realize that it could happen to anyone.

The term “global citizen” is one without a concrete definition, but to me it means being aware of what’s going on in the world and actually *caring* about it.

Travel helps you imagine your feet in someone else’s shoes.

So, can I promise you that nothing bad will happen to you if you book that dream trip? No, of course I can’t. But I also can’t promise you that you’ll be perfectly safe driving to work tomorrow or having a drink at your favorite bar.

Life is too short to be afraid of the world — just get out there and explore it.

This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.

More like this: Why I refuse to be scared when I travel

Let me show you a world that is too often misunderstood.

Women gossiping in a park.

Istanbul, 2013.

Soft sand, palm trees, and some of the bluest waters you’ve ever seen.

Senggigi, Indonesia, 2011.

Bikes and bread and girls in matching dresses.

Prizren, Kosovo, 2013.

Camel rides at sunrise.

Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2011.

Chilled out beach resorts.

Ksamil, Albania, 2015.

Opulence.

Dubai, 2013

New friends who are dressed a million times better than you.

Amman, 2011.

 

Bridges across the divide.

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2012.

Best friends forever.

Brunei Darussalam, 2014.

Desert dunes.

Wadi Rum, Jordan, 2013.

Graffitied pyramids dwarfing cities.

Tirana, Albania, 2015.

Whirling dervishes.

Istanbul, 2013.

Women with style.

Kuala Lumpur, 2010.

Reverence for American leaders.

Prishtina, Kosovo, 2013.

Mocktails made with gold leaf and camel milk.

Dubai, 2013.

Ruins that could rival anything in Rome.

Jerash, Jordan, 2011.

The call to prayer beautifully punctuating the day.

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, 2014.

Bazaars packed with traditional goods.

Istanbul, 2013.

Bridges, mosques, minarets, and fortresses.

Prizren, Kosovo, 2013.

World wonders.

Petra, Jordan, 2011.

Daredevils showing off for the camera.

Koh Lanta, Thailand, 2014.

Olives. Lots and lots of olives.

Istanbul, 2013.

Fiery curries, not a bite of pork in sight.

Koh Lanta, Thailand, 2015.

Cevapciki with pita, sausages, and the only time you’ll ever willingly eat raw onions.

Sarajevo, 2012.

Pink sunsets over the Mediterranean.

Fethiye, Turkey, 2011.

Pink sunsets over Lombok.

Lombok, Indonesia, 2011.

Pink sunsets over the Bosphorus.

Istanbul, 2013.

Pink sunsets over the Andaman.

Koh Lanta, Thailand, 2015.

Spellbinding traditional architecture.

Istanbul, 2013.

UNESCO World Heritage-listed architecture.

Berat, Albania, 2015.

Avant-garde architecture.

Prishtina, Kosovo, 2013.

Gold-domed mosques that bring together colorful streets.

Singapore, 2011.

And the tallest building in the world.

Dubai, 2013.

Not to mention the largest flag in the world.

Amman, 2011.

Tea served in tulip-shaped glasses.

Istanbul, 2011.

Tea cooked over an open fire.

Petra, Jordan, 2011.

High tea overlooking a luxurious city.

Dubai, 2013.

Young men who live on the edge.

Istanbul, 2013.

Young men who died far too young.

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2013.

Feeling at home. And welcomed.

Ajloun, Jordan, 2011.

Did I ever feel in danger?

Not once.

Beauty, joy, friendship, and the best hospitality in the world — this is just a fraction of what the Islamic world has to offer. And this doesn’t even count western countries with sizable Muslim populations, like London and Paris, nor places where I interact with Muslims daily, like my home city of New York.

Looking back, I thought that Islamophobia would slowly decrease in the years following 9/11. Now, it seems to be worse than ever. Considering how Islamophobia is ricocheting across America and the globe right now, I think it’s vital to change perceptions by sharing the truth about these beautiful, welcoming destinations.

I’m adding another priority of 2017: to visit at least one new Islamic region or country, and hopefully more. That could be Uzbekistan or Tunisia, Oman or Azerbaijan, Western China or Northern India or Turkish Cyprus.

In the seven years that I’ve been publishing this site, my goal has been to show women that they shouldn’t let fear stop them from traveling the world. Now I want to change perceptions about this oft-misunderstood region.

Have you traveled in the Islamic world? What did you enjoy the most?

Photo by author

I had my two boys 20 months apart, so I get it. Parenting is exhausting and all-consuming. When considering where to go on vacation, it is tempting to pick the all-inclusive resort that will whisk your kids into camp and bring you a poolside, frosty mixed-drink. However, travel with young children offers an opportunity to expand their worldview in ways that few other activities can.

My husband is of Indian descent, though most of his family has now moved to the West. He speaks fluent Hindi and Bengali, lived in India for close to a decade, and travels there frequently for business. When our sons were one and three we had the chance to join him on a business trip to Delhi, where we could then tack on a few extra weeks of travel. Many of our friends thought we were insane; over sixteen hours on a plane, questionable sanitation, exposure to possible diseases such as malaria, the witnessing of mind-blowing poverty, plus two little ones still in diapers…who in their right mind would sign up for that ride?

Our month-long adventure surpassed my every expectation, and although there was an airport meltdown, crushing jet lag, and a delightful bout of Delhi belly (me, not the kids, thank goodness) we made it through relatively unscathed. I hardly remember the tough times as the trip was so rich, so vibrant, so breathtakingly beautiful. If you’re interested in having your own “off the beaten path” adventure with your young ones, here are a few tips to ease your travel experience.

Photo by author

I assume that anyone with kids knows the basics — pack a ton of favorite snacks (graham crackers, apple sauce squeezies, Lara bars, turkey jerky, and trail mix are our favorites), pack the comforts of home (blankie, stuffed animals, night light, favorite books and toys), bring a small DVD player that can get banged around, pack small new toys and games to pull out on the plane and on long car rides (along with crayons, paper, markers, stickers, anything to pass the time), and a well-stocked medicine bag. Whew! But here’s some advice that might be new to you:

Loosen your parenting standards.

I run a pretty tight ship at home but when traveling to a place as foreign as India, my husband and I felt it was our job to make the boys as comfortable as possible, and indeed that made things more enjoyable for everyone. You want chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast? Go for it. Ready to leave the palace when we just arrived? Here, have a piece of candy to hold you over. There were a lot of special treats, little presents (a.k.a. bribes!), and nutritional compromises. We also let go of our strict screen rules and allowed the boys to unwind with Elmo as much as needed (thanks to a cheap portable DVD player and toddler headphones). Allowing for special treats and adjusting the rules you live by at home will help to make travel more relaxing, and will give you some options for enticing young travelers to stick with the adventurous itinerary.

Give them some space.

The National Rail Museum in Delhi is the perfect place to blow off toddler-sized steam. Photo by author.

Dirty water, crowded streets, stray dogs, food-born illnesses — it’s hard not to want to place the kids in a bubble when facing third-world conditions. While we were cautious, we made sure to let the boys explore and found plenty of open spaces to foster their curiosity. We visited farms, villages, palaces with large courtyards, forts with maze-like tunnels, and parks. It’s important to factor stops into your itinerary that will allow children space to run and blow off steam. Even in a city as crowded as Delhi, we found Lodi Gardens, a beautiful park with plenty of space for a game of pick-up soccer. Giving kids their time for fun will help focus them when it comes time for activities that call for standing in line, obeying stricter rules, or sticking close together.

Pack a sack of “less-loved” toys and give them away.

What’s not to love about spontaneous play dates? Photo by author.

Everywhere we went, the boys wanted to play with the children they met, and of course the children were drawn immediately to their toys. When we knew we’d be interacting with children in a village we were visiting, or on a farm, we would pack a small bag of extra small toys. When we arrived, my husband and I would visit with the adults and the boys would pull out their trucks and play with the children. When it was time to go, we would tell the boys to gift each of their new friends a toy truck. We always made sure the boys’ favorite toys were in the car so that the giving wasn’t followed by remorse. This worked remarkably well and led to some great conversations about sharing. We also kept an eye out to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. At one village, when tons of kids swarmed at once and got grabby, the toys went away, and that was that. Use your best judgment with this one, but in family-to-family situations, this worked wonders to break the ice.

Invest in comfortable accommodations.

When you were in your twenties, traveling alone or as a couple, an uncomfortable night’s sleep wasn’t the end of the world. Add a couple of small children to the mix and an uncomfortable night’s sleep actually is the end of the world! Make sure you book a room or rent a house where everyone in your party can get proper rest. Don’t try to sleep four to a bed — the savings won’t be worth the exhaustion and tired kids don’t make for happy travelers. It also helps to bring along a few comforts from home, like a night light, favorite blankie, or stuffed animal.

Let it go.

Photo by author

Release yourself from expectations and strict itineraries. The most beautiful travel moments of our trip came when we let go of our itinerary and followed the day wherever it took us. On a particular morning when the boys were tired, we skipped our planned itinerary and decided instead to take a drive through the countryside surrounding Udaipur. We happened upon a joint family compound of farmers — grandfather, grandmother, their two sons, and their wives and young children — who invited us in for lunch. The boys played happily in the dirt with the kids for a few hours while we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon. It was one of our favorite moments. One that we could never have planned for but had all the power to let happen organically.

This story originally appeared on Medium and is reposted here with permission from the author.

More like this: These 7 families will change how you think about taking your kids on the road

HERE ARE 35 places around the world to strap on your GoPro, do some underwater exploring, and come back with amazingly clear imagery.

1

Linapacan Island, Palawan, Philippines

MatadorU Photography faculty member Scott Sporleder shares this image from Palawan, the Philippines' most remote province and home to many beaches with super clear water.Photo: Scott Sporleder

2

The Maldives

The 26 atolls that make up the Maldives sit in the Indian Ocean about 400km southwest of the tip of the subcontinent. Abundant reef wildlife (including whale sharks) + incredibly clear waters bring in a lot of tourists. It's also one of Matador's 9 places to experience now before they literally vanish.Photo: Rishwan (Richy)

3

Dog Island, San Blas, Panama

Another from Scott Sporleder, here is a shot from one of Panama's San Blas Islands, the largest of the politically autonomous reservations of the Kuna Indians.Photo: Scott Sporleder

Intermission 181

35 places to swim in the world’s clearest water

by Hal Amen

25 places we’re dying to explore right now

by Matador Team
35

How to: Independently trek Nepal’s Annapurna sanctuary

by Matt Huntington
4

Cayo Coco, Cuba

A resort island on Cuba's north coast, Cayo Coco is linked to the mainland by a 27km causeway. The adjacent reef and clear waters have earned international recognition as a dive destination.Photo: O.Taillon

5

Cala Macarelleta, Menorca, Spain

At the south end of the Mediterranean island of Menorca, the beach at Cala Macarelleta can only be reached on foot or by boat -- probably one of the least-crowded beaches you'll find in Spain.Photo: visualpanic

6

Sua Trench, Samoa

We sent MatadorU student Abhimanyu Sabnis on a photojournalism assignment to Samoa. He came back with this insane gallery.Photo: Abhimanyu Sabnis

7

Crater Lake, Oregon

Visibility in Crater Lake has been measured at 43.3m -- among the highest in the world. Photographer Rhett Lawrence adds this note about swimming here: "[It's] allowed, but there's only one access point down to the lake -- a steep, mile-long trail (it's easy enough on the way down, but my then-4-year-old daughter did not appreciate the climb back up). Since that's the only access point, you've got to really want to jump in the lake to do it -- especially since it's so damn cold -- but it is permitted by the Park Service."Photo: Grant Montgomery

8

Bak Bak Beach, Borneo

A shot from the northern tip of Sabah, Malaysia, near Kudat Town. From the photographer: "It takes 3 to 3 1/2 hours' drive from Kota Kinabalu city. I wanted to shoot a longer exposure but I had a difficulty judging the light or maybe because I was lazy ? kidding. I had to go further the beach, thigh deep and very clear water. Stacked 2 Cokin GND filter P121s, manual exposure 0.25sec, F13."Photo: Nora Carol

9

Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan, China

In the north of Sichuan province, the Jiuzhaigou Valley is a national park, nature reserve, and UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to several crystal-clear lakes, it's a region of multi-tiered waterfalls and snowy mountains. Tourism arrived late but is growing strong, and while swimming isn't allowed...there's always night-time skinny dipping.Photo: Who is taking pictures?

Intermission 445

10 volunteer opportunities for free travel

by Matt Scott
10

Your top 20 bucket list trips

by Joshywashington
2

Banff and Lake Louise might be the most gorgeous places to ski on the planet. Here’s proof.

by Ailsa Ross
10

Sabah, Malaysia

Another one from the remote Malaysian state, which covers the northern portion of Borneo and is ringed by reef-rich islands. This photo was taken near Semporna, which is a hub for people who come to dive Malaysian Borneo.Photo: Zahriel

11

Jenny Lake, Wyoming

Jenny Lake sits right below the peak of Grand Teton and is a landmark for many hiking trails, backcountry trails, and climbing routes. Despite the fact that motorboats are allowed on the lake, its waters are still considered "pristine."Photo: Jeff Clow

12

Rio Sucuri, Brazil

Located in the Pantanal region of Brazil, Rio Sucuri is a spring-fed river that has some of the measurably clearest water on Earth. Multiple tour outfits run trips that let you snorkel the river.Photo: Luiz Felipe Sahd

13

Calanque de Sormiou, France

Calanques are steep-walled coves, and there's a series of them along the 20km stretch of coast between Marseille and Cassis. Sormiou is one of the largest of these, and it's popular for its nearby climbing routes as well as its beach.Photo: Paspog

14

Panari Island, Okinawa, Japan

Panari, also called Aragusuku, is one of the Yaeyama Islands, the most remote area of Japan. The photographer notes: "The islands are also known as one of the world's best diving destinations, having a number of coral species and marine lives as large as those in the Great Barrier Reef. (Over 400 types of corals, 5 types of sea turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and all kinds of tropical fish species all live around Okinawa.)"Photo: ippei + janine

15

Puerto Ayora, Galapagos

The most populous town in the Galapagos still sits right up next to some amazingly clear ocean water. Even here in Academy Bay, you can see pelicans, iguanas, sea lions, herons, rays, and other iconic wildlife.Photo: Bill Bouton

Intermission 1K+

20 awesomely untranslatable words from around the world

by Jason Wire
3

9 places to visit before they change forever

by Morgane Croissant
4

20 charming illustrations of Christmas traditions from around the world

by Ailsa Ross
16

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

The photo above was taken in the Bonsai Rock area, on the east shore of the lake, which apparently flies under the radar. Says the photographer: "30 years in Tahoe, and until this winter I'd never heard of it."Photo: SteveD.

17

Cayos Cochinos, Honduras

Rounding out the Sporleder collection, this one comes from the central Caribbean coast of Honduras. For more images, check out the full photo essay.Photo: Scott Sporleder

18

Primosten, Croatia

On the Adriatic Coast north of Split, Primosten is most famous for its vineyards, in addition to beaches that have been voted the best in the country.Photo: Mike Le Gray Photography. See more at his website.

19

St. George, Bermuda

The oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in the New World features many historic forts, like the small Gates Fort pictured above. Also: some damn clear water.Photo: JoshuaDavisPhotography

20

Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii

Visit on a weekend during high season and you'll be surrounded by busloads. If you can get it on a slow day with clear conditions, though, it's some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii.Photo: ThomasOfNorway

21

Pupu Springs, New Zealand

At the very top of the South Island, on Golden Bay, the photographer says: "14000 liters of crystal clear water comes out of these springs per second!"Photo: pie4dan

22

Calanque d'En-Vau, France

Another calanque on the southern coast of France, d'En-Vau has a narrower, steeper channel than Sormiou, giving a real feeling of seclusion and emphasizing the clarity of the water in this cove.Photo: afer92 (on and off)

23

Rio Azul, Argentina

Put in to the Confluence section of the Rio Azul near El Bolsón, Patagonia, Argentina. Matador Senior Editor David Miller notes, "This was the first river I've ever paddled, played, and swam in where the water was clean enough to drink. The entire Rio Azul watershed is born in the glaciers and snowfields of the Andes and the water is incredibly clear and pure."Photo: David Miller

24

Corfu, Greece

Corfu sits in the Ionian Sea, off the northwest coast of Greece. Prior to the 1900s, most of the tourists that visited were European royalty. Today, its clear waters draw a lot of package-tour-style action.Photo: smlp.co.uk

25

Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Matador Co-Founder Ross Borden visited the Cook Islands for a week and came back with images and video of epicly clear water.Photo: Ross Borden

26

Koh Phi Phi Don, Thailand

Made famous when its smaller neighbor, Koh Phi Phi Leh, was used as the filming location for The Beach, the main island sees a lot of traffic from both backpackers and luxury travelers these days. Water like this is a big part of the draw.Photo: mynameisharsha

27

Playa Blanca, Colombia

This is a 45-minute boat ride from Cartagena and well worth the trip. In between swims in that crystal-clear blue water, be sure to snag some fresh ceviche from one of the vendors walking up and down the beach.Photo: Ross Borden

28

Blue Lake, New Zealand

One of many bodies of water in this list that someone or other has claimed has the clearest water in the world, Blue Lake is located in Nelson Lakes National Park, in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.Photo: Kathrin & Stefan

29

Königssee, Germany?

This one's made the rounds on the internet, but no one really seems to know where it was taken, or by whom. The best guess I found was the Königssee, a lake in southern Bavaria, near the border with Austria. If you have any info, clue us in.Photo: ??

30

Valle Verzasca, Switzerland

The clear waters of the Verzasca River run for 30km through this rocky valley in southern Switzerland. A dam of the same name, featured in the James Bond movie GoldenEye, blocks the river's flow and forms Lago di Vogorno. Just downstream from it, the river empties into Lake Maggiore.Photo: http://i.imgur.com/ukgxS.jpg

31

Tioman Island, Malaysia

This photo comes from the town of Kampung Genting on Tioman Island, off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. Away from its beaches, there's significant rainforest terrain in the interior, where you can see the endemic soft-shelled turtle and the Tioman walking catfish.Photo: Chang'r

32

Belo Sur Mer, Madagascar

Ross Borden explains: "I started in Moronvada, on the west coast of Madagascar and hired a boat and driver to take me down the coast to Belo Sur Mer, a super-isolated section of coastline known for diving, fishing and the fact that almost no one makes the trip down there. Belo Sur Mer is amazing on its own, but when the owner of the eco-lodge there told me about a string of uninhabited islands 80km off the coast, we jumped back in the boat and pointed it west, towards Mozambique and mainland Africa. What we found was four uninhabited gorgeous islands and one that had a tribe of "sea gypsies" living on it. These fascinating and hospitable people live off the rich fishing stocks of the Mozambique channel. We camped and lived with them for two days and they even took me along on an all-night fishing expedition in one of their sailboats in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was one of the most amazing travel experiences of my life. During the day I would go snorkeling. Shoving off these tiny islands the water gets several hundreds of feet deep very quickly; I was out there with massive schools of deep ocean fish."Photo: Ross Borden

33

Lake Marjorie, California

From the photographer: "Lakes in the High Sierra come in a number of colors. Lake Marjorie, at 11,132' has an aquamarine "swimming pool" tint. Crater Mountain dominates the skyline, with Pinchot Pass to the south. I was happy to see clouds at dawn, but by noon a fast moving storm was spitting hail, thunder, and lightning as we cleared Mather Pass. Damn, this spot is gorgeous."Photo: SteveD.

34

Bodrum, Turkey

Along the southern coast of the peninsula of the same name, Bodrum has an ancient history and was the site of one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus). It also has some amazingly clear water. From the photographer: "[It's] so clear at certain places that boats appear to be floating in mid-air! It reminded me of Luke's Landspeeder from Star Wars."Photo: Oky - Space Ranger

35

Mystery spot

Another unidentified location. Anyone have an idea?Photo: Imgur

love-lessons

Photo: Jason Corey

TRAVEL IS THE MOST INTENSE learning experience in many areas of life, especially in love. Here are the 7 most valuable lessons I’ve learned over eight years of travel.

1. There’s no such thing as a “type.”

If you get bogged down by the “type” of person you’ve decided you like, you’ll miss out on the real thing. I used to travel to cities like London and San Francisco having seen flashy photos in magazines, neglecting destinations like Uluwatu, Valletta and Kassandra which turned out to be the most gorgeous places I’ve seen.

Stop searching for that idealized image of a place or a person. Travel taught me to approach each destination and every stranger with an open mind and really look beyond the surface. I ended up being crazy in love with a skinny ginger guy with brown eyes — a direct contradiction to my “type” — and that was the best relationship I ever had. Keep an open mind.

2. You have more than one soulmate.

I’ve seen people cry over breakups way too many times, because they were certain they’d lost their soulmate. Hell, I’ve done the same myself. Truth is that there isn’t only one compatible person out there for us. The same way you can feel perfectly happy and at home in both NYC and Chiang Mai, you can find your perfect match in more than one person.

Travel has exposed me to many different cultures, personalities and religions. I’ve been in love with Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and atheist people from different continents. Stop stressing over finding that one perfect person and go explore. You’ll be surprised by what you find.

3. Yes, long distance works.

Having traveled for 8 years now, I’ve done many a long distance relationships. Though I prefer to have my partner close by (so I can steal their clothes), having a relationship with someone who’s on another continent does work. In fact, it could be lots of fun. In college, I kept a long distance romance for a year and ended up traveling with my partner around Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

Travel doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go nuts and hook up with everyone who comes your way just for the “experience.” Travel doesn’t have to make you promiscuous if you aren’t that type of person at home. If you have genuine feelings for one person and want to only be with them, distance won’t matter. I dated someone who lived two hours away from me and though we had the ability to see each other every weekend, he still wanted to go out with others as well. Don’t fixate on distance.

4. When you find someone you love, keep traveling.

Going along with my previous point — if you find someone you genuinely care about, you shouldn’t settle just to be geographically close to them. If you try to thwart your passion for travel in favor of a relationship, you will end up resenting your partner. If you’ve found a compatible partner, on the other hand, they will understand that you want to see the world and will encourage you. The time apart will really help you determine whether you want to continue the relationship or call it quits.

5. You don’t have to know someone for years to connect on a deeper level.

Travel exposes us to hundreds of different personalities in a very short time. Every now and then, there’s this one person that stands out from the rest. You start to get to know each other and you can feel a deep connection that feels like it’s existed for a decade. Travel has taught me that a stranger I met a minute ago has the same odds of being a good fit for me as a childhood friend.

“Chemistry” is a thing for a reason and you shouldn’t feel scared to go along with it just because you’ve known someone for a week. I met a girl from California who had started seeing a guy from Denmark in Barcelona and wasn’t sure whether she should go along with it because she was afraid it may be just a summer fling. I advised her to follow through and now, six months later, they are in the States together setting out for a trip as an official couple.

6. Couples who travel together, stay together.

Travel has the magical power to put some of us in our element, while others, outside of the comfort zone. I’ve always used travel to test my relationships. I broke up with a guy after a trip because I saw him in a light that hadn’t been apparent from the beginning. He was complaining, rushing me and didn’t care that I was too tired to continue trekking through a huge city after an 8-hour bus ride.

I also recognized who my best friend was, when he blindly set out from Boston to Indonesia with me and took like a champ everything I put him through, from riding a scooter, to getting up at 6 am to jog in the Balinese forest, to fighting with a monkey over my bag of fruit. Great travel partners make great life partners.

7. Letting go of relationships.

Although you may be ok with a long distance relationship, you’ll inevitably find someone you like who isn’t. They will get upset easily, text you often and doubt your fidelity after you leave their location. That’s normal. If they can’t handle your travels, no matter how much you like them, you have to let go. Like an intricate Buddhist mandala, everything comes to an end eventually and we have to let go. You just have to make the best of your time at every location and leave when the time comes.

8. Travel isn’t a cure for heartbreak.

Who here has read Eat, Pray, Love or seen the movie? Yeah, me too. Travel is a fantastic learning experience. It opens your mind to the new, challenges you and shows you incredible beauty your eyes often can’t believe. But there is one thing it is not — a heartbreak cure. If you set out on a trip just to forget that girl who dumped you, you’ll end up curled up in a hostel bed somewhere in Peru crying your eyes out. Not only it won’t help you deal with the pain, it will also ruin your trip because you’ll be blind to everything else but thoughts of that person. By all means go travel, but if you’ve got unresolved emotional drama, take steps towards solving it at home and then head to the airport. Don’t end up with a broken heart and a ruined trip.

Turkey Truffle Murder (A Maple Hills Cozy Mystery Book 8)

Wendy Meadows

Maple Hill Cozy Mysteries can be read in one to two hours. It is perfect for those moments when you are waiting at an appointment or want to enjoy a quick read.Nikki is looking forward to Thanksgiving with her son Seth, but she is in for a shock when he brings home his new girlfriend. His much older girlfriend, Jackie. As Nikki tries her best to be a gracious host, she attends a murder scene with her detective boyfriend Hawk.As an amateur detective, Nikki is keen to figure out the gruesome murder of Howard Blanche. As Nikki and Hawk investigate further, they discover that there is no shortage of suspects, and the killer may be closer to home than they realize.

Lonely Planet Turkey (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Turkey is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Bath in a hammam; explore chaotic and colourful bazaars; or hot air balloon over Cappadocia's honeycomb landscape; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Turkey and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Turkey:

Full-colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - culture/etiquette, language, religion, cuisine, sports, history, architecture, art, craft, literature, music, cinema, dance, landscapes, wildlife, environmental issues Free, convenient pull-out Turkey map (included in print version), plus over 110 colour maps Covers Istanbul, Thrace, Marmara, Gallipoli Peninsula, Troy, Izmir, North Aegean, Ephesus, Bodrum, South Aegean, Ankara, Cappadocia, Black Sea Coast, Antalya, Eastern Mediterranean, Northeastern Anatolia and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Turkey, our most comprehensive guide to Turkey, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, gift and lifestyle books and stationery, as well as an award-winning website, magazines, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in. TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 winner in Favorite Travel Guide category 'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times 'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves; it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Turkey

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Turkey will lead you straight to the best attractions this beautiful part of the world has to offer. Visit Hagia Sophia, experience the hot springs of Pamukkale, and explore the country region-by-region — from local festivals and markets to day trips around the countryside.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Turkey.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Turkey truly shows you this country as no one else can.

Recommended: For a pocket guidebook to Istanbul, check out DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Istanbul, which is packed with dozens of top 10 lists, ensuring you make the most of your time in the city.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

Lonely Planet Turkey (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Turkey is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Ride a hot-air balloon over Cappadocia's honeycomb landscapes, walk amid the ancient ruins of Ephesus, or soak in a hamam in Antalya's atmospheric old quarter; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Turkey and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Turkey Travel Guide:

Full-colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including customs, history, art, literature, cinema, music, architecture, politics, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine Free, convenient pull-out Istanbul map (included in print version), plus over 100 colour maps Covers Istanbul, Thrace, Marmara, Gallipoli Peninsula, Izmir, Ephesus, Bodrum, Anatolia, Pammukale, AntalyaAnkara, Cappadocia, Aegean Coast, Turquoise Coast, Mediterranean Coast, Black Sea Coast, and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Turkey, our most comprehensive guide to Turkey, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for just the highlights? Check out Lonely Planet's Discover Turkey, a photo-rich guide to the country's most popular attractions. Looking for a guide focused on Istanbul? Check out Lonely Planet's  Istanbul guide for a comprehensive look at all the city has to offer; Discover Istanbul, a photo-rich guide to the city's most popular attractions; or Pocket Istanbul, a handy-sized guide focused on the can't-miss sights for a quick trip.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, James Bainbridge, Brett Atkinson, Stuart Butler, Steve Fallon, Will Gourlay, Jessica Lee, Virginia Maxwell

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey

Clyde E. Fant

Nearly two-thirds of the New Testament--including all of the letters of Paul, most of the book of Acts, and the book of Revelation--is set outside of Israel, in either Turkey or Greece. Although biblically-oriented tours of the areas that were once ancient Greece and Asia Minor have become increasingly popular, up until now there has been no definitive guidebook for these important sites.In A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, two well-known, well-traveled biblical scholars offer a fascinating historical and archaeological guide to these sites. The authors reveal countless new insights into the biblical text while reliably guiding the traveler through every significant location mentioned in the Bible. The book completely traces the journeys of the Apostle Paul across Turkey (ancient Asia Minor), Greece, Cyprus, and all the islands of the Mediterranean. A description of the location and history of each site is given, followed by an intriguing discussion of its biblical significance. Clearly written and in non-technical language, the work links the latest in biblical research with recent archaeological findings. A visit to the site is described, complete with easy-to-follow walking directions, indicating the major items of archaeological interest. Detailed site maps, historical charts, and maps of the regions are integrated into the text, and a glossary of terms is provided.Easy to use and abundantly illustrated, this unique guide will help visitors to Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus to appreciate the rich history, significance, and great wonder of the ancient world of the Bible.

Turkey (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

National Geographic's Turkey Adventure Map provides global travelers with the perfect combination of detail and perspective. Designed to meet the needs of adventure travelers with its detailed, accurate information, this map includes the location of cities and towns with a user-friendly index and a clearly marked road network complete with distances and designations for roads/expressways, plus scenic roads and secondary routes for those seeking to explore off the beaten path. Specialty content such as hundreds of diverse and unique recreational, ecological, cultural, and historical destinations make Adventure Maps the perfect companion to a guidebook. Hundreds of points of interest and diverse and unique destinations are highlighted including World Heritage sites, archeological sites, churches, mosques, castles, beaches, spas, campsites, and more.

The front side of the print map details the eastern region of the country, from its border with Syria and Iraq to the south, Iran and Armenia to the East, extending to the Black Sea and Georgia to the north. The regions featured on this side are Southeast Anatolia and East Anatolia. The reverse side of the map details Turkey's western portion of the country, from its border with Greece to the west, to the Mediterranean Sea to the south, extending to the Black Sea to the north. This side covers the Black Sea Region, Aegean Region, Central Anatolia Region and the Mediterranean Region.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:1,200,000Sheet Size = 37.75" x 25.5"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

Turkey - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Charlotte McPherson

Standing astride two continents and stretching from Europe to the Middle East, Turkey is both feared by the West and wooed by it. Travelers have always been drawn to its glorious cultural heritage and heroic landscapes, and today, thanks to its burgeoning economy, growing geo-political importance, and young population, it is attracting more foreign visitors than ever. This new, updated edition of Culture Smart! Turkey reveals a nation in transition. Over the last two decades living conditons have improved greatly and Turkey is now classified as a developed country with an emerging market economy. Viewed by many as a model for outward-looking Islam, it is a country with laws to protect against religious paternalism, where restaurants are open during the fast of Ramadan, and where headscarves or no scarves can be worn in universities, schools, and public offices. Turkey continues to seek EU membership, but the road to accession has been full of twists and turns and the outcome is uncertain. The country is rapidly modernizing. The cities are being transformed with skyscrapers and gated communities. Politically, Turkey has changed dramatically over the past decade and today society is polarized between secularists and traditionalists. While Turkey is in many ways Western and modern, Islamic tendencies are strong. The situation can vary widely between, and even within, different parts of society, and, across the board, there are still forms of behaviour that are taboo. One thing is certain. Turkey’s culture and social life are changing. Culture Smart! Turkey is an invaluable guide to the intricate ins and outs of a rich and complex society. Whether you are planning a vacation or traveling on business, it is vital to be aware of appropriate behavior in different situations, and if you show a genuine interest in their culture and respect for their values, you will win the lasting friendship of your hosts.

Turkey Southern Coastline Travel Guide

Manuela Segal

Turkey Southern Coastline Travel Guide is a colorful guide,that is a collection of tourists Turkish locals and author's guide,that will give you information about the best places to stay and avoid.This guide is full of pictures and will make your holiday memorable.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

Border with Syria (see Advisory)

Cross-border attacks between the two countries may occur. On October 3, 2012, five Turkish civilians were killed in a mortar attack fired from Syria. On May 11, 2013, 51 people were killed when two car bombs were detonated in the centre of the town of Reyhanli. Exercise extreme caution, review your security measures regularly, and pay very close attention to the situation as it evolves if you are travelling to this area, as the security situation remains unpredictable.

Southeast region

The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) carries out occasional air and ground strikes against identified Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) targets in the Turkish-Iraqi border area. Six temporary security zones have been established in the provinces of Hakkari, Siirt and Sirnak to prevent insurgent infiltration. Movement in these areas is strictly limited by the TAF. Failure to follow rules established by the Turkish government could lead to arrest.

Protests and incidents of civil unrest have occurred in several cities of this region, leading to violent clashes between police and protesters. Gunfire and small-scale bomb explosions have resulted in deaths. Injuries and property damage have also been reported in several incidents.

On June 2, 2012, a British tourist was briefly kidnapped by PKK militants. Maintain a high level of vigilance at all times.

Avoid overland travel. If road travel must be undertaken, drive during daylight hours and stay on major routes. Do not use public transportation.

Avoid crossing the border with Iraq. The Government of Turkey tightly controls entries and exits between the two countries.

Register and keep in contact with the Embassy of Canada in Ankara or the Consulate of Canada in Istanbul.

Terrorism

There is a significant terrorist threat from domestic and international terrorist groups throughout Turkey. In early 2014, local media reported that individuals may be planning attacks against Syrian opposition officials in AnkaraAntakya (Hatay), Gaziantep and Istanbul.

Large- and small-scale bomb attacks have occurred. While Turkish institutions are usually the targets, terrorists also target locations frequented by foreigners, including Westerners. On February 1, 2013, a suicide attack on the United States embassy in Ankara left two dead. On March 1, 2012, a remote-controlled explosive device was detonated near the Justice and Development Party building in the Sutluce district of Istanbul, injuring 15 police officers and one civilian.

Heightened security measures are in place throughout the country. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, particularly around security and military installations, and areas with high pedestrian traffic, including hotels, shopping malls and open air bazaars. Exercise caution in commercial establishments, public places and other areas where large numbers of people, including foreigners, may congregate.

Demonstrations

On May 31, 2013, anti-government protests erupted in Istanbul and quickly spread to more than 60 cities nationwide. Clashes between police officers and protestors have led to thousands of injuries, and the situation remains tense and unpredictable throughout Turkey. Similar incidents could continue throughout the summer.

Demonstrations are occurring in Ankara (Kugulu Park, Tunali Hilmi Caddesi and the area around the Parliament) and in Istanbul (Taksim Square, Besiktas and its surroundings). More demonstrations could take place in these cities and spread to the rest of the country. Security forces have used water cannons and tear gas to disperse crowds. Peaceful demonstrations may degenerate and become violent without warning. Remain vigilant, especially in the evening, as the security situation could deteriorate quickly. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, particularly those in Taksim Square, and stay away from places where security forces are gathered. Follow the advice of local authorities and monitor international media for updates.

Crime

Petty crime, including pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs, particularly in Istanbul. Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure that personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Muggings, assaults and sexual assaults have occurred. Do not accept food and drinks from strangers, even if wrappings or containers appear intact, as these may be drugged. Cases of drugging followed by robbery have occurred. Drugs may be administered through drinks, food, chewing gum or other means.

You should decline unsolicited invitations from strangers to go to down-market bars and neighbourhoods. Tourists have been invited by friendly locals to bars for food and drinks and then forced to pay the steep bill. This scam is particularly common in Istanbul.

Do not accept letters, parcels or other items from strangers. Criminals involved in drug trafficking have attempted to use foreigners to deliver packages and messages into and out of Turkey.

Women’s safety

There have been reports of physical and verbal harassment toward women. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Road travel

Turkey has a modern road network that is constantly being improved; however, uneven surfaces and poorly marked lane changes near construction zones are common. Exercise caution, especially during rainy weather. Severe weather conditions may seriously affect road conditions.

Accidents are common, and pedestrians are sometimes involved. Reckless driving, perilous road conditions, inadequate lighting, poor signage and high traffic congestion pose hazards. Pedestrians do not have right of way. Avoid driving after dark.

Do not move your vehicle (even though it may be blocking traffic) in the event of an accident involving an official (government) vehicle, whether there are injuries or not. Wait until the police have made an official report. In all other cases, the vehicles may be moved and then a traffic accident with material damage report may be completed.

Consult the General Directorate of Highways for more information on road travel in Turkey.

Rail travel

While frequent train accidents have occurred in the past, Turkey is modernizing main rail links.

Air travel

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Borders

Exercise a high degree of caution when travelling near the border with Syria.

The border with Armenia is closed.

Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat, located in the eastern Agri Province, is a special military zone. Mountain climbing is permitted only with prior permission from authorities, and you must be accompanied by a professional guide. Kidnappings have occurred in the past.

General safety information

Carry identification documents at all times. Leave your passport in a safe place and carry a photocopy for identification purposes.

Checkpoints may be set up without warning, particularly in the southern regions. Cooperate with police forces.

Emergency services

Dial 155 for police, 112 for an ambulance, 110 for firefighters and 154 for police in rural areas.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Polio

There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to tick bites (e.g., those spending time outdoors in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Western Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, malaria, Rift Valley fever, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.


Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

Avian Influenza

There have been human cases of avian influenza ("bird flu”) in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread by contact with infected birds or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces or other secretions.

Avoid unnecessary contact with domestic poultry and wild birds as well as surfaces contaminated with their feces or other secretions. Ensure all poultry dishes and eggs are thoroughly cooked.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Modern medical care is available in major cities but not necessarily available in outlying areas. Immediate cash payment is often required.

There are decompression chambers near popular diving sites.

Universal Health Coverage

Turkish law now requires that foreigners with residency permits living in Turkey register for the new Universal Health Coverage under Turkish Social Security (SGK). Canadian citizens are exempt as per a bilateral agreement. However, you may enrol if you have no other coverage and if you have been a resident in Turkey for at least one year. If you were a resident of Turkey on January 1, 2012, and chose not to register initially, but decide to register later on, premiums will be levied retroactive to January 1, 2012. For more information consult your local SGK office.

Health tips

Dehydration is a serious risk due to very high temperatures during the summer months. Protect yourself from the sun and drink plenty of water.

There are numerous stray dogs and cats in IstanbulAnkara and other cities. Dog attacks on pedestrians and joggers have occurred.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Illegal or restricted activities

Although religious proselytizing is not illegal, some activities may be considered illegal and could lead to detention.

The use of illegal drugs is prohibited. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences and heavy fines. Do not agree to carry any baggage that is not yours.

There is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving. Consequences could include heavy fines payable on the spot.

It is illegal to desecrate the Turkish flag, currency, or the name or image of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Homosexual activity is not illegal, but intolerance remains in some parts of the country.

Avoid physical contact, such as holding hands, in public.

It is forbidden to photograph military or public installations. Avoid photographing public demonstrations or members of police or security forces. Cameras may be confiscated. Do not photograph people without their permission.

Avoid discussions on historical issues and politics.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizens may be subject to national obligations such as military service. Check your status with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Ottawa. Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide consular services in Turkey. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times. Consult our publication entitled Dual Citizenship: What You Need to Know for more information.

Dress and behaviour

Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in many parts of the country. Behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Dress conservatively, especially in areas outside major cities and coastal resorts. Women should cover their head with a scarf and visitors should cover their arms and legs in all places of worship and in many rural areas.

Money

The currency is the Turkish lira (TRY). U.S. dollars, euros and major credit cards are widely accepted. Automated banking machines are widely available. You may have difficulty exchanging traveller's cheques as banks will charge very high commissions.

Climate

Turkey is located in an active seismic zone. Landslides are possible in affected areas, and strong aftershocks may occur up to one week after the initial quake.

An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale struck the province of Van in eastern Turkey on October 23, 2011, leaving over 640 people dead and thousands injured. Aftershocks were reported in the weeks that followed the earthquake. Many buildings have collapsed or are uninhabitable. If travelling to Van, you should exercise caution, confirm your travel and accommodation arrangements, avoid restricted areas and follow the advice of local authorities.

Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in extensive damage to infrastructure and hampering the provision of essential services.

Droughts, wildfires and snowstorms can also delay travel and disrupt essential services.

Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities.