5 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Turkey
Turkish visa is very easy to obtain for many countries. First, do not forget to check if your passport needs a Turkish visa on official site of Visa Information for Foreigners. Sometimes the entrance of Turkish borders might be very crowded and the approval processes might work slowly. In order to avoid the queue after landing, you can easily obtain your e-Visa through Electronic Visa Application System. Take a print-out before you travel and see how a sheet of paper can save you a lot of time.
Turkish Lira is in use as local currency in Turkey, shortly TL within the country and TRY for international money abbreviation. Buying Turkish Lira in your own country before you travel might be expensive. However, you can change US Dollars or Euro everywhere in Turkey without any hassle. As you may guess, you can get better exchange rates in the city center, while change offices in Airports would certainly offer higher rates. Most of the change offices do not get a commission. Another good option for having money is to withdraw from ATMs, as they are at each corner in big cities and you can even find at least 1-2 ATMs in small towns. Credit cards are widely used throughout the whole country, which means that you can pay with credit card even in small shops.
Turkey has 3 mobile operators: Turkcell, Vodafone and Avea. If roaming is available on your mobile phone, you will connect automatically one of those. It is hard to say that roaming prices are reasonable since Turkey is not in EU and it is considered as "other countries". According to the new law passed by Turkish Government in 2012, foreign mobile phones with Turkish SIM cards must be registered with their IMEI number to tax offices, with a payment around 56USD/41EUR. Unregistered mobile phones are subject to get blocked between 5-14 days. In order to avoid all these hassle for staying connected while you are in Turkey, you can take a look at the solution Alldaywifi.com is offering: renting a mobile wifi during your stay for a better price than a SIM card.
Turkey is a rather cheap country comparing to big cities in Europe or US. As you see photos of Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar and street markets before you go, you can easily imagine that shopping in Turkey is a great fun! The famous bazaars are not only touristic, but also they are native shopping centers for all locals around the city. This makes Istanbul twice interesting for visitors. Although Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are also usual, daily and attractive markets for locals to go shopping, you should not expect to be offered the same prices as locals are. Like you would have noticed from the prior sentence, there is no price labels in the shops! This makes possible to bargain the prices everywhere except supermarkets. :) If you would like to negotiate and deal, Istanbul Bazaars will be a heaven for you. Moreover, if you feel shy about it, you will be an angel for shopkeepers. Keep always in mind that if you are a good negotiator, you can reduce the price as low as 50% at a shopping in Grand Bazaar.
Turkey is mainly a country with islamic population. Statistically, 99% of the Turkish people are muslim on formal documents. Not all but some of the women cover their heads with a headscarf. As you may guess, it is less in big cities and has a bigger proportion in smaller towns in Anatolia. As a tourist, you do not need to worry about your clothing in most touristic places. Even in small villages, people are very friendly towards foreigners and they are always open to communication (at least they try). The only thing you should know is that you have to wear something which covers your knees and women have to cover their hair with a headscarf when visiting religious buildings and places. If you are planning to visit several mosques on a day, it is clever to have a scarf with you. Even if you forget to bring one with you, there is some scarves to borrow at the entrance of most important mosques for visitors.