When you are in Instanbul, you will certainly be asked to come into at least one carpet shop. The salesmen speak many languages and are friendly. If you do come into the store, they will prepare tea or coffee. They will talk to you for about ten minutes, asking you about your trip and where you are from. Then, they will explain how the carpets are made. At this point, one of his assistants will start rolling out several carpets for you. They will ask which ones you like. They will try to find one or two carpets you like the most. At some point they will ask you how much you think they are worth.
Then, you will probably be told that you will be given a "special price." Even if you say that you do not want to buy anything they will ask you to name your price. You might be tempted to play along, but you will be falling into a trap. If you name a price, they might say "deal," shake your hand and start wrapping the carpet. An hour later your wallet will be hundreds of dollars lighter and you will be asking yourself, "How did that happen?"
If you have no intention of buying a carpet, don't go in the shop. If you are "just looking," stay outside. Look from the window. Sure, you could walk out of a carpet store without buying anything, but the carpet salesman will try to make it look like you are being rude to him. After all, you just had tea/coffee with him and had a nice conversation. How can you turn your back on a friend?
Unique Suggestions: If you really want to buy a carpet, do a lot of research before coming to Istanbul. Go to a store in your own city and see how much hand-made carpets cost there. They might be cheaper than in Istanbul!
Also, if you are traveling to a different part of Turkey, such as Konya, you might want to buy a carpet there as prices are not as high.
The Kapali Carsi or Grand Bazaar lives up to its name as big in size -- about 4,000 shops lining kilometers of alleyways -- and big in price -- yes, it is the city's BIGGEST tourist trap where prices are easily 40-100% higher than their ''fair'' price.
And why not? Thousands of tourists troop to this historic place on summer days, all fair game for the scheming and enterprising Kapali Carsi salesmen. This is their turf, so no matter how much advanced your bargaining skills are, these salesmen will always come out victorious.
Fun Alternatives: Go there to experience the place and test your haggling skills. If you need to do some serious shopping, your best alternative are the shops located just outside Carsi's gates. I've noticed that similar products sold outside are at least 40% cheaper than those displayed inside.
I have been to Istanbul about 6 times, primarily to visit my wife’s family and to take in some culture and history: ex, Seat of the Eastern Roman Empire, then the Byzantine Empire, then the Ottoman Empire, now the cultural and industrial capital of Turkey. At least 2000 years of continuous existance, with a population of 14 million. If you visit Istanbul, either take a tour where you can be babysat, or do your homework, and learn how to count zeros. You must visit Istanbul or any other city of similar pedigree on its terms. Bad things can happen when you travel anywhere, ex: I have been pick-pocketed while in Rome, I just chalk it up to an experience.
Unique Suggestions: Jerry’s Tips
1. Do be carefull about the sharper than average con-artists on the street, they will approach you and before you know it, you’re in a shop and they are serving you tea and showing you carpets that otherwise cost a quarter of what your best bargaining skills can muster.
2) Taxis are essential. Carry lots of 5 YTL bills because you will loose at most 5 YTL. I have paid 20 and gotten 10 in change, but it was counterfeit and before we realized it, he was gone. Turkish Lira (YTL):1.45 YTL per USD.
3. DO NOT FLASH YOUR AMERICANISM. Dress like you live there. NO shorts, this is an instant giveaway that you are a foreigner. Dress in slacks and a button-up shirt, like you are going to work. Don’t walk with your mouth open while you are marveling at the sites.
4. Food and Drink: Drink only bottled water, cola, or hot tea. If it hasn’t been pre bottled or boiled, rest assured your digestive system will not be familiar with Turkish culture. Pack Anti-diarrea stuff, cold medicine, know the nearest drug store (ECZANE) is. Turkish food is delightfull, but you may want to also skip the yogurt, salads, and kokorec (fried sheep intestines).
5. After Dark: With the EU imposing their laws, there has been a surge in petty crime. I have seen a visible increase since my first trip in 1994. Do not walk the streets after dark unless you are with a group of local knowlegable people.
6. Have a good time, plan you’re days and understand that Istanbul is really like no other city on the planet. The people are warm hearted, and genuine. They really do want to know where you are from, and they really like American visitors. But be respectfull while you are in their part of the world. As a rule I try to avoid any political discussions because they get a bit excited about world affairs.
7. Buy a Turkish-English dictionary or phrase book. Turkish is an Asian based language, and although the letters look like English characters, they have only modern words in common.
Fun Alternatives: Other Sites: You may also want to add a 3 or 4 night stay at one of the thousands of all inclusive resorts on the Agean or Meditteranean (sp) resorts, where you can see the beautifull Turkish Coast, ruins from the Greek, Roman, Lycian, and Ottoman civilizations. Most sites charge a small fee (15 YTL per person) which I gladly pay so they can operate these sites for the public enjoyment. In fact, most of the sites are very accessible, unlike what I have experienced in the UK, or Italy. My favorite places include Antalya: which is near Termessos, Pergamum, Phasaleis. Marmaris or Bodrum which is near Ephesus. Fetiye which is near Xanthos, and Tlos.
I recommend to you to eat in places where the locals eat.For example in Sultanahmet area do not eat in the main street and following streets.Go to Sirkeci down to hagia sophia and ask for Lokanta (Restaurant in turkish)You will arrive a small square (Hocapasa sokak) with full of local restaurants filled up with turkish people.6,00 YTL is good for a porsition of meat balls and salad and water-bread.If you eat turkish pizza (pide) with cheese 4,00ytl
Some VT members were complaining about cab drivers and some cheater people.
For Cab: When you take a cab,you will see,he will put the thing to put price on.
it should starts with 1.01 YTL .it suppose to show Gunduz (Day) or Gece (Night).
Night cost double and starts after midnight.
Unique Suggestions: if you realise he put the wrong one.Tell him to stop the car right away and ask for the cop. Actually suppose to be tourist cops but if you can not see any around,go to any cop you see.Tell them,whats going on and let them help you.
Fun Alternatives: why dont you take the bus named HAVAS?
they are always waiting front of the airport and has hours to move.
Tell them,where you want to go,they will help you.
They are working with the airport,so thats not really possible cheating by 'em.
These buses are going to Aksaray,Taksim,Kozyatagi (Anatolian side) etc etc.
Another option is to take a metro/subway.
If you follow the signs for metro in the airport,you can find it easy.
you can see the map for destinations in all subway
Any problem?confused?Ask to people in Subway !
Even if they dont speak english well,they will try to help (yes,we are very helpful people :-)))
They are not like some Cab drivers,dont worry :-)
There are two types of Bosphorus cruises: one that is part of a larger tour and one that is a no-frills trip up-and-down the waterway. The latter is much cheaper, but can be very unenjoyable. The cruise takes about 90 minutes and does not stop. It goes slightly past Rumeli Hisari and then turns back.
During the summer, these boats are packed. All the seats inside will be taken and you will have no choice but to sit in the sun for the entire cruise. Plus, the wind can be quite bothersome.
Fun Alternatives: Instead of going on a cruise, you can take a bus along the shores of the Bosphorus. Or you can take a commuter ferry, although it will take longer and you will not get to see all of the sights. However, you will actually get to stop at many of the things you see from the boat.
The Sultanahmet area of Istanbul (where the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, and Hagia Sofia are located) is one giant tourist trap - there are thousands of peddlers selling the same souvenirs, and myriads of carpet and leather salesmen standing on the streets trying to get you to come into their shops.
But you mustn't miss this area if you are visiting Istanbul, so you have to learn to deal with it.
Unique Suggestions: Just say "No Thank You," over and over, and keep walking. If they say, "Can I ask you just one question," just say "no thank you." If they say ANYTHING AT ALL, ATTEMPT ANY KIND OF CONVERSATION, just say "No Thank You" AND KEEP WALKING. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT.
You may feel silly answering the question, "Where are you from" with "No thank you", but you have to learn to do this. Otherwise you'll spend all your time trying to extract yourself from these guys rather than seeing the sights.
They are counting on your politeness to get you into their shops. You can be polite but firm. And it is imperative to learn this very early on, because there are literally no streets where you can walk in this area without getting accosted by carpet and souvenir salesmen.
Still in trip planning period I read the information, that restaurant service is not always could be trusted. Such example happened to me as well.
When we ordered main dishes, waiter also presented us small bottles of water. As I knew the trick, I asked if it is for free. He told it is 2 liras for both. I simply told that we haven’t ordered it, so he lowered price to 1 lira and got an answer to leave bottles on the table ;)
Unique Suggestions: It is quite clever just to ask if you have to pay for an extra things they carry to your table or not.
One waiter told that it is hard to trust three things in Istanbul: women, weather and water. Weather could change every minute from hot to cold, one moment it could rain, another one it is sunshine or smaller/bigger wind. As for first half of May 2011 it was quite unusual even for locals, that temperature was 13 – 20 degrees and no more. Some days there were a bit of rain. Anyway, for sightseeing such colder weather was ok, but I haven’t got any sunburn I was expecting to :)
If to continue story, water in Istanbul is also tricky, in some guides it is suggested to buy bottled one, even for brushing tooth.
Unique Suggestions: Better to have a few layers of clothes you could take to your bag (if it is not cheap flight with limited baggage).
Dolmabahce is a splendid palace that is definitely worth visiting. The entrance fee was 16 YTL in September 2006 (this is a combined ticket for the palace and harem). But don?t pay extra - another 6 YTL - to take pictures (unless you are rolling in money). It?s a rip-off. Nobody knows, or asks, whether you paid or not. It's just another way to squeeze money out of tourists. The tour is guided, and the guide says: OK, everybody, picture time. So the goody-goodies who did as they were told and left their cameras at the entrance have basically been had.
Unique Suggestions: Before you leave the grounds, make sure to take advantage of the bathroom near the exit (no, folks, you can't use the Sultan's marble and gold facilities). Not only are most of the public toilets in Istanbul filthy and smelly, but you have to pay. At Dolmabahce, they are amazingly clean, and best of all, they're free.
Okay, i know some people will be surprised to see this under tourist Trap Category and i admit i wasn't totaly sure if thats the right category to place it but i think it may be better...
As you can see in the photo of this tip, Galata Bridge is full of restaurants / cafes. Its a pure Touristy place.
The nice thing about it is watching the ships / boats and the view, other then that its not a place to get some good food or hang out for a few reasons. First of all the touristy restaurants, You want a good and quality food ? thats not the place, Even my Espresso and the tiramissu (typo?) cake didn't remind of the real thing. I think that unless if you drink coka cola from its bottle nothing there is good. The chips (frize) that my friend ate looked bad (!)and oily and well as the rest of the things.
Luckily we only tried a light meal before the cruise we had to the Princess island.
Around the bridge and also when walking on it you can smell the bad smells of dead fish or the ships fuel. I was amazed to see so many people standing there and fishing and kept wondering whether they do it to enjoy their free time or do they sell it to people that will eventually eat it ? i dont even want to think about the last option.
Oh, one last thing, like in the suk or Bazaar also here the waitress's will try to convince you into their restaurants, they are not easy... sometimes they just nag you and wont let you go, be ready for that and just say no thanks and Keep walking !
Unique Suggestions: I say dont miss this place cause you'll any way be near by at this or that point.
Walk on the bridge enjoy the beautiful view, its really nice but dont waste much time there.
There are deals from the hotels and also people in the pier that are selling trips to the islands and the bosphorus for a lot of money - 20-30USD !
Unique Suggestions: If you went to a tourists' boat at least enjoy the view and have fun.
Fun Alternatives: Find a local ferry - it is not hard to find in Eminonu , Kadikoy , besikas and more and it will be cheaper.
A ferry to the prince's islands cost us 2 YTL from eminonu.
A ferry to the black sea costs us 7.5 YTL from Besitas.
From Besiktas to Uskudar it cost us 0.75 YTL.
From Eminonu to Kadikoy it cost us 1 YTL.
So figure out yourself how much you save !
It happened with me 2 times in 2 days,in the forst time I was foolish but in second time ,the driver was foolish!!
in the first time I was in EMINONU and wanted to go to Taksim,it was around 7,000,000 TL ,I gave the driver 20,000,000 as I had no smaller ,in less than one second he showed me that I paid only 5,000,000 and I gave him again 2,000,000 (it was my second day there and I had many 20 million papers) ,that means he took 22,000,000 TL (15,000,000 extra) and he left. I blamed my self ,because i was sure that i gave him 20 million but he did it!!
On the third day there ,from same area to the same area ,I gave the driver 10,000,000 (I took video shot from my mobile camera ),he showed me that I only paid 1,000,000 .No sir I'm sure that I gave you 10 not 1 ,he said "where is 10??" I told him ,you took it,and I have your picture taking 10,000,000 ,I told him to go to the police,he simply refused and told me that god would punish me!!!
Let him go to hell.
They could not cheat anymore!!
Unique Suggestions: Watch out your money that you give to the driver,they are like magicians.
Concentrate on the zero's (they are many 0000 in thier currency)
Don't be afraid or confused,tell him that you will go to the nearest police man.
Fun Alternatives: Try not to make any kind of conversation or communication between you and the driver.
(it happened with me only when I spoke to them).
If you are in Taksim and want to go to OSMANBEY or LEVENT ,you can use the metro ,just 1,000,000 and it's so fast.
There are two considerations to this: we wanted to see the whirling dervishes desperately, and for the experience we were grateful. However, the setting is nowhere near genuine, so if it's authenticity you're looking for, you may want to try elsewhere (more on that below).
The room appears to be an unused waiting room of a train station, and looks like.... a waiting room in a train station. But once the performance began, I managed to forget that. The dancers are preceded by a quartet of musicians, who begin with instrumentals - this lasts about 10-15 minutes. Then the dervishes solemnly walk out, abandon their long black robes, and in ceremony, slowly begin to turn in their meditative spin. It's actually mesmerizing to watch them as they slowly unfold their arms and twirl one foot around the other, gaining momentum in their rotations gradually. Eventually they slow and stop, regroup in a line, and repeat the dance, their long robes flowing elegantly in undulating waves, their heads tilted slightly, outstretched hands relaxed.
But this is obviously a tourist performance, and the dancers can range from good to bad.
Unique Suggestions: Keep in mind that it is for foreigner, and enjoy the movements of the dance. It really is amazing.
Fun Alternatives: We managed to witness a real Sufi meditation gathering, and it was quite different. I can't give details on where it was: we gave the taxi driver directions written in Turkish, and he dropped us off somewhere way off the beaten track. But what we saw was stunning. The Sufi tradition, tied closely in Islam, involves meditation of various methods, including dance. It is not done for tourists or photographers; the fact that we were there was due to the spontaneous generosity of a very gracious man and host who went out of his way to eat dinner with us and sit with us, explaining the Sufi ways and answering questions on this private and personal expression of faith. I will always remember his patience and kindness. And while I wasn't sure if I should even mention this experience, I wish to say that if you are truly curious about all aspects of Sufism, then do some reading on it - enough to gain a basic familiarity with what it is, and if the desire to delve further persists, then investigate where to see such practices are performed. Chances are if you do, you will be a welcomed guest into a ceremony that is ancient, exotic, and thrilling, though not for the lighthearted.
Kumkapi is the seafood restaurant district located to the southwest of Sultanahmet, just off Kennedy Caddesi and the main railway loop. I read a lot about this historic area in tour guides, but it was a huge disappointment. Our first mistake was to walk to Kumkapi from our hotel in Sultanahmet, which took us through a confusing maze of streets in a run-down, dirty, and somewhat frightening residential area. We made it safely, but I certainly wouldn't do it after dark.
Once we got to Kumkapi itself we found a vast sea (ha, ha) of seafood restaurants all offereing almost exactly the same menu, with almost no uniqueness. None of the food looked particularly appetizing anywhere we looked, and it was all very overpriced. We didn't receive very good service and we found poeple to be less friendly than in the two restaurants I mentioned in my restaurant section. To top things off, when we took a cab ride back to our hotel our driver took us to the wrong part of town completely, despite the fact that I showed him the address of our hotel and the precise location on a map. He then acted annoyed when we informe him that he took us to the wrong place.
Our trip to Kumkapi was our first meal in Istanbul, and one of our first experiences in the city. Needless to say, it was not the right way to kick off our trip, and it was during this experience that my wife and I began to seriously second-guess our decision to visit Istanbul. Fortunately things did get better as our trip progressed, but Kumkapi certainly didn't endear us to the city.
Unique Suggestions: Just don't go. Period.
Fun Alternatives: There are lots of great places to eat, two of which I cited in my restaurant recommendations. When in doubt, ask someone at your hotel. Hopefully they're as helpful as Mustafa at our hotel.
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