Beware the Taksi rip-offs
Try to use the tram to get down to the center. However, you will find you want to take a taxi for speed and convenience. The following are some of the things drivers tried to do.
1. They drive all over side streets to add to the fare.
2. They don’t restart the meter from the previous customer so you pay for your trip plus the previous customers trip
3. They point out a touristy site and, while you look out the window, they hit a button that jumps the meter up another 10 million
4. They pretend you don’t know where the Blue Mosque is and drive to their brother, the carpet salesman, for directions and a sales pitch.
5. If you give them a 20 million bill, they switch bills and return a 250,000 bill and say you didn’t give them enough.
Unique Suggestions: Watch the meter for accuracy.
Get an estimate of the cost before you get in
Count the zeros on your money. The 250k and 20 million are similar to a foreigner.
Argue if you are ripped off. They will back down.
Tip drivers who are honest.
- Museum Visits
- Budget Travel
The Grand Bazaar - over-hyped and priced
Everyone in the world has heard about Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, so it is a must-see, but I think it's mainly so that you can tick the been-there checkbox. The are in the dead centre has some fairly interesting looking items such as antique jewellry, but the rest of it - the majority of it - is just a huge mall with slightly different architecture than back home. The prices seemed expensive and afterwards we met our Turkish friends who confirmed that the prices there are atrocious compared to other shops in regular locations.
Fun Alternatives: We far preferred the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. See my VT tip.
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Beware of the istanbul restaurents
We dined in a restaurent in the begining of istiklal gadessi from Taksim side. The restaurent which i forgot its name is a 4 star rated rest. with 3 floors, it is so nice to dine in.
The trap is that when they give you the menu and you choose the dish they start bringing you cold water bottles,yellow cheese and traditional bread (ekmek)(nan) when you tell them you did not order this they tell you (ok) and smile so you will have the impression that it is on the house and when you eat it they refill the bread,water and cheese. The food was good but when you ask for the bill it clearly states that yopu have to pay for the water,cheese and bread you ate. We were really angry but didnt argue we payed and started to leave and then suddenly a divine thing happened to make us even as awaiter was coming up the stairs carrying a tray full of dishes slipped and all the dishes were broken and the waiter behind him surprised fell off with his tray and the domino effect made 4 trays and waiters slip....lots of food no one hurt but made us even...lol
Unique Suggestions: When you enter a turkish restaurent ask for somone speaking english and ask specifically for each item
- Food and Dining
A cruise up the Bosphorus River. I had organised this prior to arriving in Istanbul through the online travel agents which claim to stop at the Egyptian Spice Market for a guided tour. In fact they just dump you there after picking you up from your hotel for you to find your own way round. Which is no problem as we prefer to do that anyway. The cruise itself was extremely slow and half way through I dozed off. It takes you up to the European side to the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge then back down the Asian side. There is hardly any comentary on the buildings as you go past and as I said is far too slow, other boats were whizzing past!
Unique Suggestions: Take a big sun hat and settle down for a nap....
Fun Alternatives: I'm sure they are not all like this, you could probably just head down to the ferry port at Eminonu and jump on one from there.
As a local living in Istanbul I will try to sumarize the traps that you may face in Istanbul and how to get rid of them..
All Taxis in Istanbul have taximeter, and they are yellow. Do not get in to a taxi without a meter.. A trap for tourists can be some taxis may use night tariff, which is 50% more, even in day time.. On day tariff you should see "GUNDUZ" letters and at night tariff it is "GECE", Warn the taxi if you see "GECE" sign in daytime..
If you happen to buy something on the touristy area beware of the untagged prices.. As tourists are the only shoppers there, you may not see a fix price.. So you should better make a bargain. Do not shop from the people on the streets..
Unique Suggestions: Taxi: If you happen to have a taxi trap, you can note their number plate and inform the police.. Arguing with a taxi driver may not always solve the problem, so do not intend to threaten them..
Shopping: Try to make shopping on places where locals also do their shopping.. Istanbul is relatively cheap than other cities, you can only enjoy it when you are in a local market place..
Fun Alternatives: Taxi:Many touristic areas are in walking distance and Istanbul has a good Bus system and also a very efficient tram systen in the tourity area. Try Buses or Trams in the city they are quiet cheap..
Shopping: If you are to buy something from a tourist shop, show the shopowner that you can be a though barganer.
Turkey ıs stıll a backward country lackıng much ın way of dıscıplıne ın every way. Whıle ın Istanbul be very careful of the Turkısh /belly dancing clubs on Cumhuriyet Caddesi nearTaksım square. They are essentıally tourist traps to physıcally rob clients. Police have admıtted knowıng about such places and complaınts agınst them however ıt ıs not surprısıng to see the club owners sıttıng and offerıng drınks and cıgs to cops ın polıce statıons when you go to complaın agaınt them. They lure you to watch dances, they wıll offer drınks at 10 & 20 lıra when you go ın. Next thıng you know ıs that you are sıttıng next to gırls, who appear from nowhere, who you don,t know and never ınvıted. Wıth the gırls come the unordered drınks whıch they gulp down even before you can ask the waıter what ıs goıng on. Then comes the exhorbıtant bıll of 100s of lıra for the drınks on your table; they wıll physıcally frısk you and pull out all the money you have to pay for the trıck.
Unique Suggestions: Do not go to these clubs KULIS, TIFFANY, HAVANA etc.
The Grand Bazaar
The grand bazaar is a very big covered bazaar with many streets inside and a lot of stores.
You can find here shirts , jewelery , lamps , leather , music instruments , carpets and many more.
When you want to buy something bargain for the price it is a known custom in Turkey.
you can find jewelery , clothes , leather , antiques and many many more.
This is a tourist trap because the sellers know the method and the prices are very high.
For example - Halva cost here 10 YTL while in a regular supermarket i bought it in 3YTL.
Unique Suggestions: Bargain as much as you can to lower the price and try to know the prices before you are starting to bargain.
Fun Alternatives: The egyptian bazaar is much cheaper and so are local supermarkets or small bazaars.
This re-vamped patisserie on the Beyoglu side of Istanbul has the most amazing decor. Beautifully tiled panels rescued from the original building, and a suave and elegant appearance. Don't be fooled. On a recent visit we found snooty waiters who totally ignore you when you sit down, and then when they condescend to bring you a menu (15 minute wait in our case), you can expect to then wait a further 15/20 minutes for anyone to bother taking your order.
We were then escorted to a dimly lit cabinet at the back of the place which had a so-so selection of pastries and gateaux. Asking what these were, we were rather haughtily told that amongst these were Gateaux Mille Feuilles. Unfortunately for them, I was a professional pattissier for many years, and it sure wasn't anything special.
We then had a power cut. OK we accept that these things happen, but there was no attempt to make things happen. The staff seemed to come to a total halt. No drinks, the till wasn't working etc etc. No attempt to improvise with a calculator or a kettle on a gas ring say.
A party of six ladies gave up in disgust, left some money on the table and walked out. Followed closely by a table of about 16 people off a cruise liner, who had a very vocal dispute about their bill, the lack of service, and the general appalling attitude of the staff.
This row continued out onto the sidewalk, and involved 'security' men being called.
In all this, we sat for about 20 minutes before requesting our change from our own bill, which they had conveniently forgotten.
This was finally produced, 10 TL short, and when queried was refunded with very bad grace. Dreadful place, and how it ever made any guide books is quite beyond us. The staff want to look around them, look after customers, and cut out the 'look down our nose' approach, which in this day and age doesn't impress anybody anyway.
Unique Suggestions: Just don't go there. Have a cake and a drink anywhere else, because it just can't be any worse than this place!
Fun Alternatives: Have a cake and a drink anywhere else, because it just can't be any worse than this place!
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Food and Dining
- Business Travel
Beware of the shoe polishers
Quite a clever one this - it caught me out the first time and I saw attempts to do the same twice in the two days that I was in Istanbul. Basically the way it works is a shoe polisher type person will "accidentally" drop something in front of you. Being the kind/naieve (as I was the first time) person that you are you'll pick up the guys object (usually a brush) and return it to him. Within a split second your kindness will be repaid by him squirting your shoes with polish. The instinct here is simply to walk off but the fact that he'll be doing it for "free" to repay your kindness and the fact that your shoe's already covered in liquid polish means you'll probably go along with it as I did. Inevitably the free clean ends up becoming anything but and he'll then demand a minimum and you'll have to agressivly stand your ground or be fleeced. I got away with handing over 5 lira (about £2) so no harm done but they will try to intimidate you into handing over a lot more. Istanbul's a wonderful city but if approached by a friendly stranger then they'll doubtless be after something!
Unique Suggestions: If someone drops a brush in front of you fight againt you innate British decency. Don't pick it up, give it a good boot.
An interesting scam
Dusk is falling and everybody is going home. The shoeshine guys are packing up. I notice that one of them has dropped one of his brushes . So of course I pick it up, call after him. One likes to help a fellow human being.
Hooked one: Now to reel him in!
The man is effusively grateful. Thanks thanks thanks. Have a shoeshine.
No thanks. I'm wearing sandals, and I don't want my socks polished. No thanks
No I insist......
And then at the end of the process....blow me down. He wants money. The shoeshine wasn't a thank-you No Give me money. Give me lots of money Actually he wants what I imagine is the price of five or ten shoeshines. He wants an effing days wages
Sometines you have to be very rude indeed. He'd probably never heard the phrase 'Go take a flying f*** at a rolling donut' before, so he got something out of the encounter.
Train / Bus &coach stations
Ok the main tourist con in Itanbul IS when you are about to board a train coach for a long journey keep your bags and personal belonging very close. and hand bags to be held tightly in front yof you as we fortunate enough not to have it happen to us . But as we kindly informed by some of the local people at the main coach depot. Some times your bag or bags are snatched / stolen just as you are about to board your coach OR train a shtey know the coach or train wont wait for you to sort things out and you may also not have the time to stay behind and miss your long journey
SO BE WARNED :-)
Unique Suggestions: Dont carry you passprort or large amounts of cash or credit cards in your baggage keep it on you and well conceald
Fun Alternatives: There is no alternative unless you get a taxi :-))) or dont go :-))
If you possess an ISIC card, do not forget to take it with you!!!!
It happened to my friend and he paid twice as much money for entrance fees as for accommodation.
Entrance fees are sky high in Istanbul, 15Mio Lira (10€) is the standard price, but students only have to pay one third (5Mio Lira).
So if you plan on doing at lot of sightseeing, your student card saves you a lot of money.
- Budget Travel
Cherry Drink Trick
When you see a man on the streets wearing traditional dress and carrying a big teapot be careful! He will offer you a cherry drink.. this is not free nor cheap! when I was offered a drink i happily accepted thinking that it was only a few lira but after drinking he demanded US$40! I was shocked and shook my head but he keep strectching out his hand to get the money and in the end I pretended I heard US$14 and paid that instead! It was still a rip-off. Dun be fooled like me!
Unique Suggestions: Give him some money for the drink, maybe NTL $1 or $2 but not more!
As you can read at the sign in the pic, you will find a lot of “original” copies of everything here in Istanbul. These watches were sold for 3 euros, but you can always bargain.
And the same goes for Polo, Lacoste, Gucci…
Fun Alternatives: Buy them anyway, they are bloody cheap!
- Budget Travel
Be very careful buying from street vendors
I was ripped off and threatened buy a couple of street vendors during my september 2007 visit. A friend and I happened to stop by one particular vendor that was close to one of the the metro stations not sure exactly where.I saw a couple of nice lighters and other things that would make nice souvenirs, I was told the lighters would be 5 ytl each which I thought was expensive but didnt feel the urge to haggle after a long day of haggling. The vendor offered to engrave the names on the lighters for no extra charge, I asked again would there be an extra charge and he said no it would still be 5YTL, once he messily engraved the names in all of 3 minutes he said 50YTL. I laughed and told him that there was no way I was paying that much for those lighters we agreed to 5YTL he told me he was charging 3YTL per letter engraved. I told him I wasnt paying that amount and he started yelling in turkish and english saying that you will pay I already put the names, another vendor or friend came over and told me to pay 50 YTL or me and my friend would both be robbed and and left with nothing. I then proceeded to look around for police but there were none around, I was so angry and yelling back at them but it was causing a scene and there were more of them than there were of us so i threw 20YTL and walked away to the train with my friend tagging beside me , all along with them yelling behind me. I was extremely nervous, I was later told by some turkish friends that they were kurdish mafia in that area and it can be dangerous to deal with some of the street vendors.
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