unsafe areas, Istanbul

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  • Around taksim square

    by turkey-neveragain Updated Mar 16, 2014

    I am staying at marmara hotel, Just connecting to taksim square, on the opposite side of the doner places, there is a street which starts with a place called "simit saray" and basically ends with a couple of hotels. It is not just this street, but all small streets around taksim square.

    You will be stopped by all people in front of their restaurants/bars offering you 100% guarantee if you don't like the food you will not pay.

    You will end up overpaying, double or triple because these places are empty and will try to cover their expenses by scamming you as much as possible.

    Don't believe their prices, use common sense they look very dodgy and begging you to come in, just ignore them.

    Also: There are scam bars/strip clubs in this area, but they also offer you to come in. I would say, do not enter any place where you are offered to come in.

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    Tricky square

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Istanbul - Turkey

    Taksim is the centre of modern and nightly life in Istanbul, and, to be honest, an ugly square.
    Futhermore, it is bigger than it seems, very irregular, with a garden squeezed in the middle, and it may become tricky at night. It happened to me, coming back to the hotel by the "wrong" side, finding a close way, with two alternatives: crossing the empty dark garden, or turn all the way back.

    This was my decision, and then I noticed how tired I was...

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    Tips for Taksim and Tarlabaşı

    by RyanJFA Written Jun 28, 2013

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    Having now lived in Istanbul for several months, I find myself confused by all the reviews referencing Taksim as an unsafe or dangerous place. While there might be shady areas not far from the Square, Taksim is crowded at all hours and often has a heavy police presence - I would, however, stay away from Gezi Park at night, providing it opens again to the public any time soon. I'm a man and have experienced some minor harassment there on several occasions, but what I get usually doesn't stretch far beyond drunk Turkish guys asking if I'd like to try having "gay sex" with them.

    Tarlabaşı is both a neighborhood and a large street that connects to Taksim Square, and is most certainly the sort of place you're best off not visiting at night, unless you're looking for a special sort of Istanbul experience. I've been there at all hours without encountering any trouble, but it is a shifty place with lots of prostitution and drug-dealing. Honestly, though, you've not to be concerned while visiting during the daytime. There's a nice open-air market on Sundays, I believe, that might prove a fun visit if you cook your own food or are into organic produce. Just be careful, exercise common sense, and try to avoid getting lost among all the winding streets! Go uphill if you get turned around.

    Tarlabaşı Bulvarı itself will have traffic and folks on the sidewalk almost any time you'd find yourself there. But once it starts getting late, transsexual prostitutes start hitting the corner, sometimes accompanied by their pimps. They can be bothersome and an eyesore but aren't dangerous.

    I'm not as familiar with the Old City as I am with Beyoğlu - I can say that the area up from the Spice Market and near the Grand Bazaar gets very spooky at night. Istanbul overall isn't a dangerous place, especially when compared with others in Europe. Enjoy your visit, mind your valuables, and you're bound to have a good time.

    Contrary to what another reviewer wrote, please do NOT avoid nightclubs here in Beyoğlu and around Taksim if you want to have a good time. There are plenty of scam joints and boring bars, all of which can be avoided by using Google and figuring out which venues fit your budget and personal tastes. Many Turks are quite hospitable, but again, exercise caution and use good judgment when befriending strangers. The shoebrush scam still does happen along Istiklal Caddesi (and in other parts of Turkey, too), and there's a slight chance somebody might try luring a lone male into an underground bar, where they'll be received by pretty girls, immediately-served drinks and a monstrous bill. This happened to an acquaintance of mine, who was intimidated into paying several hundred Euros but who was let go after a hassle when it became clear he didn't have much cash or any credit cards on him.

    You're in the most danger of getting scammed or ripped-off in tourist areas, as is the case anywhere else in the world. Don't go into a store with a tour guide - I've known people whose job it was to target wealthy foreigners, bring them into tacky shops, and then collaborate with their owners in ripping off tourists in exchange for a hefty commission.

    Istanbul is great and I've never had any serious problems with anyone in this city. If there's something you think you want to do or see, go ahead and don't let some of the other reviews scare you into your hotel room after dark.

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  • Istanbul--A Disfigured Construction Site

    by Puckish Written May 23, 2013
    Best to Wear Steel-Toe Boots in Istanbul
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    Everywhere you walk in Istanbul, the roads and sidewalks are being ripped up. Walking through Istanbul has never been relaxing given the mentality that puts a car before a human, but the situation has gotten even worse. If you wear sandals, not only are your feet filthy after 30 minutes, you're in danger of cutting your toes. Falling over concrete debris is common.

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  • Aksaray

    by mamad777 Written May 15, 2012

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    Surely Istanbul is a must-see city. Especially the European side of the city is very beautiful and filled with interesting historic places. But there are some places that must be avoided.

    Generally, I suggest you not to think about a nightlife in Istanbul. Because the night clubs are either too expensive(like the ones in Taksim or Reina Club) or are located in dangerous areas.
    Especially the night clubs in Aksaray must be avoided. Aksaray is the center of sex clubs in Istanbul and is located in an area which is very unsafe during night. For your own sake avoid going to these area.
    Try to find some British or American pub and have a nice healthy night drinking until the morning. Enjoy other interesting things in the city like its nature and historic places. Remember to visit Hagia Sofia and Sultan Ahmet and areas around them(personally I suggest you go to Istanbul Archeology Museum) and enjoy your journey there.

    If you are insisting on having sex in Turkey, go to southern cities like Antalya and Bodrum which are filled with nice and kind people who are way much better than Istanbul people

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    Beware of Sultanahmet Pimps in Restaurants !!!

    by basircelikoglu Updated Sep 6, 2011

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    PLEASE WARNING TO FOREIGN WOMEN VISITING ISTANBUL !!!

    (sorry for bad translation, I will appreciate if somebody correct it and translate to other languages)

    Western tourist women who will visit Istanbul should be careful when going to the restaurants area near Divanyolu street. This place is full of pimps and bon vivants who are always trying to seduce mature women to get information, e.g. where does she come from, what hotel and room will she stay at, how much people travel in her group, how long will she stay in Istanbul and much more. After that, they get into the hotel room in collusion with hotel employees to rob women belongings or try to get additional information (address, credit cards, name of her husband and so on).

    Any foreign woman in Turkey should be suspicious when a stranger go out with her with much familiarity or touch her hair or skin (included neck, back, arms or legs), because in Islamic countries this is never considered correct unless the woman is seen as a prostitute or an "desperate-for-sex-mature-woman", in which case the pimp will try to exploit this to his own benefit, often drugging, raping, robbing or blackmailing to her husband and local authorities and stealing her belongings. If a woman agrees to be touched by a stranger, he will think it's a sure sign that she is desperate for sex and even she could pay him for it. These pimps often act in collusion with employees of bars and hotels in Sultanahmet and sit at the tables of foreign mature women who they think are desperate looking for sex in order to cheat them.

    The pimp will try to start a conversation with a foreign woman telling her he is divorced, he is a "BBB" (Big Business Boss) or perhaps the restaurant owner. Please understand modus operandi of pimps: Pimp will say he has a nice apartment not far from the restaurant, he likes to cook (perhaps for her) and he will be flirting with the foreign woman using subtle words and bawdy double meaning words. If the women continues the conversation they will think have got an easy victim. If you are really just looking for sex it would be better to try other alternatives because what these people want from you is just your money, and believe me, they could be very dangerous.

    A foreigner woman visiting Turkey shouldn't never show her neck, neckline, belly button, back or legs if she doesn't want to be seen as a prostitute or a woman desperately looking for sex. Otherwise she could be victim of pimps who will take advantage of her. It's always recommended to travel with a man, do not accept drinks or any possible drug from strangers, don't start conversations with unknown men and never to give any information about you or your fellow travelers (including name, surname, room, hotel, phone, address, family, people who travel with her, departure dates and so on).

    If you are planning to travel to Istanbul please be very careful with the restaurants in Alemdar, Türbedar, Boyaci Ahmet, Biçki Yurdu and Divanyolu streets because the police are receiving increasing reports of foreign women who have been seduced, raped, robbed and blackmailed in these places. Four months ago two foreign women (two different cases) were killed after been seduced in restaurants near Türdebar and Biçki Yurdu. They were taken to other places and raped, blackmailed and robbed. In other cases women were forced into prostitution after being drugged.

    If you take these precautions and take care of pickpockets, for sure you will enjoy very much your trip to Istanbul and find it a very interesting city. Similar precautions are very convenient when you travel everywhere, not just Turkey. Turkish people is really nice and helpful, but you know, bad people are everywhere (sometimes they are foreigners) and you need to be careful because in Turkey it's not expected that women have the same behaviour than women in America or Western Europe. For your own safety, try to adapt your behavior to the customs of the country you are visiting.

    If you are a British citizen and have been victim of rape or blackmail in Turkey please contact British Embassy in Ankara and follow their advices, here:

    http://ukinturkey.fco.gov.uk/en/help-for-british-nationals/when-things-go-wrong/rape-sexual-assult

    Here you will find more resources:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4161/is_19980927/ai_n14478390/
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2009/10/27/two-brit-sisters-in-hols-rape-115875-21776370/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/mar/25/theobserver2
    http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article3116584.ece

    Sincerely,

    Basir

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    Construction in progress

    by pieter_jan_v Written Jun 11, 2011

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    Take care: Beams passing by!
    2 more images

    Downtown Istanbul still has many smaller streets with old buildings in hilly areas. You can imagine the nightmare the construction workers have getting their materials over in the middle of the busy day-to-day life.

    So, don't be surprised to see beams passing by, carried by construction workers, or to stumble into a sandy street where the pavement is under construction.

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  • Scams, etc

    by bennettvm Written Feb 17, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    My father always said that when people go to other countries they get stupid and stop thinking. You hear of stories of people being led by total strangers into a bar down an alley, etc. Then getting stiffed for a huge bar bill for 2 drinks. Ive read amounts between $400-$3000!!!! Would you ever do that in your home country??? Lets say you are a New Yorker in NYC and some guy bumps into you on the street and starts up a conversation, then wants to bring you to a back corner bar, etc? Would you do it? Hell no! So why would you do something like this in a foreign country? Smarten up people!

    When traveling, be on alert.
    - Do not follow the advice of strangers or follow them anywhere!
    - Before you leave, plan out your trip, know the area, customs and every little thing possible
    - Keep a low profile - don't stick out like a sore thumb
    - If something is too good to be true - IT IS!!!!
    - Think like a wolf - not a sheep

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    ISTIKLAL CADDESI

    by GIPA Written Aug 5, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Sorry if I will be repetitive..other persons posted the same.
    The area of Istiklal caddesi at night can look so warmful , funny , democratic , westernalized but lots of traps for tourists exist.
    Avoid any contact with unknown men and women here...
    They appear all of a sudden asking:
    _Do you need some help?
    -Where are you from?

    They want to lead you to a night club or cafe and make you pay a very very expensive bill! If it happEns to you , react immediately , shout ,shout shout bad words in your language say: POLICE , POLICE ,POLICE! AND TRY TO SCAPE AS QUICK AS YOU CAN!

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  • Istanbul exorbitant bar bill 680 ytl Taksim Square

    by JimXYZ Written Sep 30, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Near Taksim square and nice hotels, such as the Hilton. Almost in broad day light around 6:30 pm on Sept 14th, 2007. I was walking near the hotels around Taksim square and was approached by a young guy, who asked if I wanted to go to a coffee bar. I thought why not, it was a nice looking place across the street from a major Hilton hotel. I was jet-lagged, and said I was from USA, and would just get a cup of coffee and go.

    2 young women, one attractive named Seina age 22 came in so I bought her and her friend each a drink. they just walked in from outside. I declined any offer to do anything sexual, I am happily married, and not a cheater. I knew they were just hitting on me because they were working prostitutes from Rumania in Istanbul for 2 weeks. Siena worked at a computer terminal in Rumania. I then asked for a bar bill, barkeeper gave me a bill for 680 Turkish lira for the coffee drinks and the four drinks for the two girls. That is 120 for coffee, and the rest 560 lira for four drinks.

    The young guy that came with me, said he would pay one-half. I could see that this was a set up, and I was going to run, but suddenly my way was was blocked from leaving. Since I am new to the country, and had my passport, cell phone, camera, and yes some hidden usdollars, I didn't want to get robbed, so I agreed to 340 turkish lira, about 267 us dollars. However, I first tried to put it on my credit card which I would have later cancelled the charge, but the barkeeper wouldn't allow it. This unsavory character then followed me to an ATM, where I withdrew 340 turkish lira. The original guy who accompained me was told to go back to the bar, in English even though he was turkish, and pay the other 340 lira... so I am not 100% sure if he was in on it. It was better for me to pay my way out of this, as I was lost, staying at a different hotel 3 miles away, and the barkeeper was threatening.
    I learned alot about what a sucker I could be in trusting someone who was going to accompany to a public place for a cup of coffee.

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  • Istanbul Bad Areas

    by yilkin Written Jul 14, 2007

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    Dear travellers,

    I love istanbul and hesitate to say bad things about it (being turkish) but I want to warn travellers of 2 particularly bad areas : AKSARAY and TARLABASI... Aksaray is fine during the day but do not go there after dark. Tarlabasi, you should avoid all together/ These areas can be dangerous even in groups! Sometimes tourists can get ganged up on by 4-5 people.

    Other tips:
    NEVER carry your wallet in your back pocket.
    Carry major money/CC and passport in a thin bag under your shirt (not exposed)
    Let them take it.. better than getting hurt
    If you feel threatened, jump in a cap or if attacked, scream.

    Most likely you will have a great time, with no problems, but I speak from my learnings and experiences here. Travel safely

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  • TURKISH SCAMS

    by jamumoto Written Jul 10, 2007

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    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.

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  • taxim : be carfull

    by ftmb11 Written Jul 10, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    im writing here so peaple get to know at least a littel before they consider turkey as a destination to spend thier holiday , because its not .
    i will point samples of what to expect when u reach turkey :
    # expect a kind of bad attitude of taxi drivers since the time u will arrive to istanbul airport , and whenever u take a taxi , thier way of dealing is bad and they will try to take more than the meeter.
    # i stayed in a hotel in taxim area , which it was very luxury area , but unfortunatly u always have to expect mens who come from no where trying to invite u for resturant , be carfull , u might end up in a jungel .
    # be carful also , if u are walking alone at night they might come to u offering to u girls , also be carfull.
    # be ready if u want to purchace anything , the price will be more than dubbel.
    if u have a problem and u think that u will get a police help , no , u wont get any help , the police will stand automaticly with thier own citizen .
    as far as u go to the east side of turkey u will find peaple attitude is better than the west and also east side peaple are very friendly .
    turkey is nice country as its nature , but unfortunatly they still need very long time to know what is the right way to deal with tourists.
    after my experience , i will advice u to consider the fareast asia more , like thailand and malaysia.

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    Aoind Istanbul if you Can

    by liveid78 Written Jul 6, 2007

    I don't find good people in Istanbul. The rich are too powerful and the poor only try stealing from you. From taxi rip offs to food. Can't believe they would threat their main source of income (tourist) in such manner. Please go on vacation to relax and see new things and not to be on alert all the time.

    I was charge $5000.00 US after I spent a few hours at a strip bar in the Tiksim area. Luckly I threaten to call the police but too bad I had paid some already.

    Went to a resturant and paid $20.00 for a simple street meal. Paid $50.00 for a taxi ride from Reina night club to Antik hotel. Above all, when I landed I ask an airport employee for the tram station and he directed me to a vip shuttle service that wanted $60 euro for a drop to my hotel.

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    Unsavory neighborhood

    by Tijavi Updated Jan 12, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Taksim Square

    Before you get totally absorbed by the city's romanticized (and rightly so) beauty, be mindful that this is a city of 12 million. As such, it is not immune from the ills that plague big cities. The neighborhood across Taksim is infamous for pickpockets and petty crimes. I have been warned not to make the mistake of venturing into this neighborhood be it daytime or nighttime.

    I got a bit of a scare during a taxi ride when the driver decided to cross this neighborhood to avoid traffic jams. I thought he was in cahoots with the gangs there, but was relieved when he started locking the doors and windows. He was also kind enough to orient me with the dangers that lurk within this neighborhood. Unfortunately, I couldn't recall the name of the place, but it's right across Taksim. The place is notorious for gangs involved in petty crimes and drugs, who love to prey on unsuspecting (and naive) tourists.

    (The neighborhood is called Tarlabasi according to VTer Ibnibatuta. Thanks for the info).

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Comments (3)

  • Oct 17, 2013 at 1:19 AM

    The best ways to keep you safe:

    In 2011, i went again to Istanbul. This time my hotel was at Sultan Ahmet Area. After check-in i went out to see the area and have some food. Soon i felt some one was following me. And he caught me, it was local Kurd boy who introduced himself as a business person and it was his mistake. Bombed him with many questions and made him very confused. I wanted to know who is he and what is ultimate objective.

    My questions were:
    Q. Good, what business you deal in?
    A. Footwear

    Q. Great, so you are manufacture, reseller, or retailer or what?
    A. I buy and sell (confused)

    Q. Good, where your business is located?
    A. He told a remote city name (which i never knew)

    Q. Well, so why are you in Istanbul?
    A. For business meetings.

    Q. Well you deal in footwear business but your shoes are not looking so good, why?
    A. It made him very confused and he replied very funny - I am too busy in Istanbul, a lot of activities, walk walk and walk all the day?

    Q. Oh! don't you have any Car or Transport?
    A. He changed the topic and asked me what i do? I replied (Textile business - false information)

    He told me that he once he had done this business too and he can arrange business meetings with Istanbul Textile Ty-cones.

    Q. Ok, nice i would be happy give me your business card?
    A. Confused - Sorry i forget all of them in the hotel.

    Q. Ok, then meet me in the morning.
    A. Ok, why not have a drink or watch belly dance?

    It was the point which i wanted to know.

    I said sorry!

    But i noticed someone else joined him and he was walking shoulder to shoulder with us without speaking any words. I decided to take help of someone or run. I did both. I went off the footpath crossed the road quickly went into a fast food small shop. And ask the boy on the counter in loud voice, HELP HELP HELP POLICE POLICE. The robbers who were trying to cross the road to follow me escaped after watching me shouting in public (POLICE POLICE). Many people came closer to me and asked what was wrong with me. I told them everything but no body tried to go after them. I think it is very common on those streets. Therefore, they paid no serious attention.

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Oct 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      It is always best, in my opinion, never to be drawn into conversation with beggars, touts, hawkers or people who 'introduce themselves as a business person'. Anywhere. Just say 'No' and keep walking. Distracting visitors by conversation is a classic pickpocket's ploy...everywhere, not just in Istanbul. So, next time, I suggest you just keep walking and avoid putting yourself at risk of being pickpocketed. :-)

  • Oct 17, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    This happened to my friends in 2010. In an evening of May 2010, i joined two friends of me from Pakistan for Taksim square. I had been here many times before but never experienced such bad things. That evening, an stranger came closer to us and start talking about Pakistan. We were wounder how he knew we are from Pakistan and he had great knowledge about our country.

    He offered us Coffee and drinks, which i rejected but one of my friend accepted his offer. Soon we were following him on dark streets down to hills gradually get farther and farther to the public place. My mind was not accepting all this (i had no idea what was going to happen but i was thinking about getting lost in the dark). I started to remember land marks such as buildings, street nos or names, turns etc.

    At the end of an unknown street he stopped and asked us go into a bar, i just looked inside before entering and rejected to go inside because it was too dark and the entrance had a long stair and down the stairs some tables were hardly visible in low lights. My friends went inside and also asked me to come inside. It was very bad place, some Russian girls (they said so) were inside who were offering drinks and their owners were asking to have sex with them. Unfortunately my friends were agree on all these. They went to a private room and checked the girls and came out with dialogues in high tone with owner about the price.

    I was too confused, I never drink and like sex with prostitutes, I told my friends that i will be waiting outside the bar and I started to go up the stairs but a boy tried to stop me. It was now clear on me that we are in big trouble. I resisted so badly (I wont recommend you so). I had bad words exchange with my friends too (they were agree to pay the price for this stupid fun), it made the cheaters so confused, finally they let me go outside.

    After 10 minutes both of my friends came out also because one of thee did not accept the price and never touched any drinks. The boy who led us to this place also with them and trying to get them inside again and negotiate again. It was now chance for me to run which i did, and my friends also followed me but they did it to stop me and ask me to give some more time to them, but i was running upside on the streets and thank to God, I remembered many of the sings and came to the the Taksim square again.

    My friends were not happy with me. NEXT evening they went directly to that bar and I am sorry to write that they lost USD 700 and some injuries on their faces and bodies because they had to fight with em to save their life because the robbers used knifes to horrify them.

    So avoid getting involve with any Turkish or Kurd or any strangers in Istanbul. It can be so bad with you.

    • TeyM's Profile Photo
      Nov 30, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      Police Attack Woman Tourist
      this happened to me. The under cover attacked me like a I'm criminal just because I was taking a picture at the intersection of karakoy tram station. He was dragging me aggressively in front of hundreds of people.I am asian 5"1" high. He scared me to death and than another 3 police came and treat me like criminal. The spoke zero English and I had no choices to ask to explain. This trip in Istanbul. I did not have bad experienced from pick pocket etc but the police. I though i was going to die and they ware gonna hurt me. After they check my pictures than they let me go but it was terrify. They grabbed both my wrist and yelled at me. It was the worse moment in my life. This country is not safe. Sadly its a beautiful city but if i can't feel safe walking around even main street and the people who hurt me was the police and used their power to harm a small tourist woman like me than think about it again if you want to come here. I feel bad for good people i met here but this is the truth of the dark side of this country.

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Dec 1, 2013 at 12:43 AM

      You, I'm afraid, are making a sweeping generalisation which is simply not accurate. You had a very unfortunate experience, for whatever reasons, an experience which could happen anywhere. I have read of similar events (and far, far worse) in many, many other countries..... including the USA. To extend one experience into an overall condemnation of a whole country is entirely inaccurate and verges on scare-mongering. I feel considerably safer walking around Istanbul, for example, than I do walking around New York City (I'm female, late middle-aged, solo traveller, 5ft tall and weighing not much).

  • Nov 19, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    I cannot agree more to the comments above concerning nightclubs offering belly dancing in Istanbul. Having heard before about the practice of horrendous bills, I first wanted to avoid them completely. However, I ended up going to a nightclub just to make a friend a favour. We went to a nightclub in the Istanbul Yedikule area, offering belly dancing.

    After two beers, three glasses of prosecco for the girls, no belly dances and a short talk to some ordinary looking girls in the club, we required the bill. 1500 TL for half an hour in the club. If you can't pay, they escort you to the ATM. Don't even think about going to nightclubs offering belly dances, thats my hard learned advice.

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