unsafe areas, Istanbul

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  • Tijavi's Profile Photo

    Unsavory neighborhood

    by Tijavi Updated Jan 12, 2007

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    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).

    Taksim Square
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  • benazer's Profile Photo

    Walk alone.

    by benazer Updated Aug 6, 2006

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    I been for a walk today by the Bosporous,the day was quite warm.
    As I walked I noticed many couples walking around hand in hand,not for me thanks ,hands gets sweaty on a hot day like this and it is very uncomfortable.
    I noticed also they were trying hard to impress each other,well I did not feel like impressing others myself and having to take the most lovely to an expensive restaurants afterwards.
    Oh no I rather walk alone,you too should do same on a hot day.

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  • maykal's Profile Photo

    More places to avoid

    by maykal Written Feb 15, 2006

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    I've mentioned Tarlabasi above, the area just close enough to Taksim Square for a hapless tourist to stumble into quite unawares. Well, this is not the only place in Istanbul where drugs and sex take over at night. Over in the old city, Aksaray has a bad reputation. It might seem harmless enough by day, with hundreds and thousands of shops mainly catering to Arab and Russian bulk buyers, but at night the prostitutes come out in force. A Syrian friend who studied with me used to live in an area called Capa (pronounced "chappa"), which did not seem a particularly risky area, but one night he was set upon by a group of what he called gypsies. He was fairly lucky and wasn't seriously injured, but his friend had to be taken to hospital. Mentioning this incident to local friends, they all seemed to say "ah yes, Capa..." as if this is quite a common thing. I don't know, but as there is very little reason for a tourist to go there anyway, there's not much need to panic. Aksaray on the other hand is the terminus of the airport metro, so you might find yourself arriving there after dark. Stick to the well lit streets and catch a bus or tram out of there as soon as possible.

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  • maykal's Profile Photo

    Beyoglu backstreets

    by maykal Written Feb 8, 2006

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    The backstreets of Beyoglu may look picturesque, but some of them are decidedly risky, especially for women, even more especially at night. There are no hard and fast rules as to which ones are ok, which ones are not, but generally if you see many people in a street, then it is fine. If the street is empty, save for one or two people loitering in doorways, better to err on the side of caution and pick another street.

    At the Taksim end of istiklal caddesi, some of the streets with bars also house many cheap hotels. Where there are cheap hotels, there are cheap girls and boys on offer, so be warned. And whatever you do, don't cross the wide Tarlabasi Bulvari and try to explore the backstreets around here...it is notorious for prostitution and drug dealing, and anyone seen to go in this district will be assumed to be involved in either one or the other. Stay well clear!

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  • Fake new friends

    by qbix Written May 1, 2005

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    New dangers appeared in the last time in Taksim area (happened not only to me!).
    You learn to know a guy in the streets and he invites you for a beer. You end up in a night bar (... for a beer). Girls (mostly russians) appear. No problem if you ignore them.
    Then you want to go. The bill is coming. Wow, about 30 Euro for one beer, this is for some beer and vodka 350 Euro! Your companion gets excited, he hasn't so much money. You should pay! Now your only chance is to get the police to the club or you can cry for other foreigners to help you. Otherwise you are ***ed!
    I succeeded in asking for the police, calling my "companion" a liar and escaping with a bunch of other foreigners from the club.
    So do not go with unknown new "friends" for a beer. This is not common in Istanbul.
    Check out the price list, even if your companion wants to pay!

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  • Pimps/Hawkers

    by hankmizell Updated Oct 23, 2004

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    Istanbul is an absolutely fascinating city which I had some time to explore on my own during a recent business trip.
    However, it does have a problem with hawkers and it in particular pimps around the Taksim square area.
    The people trying to sell you stuff would always try to start a conversation but if you ignored them they would go away.
    This was not the case with the Pimps who are also known in the city as 'tourist hunters'.
    They would gather in large numbers around Taksim Square particularly around the Macdonalds waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tourists.
    In the end I had to get very firm with these guys in order to get rid of them as they were very persistant. This is OK if there is only one of them but not such a good idea if it is late and more than one.
    On particular unsavoury character still kept coming after me after I pushed him right out of the way and told him to get lost.
    However he finally lost his nerve, vanishing into the night when I pointed to the friendly looking policeman with the sub-machine gun under his arm.
    I think the lesson here is that Taksim is very well policed and if things do get bad any mention of them will get Mr Pimp to disappear like the genie of the lamp.

    Istanbul is complex, mysterious and totally fascinating to try and understand.

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  • sashlasomma's Profile Photo

    Pimps and robbers

    by sashlasomma Written Sep 16, 2004

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    Parts of Istanbul is not belonging to heaven!!

    like other parts of the world ,there might be some areas that are not safe and dangerous.

    Laleli area as an example is not safe at all .I spent my first night there and it was horrible.

    After 9 pm it's a base of robbers,druggers,and prostitute.

    The receptionist in the hotel adviced me not to take my mobile and camera and my pocket with me if I decide to go outside in the nights.

    So I changed all the hotel and left to Taksim which is much safer.

    You can see many of the pimps wearing casual and some of them wearing suits,trying to approach you to thier points.

    the first question of them "What's the time is now??" ----a good start for conversation.
    if you answered ,he would ask " where are you from??" ---he will give you the history and geography and name of politicians of your country that you came from.

    Simply ,Don't give them any chance to make a conversation.

    If they ask "what's the time?" u should reply either (Buzuk = my watch is not working) or (yok = I don't have watch).

    Such streets
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  • Close encounters

    by Hansom Written Jul 4, 2003

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    Istambul usually is a very safe city, but on this last times a very bad thing is happening more frequently on streets: many boys and young mans drugged with paint remover or glue started to mess specially at nights. Be so carefull if you have the disgrace of to be faced by one of this mans, and NEVER TRY TO FIGHT with them, because usually they are VERY AGRESSIVE and if they are carriying knives they WILL HURT YOU. Usually they ask for cigarrettes or coins: my tip is try to give and nothing will happen.

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  • Taksim Square

    by Hansom Written Jul 4, 2003

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    Be EXTREMELY carefull if you decide to go at night to the Taksim Square area. Don't carry your cameras if they are sophisticated and try to avoid to use your cellular phone there, to avoid the risk of to be pickpocketed.

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  • travelightly's Profile Photo

    Night strolling

    by travelightly Written Jun 29, 2003

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    It was suggested to me by locals, that after ten or eleven at night, if you're going to be out, you'd best be with others. If alone, stay away from strangers on the streets. Do not interact with them, but move along quickly, ignoring them. This is especially so if you are not on the main streets.

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  • MyPegasus's Profile Photo

    Away from Istiklal Caddesi after 2 a.m.

    by MyPegasus Written Apr 5, 2003

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    Like other metropolitan cities, there are some relatively unsecure places in Istanbul. Like Istaklal Caddesi/ Beyoglu after (2-3 a.m. until 7 a.m.) Try to do not look like tourist if you must be there!

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  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo

    First of May

    by pieter_jan_v Updated Mar 19, 2014

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    The Taksim square will be the scene of huge demonstrations at the First of May.

    Better to avoid the square for sightseeing that day.

    First of May banner Turkish banner
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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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