unsafe areas, Istanbul
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).
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Taksim square will be the scene of huge demonstrations at the First of May.
Better to avoid the square for sightseeing that day.