unsafe areas, Istanbul

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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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    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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  • Tijavi's Profile Photo

    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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  • sashlasomma's Profile Photo

    Pimps and robbers

    by sashlasomma Written Sep 16, 2004

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    Such streets

    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).

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  • Pimps/Hawkers

    by hankmizell Updated Oct 23, 2004

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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  • Fake new friends

    by qbix Written May 1, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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  • Istanbul Bad Areas

    by yilkin Written Jul 14, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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  • Close encounters

    by Hansom Written Jul 4, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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    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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  • 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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  • GIPA's Profile Photo

    ISTIKLAL CADDESI

    by GIPA Updated Jul 4, 2014

    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 there....
    They appear all of a sudden asking:
    _Do you need any 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 eventually 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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  • basircelikoglu's Profile Photo

    Beware of Sultanahmet Pimps in Restaurants !!!

    by basircelikoglu Updated Sep 6, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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  • benazer's Profile Photo

    Walk alone.

    by benazer Updated Aug 6, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    1 more image

    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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  • Scams, etc

    by bennettvm Written Feb 17, 2011

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    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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  • TURKISH SCAMS

    by jamumoto Written Jul 10, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    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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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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