unsafe areas, Istanbul

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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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    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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    Tricky square

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013

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    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...

    Istanbul - Turkey
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    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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  • 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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  • Istanbul exorbitant bar bill 680 ytl Taksim Square

    by JimXYZ Written Sep 30, 2007

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    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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    Construction in progress

    by pieter_jan_v Written Jun 11, 2011

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    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.

    Take care: Beams passing by! Repaving works in progress Under construction!
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  • Around taksim square

    by turkey-neveragain Updated Mar 16, 2014

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    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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    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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  • Istanbul--A Disfigured Construction Site

    by Puckish Written May 23, 2013

    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.

    Best to Wear Steel-Toe Boots in Istanbul No Place to Walk This is Suppose to be the Sidewalk Try Navigating This with Small Children
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  • My advice: smarten up!

    by lightsaber Written Feb 10, 2015

    As a Turk living in Istanbul, I found most of the posts here hillarious. Are there people trying to rip you off selling false products in Istanbul? Yes. Are there drug dealers in certain areas? Yes. But tell me one city that does not have similar problems?
    I ve been to Barcelona a couple of years ago. On the most famous street called La Ramblas, there were pakistanis or indians offering me drugs. Most of the cafes / restaurants on La Ramblas, wouldnt let you sit for a cup of coffee or a drink (you gota order a meal). And most of the restaurants were too expensive and the most annoying part was the food didnt taste that good.
    So should I say Barcelona isnt a safe place and restaurants suck?
    Of course not.
    You just have to plan your trip beforehand. Not just get out of your hotel and eat at the first restaurant that you come across at Taksim. There are some good clubs, and good restaurants. (But you gota find these). As in any major city, restaurants / clubs at or close to touristic attractions suck big time!
    Hint 1: Worst case, ask your hotel for a recommendation! Thats what I did at Barcelona and had the best paella!
    Hint 2: Plan it beforehand! For instance, if I were a tourist planning to visit Istanbul, I would visit the Asian side more often (and no dont rent a car; if you do, dont drive during rush hours) during the day.
    Hint 3: Cab drivers arent all well behaved. Some may try to rip you off by turning on the cab/taxi meter before you get in. Also; to ensure, he doesnt just takes you around, use GPS of your phone to show him, you know your way around the city. But beware, Istanbul has soooo much traffic. Drivers may have to drive around, or enter a street not on the way just to bypass traffic.

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    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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