A complete guide to Turkey: All you need to know
Turkey is a unique tourist destination bustling with culture, history, lofty plateaus, exotic islands, great food, and majestic beaches awarded with International Blue Flag. It’s a transcontinental and Muslim majority country located in Eurasia. If you are a history buff, adventure seeker, foodie, and someone who likes to marvel at architectural wonders, then Turkey is for you. Here is a guide for all you need to know about visiting Turkey for the first time.
Though 99% of its population is following Islam, yet it is a secular nation with great respect and love for all the religions. There are over 82,000 mosques in this country, which is why it’s also called the land of the mosques. It’s also one of those countries with a bridge that crosses not just one, but two continents. One part of the bridge is in Asia and another in Europe. For this reason, it is also called the pool of Asia.
Turkey is totally different than other Muslim countries. Here, complete liberty is provided to women and they can wear any dress, study, work, drive a car, or do anything as they wish. Thanks to its leader, Mustafa Kemul Ataturk, who is also known as the father of Turkey, for laying the foundation of a modern Muslim state. What’s amazing about Turkey is that it is one of the powerful economies of the world despite not having any oil and natural gas resources.
Best Time to Visit Turkey
Every single region of Turkey is distinct from another. In one place, you can enjoy majestic mountains, gorgeous beaches, warm sunny weather, and at another region, cold weather. This makes Turkey ideal to visit at your climate liking. However, the best time to visit this diverse destination is during the spring months from April to May. The weather in September and October when autumn begins is also good to travel. June to August is the month of summer and like many places, this is the period when Turkey is crowded with tourists. Being a tourist season, everything from accommodation to food and transportation becomes more expensive. In short, the summer season is hot and winter cold just like any European city.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey has taken all the measures to make it easy for foreign nationals to obtain their visa hassle-free. They have launched the Electronic Visa (e-Visa) Application System in 2013 which allows visitors to apply and receive e-visas within a few minutes. If you are carrying a USA passport, you can get the e-visa in five minutes by paying a nominal fee of $20. Just ensure to print or screen capture the bar code along with the approval page and number since the Turkey visa will be an online link.
How to Reach Turkey
Istanbul is the largest and most populated city in Turkey. It has two international airports to manage flights both from Asia and Europe. So, no matter which continent you belong to, the best way to reach Turkey is by flight to Istanbul. Several carriers such as British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa Airlines fly to Turkey from major cities such as London, Frankfurt, Paris, and New York City.
Travelers from Asian continents can take a flight to Istanbul from Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur. Flights are also available from the Middle East countries like Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad.
Besides these several reputed airlines, Turkish Airlines also flies from Asian, European, and American cities.
Traveling Around Turkey
The public transportation system in Turkey is a good way to move from one to place to another. You can use buses, metros, trams, and ferries. Most of the cities in Turkey have centres where you can buy a public transportation card. This card comes with a validity of 24 and 48 hours. You can find kiosks installed at metro stations to buy the card. Just follow the instructions the machine displays and get your card. If you’re taking the bus to explore the city, check the bus schedules along with the routes.
WiFi is Erratic
Accessing WiFi in Turkey could be tricky for foreigners. To access the WiFi password, you have to get a European or Turkish number. This is required even when obtaining your e-visa at the Istanbul airport. To enjoy smooth WiFi, it is wiser to get a Turkish Sim Card and enjoy an international mobile phone plan. If you have a Turkish national as a friend, he or she could be helpful to get the password online.
However, in some places, you will find inconsistent internet. Even if you manage to get the internet somehow, the speed would be a lot slower, or the internet will stop working completely.
Websites that are banned in Turkey
Wikipedia is one of the most-used websites by students and professionals for research and to gain knowledge on anything. Sadly, it is banned in Turkey and nobody could guess the reason for the same. In case you like to use Wikipedia often, it’s better to do your research before visiting Turkey and save the information in Google Drive.
Another website that is banned in Turkey is PayPal. You cannot access it to pay for availing services and doing shopping in Turkey. However, if you have a PayPal application installed in your mobile, making any sort of business transactions from your PayPal account through the app is possible.
Learn a few Turkish Words
Turkish is the official language of Turkey that is spoken by 90% of its population. Though English is also spoken in big cities such as Istanbul, there are some non-tourist areas where communicating with locals could be difficult since they don’t speak English. That’s why learning a few Turkish words will be handy. While there is no need to be an expert, learning words of greetings and appreciation will make conversation easier. You must also be able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in Turkish language.
How to dress in Turkey?
99% of the Turkey population is Muslims, so you will find a deep religious influence everywhere you go. Since it treats women differently from other Muslim nations, there is no need to cover yourself from the head to toe. However, you must practice proper etiquette and ensure that you’re not harming their religious sentiments. Donning proper attire and covering yourself enough to avoid unwanted attention will make you most comfortable. If you’re entering a mosque, make sure to remove your shoes outside.
Travel and Living Costs in Turkey
Turkey is not expensive, and you should be able to enjoy it within your budget. However, during the peak season, prices of everything go higher. You can use the metro and bus services to travel within the cities. The cost of public transportation is reasonable. You will spend a maximum $1 for each way of travel. Even if you rent a car, it won’t cost you more than $1 for an hour.
Accommodation costs are also reasonable in Turkey. If you prefer to stay in a hostel, then it would be $10 for a night. If you are booking through Airbnb, then the cost will be $20 per night. With some hotels, you can find a room for a day at $30 and of course more.
Whether you’re planning a short or a long visit to Turkey, use this information for a lovely vacation in this magnificent country.