Turkey Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +3

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. The European two-pin plug is standard.

Money: The official currency is the Turkish Lira (TRY), which is divided into 100 kurus. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange booths, post offices, airports, and ferry ports. Note that banks have the worst rates but will exchange lesser known foreign currencies. Banks open mainly Monday to Friday, but some are open daily in tourist areas. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but Turkish ATM keypads usually do not have letters of the English alphabet on their keys. Major credit cards are widely accepted; the most popular are Visa or MasterCard, but American Express is also accepted in some areas. Some hotels in the most popular destinations accept US dollars as payment.

Currency Exchange Rates

TRY1.00 = USD 0.17GBP 0.14CAD 0.23AUD 0.26ZAR 2.60EUR 0.16NZD 0.27
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Turkish is the official language, but English is widely understood in the main tourist areas.

Entry requirements for Americans: US passport holders must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond date of entry. A visa is required.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: Passports should be valid for at least 6 months from the entry date. British nationals need a visa to enter Turkey.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Passports must be valid for at least 60 days beyond the duration of stay. Canadian nationals require visas to enter Turkey.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian passport holders must have a valid visa. Passports must be valid for at least 60 days beyond the expiry date of their visa.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African passports must be valid for at least six months from the intended date of arrival. South African nationals require a visa to enter Turkey.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand nationals require a visa to enter Turkey. Passports must be valid for at least six months longer than the expiry date on the requested visa. Visas are required for stays longer than 90 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a visa to enter Turkey. Passports must be valid for at least six months longer than the expiry date on the requested visa.

Passport/Visa Note: All passports must be valid for at least the period of stay. All travellers to Turkey are required to hold return or onward tickets, documents for the next destination and sufficient funds for the period of their stay. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Travel Health: There are no vaccination requirements for travelling to Turkey. Mosquitoes can be an irritation in mid-summer but malaria is not considered a risk in the main tourist areas (in the west and south-west of the country). Most tap water in the larger towns and cities has been chlorinated, but bottled water is still recommended for drinking. Food from street vendors should be treated with caution unless it is obviously fresh or hot. The standard of health care is not high in state hospitals but the private health sector is well-regarded and modern facilities exist in private hospitals in Ankara and Istanbul. Travel insurance is recommended.

Tipping: Tipping is a way of life in Turkey and it is customary to give some small change for most services, or a small percent of the bill. In bigger hotels and restaurants if a service charge is not added to the bill, it is customary to tip between 10 and 15 percent. For taxi fares it is enough to round up the bill. Attendants at Turkish baths expect to share about 15 percent of the total bill if service has been good.

Safety Information: As in many Western countries, there is a threat from terrorism in Turkey and there have been a number of incidents, including explosions in Istanbul, the capital Ankara, and in the coastal tourist resorts. The Istanbul Ataturk International Airport has been the most recent target. There are also continuing incidents of local terrorism in eastern Turkey, particularly the southeast. Visitors should avoid any public demonstrations. Street crime is relatively low although visitors should guard their valuables at all times. Many parts of Turkey lie on a major seismic fault line and are subject to earthquakes and tremors: several fairly recent earthquakes have shaken eastern Turkey, the southwest, and southeast.

Local Customs: While it is difficult to make sweeping statements about a country that runs from Armenia to Greece, the Turkish people are generally welcoming and hospitable. Most visitors will stay in modern Istanbul or in one of the popular holiday resorts where locals are likely to be fairly open-minded; however, tourists should respect religious customs, particularly during the month of Ramadan. Dress modestly when visiting mosques or religious shrines. There is a smoking ban on all forms of public transport and in outdoor venues.

Business: In Turkey, business associates are addressed by their first names. If the associate is male, then his name is followed by 'bey', and 'hanim' is used for females. A formal, conservative dress code is observed in Turkey, and women should be careful to dress particularly conservatively. Gifts are common and are usually something the associate would use in business such as a pen or other office stationary. Business hours throughout Turkey are generally 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour taken over lunch.

Communications: The international country dialling code for Turkey is +90. Mobile phone coverage is good with networks covering most of the country. Internet cafes are available in the main towns and resorts, and wifi is increasingly easily available.

Duty Free: Travellers to Turkey do not have to pay duty on the following items: 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, or 200g tobacco. Alcohol allowance includes 1 litre or 700ml bottle of wine or spirits. Other allowances include 5 bottles of perfume up to 120ml each; gifts to the value of TRY 500, tea and coffee for personal consumption, jewellery and guns for sporting purposes. Tape recorders, record players and transistor radios have to be declared on arrival. Restricted items include playing cards, which are limited to one pack.