Clothes. Instead of trying to fit your entire wardrobe into a suitcase, pack light. Euros allow to check-in only one 20 kilo suitcase and a carry-on. During the summer, I recommend taking light casual clothes (dresses, skirts) and very comfortable shoes for walking (flip-flops or some cute flats) to wear during the day. Swim-suite is a must as you never know which Princes’ island you could end up at. A pair of high heels and a trendy evening outfit (stylish jeans with a top, or a dress).
Electronics. Bring a converter to be able to use your technological magic. Hotels and rental apartments – all offer free internet/Wi-Fi.
When I travel internationally, I also take an unlocked cell phone and buy a local prepaid SIM card to avoid spending hundreds of dollars on the roaming fees.
Dollars, Euros and Turkish Lira are accepted in Istanbul. Cash usually gets you better deals than credit cards (at least 10% off). I think that’s the fee that banks charge a merchant for the transactions. ATMs are everywhere, so getting cash should not be a problem (your account currency will be converted into lira based on the exchange rates ) .
Most of the taxi drivers do not speak English or any other language besides Turkish. Most of them don’t know where they are going either. At first I thought it was my inability to communicate in Turkish, but later learned that it was not the case. Even when I showed the address to a driver, he would drive around asking people on the streets how to get to my destination.
Bargain everywhere. Turks are amazing sales people. It is my belief that selling talent runs in their blood and they will try to sell you anything for as expensive as possible, so don’t be a fool. Don’t rave about being ripped off – you can bargain and set your prices as well.
Large shops offer VAT – just ask for the forms and requirements on the minimum spending amount to collect VAT in customs.
Dining and Wining
Delicious food is served in different variations from traditional to modern and most restaurants are open late for dinner. Alcohol is heavily taxed turning drinking into quite a pricey habit.
Do your research before booking. Prices vary from 600+$/night at Four Seasons to less expensive rates in some less known hotels. Short-term apartment rentals are also available – depends on your preferences.
Turkey, Istanbul: Practical Stuff
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