2 women driving in Turkey? Should we?

Old Apr 20th, 2008, 07:56 AM
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2 women driving in Turkey? Should we?

My friend and I want to travel to Turkey this November, mainly Istanbul and Cappadocia. We have rented cars and driven in Europe and Great Britain, so we don't have a problem with that. While we are definitely not "fearful travelers" we are wondering about safety for two women driving. I have read previous threads concerning safety within Istanbul but what about highways, etc. Istanbul on our own is no problem, Cappadocia is where we have questions. We could take a package tour there for a few nights, but we really like the freedom of a car.

Any women out there who have driven in Turkey and what was your experience like? Thanks
rfbk50 is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2008, 09:01 AM
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From my Lonely Planet - Turkey guide book, page 98 "You need to know that Turkey has one of the world's highest motor vehicle accident rates, with tens of thousands of fatalities each year and tens of thousands of injuries each year." "Turkish drivers are impatient and incautious. They drive at high speed and have an irrepressible urge to overtake. To survive on Turkish highways drive very defensively and avoid driving at night and never let your emotions affect what you do."

I decided that a literal quote was better than my summary. My younger brother teaches college in Turkey and pretty much agrees with the above.
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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As long as you stick to rules, regulations and speed limits there is no problem. You may be frustrated in traffic jams in Istanbul but once you are outside Istanbul you will enjoy driving. Especially in Cappadocia, a car is a real freedom to wander around.

Enjoy your driving in Turkey.
Old Apr 20th, 2008, 11:15 AM
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I don't think this is a good idea. We drove along the Aegean Coast in July, and while most of the roads were fine, some were not. Also, outside of the major cities, you will find that very few people speak English, so if you run into any kind of mechanical or other problem, it will be difficult. Also-dare I say this?- there were some instances when my daughter and I felt uncomfortable wandering around alone in Istanbul. I think this problem would be compounded on the road.
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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I live part time in the middle east and as a women I would discourage you from doing this. I would be curious to know if Anatolian is a male driver who is used to driving in the Middle East. My DH drives me everywhere but there are times I close my eyes, hard to do if you are driving. And I also agree with Weadles as far as away from the cites. You are a braver person than I to attempt this, but with that said if you decide to do so, I wish you a wonderful experiece and do not discourage you from going to Istanbul..
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 12:26 PM
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I sincerely hope that my post won't discourage anyone-women in particular- from visiting Turkey. We had a mostly wonderful trip. The Turkish people are incredible hosts, the food is amazing, and the scenery and sightseeing are some of the best in the world. However, women need to be especially respectful of cultural differences, and in some cases,we probably were not.
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 01:02 PM
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I'm the original poster. I would not drive a car in Istanbul. We were thinking of flying to Kayseri and renting a car at the airport. This way I would be out of heavy city traffic. I've driven in Ireland, England, and NARROW roads in mountain villages of Spain as well as Mexico, downtown Chicago and Los Angeles. I always use maps and figure, that if I get lost, that was what I was meant to see.

I was more concerned about social attitudes, etc. Were women drivers acceptable in smaller villages? Thanks again.
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 01:35 PM
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I'm sure that you're an excellent driver, but I still think it's a bad idea, and I do think you'll find yourselves -at the very least- the subjects of a lot of curiousity and perhaps unwanted attention in the smaller villages.
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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I would strngly recommend that you DO drive, especially in the Cappadoccia region. It lends itself to self drive. I have driven 1000's of miles in many parts of central and western Turkey, some rather remote...my wife has also driven...in fact she did most of the driving on a few of our visits ....courtesies were evident everywhere...so based on her experiences in petrol stations, etc, I feel confident in agreeing that you drive it.

Turks are among the most helpful and friendly of any country we have been to, and driven in.

Go and enjoy..just be aware of your surroundings...a bit of advice that applies everywhere other than your own driveway at home!

Stu T.
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 02:07 PM
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Thanks Stu T. My concern was that we were two women alone - our husbands don't want to go to Turkey - go figure!.
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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 02:22 PM
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I have no idea where that quote from BigRed above comes from. We didn't drive in Istanbul (or any other large cities), but we drove from Cappadocia to the coast at Antalya and followed the coast up to Kusadasi. Driving in Turkey was not only pleasant, but one of the least frustrating, crowded, or seemingly dangerous places in Europe we've ever driven. We found roads very well marked, in great condition, and very uncrowded. I can't speak about two women traveling together but alone, but I really don't see that being a problem at all.

Due to a missing sign in Cappodocia however, we did get lost trying to follow the directions to our hotel in Ugrup. We stopped in the middle of nowhere at a crossroads and simply asked the next car "Ugrup?" pointing one way and then the other. The locals who obviously didn't speak any English, smiled and said "Ah, Ugrup!" Then happily pointed us in the right direction. We did that two or three times until we found our way again. People were wonderful there.

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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 05:23 PM
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>>>our husbands don't want to go to Turkey - go figure!.<<<

Good reason to leave them home...but not to worry...as I said, I would have no qualms about my wife driving with a lady friend.

stu t.

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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 05:38 PM
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Many years ago--late 60's--two other young women and I drove through Turkey. We went through Istanbul, Bursa, Ismir, and down to a beach town (sort of) called Cesme. On our way to Cannakle, our car finally quit for good. I think the low octane gas damaged the engine.

There we were, in the middle of nowhere, when three Turkish men in a Mercedes came along and pulled us about 75 miles into Cannakle. They had no chain, so they used a rope to tow us, at one time, even buying a rope from a young boy who was using it to tie a basket on his donkey.

We arrived in Cannakle about midnight to find that there were no hotel rooms available, as it was some kind of holiday. The hotel manager routed out a couple of men and asked them to share a room, and he gave us the room of one of the men.

The only person in town who could speak English happened to be the auto mechanic who repaired our car. Repairs took almost all of our money--and mind you, this was before credit cards were common.

After three days, the car was repaired--temporarily, as it turned out.

The Turkish people were great, and my memory of the roads was that there was no problem with them. I assume that our problem with the gas was a fluke. It was an unforgettable experience!

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Old Apr 20th, 2008, 08:00 PM
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What I'm seeing online at various travel websites regarding driving in Turkey is not encouraging. Here's an example:

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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:18 AM
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I think for the most part those who oppose driving in Turkey have not actually driven themselves..those who have can assure you that it is not as bad as the rest seem to say..of course there are precautions to worry about..but defensive driving is the key..

Other than that driving inside Istanbul or inside any large city might pose a few problems when it comes to traffic.

Really I do not think that you have to worry about the roads as they are well travelled and for the most part double lane highways. The government in the past few years have really inproved the highways making travel very easy. You can however do all this by bus but like I said before you will have better mobility by driving a car and the buses will also take longer to travel from one destination to another.

however I would not bother to drive from Istanbul to the cappadocia area..not that much to see and you are wasting time..fly to Nevesehir / Kayseri and then rent a car there...I never recommend driving in Istanbul as the traffic is to congested..

here are some tips from the Turkey Travel planner..




The other tip is have a mobile phone always when you travel and the phone numbers of the places you are staying at..that way if you get into any problems or lost...you can contact the hotel/pension for help..

Also you have also posted that you have driven in Spain and Mexico..cannot see you have any problems..
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:37 AM
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bachslunch, that Frommer's article is downright idiotic. They compare driving in Turkey to driving in London or New York? I'd say the closest comparison I have to the bulk of driving in Turkey is taking back roads in rural Iowa or Wyoming. You might get stuck behind a tractor there too. Hey, most of us are talking about driving in the bulk of the country, not Istanbul!

But any travel article that suggests the best way to tour the country is in a bus and keeping your window curtains closed so you don't see anything is way beyond "stupid".
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 05:39 AM
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Great story, Peg. Have you been waiting for just the right post on which to share it? The wealth of experience here is unmatchable.
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:45 AM
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We just returned from a great travel experience. Four days of that were spent in Istanbul. We loved it! We found the people to be a real joy! However, I just wanted to add that I'm so glad you are not driving in Istanbul, we just stood and watched in amazement and actually took pictures. They drive within INCHES of each other. DH and I even commented that the drivers were men. I think we counted one woman driver in the 4 days we were there.
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:49 AM
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We have driven quite a bit in Turkey. The major roads are generally good, but some of the smaller ones can be in poor condition. The things to watch out for are:

* people tend to take a curve halfway in the oncoming lane. Be sure to honk before a blind curve if the road is narrow.

*the shoulder can be non-existent or a sheer drop in the mountains.

* there can be traffic of wildly different speeds on the roads (farm equipment, etc.) so be aware and ready to slow down quickly.

* there can also be livestock in the road unexpectedly (herds of sheep or goats).

*gas stations can be infrequent and many only take cash. Gas is about the same price as in France (expensive!)

*just in case, get an emergency contact number from your rental car agency and be sure to have a cell phone that works there.

In my experience, there is often very little traffic outside the cities, so the driving is easier than in other places. If you've driven in rural Mexico you have a very good idea of what to expect.

As two women travelling together, you will attract attention, but not much more than if you were travelling with just your spouse. It's more the fact that you're travelling independently that raises curiosity. Cappadocia is hardly a stranger to tourists, after all.
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Old Apr 21st, 2008, 06:58 AM
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Great story, Peg! Was that the genesis of your screen name?
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