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Istanbul OK for a woman travelling alone?

Istanbul OK for a woman travelling alone?

Jul 15th, 2001, 08:28 AM
  #1  
Jane
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Istanbul OK for a woman travelling alone?

I'm thinking about taking a week in Istanbul in October, but I'm either going to be alone or traveling with a girlfriend. Just wondering if any single women out there have done it and what their experiences have been, and also wondering if October is a good time to go.

Any thoughts?
 
Jul 15th, 2001, 09:37 AM
  #2  
Kavey
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I went to Istanbul over Easter a few years ago with mu husband.

I have travelled alone before, but I would not want to personally want to travel alone in Istanbul.

Whilst people are mostly very friendly and helpful there are a lot of men who think they can hit upon the women visitors.

We met 2 females who work with my husband (weird coincidence) and they had had some trouble with some essentially harmless, but persistent local men. Being together they at least felt better able to refuse the advances.

Kavita
 
Jul 15th, 2001, 10:54 AM
  #3  
M&J
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We, husband and wife, travel as a couple and thoroughly enjoy our trips to Turkey. We have a write-up for first visitors to Istanbul. But we "charge" for it. You have to share your trip with us when you return !
 
Jul 15th, 2001, 11:16 AM
  #4  
Nancy
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October would be a nice month to go because it won't be too hot. I think two women traveling alone would be safe; I would stick close to your hotel in the evening. My husband and I stayed in the "Penthouse Suite" of the Empress Zoe hotel and would go there again in a minute. It has an incredible view of the blue mosque and water, and great restaurants near by. It's also near the mosques and Topkapi Palace. Their web site is www.emzoe.com. You can reserve via email. Do bring your own plastic shower curtain liner, trust me. Good luck!
 
Jul 16th, 2001, 01:41 PM
  #5  
Les
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My wife and I were in Turkey for a few weeks recently. On several occasions we split up for a bit of alone time. My wife's comments, especially in Insanbul were that the men were fairly agressive in trying to talk to her... Not really threating but a bit intrusive, asking her "Where are you going" seemed to be a favorite opening line... her reply was, "To meet my husband"... She says this worked every time and they would leave her alone.
In our entire time in Turkey we found the people to be very friendly and genuinely interested in Americans... and not just our dollars... especially when you get off the tourist path. You will have a wonderful time and don't miss Cappidocia... it was the highlight of our trip.
 
Jul 16th, 2001, 02:13 PM
  #6  
Mary
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Hi Jane, We were in Istanbul in June and split up quite a few times, especially when shopping. As the previous poster noted, The sale guys, and it seems like thats all you see, have very aggressive sale pitches, but nothing threatening or lewd about them. Just look and act confident, notice your surroundings, and just as you would in any city, if you feel uncomfortable move on. Really, I'm no 20 y/o babe, but everyone, even the most obvious hucksters, were respectful.
 
Jul 19th, 2001, 06:39 AM
  #7  
Jane
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Whew! Thanks so much for your responses. I'm very relieved and looking forward to the trip, in any case. My biggest worry is going out at night, to dinner or to catch some sort of entertainment (belly dancing, whirling dervishes?). I'm not sure if I'd be opening myself up to harrassment, or if it would be blatantly unsafe to do so. I have common sense about travelling alone, but I've also never been to a Muslim country by myself.

That said, am I safe going out alone at night so long as I exercise basic common sense?
 
Jul 19th, 2001, 08:23 AM
  #8  
Jennifer
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I really must add that although husbands and wives may not have had difficulty, single YOUNG females should be extremely cautious traveling alone. I am 20 yrs. old and was in Istanbul with my father and brother and was separated from them for a brief period of time. To say the least, it was completely unsetteling. Leering is an understatement. My mother, on the other hand, (although stared at)did not feel unsafe, only uncomfortable. So, I must say, age matters. If you are young, be wary of single travel. I recommend wearing a ring, married or not.
 
Jul 19th, 2001, 09:56 AM
  #9  
Oaktown Traveler
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Jane:

At night you must go out to the things that you mentioned. The night life is so much a part of your travel to Turkey.

I am going to suggest that you go to the Belly Dancing and think about taking the "night lights" tour with a tour group. They will come to your hotel and pick you up and drop you off in a mini-van. Other travelers will be on board.

In Turkey at night dress with elegance and style. Ask your hotel for places to have evening tea or cocktails. Take a taxi that the hotel summonds.

Yes, single women travelers should drink cocktails alone if they want to.

The ring thing is totally ignored abroad and at home.

Use common sense but by all means do not imprison yourself because of the fears, phobias or experiences of others.

Also, as a woman travling alone try and stay in no less that a 3 star hotel. The European stars do not equal USA stars if you are from here so visit the web sites and request brochures if places you are interested in are not on line.

Have a great time!
Oaktown Traveler
 
Jul 19th, 2001, 01:44 PM
  #10  
Jane
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Oaktown, thanks for the tips! What is the "night lights" tour and how can I get more information on that?

M&J, I'd love to have your travel notes and suggestions on where to go and what to do.

Thanks!
Jane
 
Jul 19th, 2001, 01:59 PM
  #11  
Les
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Jennifer... Come on... all married people are not OLD. My wife is 26 and probably looks younger than you do and she had no problems in Turkey. She just knows how to carry herself and deal with the situation she is in. With your frightened demeanor and the vibes you were putting off It's no wonder that you were "harassed". Your father should not have left someone like you that cannot take care of themselves alone in any foreign country or any big American city for that matter. Shame. When you get a little more mature maybe you will learn that the way you carry yourself says a lot about you whether its in Turkey or the good ole USA. Until you figure this one out I would suggest limiting your travel to the local mall.
 
Jul 19th, 2001, 02:12 PM
  #12  
Lisa
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A friend and I were in Istanbul with our children before our cruise in June and used a private guide for the days we were there. I have decided that it is the only way to travel. They were outstanding in every respect. We had got the name of Mehmet Ozbalci who runs Turfantastik Tours" <[email protected]> from one of the cruise boards. He organised everything. He met us at the airport and transferred us to a hotel he recommended, Hotel Arcadia, which was in a great location. He also got us a very good price there and we were very happy with the hotel which was 3 or 4 star. We had a suite which slept 3 people for $105 including taxes and breakfast overlooking the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus.
He took us on great sightseeing tours. On the 3rd day he had a conflict and had to be out of town so he organised another excellent guide. Unfortunately, I don't have his contact info as my journal is in my suitcase which is still sitting in Brussels for some reason known only to US Airways. Both guides were wonderful, informative educated and spoke excellent English. We got to see so much of Istanbul that we would not have seen on our own. They gave excellent advice on what prices should be and helped negotiate for us. They never took us to any uncle's/friend's/brother's carpet shops.I know that they lead tours to other parts of Turkey too. His prices were very reasonable and I would highly recommend him.
I was so impressed with Istanbul and it was so much more cosmopolitan and sophisticated than what I had expected. I woule love to go back to Turkey.
 
Jul 19th, 2001, 06:05 PM
  #13  
Oaktown Traveler
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Jane:

There are two types of Night Lights tours. One takes you around to see Istanbul and its sights while it is night time. You get a different set of photos and it is a nice way to spend an evening doing something outside of your hotel room.

The other is where they take you to a couple of night spots. One incldes dinner and a show.
When we went to the Belly Dancing that was a similar package. You should plan on a 4 to 5 hour evening. All are fun!

I have more notes, my journal and my photo albums handy if you want any other information. We were in Turkey for two weeeks. It was great!

Happy Travels
Oaktown


Happy Travels
Oaktown
 
Jul 20th, 2001, 04:39 AM
  #14  
Sarah
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Jane -- My husband and I were in Istanbul over New Year last year and we loved it! We met a woman who was traveling alone -- by the end of the trip she was a bit fed up with all the attention, but she didn't feel unsafe -- much like the previous posts are suggesting. Overall, once we got used to the sheer numbers of people out on the street, we felt very safe.

I completely agree with Nancy -- Empress Zoe was fantastic and great value (though not all rooms are lacking the shower curtain!) One more thing -- taxi drivers are crazy but there are many about and they're very cheap by the standards of any other European city. Could be a very good alternative to allow you some evenings out!
 
Jul 20th, 2001, 06:23 AM
  #15  
Larisa
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I visited Istambul with my husband and a couple of friends. The city is safe.
However women, even the ones with the husband in attendance receive different treatment then men.
Those who would argue that genders are equal in Turkey just don't accept the reality.
The woman traveling alone, and particularly a foreigner, would always be looked upon. Especially at night. It's not just a leer - it's a culture difference.
We have experienced a rude attitude all too often, when speaking with locals, even in the presence of our husbands.
So, it's a matter of your attitude toward their behaviour, not the way you carry yourself, like someone suggested in the post above (they couldn't care less). If you don't take it close to heart, you would enjoy your trip.
We enjoyed our trip and didn't pay attention to nuisances, but they exist.
Of course, in the touristy 5* hotels and restaurants the service is a bit better, but even there sometimes they serve dishes first to men, then to women.
Having a personal guide is a great solution in all respects - the guide is LOCAL, they help you feel more comfortable, especially if you want to see more than a couple of tourist's attractions.
 
Jul 20th, 2001, 03:49 PM
  #16  
peter
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the worse problem at the moment is the conversion rate. there are now 1.5 million turkish lira per $1. the government has taken to print 10 and 20 million lira notes. your dinner bill will look outrageous but converted its still a great bargin. can you immagine buying a car with cash??
 
Jul 24th, 2001, 02:08 PM
  #17  
Jane
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Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful responses. I have reserved a room at the Empress Zoe and will certainly share my experiences when I get back!
 
Jul 30th, 2001, 05:12 PM
  #18  
Felicia
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I'm traveling alone in Istanbul, for the first time, and someone suggested that I wear a wedding ring (which you can buy for less than $10) and that should keep some of the men at bay. Just a thought!
Felicia
 
Jul 30th, 2001, 06:54 PM
  #19  
Surlok
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Jane,

I am a middle aged woman, and went to Istanbul alone. It is, indeed, a totally different culture, and men do look at foreign women there a lot, and very indiscreetly. Even if wearing a discreet blouse, or top, they still stare on you, and look at the cleavage, or neckline very upfrontly. It made me feel a little uncomfortable at first, then, I got used to it.

My advise, contrary to what Oaktown said, is that you dress very discreetly, mostly don't wear blouses, shirts, or any tops or dresses with deep cleavages or necklines, and don't, never, ever, stare on men there. They will take this by an invitation. Also, wear pants on the looser side, if you don't mind, and you won't be bothered, unless for those very inconvenient sales men, who do approach aggressively all tourists, regardless their sex, nationality and age.

I suggest, if you're in Istanbul on the last monday ( or is it Sunday?) of the month, to go watching the Whirling Dervishes. They are, IMO, much more interesting than the Belly Dancers, that are too touristic for my taste. There's also the spiritual meaning that appeals to me. Another option at night is taking a cruise by the Bosphorus, with dinner. Although quite touristic, is a wonderful experience, and the sight of the enlightened mosques and their minarets is something that you'll never forget. It's spectacular

As another poster mentioned, I had Mehemet picking me up at the airport, and I also hired a Brazilian guide to show me the sites there. I think it would be useful to have a guide, recommended by someone, to escort you, at least for the first day, and have someone there that you can call, just in case you need something.

Istanbul is a wonderful city, with so much to do and see, besides, is quite inexpensive. Reemember, Turks are not harmful, just different people, from a different culture, and as such shall be dealt with.

Good luck,

Surlok


 
Jul 30th, 2001, 07:27 PM
  #20  
Larisa
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Surlok is right 100%.
She summarized it all in the best way.
In my previous post I forgot to mention discreet clothes, because any open or tight garments will promote invitations.
 

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