Traveling to a new culture on a vacation is both exhilarating and a little intimidating the first time. We are asked many questions over and over, so I thought I'd start posting the top 7 here.
#1 If I don't have a cell phone, are there regular phones in Turkey?---Yes, there are public pay phones, but the catch is they don't take coins but 'do' take a TT Karti card that you must buy for an inexpensive price of 5-15 YTl (Turkish Lira). You'll be able to buy them at a kiosk type affair called a bufe. If you 'do' have n open roaming cell phone, you will automatically be connected to the major telephone network of Turkcell when you enter Turkey. Head's up on the cost as using a foreign phone in Turkey can be costly. NOTE: Check with your mobile phone operator about costs before leaving your home country.
#2 What happens if one of our group gets sick? There is 'no' free health insurance provided to foreign visitors in Turkey, so please insure you are covered medically before you leave your origination country. However, not to worry, there are English speaking private doctors that will assist you in clinics, private hospitals or state hospitals in case of a health situation.
#3 Is it fairly easy to find a bathroom when you are walking around... let's say Istanbul?--- Yes, these 'public' toilets are found in the malls, subways, bus terminals and 'carsi' style shopping bazaars. However, no matter how much you have to go, you will not be permitted 'inside' until you pay 50 cents to the attendant. The price can actually vary between 50-75 YTI (35-50 cents). A nice treat is a free splash of lemon cologne offered from an attendant.NOTE: the restroom are washed down with buckets of soapy water so toilet paper is not kept... Bring Your Own!!
#4 Is it a good idea to bring travelers checks or is cash ok to carry? You can bring travelers checks of course, however, only in the biggest cities like Istanbul and Ankara would cashing them be an easy endeavor. They are not widely accepted in Turkey plus, it might be difficult to find a bank that understands what they are. (This is true for the 'doviz ofisi', exchange offices, as well). The Akbank takes travelers' checks but will charge a $10.00 fee + 10% of each check cashed. NOTE: do not go to banks in the busiest time of day as the waits are 'not' what you will enjoy on a vacation. Another solution is to wear a hidden pouch under your clothing that holds your ID's and cash. TIP: you can use credit card ATM machines i all the major cities and coastal resort towns. (not inland)
#5 We're doing a lot of walking tours in Istanbul, are shoes other than flats ok? Walking tours are great but sore feet are not. You will want to have one or even maybe two pairs of really strong, comfortable walking shoes. Places like Izmir, Istanbul, and many of the guided tours to the ancient cities and ruins are a good aerobic workout, so you don't need aching feet on top of it. Save the high fashion heels, new shoes, or heeled boots for the cruise ship you might be on, or for back at the hotel. NOTE: You might want to buy some soft Turkish leather boots as I still have mine after 8 years of intense use and they are as soft and comfortable as ever.
#6 What is the best form of transportation if I'm trying to sightsee by myself? Other than the private guided tours we provide with A/C vehicles for your private group, the local bus system is the next best form of transport. these comfortable A/C buses , literally make the saying come true, leave the driving to us. Sit back and enjoy the refreshments and cakes . If it is a shorter trip around a particular area then catch the "Dolmus', the local bus.
#7 I've heard of pickpockets in Istanbul, what can we do?.) Let's face it, there are pickpockets in NY city, Los Angeles, Rome, Madrid and just about any big city where there are people that are in a financial bind. Just be careful, be aware, and be sensible. TIPS: Carry your 'zipped up' sturdy purse in front of you ladies, never hang your cell phone from your bag, and when walking in a group have your bag next to a friend 'not' on your open side.Also, a under the clothes money bag is great for passports/money/credit cards. NOTE: it is a rule in Turkey that foreigners must carry their passports for ID purposes (this is if you are moving around perhaps driving through the country