Turkey is a beautiful country is rich in history and heritage. It also boasts many natural attractions and places of interest. Travelling to Turkey is an immensely rewarding experience. Before you embark your Turkish adventure, here are a few things to know before you visit this intriguing destination:
Observe local gender etiquette
Turkey is still a very traditional country. In many countries around the world, a casual touch between new acquaintances of opposite genders isn’t a big deal. In Turkey, however, some locals might be perturbed by a slight brush of the hand or touch on the shoulder. In certain settings, it could even be seen as flirtatious, no matter how innocent your intentions may be. As such, rather stick to a formal handshake or a friendly smile.
Some local lingo goes a long way
We always encourage our travellers to learn a few phrases in the local language of the destinations they visit. The same goes for Turkey. If you are lucky enough to dine at the home of a Turkish local, you will delight them if you use the phrase elinize saglik, which means ‘health to your hands’. It is a compliment to the person or people who prepared the meal. Teşekkür ederim means ‘thank you’, selam means ‘hello’, and İyi günler ‘goodbye’ or ‘have a nice day’. Top Tip! If you do visit the home of a Turkish family, always remove your shoes at the door. You will normally be offered a pair of slippers. Ladies may also offer to lend a hand in the kitchen. This is a good way to get to know the women of the house, who often congregate here during social occasions.
Dress to blend in
While shorts and T-shirts are comfortable to wear on tour, it will immediately set you apart from the locals. Enjoy an immersive experience by blending in. Both Turkish men and women tend to dress more formally. For men, this means neat shorts or trousers with a button-down, collared shirt. For ladies, this means loose-fitting pants or knee-length skirts, and loose-fitting shirts or tops with high necklines.
Visiting a mosque? The Blue Mosque is high on the list of Turkish attractions. If you venture to one of these places of worship for a sightseeing tour, dress as though you were headed to church. This means no shorts or sleeveless tops. Ladies will also be required to cover their hair with a headscarf. Top Tip! If you’re wearing sandals in the warm weather, pack a pair of socks to wear on the carpets in the mosque.
Time your trip to the hammam
Bathhouses, or hammams, are another big Turkish attraction. These structures have been around for centuries. It originated as a way for men to cleanse themselves before visiting the mosque. These days hammams are open to everyone. Depending on the size of the mosque, there are normally different areas for men and women. However, certain hammams are open to men and women at different times of the day. Call ahead to ensure that you visit during the suitable time slot. Fun Fact! You will be issued standard black underwear to wear in the steam rooms. Both men and women go topless, so don’t be surprised when you enter. Go with the flow!
Carry some toilet paper
Toilet paper is not the norm in Turkey. Most hotels and tourist destinations will have it, but public bathrooms mostly feature cleansing hoses. If you are not used to this setup, it is best to carry a roll of toilet paper and plastic bag (or similar receptacle) in your backpack or handbag. The latter is to dispose of your toilet paper if there is no bin handy. Rather dispose of it in a suitable garbage unit at a later stage.
Pazarlik to your heart’s content
Some countries frown upon pazarlik, or bargaining. Not Turkey. Here, it is pretty much a national pastime. Practice your haggling skills at the Turkish to get the best deals on keepsakes and souvenirs. Turkey is renowned for its leather, gold, exotic spices, tea, coffee and clay pottery. Turkish carpets are also in great demand, but a little cumbersome to take home. Feel free to bargain about the price and take home plenty of beautiful gifts.
These are just a few of the helpful hints we have to share when joining a Turkish coach tour. Keep your eye on the blog in coming weeks and months as we share helpful advice to improve your travel experience in each of our wonderful destinations.