5 Things to Know Before Traveling to Turkey

With its captivating history, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality, Turkey offers an unmatched travel experience. Whether you're planning to explore the grandeur of Istanbul's mosques, the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia, or the ancient ruins of Ephesus, there's something in Turkey for every traveler.

But before you embark on this unforgettable journey, there are key insights you'll want to have on hand. From understanding the friendly yet curious nature of the Turkish people to mastering the art of non-verbal communication, from money handling to proper attire, and even navigating the traditional Turkish toilets - your trip to Turkey will be all the more enriching if you travel prepared.

1. How Friendly are Turkish People, and What Should I Know About Their Behavior?

How Friendly Are Turkish People

Explore the fascinating aspects of Turkish hospitality and learn how to navigate personal interactions.

Are Turkish People Friendly?

Yes, Turkish people are known for their friendliness and inquisitiveness. They may ask personal questions or gaze at you, especially if something marks you as different. This curiosity is a genuine interest in foreign life.

How Should I Respond to Personal Questions?

Feel free to respond as you feel comfortable. If you feel that questions are too invasive, politely deflect or choose not to answer.

Question Type

Possible Response


Age-Related Questions

"I'm [your age], how about you?" or a polite deflection

It's common to ask about age. Feel free to share or deflect as you're comfortable.

Income-Related Questions

"It's enough to get by" or a gentle change of subject

Questions about income are not seen as rude. You can be vague if you prefer.

Marital/Family Status

Share if you're comfortable, or say, "That's a personal matter"

People may be curious about your family and marital status.

Questions about Your Appearance

Smile and thank them for their interest, or guide the conversation elsewhere

Compliments or curiosity about appearance are common. Respond graciously.

Religious Beliefs

Share if you wish, or say, "I prefer to keep my beliefs private"

Religion is an important part of Turkish culture. You can be open or keep things private.

Political Views

"I'm more interested in learning about your culture" or a tactful deflection

Political questions can be sensitive. It might be wise to steer the conversation in other directions.


  • Cultural Understanding: Remember, questions that might feel too personal in some cultures may be seen as normal friendly conversation in Turkey. It reflects an interest in you.
  • Your Comfort Zone: Always feel free to answer in a way that keeps you within your comfort zone. A polite deflection or change of subject is usually acceptable.
  • Inquisitiveness: Turks may be inquisitive, especially in rural areas where foreign visitors are less common. Smiling and maintaining a friendly demeanor can go a long way.

By being aware of these common questions and preparing thoughtful responses, you can navigate personal interactions with grace and cultural understanding. Whether you choose to share or keep things private, these guidelines can help you interact with locals in a way that's both respectful and engaging.

2. Will I Need to Know the Turkish Language and How to Communicate Non-Verbally?

Will I Need To Know The Turkish Language

Delve into the importance of language, both verbal and non-verbal, and find out how to communicate effectively even if you don’t speak Turkish.

How Important is Knowing Turkish?

Having some basic Turkish words and phrases can be very beneficial, especially outside tourist areas. Even a few words are appreciated.


Importance of Knowing Turkish


Tourist Areas

Low to Moderate

English is widely spoken in major tourist areas, but basic phrases in Turkish can be appreciated.

Rural Areas


Fewer people may speak English. Knowing basic Turkish can be vital for communication.

Public Transportation


Understanding numbers, directions, and basic travel phrases can be handy.

Restaurants and Shops

Low to Moderate

Menus may be in Turkish. Basic food vocabulary and polite phrases are useful.

Local Family Visits

Moderate to High

If invited to a local home, some Turkish phrases will be appreciated and can enhance the experience.



Knowing how to ask for help or directions to the hospital can be vital.

Negotiating and Bargaining


Basic numbers and polite bargaining phrases can be advantageous in markets.


  • Language Apps: Consider using a language app or carrying a phrasebook to help with translation.
  • Non-Verbal Communication: Understanding Turkish non-verbal communication is also valuable. For instance, to say "no," tilt your head up and back while making a brisk tsk sound with your tongue.
  • Local Assistance: Don't hesitate to ask locals for help if you're struggling with the language. Turkish people are generally very friendly and willing to assist.
  • Learning Basics: Even just learning a few basic phrases like "thank you" (teÅŸekkür ederim), "please" (lütfen), and "hello" (merhaba) can go a long way in making positive connections with locals.

While knowing Turkish is not essential for a visit to Turkey, having some basic language skills can greatly enhance your experience, particularly if you plan to explore areas less frequented by tourists or engage more deeply with the local culture.

How Do I Say "No" in Turkish Culture?

Understanding how to say "no" is crucial, especially when dealing with hospitality. Simple gestures like putting your hand on your heart or making a "tsk" sound can effectively communicate your refusal.

3. What Do I Need to Know About Currency, Costs, Tipping, and Bargaining?

What Do I Need to Know About Currency

Gain insights into handling money, from using different currencies to the local customs around tipping and bargaining.

How Should I Handle Money?

Carry a mixture of cash (preferably in small denominations), an ATM card, and a credit card. Know the conversion rates and check for overseas withdrawal fees.




Turkish Lira (TRY) is the official currency. US Dollars and Euros are also widely accepted.


Available throughout the country. Check with your bank for overseas withdrawal fees.

Credit Cards

Accepted in most urban areas and tourist spots. It's wise to carry cash in rural areas.

Traveler’s Checks

Largely outdated; better to rely on cash, ATMs, or cards.


10-15% in upmarket restaurants. Small tips appreciated in family-run places and for taxi drivers.


Common in markets, especially for carpets and souvenirs. Understand the price and currency before bargaining.

Exchange Rates

Change offices usually offer better rates than hotels and airports. Monitor the exchange rates as Turkish Lira can be quite volatile.

Cash Handling

Carry a mixture of small denominations of cash, an ATM card, and a credit card.

Checking Prices

Always check prices on menus and bills. Query discrepancies and be aware of the price before making purchases.


  • Handling Change: It's wise to carry some small change for public toilets or small purchases.
  • Safety Precautions: As in any travel destination, it's smart to keep your money secure. Use hotel safes and be mindful of your belongings in crowded areas.
  • Taxi Fares: Ensure that taxi drivers use the meter, or negotiate the fare in advance to avoid misunderstandings.

By understanding and following these guidelines, you'll navigate the financial aspects of your trip to Turkey with ease and confidence. Whether shopping in bustling bazaars or dining in a local eatery, these insights will help you handle money like a local.

What are the Tipping Practices?

Tipping is welcomed, with 10-15% being standard in upscale restaurants. Round up the fare for taxi drivers, especially if they help with bags.

Can I Bargain?

Yes, bargaining is usual in places like carpet shops. Stand firm with your price, and don’t be afraid to walk away if needed.

4. How Should I Dress in Turkey?

How Should I Dress In Turkey

Understand the cultural nuances of dress code, especially in relation to religious practices, and learn how to dress appropriately across various contexts.

What Should I Wear to Respect Local Customs?

While women don’t have to cover completely, dressing modestly is encouraged. A scarf is a versatile accessory to carry, as it can be used to cover shoulders or hair in mosques.


Appropriate Attire for Men

Appropriate Attire for Women

General Public Places

Smart casual, long trousers

Modest clothing, no revealing attire

Mosques & Religious Sites

Long trousers, covered shoulders

Headscarf, long sleeves, long skirt or trousers

Beach Resorts

Swim trunks, casual beachwear

Swimsuits (bikinis are generally accepted but observe local customs)

Nightclubs & Urban Areas

Trendy, Western-style clothing

Trendy, Western-style clothing

Rural Areas

More conservative attire

More conservative attire, headscarf might be appreciated


  • General Modesty: Even in cosmopolitan areas, modest dressing is appreciated. It's wise to avoid overly revealing clothes.
  • Scarves: Carrying a scarf can be useful for women, especially when visiting mosques or more conservative areas.
  • Footwear: When visiting mosques, you'll need to remove your shoes, so easy-to-remove footwear can be convenient.
  • Observing Others: Look at what locals are wearing in different situations. It's a good guide to what's considered appropriate.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and customs may vary within different regions or communities in Turkey. Always be observant and considerate of local norms, and don't hesitate to ask for guidance if you're unsure.

What About Footwear?

Carry a bag for shoes, as you will need to take them off when entering mosques.

5. What Should I Know About Turkish Toilets?

Traditional Turkish Toilets

Prepare yourself for a different restroom experience, and discover practical tips for using traditional Turkish toilets.

What are Traditional Turkish Toilets Like?

Expect to encounter squat toilets on your travels. Though different from Western toilets, they're often cleaner.

How Should I Prepare for Using Squat Toilets?

Keep tissues and hand sanitizer with you, and consider your clothing when using these toilets. Roll up cuffs and avoid wearing jumpsuits. Also, carry change for public toilets, which often charge a fee.

  • Understand the Basics: Familiarize yourself with the design of squat toilets and the correct positioning for use.
  • Wear Practical Clothing: Opt for clothing that is easy to manage, such as pants that can be rolled up easily. Avoid jumpsuits and overly tight clothing.
  • Bring Your Supplies: Since squat toilets may not always have toilet paper, carry a pack of tissues and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Use the Right Technique: Practice proper squatting techniques to ensure you are comfortable and balanced.
  • Mind Your Belongings: Be mindful of objects in your pockets or accessories that may fall while using the toilet.
  • Carry Small Change: Some public toilets may require a fee, so having small change on hand is wise.
  • Learn the Local Custom: In some cultures, water is used for cleaning rather than paper. Observe or ask about local practices if you're unsure.
  • Embrace the Experience: While different, many people find squat toilets to be a cleaner and more hygienic option. Approach the experience with an open mind.

By understanding and preparing for the use of squat toilets, you can ensure that even this aspect of your travels is smooth and stress-free. Whether it's your first time using a squat toilet or you're looking to refine your technique, these guidelines can provide a practical roadmap.

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