4 Ways to Stay Safe in Istanbul

Nestled comfortably across Asia and Europe, the charming city of Istanbul is a delight to visit. As with other large and crowded cities, however, Istanbul has its share of tourist scams and safety hazards. Find out how to enjoy the best of Istanbul without letting anyone spoil your holiday.

1. Taxis

Taxis are plentiful in Istanbul, but it’s easy to fall prey to creative con-drivers. To avoid getting cheated, insist on using the meter instead of a fixed fare. Note that there is no distinction between day and night fares since 2009, though some drivers may claim there is.

Find the distance to your destination and if possible, find the best route so that you’ll know if the taxi driver’s taking you for a ride.

Avoid taxis near crowded tourist areas. Get your Hotel in Istanbul to book a taxi with their affiliated cab service. If you are stranded outside and have to find a taxi, approach any major hotel nearby and request that the concierge book a taxi.

2. Street Smarts

Istanbul is notorious for its reckless traffic. Pedestrian safety is not to be taken for granted, even at pedestrian crossings.

Crowded tourist areas are favorite hangouts for pickpockets and scammers. Keep your passport and important documents safe in your hotel. Avoid keeping all your money in one wallet and keep your wallet in your front pocket.

Avoid getting lured into arguments with locals. At crowded places like Taksim, men may splash water on you to pick a quarrel. If you get pulled into a fight, their accomplices will move in to grab your purse.

3. Beware of Scams

In tourist places like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, you may be treated to tidbits of information by friendly locals who later demand guide fees.

In the “shoeshine” scam, you may be lured by young men who “accidentally” spilled their wares at your feet and want to do something to compensate.

Friendly people who speak your language may win your confidence by sharing their experiences and invite you for a drink at a bar where prices are inflated. The final bill will be left to you. If you feel heckled, find a phone and dial #155 to call the police.

While shopping at the Grand Bazaar, stay on guard. If shopkeepers offer tea, you may feel obliged to listen to them and add a cargo of unwanted products to your baggage.

The Turkish Delight is a popular souvenir to take back home; but avoid buying 10TL boxes from tourist shops, as these are not the real stuff.

4. Hotels

Book a reliable hotel in Istanbul. Some hotels that insist on payment on check-out may offer an initial quote in Liras, but later demand payment in Euros. Book safe hotels like the Basileus with its central location, friendly management and convenient safety features like airport transfer and make your Istanbul hotel booking through trustworthy websites to get the best safe deals.

This post was posted by Fiona Moriarty on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on July 17, 2015

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