1. You Likely Need to Apply for a Visa to Enter Turkey — Yes, Even Americans.

Check to see what your country’s particular requirements are for entering Turkey. Remember to print or do a screen capture of the bar code and the approval page and number because it’ll be an online link. You will not receive the approval information by email.

The multi-entry visa lasts for up to 90 days.

2. Wifi Can Be Spotty & Limited for Foreigners

Most wifi spots require a European or Turkish number to get the passcode to access the free wifi. This includes the Istanbul airport; a critical issue to be aware of since you may need to get your online visa when you land at the airport. The best way around this is to have an international phone plan, get a Turkish SIM card, or have a friend with a Turkish number who can spot you the passcodes to get online.

3. Some Websites Are Banned in Turkey

Booking.com doesn’t allow you to book your stay in Turkey if you’re in Turkey. This made it really hard for a last-minute traveler like myself who couldn’t book her stay through the platform.

Wikipedia is banned in Turkey. Here’s why. So get all your research in before you get there, or use the “cache” function on Google if it’s available for your particular search listing.

PayPal is inaccessible from Turkey. I had a hard time doing certain business transactions without access to my PayPal account. I definitely did not want to use a proxy to access PayPal in Turkey. BUT the good news was that I realized that if you have the PayPal mobile APPLICATION, you can access your account PayPal through that.

4. Weather in Turkey

Of course, the weather depends on what part of Turkey you will be visiting. It’s a huge country spanning across two continents with diverse topography. Turkey’s weather ranges from a desert-dry climate to sizzling hot summers to cold snowy winters. Northeastern is generally colder, the center (close to/west of Cappadocia) is desert hot/cold, and the Mediterranean area including Istanbul has hot summers and mild winters.

5. Best Time to Visit Turkey

Summer can be extremely hot, hitting 100 F (38F), but still a lot of fun to go as long as you prepare adequately for the heat. Bring UV umbrellas like this one, sunscreen, and drink plenty of water. But there will be certain places, that feel unbearable between 12 PM and 5 PM in peak summertime, such as Ephesus and Cappadocia.

Winter can be cold with snow in certain parts. The tourism low season is November through March.

Springtime is gorgeous as everything is in full bloom, and it’s not yet as hot. (April & May).

Fall (September & October) is also a great time to go since it’s still warmer but with smaller crowds. The weather is temperate in most of Turkey around this time.

6. How to Dress in Turkey

Turkey is very diverse; in topography, politics, and culture. Therefore you may cross a woman in a little black dress and then turn the corner to find another woman with everything covered but her eyes. There are parts of Turkey that are more conservative like Kayseri, and others where it feels like you’re in Los Angeles (like Izmir). Even Istanbul itself has many distinct pockets. Its young and hipster Moda neighborhood is like Brooklyn. While its historic district, Sultanahmet, is bustling with museums, markets, and hundred years old architecture.

7. Language & DIFFICULTIES Communicating

English is NOT widely spoken in Turkey. Most people could not speak English. Pictionary + memorizing a few Turkish words are essential. Most could not even say “yes” or “no” in English. Some rolled their eyes and sighed when I asked if they spoke English. I found more French or German speakers in Istanbul than English speakers. Thus, I had to learn a ton of Turkish words to get by. If you have allergies, disabilities, or food limitations, learn how to say the essentials in Turkish for those things.

8. Cost of Travel/Living in Turkey

Food ranges from $1 for street food to $5 for a plate at a cute restaurant... To $20 for a drink, appetizer, dessert, and main course at a very nice restaurant. Relative to “western” prices, this is VERY GOOD.

9. How to Get Around Turkey

It’s easy getting around Turkey. If you’re on a super budget but have lots of time on your hands you can take buses which are about $10-$20 each way. HOWEVER, if you book ahead of time, you can book flights for $20-$60 each way within Turkey.This is likely the best way to travel because you’ll save time and energy. Every traveler told me that their overnight bus experience was uncomfortable and they couldn’t sleep. So is $10-$30 worth losing hours and a good night’s sleep? You can also arrange airport shuttles with your hotel/homestay for about $12 USD each way.

10. Taking Taxis in Turkey & Does Uber Work in Turkey?

Taxis in Turkey are notorious for cheating and scamming. My first taxi experience was great. But I had to direct him on how to get to my hostel, and he missed a turn at the beginning. I think it was an honest mistake since the roads were windy. But sometimes they will pretend they got lost or don’t understand you, and won’t stop just to wrack up the meter. They will turn the meter off quickly, so you don’t see the final price. They can pretend not to have change, so always carry small bills for taxi rides. Always turn on your GPS, so they know that you know where you are going.

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