Below are a few hints that may help you when planning for your trip to Turkey:
A visa is required for South African passport holders. Please check with the Turkish Embassy as to the procedures and requirements.
The coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and cool winters. The inland areas also have hot summers with generally cooler winters. Rain falls mainly during the winter months but can be expected throughout the year. Snow falls in parts of Turkey (higher altitude areas) during winter.
Lightweight clothes in the summer, and warmer clothes in winter. Turkey is a Muslim country and tourists should dress conservatively when visiting religious sites, women should cover their head with a scarf and avoid wearing shorts and mini-skirts. Comfortable shoes are a must and sandals for the beach are required. Do bring your own beach towel and several swimming costumes, as these will be the most essential items if holidaying on the coast.
The unit of currency is the Turkish Lira. Exchange facilities are found at the airports, banks and hotels. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 08.30 to 12.00 noon, and again from 13.00 to 17.00. They are closed on holidays and weekends. All exchange receipts must be kept, particularly if you purchase any major items like carpets, as you may be required to show the receipts on departure.
Some passengers have reported difficulties using American Express and Diners Cards to pay for their meals etc. in their hotels. These credit cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercards.
Shopping hours are normally from 09.00 to 13.00, and from 14.00 to 19.00 Monday – Saturday. Note that most shops and markets / bazaars are closed on Sundays. Shopping in Turkey is a wonderful experience and one can purchase high quality textiles, embroideries, leather and suede, carpets, jewellery and articles of onyx and gold. For the most entertaining shopping, we suggest you visit the bazaars and try your hand at bargaining.
FOOD AND DRINK
Turkish cuisine is recognised amongst the best in the world. The many delicacies include lamb kebabs, spit roasts, abundant grilled fish and many different appetisers called Mezze. A wide variety of vegetable dishes are also prepared to perfection! Both red and white Turkish wines enjoy an excellent reputation, while the drinking of anis-flavoured “raki” is a traditional way to start the evening. A must to try, is a glass of delicious and refreshing “Apple Tea” which is available throughout Turkey and often offered to visitors whilst shopping.
Turkey has the same voltage as South Africa (220V). The majority of electrical sockets take a two-prong plug. An adaptor- set (multi plug) is recommended.
Taxis are numerous in all Turkish cities and are reasonably priced. Although the usual precautions when travelling by taxi in a foreign country are recommended, you are unlikely to be “ripped-off” in Turkey.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS
The Turks are gracious and generous hosts who will make every effort to communicate despite any language barrier. Hand shaking and other visible forms of politeness are expected. The Turkish people revere their legendary leader, Ataturk, and any criticism of Ataturk is considered very offensive – however lightly meant. Women should try to avoid travelling alone, particularly in the popular coastal resorts, as the persistent attention of the local males may become tiresome!
English is widely spoken in hotels and establishments dealing with tourists, but you will find a lack of English as soon as you venture away from the main tourist routes. See this as a challenge!
Passengers should restrict themselves to one suitcase each, in addition to hand luggage. For the flight, take toiletries etc. in a holdall. Please pack necessary medication in your hand luggage, as well as a change of clothing in the event of any delays.