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Helpful Tips for Your Holiday in Turkey

6/19/2010

Helpful Tips for Your Holiday in Turkey

Advice on what to wear in the Mosque, Turkish plumbing, Turkish tap water and more...

In this article:

  • What should I wear to a Mosque in Turkey?
  • Traveling on a dolmus
  • How do I eat meze in Turkey?
  • Can I flush toilet paper in Turkey?
  • Should you drink the water in Turkey?

 

Visiting mosques or other religious places

If you go to a mosque, you must dress accordingly. All visitors must remove their shoes; women must wear a long-sleeved top and a long skirt (at least to the knees) to cover as much of themselves as possible. Trousers are permissible as long as they are not too tight. Women must also cover their heads with a hat or scarf. Men should wear a long sleeved shirt and trousers.

Try not to go to a mosque during prayer time, or half an hour after the call to prayer. Muslims pray five times a day – morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night – but prayer times can change slightly each day according to sunrise and sunset. Avoid Friday late morning to early afternoon as this is set aside for weekly group sermons. 

When in the mosque, women should not sit with the men. Everyone should walk around quietly; if you see anyone praying, make sure you walk behind them and not in front of them. Pictures are allowed both inside and outside mosques but do not use a flash inside and be sure to ask permission if taking any pictures of people. 

 

Traveling on a dolmus

A popular form of transport in Turkey, often connecting one town to another, is the dolmus (pronounced dol-mush), a shared taxi or minibus that runs from A-B. They do not operate as western bus services in that they have no fixed timetable – they will often only leave the station when they are full – and there are not always set stops or shelters. Instead it is best to stand next to a restaurant or prominent shop and hail them as they approach. Expect one every ten minutes or so on the more popular routes. They will stop for anyone anywhere along their route as long as they are not too full. (On that note, beware, the word dolmus literally translates as ‘stuffed taxis’, you may have to share very close quarters with a bunch of strangers; it doesn’t get its name for nothing). They will usually have a price list somewhere, try and work out how much you owe and hand the cash to the driver or to the person in front of you to pass along. When you want to get off, don’t be afraid to shout stop. You may have to do this several times!

Tips:

  • When you want to get off the bus, shout  Inecek var (pronounced in-ejek var). This means I want to get out or off. 
  • Keep plenty of change handy and always try to give the driver exact money. More money advice here

 

The meze tray

The meze tray is an honored tradition in Turkish restaurants. The waiter will proudly bring you a plate of starters, even though you haven’t ordered them. And then he’ll probably bring you some more, and yet more again. The thing to do is to stop him, choose which ones you want and send the rest back.

Typical offerings include white cheese, spicy tomato salad, eggplant (aubergine), yoghurt, vine leaves, melon, peppered paste and more. 

Tip: Yeter – the Turkish word for ‘enough’ – is a useful word in this circumstance and isn’t considered impolite!

More on Turkish food and drink

 

The bathroom

Turkish plumbing is at best adequate, sometimes much less so. Unless you stay in expensive hotels, many places will ask you to kindly refrain from flushing your toilet paper or tampons down the pan: if in doubt, look for a bin next to the toilet. If it is there, that usually means they would like you to use it.

If you plan to travel outside the tourist areas, a little tip – take some toilet paper with you. In the more remote areas, you’ll find that Turkish toilets are nothing more than a porcelain hole in the ground that you have to squat over. A small plastic jug standing beneath a tap is given for you to wash yourself with, in place of toilet paper.  If you’d prefer one of life’s little luxuries, take your own!

 

Tap water

Turkish tap water is sanitary enough to wash in but it’s advisable not to drink it; you’ll find most of the locals don’t drink it either. Stick to bottled water or use water-purification tablets or a filter; you’ll find bottled water plentiful and cheap. Expect to pay between one to three liras (depending on brand) for a 5L bottle. Don’t drink water from rivers or lakes as it may contain bacteria.

 

More in-depth tips and advice from our sister website, Turkey For You





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