The ANZAC anniversary is just upon us and if your clients will be travelling to Turkey to attend the Commemorative Site in Gallipoli this week, here’s a list of travel tips for visiting this historic country.
As we draw closer to the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs, 10,500 Australian and New Zealand travellers will start making their journey to the ANZAC Commemorative Site in Gallipoli. Selected from a ballot of over 43,000 people, these 10,500 attendees will represent Australia and New Zealand at the Dawn Service as we remember the acts of bravery made for our country 100 years ago.
With Turkey anticipating a record number of travellers to visit the site during the anniversary year, here are TID’s top tips for staying safe while travelling through this rich and historic country.
1. You need a visa
Australians are no longer eligible for a visa-on-entry into Turkey and must apply for one before arriving. This can be completed online at the eVisa (https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/) website and can be downloaded and printed once approved. While the visa is verified by Turkish immigration at your port of entry, TID suggest taking a hard-copy with you just in case
2. Stay west
Turkey has become a bit of a hot spot for danger but a good way of minimising your risk is to stay on the west side. While the west coast is safe to visit, travellers should still exercise caution while travelling throughout Istanbul and Antalya. Steer clear of public gatherings or political protests and reconsider your need to travel to the south east borders of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
3. Carry ID and make copies
You must carry photo identification with you at all times as you travel through Turkey. Your passport will suffice, but ensure you keep it safe inside your bag or zipped inside your travel wallet at all times. Ensure you take a few photocopies with you and email a copy to yourself as a digital record.
4. Heading to Gallipoli
Visiting the ANZAC memorials in Gallipoli, Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair are must do’s for Aussie and New Zealand travellers to Turkey. If you’re not one of the lucky few attending the 2015 anniversary commemoration, you can still visit the memorial site throughout the year. It’s highly recommended you take a guided tour, as there is no public transport access to the commemorative site and public parking is located 10km away. With some challenging walking ahead of you and limited services available at the site, make sure you wear supportive footwear and pack plenty of bottled water.
5. Cover up
While Turkey’s major cities are quite cosmopolitan, the rural communities still retain their old customs which include dressing modestly. That means leaving your mini skirt and sleeveless singlets at home.
6. Female travellers
Female travellers (especially solo adventurers) should take a few extra precautions to ensure they stay safe while in Turkey. Take care when travelling at night and avoid poorly lit areas. Sadly, being mistaken for a prostitute is common and more likely if you’re blonde. Dress conservatively and if you encounter problems, go to a public place where locals will often step in on your behalf.
Turkish people are very friendly and there’s plenty to enjoy and experience from their culture. But watch out for locals who take advantage of that friendly nature. A popular scam is to befriend travellers, offer to buy them a drink or kebab at a local ‘secret’ spot and at the end of the night, present a bill of $1000 just for a few drinks (along with some muscle if you don’t pay up). Make sure your scam artist radar is turned on and you’ll be fine.
8. Traditional Turkish toilets
Sooner or later, you’ll run into a traditional Turkish ‘squat’ toilet. While it can be a challenging experience initially, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s always a good idea to remove phones, wallets or spare change from your pockets beforehand. It’s a mistake you only make once.
9. Carpets and leather
If you’re in the market for a new carpet or leather jacket, the Turkish markets are a great place to make a purchase. If you’re not in the market for a new carpet or leather jacket, there’s a good chance someone will try and sell you one anyway. Vendors can be quite pushy and very persuasive. While most vendors sell the real deal, there is always the odd store-owner selling material from China. Do your research, pay in cash to avoid dodgy card transactions and always do your own shipping in case your new carpet gets ‘lost in the mail’.
10. Shopping and haggling
Heading to the local markets is one of the most unforgettable experiences in Turkey. Get your fill of fragrances and Turkish delight at the Istanbul Spice Market or head into the colourful labyrinth of the Grand Bazaar. Haggling is all part of the experience so ensure you’re always fair and respectful to stall owners. The noise and crowds can be a little overwhelming and pickpocketing is rife. Keep your valuables safe and pack some water and plenty of patience.
What are your travel tips for Turkey?
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