When writing an address, the house number comes after the street name, with a slash separating the flat number.
If it's on a side street (sokak), the custom is to include the nearest main street or avenue (caddesi). This main street is usually written first. So the address of Mehmet Aksoy, who lives in Flat 7 at 14 Matrar Sokak, off Sıraselviler Street, in the district of Cihangir, will be written like this:
Matar Sokak 14/7
The largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is the centre for manufacturing and business. Although it is alive with opportunity, the city is also fraught with difficulties for business. For foreign investors, the traditional view of Turkey as a high-risk market has been replaced with the perception that it's a market well worth courting. But, of the many foreign companies that have successfully entered the Turkish market, few have done so alone. Foreign concerns have either bought controlling interests in local businesses, or work with Turkish partners. Corruption and interminable bureaucracy make it essential to have an efficient local representative, preferably with plenty of torpil ('influence').
Turkish employees work long hours and take few holidays, but seem to have inherited their administrative methods from the Byzantines. Things are slowly changing, but official paperwork still takes forever to complete, while the vocabulary of the average civil servant more often than not seems to consist entirely of negatives. Most foreign companies farm out tasks such as getting work permits and residence permits to local lawyers or accountants. Dealings with private-sector business are less fraught, and the AKP government has been trying to ease red tape to encourage more foreign investment.
Deloitte & Touche
Dereboyu Sokak 24, Sun Plaza, floors 23-24, Maslak (0212 366 6000/www.deloitte.com).
Ninth floor, B Blok, BJK Plaza, Süleyman Seba Caddesi 48, Akaretler, Beşiktaş (0212 326 6060/www.pwcglobal.com).
Foreign Economic Relations Board (Dış Ekonomik Ilişkiler Kurulu)
Ninth floor, Odakule I4 Merkezi, Istiklal Caddesi 286, Beyoğlu (0212 270 7386). Open 9am-6pm Mon-Fri.
Organises joint business councils between Turkey and 56 countries worldwide. Also has a small library and resource centre.
TUGEV Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau (Istanbul Kongre ve Ziyaretçi Bürosu)
BürosuHalaskargazi Caddesi 297/5, şişli (0212 343 firstname.lastname@example.org). Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri.
This non-profit provides information and services related to conventions and meetings in Istanbul.
Yalçın Koreş Caddesi 20, Güneşli (0212 478 1225). Open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.
International service only. Customer services 24 hours daily.
A Blok, Ambarlar Caddesi 6, Zeytinburnu (0212 413 2222/www.ups.com). Open 8.30am-7.45pm Mon-Fri; 8.30am-5pm Sat.
International and national deliveries.
Fabrikalar Caddesi Tasoca35 Yolu 19 Mahmutbey (0212 444 0505/www.fedex.com). Open 8am-11pm Mon-Fri; 8am-8pm Sat.
International service only.
Legal & consulting services
Ertan & Oran
Adnan Saygun Caddesi, Belediye Sitesi D1 Blok, Daire 82, Ulus (0212 225 email@example.com). Open 9am-6pm Mon-Fri.
A consultancy and law firm that specialises in commercial, corporate, international trade and maritime law.
Agahamami Caddesi, Aga Han 17/6, Cihangir, Beyoğlu (0212 252 2460/www.ibsresearch.com). Open 9am-6pm Mon-Fri.
English-owned and run. Producers of the comprehensive, indispensable guide Doing Business in Turkey.
Meşrutiyet Caddesi 126/7, Taksim. (0212 245 7050). Open 9am-6pm Mon-Fri.
Advertising, promotional films and translation.
All foreign embassies are located in Ankara, but many countries also have a consulate in Istanbul.
Askerocağı Caddesi 15, Süzer Plaza 2nd Floor, şişli (0212 243 1333-36/www.dfat.gov.au). Open 8.30am-12.30pm, 1.30-5pm Mon-Fri.
209, Buyukdere Caddesi, Tekfen Tower, 16 Floor (0212-385-9712). Open 1.30-5.30pm Mon-Thur; 9.30am-1pm Fri.
Republic of Ireland Honorary Consulate
Merter Iş Merkezi 2/13, General Ali Rıza Gürcan Caddesi, Merter (0212 259 6979). Open 9am-5pm Mon-Fri.
New Zealand Honorary Consulate
Inönü Caddesi 92/3, Gümüşsuyu, Taksim (0212 244 0272). Open 9am-7pm Mon-Fri.
Meşrutiyet Caddesi 34, Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu (0212 334 6400/http://ukinturkey.fco.gov.uk/en/). Open 8.30am-1pm; 2-4.45pm Mon-Fri.
Kaplıcalar Mevkii Sokak 2,Istinye Mahallesi, Istinye (0212 335 9000/340 4444 visas/http://istanbul.usconsulate.gov/). Open 8am-noon, 1-4.30pm Mon-Fri.
Foreign visitors can import up to one 100cc (or two 75cc) bottle(s) of alcohol (including wine), 200 cigarettes, 50 cigarillos and ten cigars.
You may be asked to register electronic equipment to ensure it leaves Turkey with you. It's illegal to possess or export antiquities. You may need proof of purchase for a carpet. For more details, visit www.gumruk.gov.tr or call 0212 465 5244/45.
Hilly Istanbul is tough on anyone with a mobility problem. Roads and pavements are narrow, bumpy, and often cobbled, kerbs are high, and stairs ubiquitous.
However, public transport is more accessible than before: the new metro has elevators, the light railway and trams are accessible; and 450 'low-riding' Mercedes buses have been provided to facilitate disabled access. Two of these buses (painted white and light blue) are designed for wheelchairs; they operate along the Topkapı-Emirgan (222) and Pendik-Kadıköy (28T) routes. A fleet of new ferries, to be introduced by 2008, will extend disabled access to maritime travel.
Apart from a handful of top hotels, few buildings make any provisions for the disabled, although Mayor Kadir Topbaş has put this issue high on his agenda.
Turkey is a major transit point for heroin smugglers. The use of marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy is also on the rise. Enforcement is uneven, but heavy-handed; police conduct random sweeps of bars and nightclubs in Taksim and Beyoğlu. You may be body-searched and checked for needle tracks. Sentencing for drug offences is mild by American standards, but harsh compared to Europe. Carry ID at all times, especially if you're out on the town.
Electricity in Turkey runs on 220 volts. Plugs have two round pins. Adaptors for UK appliances are readily available at hardware shops and electricians. Transformers are required for US 110-volt appliances. There are frequent, brief power cuts (more often in winter), so it's not a bad idea to bring a torch.
No vaccinations are required for Istanbul, although cases of rabies were reported as recently as 1999. Avoid tap water; cheap bottled water is readily available.
Hospitals & doctors
Turkey's health services suffer from an overstretched, underfunded public sector. There is no GP system, state hospitals are jammed, and underpaid hospital doctors often have to take on private patients. In contrast, private hospitals have state-of-the-art equipment, look like five-star hotels, and milk their patients royally. If you need medical aid, the simplest solution (especially if you have insurance) is to go straight to a private hospital, where you'll get immediate attention and are pretty sure to find English speakers. Many private hopsitals also run dental clinics.
American Hospital (Amerikan Hastanesi)
Güzelbahçe Sokak 20, Nişantaşı (0212 311 2000/www.americanhospitalistanbul.com). Credit AmEx, MC, V.
Well equipped and well staffed, the American Hospital also has a dental clinic.
European Florence Nightingale Hospital
Hastanesi Fulya Sağlık Tesisleri, Cahit Yalçım Sokak 1, off Mehmetçik Caddesi, Mecidiyeköy (0212 212 8811/444 0436 /www.florence.com.tr). Credit AmEx, MC, V.
Modern and well equipped, specialises in treating children.
Sıraselviler Caddesi 119, Cihangir, Taksim (0212 293 2150/www.almanhastanesi.com.tr). Credit AmEx, MC, V.
Part of the Universal Hospitals Group, it incorporates an eye hospital and dental clinic.
Istanbul Caddesi 82, Yeşilköy (0212 663 3000/www.internationalhospital.com.tr). Credit AmEx, DC, MC, V.
Five minutes from the airport, it has cutting-edge technology, eye and dental clinics.
Taksim State Emergency Hospital (Taksim Ilkyardım Hastanesi)
Sıraselviler Caddesi 112, Cihangir, Taksim (0212 252 4300). No credit cards.
A state-run hospital that recently got a much-needed overhaul. It only deals with emergencies.
Pharmacies (eczane) are plentiful. Pharmacists are licensed to measure blood pressure, give injections, clean and bandage minor injuries, and suggest medication for minor ailments – many prescription medicines are available over the counter in Turkey. However, few pharmacists speak English. Opening hours are typically from 9am-7pm Mon-Sat. Every neighbourhood also has a duty pharmacy (nöbetçi) that is open all night and on Sundays.
Turkey is not covered by EU mutual health insurance schemes, so visitors are advised to get private insurance policy. Anyone with a full residence permit is entitled to national health care.
Istanbul has embraced internet culture. The number of public terminals and Internet cafés has sky-rocketed. Particularly around Sultanahmet, you'll find most hotels offer Internet access and many travel agents have a couple of online computers. Wi-fi access is available in most upscale cafés and restaurants, including Gloria Jeans and Starbucks.
The majority of phone sockets take the US-style RJ11 plug, although a few older hotels use a Turkish model for which there don't seem to be any adaptors.
Internet access kits are sold at most large music/media and computer shops. The following are reputable providers with English-speaking technical staff and back-up services.
0212 473 7475/www.superonline.com
0212 444 0077/www.turk.net
0212 355 1700/http://home.netone.com.tr
There are also many internet cafés in Sultanahmet, especially on and round Divan Yolu.
Robin Hood Internet Café
Yeniçarşı Caddesi 8/4, Galatasaray, Beyoğlu (0212 244 8959). Open 9.30am-11pm daily. Rates YTL2/hr. No credit cards.
This pristine, fourth-floor café has 30 computers. Provides printing, fax, and scanning services, plus English-speaking technical support. No smoking.
While there are excellent Spanish and French libraries in Beyoğlu, there isn't a single English-language library open to the public since the closure of the British Council library after the 2003 bombing. Your best bet for English-language resources is to visit Bilgi or Boğaziçi university.
Istanbul Library/Çelik Gülersoy Foundation
Ayasofya Pansiyonları, Soğukçeşme Sokak, Sultanahmet (0212 512 5730). Open 9am-noon, 1-4.30pm Mon-Fri.
Antique and modern books on Istanbul in several languages, stored in an Ottoman house beside Topkapı Palace. Used mainly by academics and specialists.
To report a crime or lost property, go to the Tourist Police station (0212 527 4503) opposite Yerebatan Sarnıcı in Sultanahmet. Most officers speak English or German. If your passport is lost or stolen, you generally have to fill out a police report before the consulate will deal with you.
In the mid 1980s, there were only two TV channels, and a handful of radio stations, all state owned. Then along came Star TV, beamed in from Germany, brazenly flouting regulations on private media ownership. (The owner of Star TV happened to be the brother of the Turkish president). Soon afterwards, the government loosened up media laws. The ensuing scramble saw the emergence of several huge, obscenely influential media conglomerates. One media mogul, Aydın Doğan, has stakes in three of Turkey's four major newspapers and its biggest magazine publishing house. He also owns several TV channels, a bank, and an internet portal, making Rupert Murdoch look like small fry.
National newspapers fall into two broad categories, secular and pro-Islamic. The secular press is monopolised by two empires – the Doğan and Sabah groups; between them, they account for around 60 per cent of the market. By European standards, newspaper circulation figures are pitiful, so ruthless publishers happily employ every gimmick imaginable to boost their sales.
The most highbrow papers are Cumhuriyet (Republic), a foundering left-of-centre paper, and Radikal (www.radikal.com.tr), a Doğan title. Competition comes from three big hitters: Hürriyet (www.hurriyet.com.tr), Sabah (English version www.sabahenglish.com) and Milliyet (English version www.milliyet.com), indistinguishable popular dailies that occupy the political centre. Journalistic standards are undermined by low pay. The real news comes from the columnists – usually at least one per page.
The main pro-Islamic daily is Zaman (English version www.todayszaman.com), distinguished by surprisingly good coverage of international literature and film, and the first Turkish newspaper to go online. By far the worst Islamic paper is the hate-mongering Akit, with its habit of insinuating that successful business leaders are closet Jews or Christians.
Weekly satirical comics sell well. Popular titles include Gır Gır, Penguen and LeMan. No subject is taboo, and the humour, while crude, is usually on the mark.
Most magazines are ephemeral unless backed by one of the big media groups. Established leaders are Tempo and Aktüel (www.yeniaktuel.com.tr), which mix news, fashion and gossip. There's a slew of licensed international titles, including Time Out Istanbul (see also the English online version www.timeoutistanbul.com/english/).
For such a cosmopolitan city, Istanbul is low on foreign-language publications. The only daily English newspaper is the semi-literate Turkish Daily News (www.turkeydailynews.com), which has reasonable coverage of domestic politics, but suffers from indigestible features and soapbox columnists. The monthly Turkish Business World does what is says on the cover, but reads suspiciously like advertorial. The new Pera Weekly (Beyoğlu Gazetesi), sold by street vendors, at bookstores and newsstands, has several pages of English summary of local news.
For news, reviews and up-to-date listings pick up the monthly Time Out Istanbul (or visit www.timeoutistanbul.com/english), which combines locally produced content with music and film reviews from the London edition.
Foreign newspapers and magazines are easy to find, but rarely arrive before late afternoon. The best places to look are the news stands in Sultanahmet and around Taksim Square, or the bookshops on Istiklal Caddesi.
The airwaves over Istanbul are so crammed with broadcasts that it's practically impossible to pick up any station without overlapping interference. Stations generally offer either Turkish or foreign music, but rarely both. One exception is Açık Radyo (94.9), which intercuts topical talk shows (often in English) with world music. Stations offering dance and pop music include Kiss FM (90.3), Radio Oxygen (95.9), Metro FM (97.2), Capital Radio (99.5), Power FM (100) and Number One FM (102.5). Radyo Blue (94.5) specialises in Latin and jazz, and Energy FM (102) in jazz. Radyo Eksen is the best channel for alternative music. For Turkish music, try Kral FM (92.0), Best FM (98.4) and Lokum FM (89.0).
For Western classical music tune into ITU Radyosu (103.8). You can pick up the BBC news in English on NTV Radyo (102.8) at 6pm daily, and at 7am and 10.30pm Monday to Friday.
Amazingly for a country with no private TV before 1991, Turkey now has 30 national channels, and countless more regional stations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, production values are low. The exceptions are CNN Turk and NTV, which feature excellent news, documentary and sports programmes. Cable TV is available in many areas, offering improved reception of terrestrial channels, plus BBC Prime, CNN, Discovery, Eurosport, and MTV. Digital TV is represented by Digitürk, which carries programming from Europe and the US, plus all the biggest Turkish TV and radio stations.
Local currency is the Turkish lira, or YTL. High inflation (which hovered around 70-80 per cent for years) was down to a modest 9-10 per cent in 2006. After taming inflation with IMF help, Turkey lopped six zeros off its currency; in 2005 the New Turkish Lira (Yeni Türk Lirası, or YTL) was introduced. YTL banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100.
Cashpoints are common. Most machines will accept cards linked into the Cirrus or Plus networks, and supply Turkish lira or cash advances on major credit cards, provided you know your PIN number.
Most banks provide telephone and internet banking, which can be less frustrating than shabby counter service. Non-residents can open a savings account at a Turkish bank in any currency: just go to any branch with your passport. You'll be asked to sign a routine account agreement.
Be sure to choose a branch that near your place of residence or work, because you'll only be able to draw cash from this branch without incurring charges. Cash can be deposited at any branch. With a current account, you can also apply for an ATM card. Getting a credit card isn't so easy: you need a residence permit, employment, proof of income, and a Turkish guarantor, as well as patience.
Garanti Bank www.garantibank.com.tr.
Yapı Kredi Bank www.yapikredi.com.tr.
Most banks will accept transfers even if you don't have an account. The drawback is that the money doesn't always arrive instantly, and the bank will block the money for up to 20 days. There is a way around this: you can withdraw the money in Turkish lira at the bank's discretionary rates, or by paying a hefty commission. The quicker and more reliable alternative is to use Western Union Money Transfer. This service is now offered by all branches of Denizbank, Dışbank, Oyak Bank, Finansbank and Ziraat Bankası. If you're expecting to receive money, just turn up at any branch of these banks with your passport
and transfer details (time and amount of transfer, plus 'money transfer control number'). You should be able to draw the money instantly in dollars, euros or YTL.
Bureaux de change
Many shops and restaurants accept payment in US dollars, sterling or euros, but there are dozens of exchange bureaux (döviz bürosu) in the main tourist and shopping districts. These are easier to deal with than banks, where transactions can take forever and exchange rates are generally lower. Bureaux de change are open long hours, generally from from 9am to 7.30pm Monday to Saturday. Some exchange offices also open on Sundays, but they tend to offer considerably worse exchange rates.
Istiklal Caddesi 39, Beyoğlu (0212 252 6428). Open 9am-8pm daily.
Istiklal Caddesi 53, Beyoğlu (0212 244 6271). Open 9am-7.30pm Mon-Sat; 11am-6pm Sun.
Sıraselviler Caddesi 51, Taksim (0212 249 3550). Open 8.30am-10pm daily.
Turkey has seen a big credit-card boom in recent years. Banks have hooked up with the retail sector to cajole consumers into spending money they don't have, while the government is promoting plastic in the hope of curbing the vast black economy. The good news for visitors is that major credit cards are widely accepted, but it's advisable to carry some cash in case.
0212 444 2525/www.americanexpress.com.tr.
Represented in Turkey by Akbank, AmEx is far less widely accepted than Mastercard or Visa because of high commission charges.
00 800 13 887 0903.
00 800 13 535 0900.
Travellers' cheques can be cashed at banks or post offices, but are usually not accepted
at exchange bureaux. You always need to have your passport with you to cash cheques. Banks charge different commissions, and some charge none at all; but the post office usually offers the best deal.
Opening hours are extremely variable in Istanbul, but here are some general guidelines:
Banks 9am-12.30pm, 1.30-5pm Mon-Fri.
Bars 11am or noon-2am daily.
Businesses 9am-6pm Mon-Fri.
Municipal offices 8am-12.30pm, 1.30-5.30pm Mon-Fri.
Museums 8.30am-5.30pm Tue-Sun.
Petrol stations 24 hrs daily.
Post offices see below.
Shops 10am-8pm Mon-Sat. In main shopping areas shops stay open until 10pm and also open on Sunday. Grocery stores (bakkals) and supermarkets are open 9am-10pm daily.
Crime is low and physical violence (football supporters aside) is rare in Istanbul. The main thing to beware of is bag-snatching, especially around tourist areas like Sultanahmet, or crowded places such as Eminönü and Beyoğlu.
Single women can get hassled, but this is generally confined to verbal comments or staring. That said, women should not wander around Beyoğlu or Taksim late at night unaccompanied. Steer clear of Tarlabaşı, one of Istanbul's seedier districts, and remember that it's illegal not to carry a photo ID with you at all times.
The police have a very bad reputation for incompetence, excessive use of force, and an appetite for back-handers – which they have generally deserved. Determination to change this image has resulted in a major PR drive: the new police website (www.iem.gov.tr) has an exhaustive catalogue of services in ten languages.
Yerebatan Caddesi 6, Sultanahmet (0212 527 4503). Tram Sultanahmet. Open 24 hrs daily.
The place to report thefts, losses, or scams. Most officers speak English.
Post offices are recognisable by their distinctive yellow and black PTT signs. Poste restante mail should be sent to the central post office at Sirkeci, addressed as follows:
Büyük Postane Caddesi
To collect mail from poste restante, you need to bring your passport, and will have to pay a small fee for each letter that you receive.
Stamps can only be bought at post offices. Postcards cost YTL0.70 to Europe, YTL0.80 to the US and Australia. Airmail letters up to 50g cost YTL1.50 to Europe, YTL1.75 to the US and Australia.
For parcels, airmail rates start at YTL39 to the UK, YTL38 to the US, and YTL45 to Australia for the first kilogramme, with an extra YTL8 , YTL17 and YTL24 respectively for every additional kilogramme. Rates for surface mail are YTL34 to the UK, YTL24 to the US and YTL29 to Australia.
The contents of all parcels will be inspected at the post office, so it's best not to seal them and bring tape with you.
Major post offices
Yeniçarşı Caddesi 4A, Galatasaray, Beyoğlu (0212 251 5150/www.ptt.gov.tr). Open 8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri; 8.30am-5pm Sun.
Büyük Postane, Büyük Postane Caddesi, Sirkeci (0212 526 1200/ www.ptt.gov.tr). Open 8.30am-5.30pm daily.
Cumhuriyet Caddesi 2, Taksim (0212 243 0284/www.ptt.gov.tr). Open 8.30am-12.30pm, 1.30-5.30pm Mon-Sat.
Istanbul may be a city of mosques, but there is a multitude of places to worship. After all, Istanbul was once a centre of a Christian empire, and is still the home of the Greek and Armenian Orthodox Patriarchates. Istanbul is also a city with a strong Jewish tradition.
Christ Church (Anglican)
Serdari Ekrem Sokak 82, Tünel, Beyoğlu (0212 251 5616). Services 9am, 6pm Mon-Sat; 9am,10am Sun.
Union Church of Istanbul (Protestant)
Postacılar Sokak, Beyoğlu (0212 244 5212). Services 9.30am, 11am, 1.30pm Sun.
St Anthony's (Catholic)
Istiklal Caddesi 325, Beyoğlu (0212 244 0935). Open 8am-7.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-12.30pm and 3-7.30pm Sun. Services English 8am Mon-Sat, 10am Sun.
Haghia Triada (Greek Orthodox)
Meşelik Sokak 11/1, Taksim (0212 244 1358). Services Short 8.30am, 5pm daily (4pm in winter). Full-length 9am Sun.
Üç Horon (Gregorian Armenian)
Balık Pazarı, Sahne Sokak 24, Beyoğlu (0212 244 1382). Open 9am-5pm daily. Services 9.30am-1pm Tue; 9am-1pm Sun.
Security at the Istanbul's synagogues has been tighter than ever since two suicide bombings on the Bet Israel and Neve Shalom synagogues in November 2003. To visit, you must first obtain permission. Call the office of the Chief Rabbinate for further information. Prayers are usually held daily at 7.30am, with Shabbat services at 8am. Friday evening services take place at sunset.
Yeminiçi Sokak 23, Tünel, (0212 293 8794/5). Open 9am-5pm Mon-Thur; 9am-1pm Fri.
Professional movers are pricey in Istanbul. The cheapest way to move furniture is to hire a truck. Ask your local grocer (bakkal) or greengrocer (manav) to help make arrangements. Agree on a price first (you shouldn't pay more than YTL45-YTL55), taking into account the number of stairs involved, and be sure to tip the movers afterwards.
Smoking bans are slowly creeping in: first it was public transport, now it's public offices, banks, shops, and even private offices. Offenders are supposedly liable to fines of up to YTL500. In practice, this is rarely enforced and only a few restaurants and cafés offer non-smoking sections. Foreign cigarettes cost around YTL3.50-YTL4 for 20, while the best domestic brand, Tekel 2000, goes for even less.
Turkish is taught at various private schools and colleges; many also offer individual tuition.You can also find private tutors in the classified ads in the Turkish Daily News.
Kurtuluşderesi Caddesi 47, Dolapdere (0212 444 0428/www.bilgi-egitim.com). Open 10am-6pm daily.
Ten-week, 40-hour courses begin in January, April and October and cost YTL575.
English First (Turkish Department)
Aydın Sokak 12, off Korukent Yolu, Levent (0212 282 9064/www.turkishlesson.com). Open 9am-10pm Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm Sat, Sun.
10-week courses cost YTL740 + VAT.
Taksim Dilmer Language Teaching Centre
Tarık Zafer Tunaya Sokak 18, off Inönü Caddesi, Taksim (0212 292 9696/www.dilmer.com). Open 9am-8pm Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm Sat, Sun.
Morning, afternoon, evening or weekend classes of no more than 14 students. A four-week, 80-hour course costs YTL518; an eight-week 96-hour course is YTL622.
Istanbul's districts have different area codes: 0212 for Europe; 0216 for Asia. You must use the code whenever you call the opposite shore, but when dialling from abroad omit the zero. The country code for Turkey is 90. Call 118 for directory inquiries, 115 for the international operator.
Public phones now operate with pre-paid cards (telefon kartı). There are two types: a floppy version, or a rigid 'smart card'. Some newer phones also take credit cards. Phone cards can be bought at post offices or, at a small premium, from street vendors and kiosks. They come in units of 30 (YTL2.15), 60 (YTL4.30 ), 100 (YTL7.20) and 120 (YTL8.60). Metered calls (kontörlü) can be placed at post offices or private phone and fax offices (telefon ofisi), but they charge over the odds.
Public phone rates are about YTL1.50 a minute to the UK and US, YTL2.25 to Australia. Reduced rates for international calls operate from 10pm to 9am Monday to Saturday, and all day Sunday and holidays. For local and national calls, cheap time is 8pm to 8am midweek and all weekend.
There are three GSM networks: Turkcell, Telsim, and Avea. If you bring your UK mobile, you'll have no problem using your phone as long as you've set up a roaming facility. However, because the Turkish system operates on 900 MHz, US mobile phones won't work.
A cheaper option is to invest in a local SIM card, or hazır kart, available through all the GSM operators. Find an authorised dealer (Turkcell is the most popular), present a photocopy of your passport, and pay the subscription fee (around YTL30-YTL40), which includes 100 units, or roughly 25 minutes of talk-time within Turkey. Top-up cards are sold all over the place (look for the hazir kart sign) in units of 100 (YTL12.50), 250 (YTL28), 500 (YTL53), or 1000 (YTL98).
Getting a contract mobile phone is tricky and expensive, thanks to a 40 per cent tax. You'll need a residence permit plus a Turkish guarantor prepared to stump up $900.
Turkey is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and seven hours ahead of New York. There is no Turkish equivalent of am and pm, so the 24-hour clock is used. Daylight-saving runs from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. This creates a three-hour time difference between Turkey and the UK in October only.
Although not obligatory, the rule of thumb is to leave about ten per cent of the bill at cafés and restaurants. Service is occasionally included, in which case it'll say servis dahil at the bottom of the bill. If in doubt ask: 'Servis dahil mi?' Tipping hotel staff, porters and hairdressers is discretionary, but YTL1-YTL2 is the norm. Hamam attendants expect more like 25 per cent. It's not necessary to tip taxi drivers.
Public toilets are plentiful. They'll be signposted 'WC' (when asking, use the term tuvalet); the gents' is Bay; the ladies' is Bayan. Public facilities usually consist of a hole in the floor. Toilet paper in these places is a rarity, so carry a pack of tissues (selpak). City plumbing cannot cope with toilet paper, so use the bin provided. Hotels, bars and restaurants all have Western-style (alafranga) toilets.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has tourist information kiosks, where staff speak English, all over town.
International Arrivals (0212 465 3151-3547). Open 24 hrs daily.
Beyazıt Square (0212 522 4902). Open 9am-6pm daily.
Cumhuriyet Caddesi, şişli (0212 233 0592). Open 9am-5pm daily.
Kemankeş Caddesi, Karaköy (0212 249 5776). Open 9am-5pm Mon-Sat.
Istasyon Caddesi, Sirkeci (0212 511 5888). Open 9am-5pm daily.
Divan Yolu 3 (0212 518 1802). Open 9am-5pm daily.
International Turkish tourist offices
Room 17, Level 3, 428 St George Street, Sydney NSW 2000 (02 9223 3055/9223 3204).
Constitution Square, Suite 801, 360 Albert Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7 (613 230 8654/230 3683).
1st floor, 170-173 Piccadilly, London W1V 9EJ (020-7629 7771/7491 0773).
821 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017 (212 687 2194/599 7568/www.tourismturkey.org).
Visas are required by most nationalities; they can be bought at the airport upon arrival. At press time, rates were as follows: UK $16 (YTL24); USA $26 (YTL39); Canada $75 (YTL110); Australia $70 (YTL105); Ireland $23 (YTL34). New Zealanders don't need a visa. Fees must be paid in foreign currency; Turkish lira, credit cards or travellers' cheques are not accepted. Visas are valid for three months. Overstaying your visa, even by a single day, will earn you a fine of around YTL150 ($100) when you finally leave the country.
Few special rules apply for women in Istanbul. With some provisos, you needn't dress any differently than at home, certainly not in the more European areas such as Beyoğlu and points north. Probably best to leave the micro minis and short shorts at home, though. To avoid being stared at, wear trousers or skirts that come to the knee. And in more conservative areas, and particularly in mosques and churches, keep your shoulders covered.
In touristy areas like Sultanahmet you may get hit on. It's usually harmless and nothing more than you would expect in Italy or Greece, but all the same it can be annoying. It's also generally easy to shrug off. Avoid eye contact; don't beam wide smiles. Don't respond to invitations, come-ons or obnoxious comments. If a man is persistent and in your face, try saying 'Ayıp', literally 'shame on you'. Chances are someone will intervene on your behalf. It seldom extends beyond that, but should you need help, the word is 'Imdat'.
Finding a job is not as easy as it once was. There's a large market for native-speaking English teachers, but most schools and universities now require an internationally recognised teaching qualification. Many foreigners work as journalists for local English-language publications, tour guides, or bar managers. Many work on tourist visas, hopping to North Cyprus or Greece every three months to renew their visa. This is, of course, illegal, but people get away with it for years.
Work permits can only be obtained through a sponsoring employer. In principle, your job should only be doable by a foreigner. Getting the permit is a long, painfully bureaucratic process. First, the employer submits an application for authorisation to the Treasury in Ankara. This can take a couple of months. You then submit your own application to the Turkish Consulate General in your country of residence (which shouldn't be Turkey) and wait about six weeks for it to be processed. When it's ready, you must collect it from the consulate in person with your passport. Back in Turkey, you still need a residence permit.
If you have a work permit, you're automatically entitled to residence as long as your permit is valid. Otherwise, residence applications should be filed with the Turkish Consulate General in your country of residence. The laborious application procedure for British passport holders is detailed online at www.turkconsulate-london.com. You'll need photocopies of your passport, bank statements, proof of income, photographs, a completed application form and covering letter. Applications take about eight weeks to process. You must pick up your visa in person.
Upon arrival in Istanbul, you must register with the Foreigners' Branch of the Police Department (Emniyet Müdürlüğü Yabancılar şubesi) on Vatan Caddesi (Aksaray) within one month of the visa/work permit being issued. Queues are lengthy and the process is tedious. Go armed with a book, patience, a pile of cash and if possible, a local who knows the ropes. Residence permits are valid for one or two years; you can also apply for a five-year permit. Expect to pay upwards of YTL225.
Alternatively, use the time-honoured method of getting a work permit: get hitched to a Turkish national.
A bit of Turkish goes a long way and making the effort to use a few phrases will be greatly appreciated.
While every effort and care has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this guide, the publisher cannot accept responsibility for any errors it may contain. Before you go out of your way, we strongly advise you to phone ahead and check the particulars.
Getting to Istanbul
Getting around Istanbul
When to go to Istanbul